What kind of blog would the GoMason Blog be if we didn’t give you a year-end top-10 highlights?
Here, in chronological order, is a very unsophisticated look 2010’s top-10 Mason moments:
January 30 – The men’s basketball team beats James Madison, 70-68, to tie the school record with its 17th-straight home win over a CAA opponent. In the process, the Patriots improved to 10-1 in the CAA, the best 11-game start in conference play in school history.
February 28 – The women’s basketball team tops Georgia State, 47-43, picking up its 10th win of the year. It marked Mason’s first 10-win season since 2005-06 as the Patriots also picked up their first two-game conference win streak in four years.
March 19 – Ashley Danner capped a brilliant sophomore season with a runner-up finish in the 100-yard breaststroke at the NCAA Swimming Championships. What did it take for Arizona’s Ann Chandler to beat Danner? An NCAA record and the second-fastest time in history. Danner had three All-American finishes at the meet while Kristen Meier became just the second female Patriot to ever compete at the NCAA Diving Championships.
March 20 – Becky Anderson pitched the fourth perfect game in school history as she recorded 15 straight outs to beat Georgia State 8-0 in the second game of a doubleheader. Anderson went on to be named All-CAA for the third time in her career as she set a school record with a 1.29 ERA and seven complete-game shutouts.
May 1 – The men’s track and field team captures the CAA Track and Field Championship, the fourth in program history but the first since 1995. The women’s team, meanwhile, placed second, its highest finish since 2004. Grace Mavugara was the Outstanding Women’s Field Performer after sweeping the long and triple jumps.
May 8 – The softball team closed the season with a three-game sweep of Delaware, missing the CAA Tournament by one game but finishing with a 21-24 record. It was the highest win total for the program since 2005 and the fifth-place finish in the CAA was the highest finish in conference since 2002.
May 23 – Ryan Soares finished off one of the best seasons in school history by setting one CAA record and two school records as the baseball team ended the year with a 17-9 win over Towson. Soares entered the game tied for the CAA single-season record for doubles and the Mason school record for career doubles and he hit two to break both marks. He entered the day with a chance to break the school record for single-season batting average and he didn’t falter, going 5 of 6 to finish with a .438 batting average, shattering the mark of .420 set in 1985. Soares was a first-team All-American and finalist for the Wallace Award, given to the nation’s top shortstop.
Oct. 29 – The women’s soccer team just missed a spot in the CAA Tournament in 2009, finishing the season tied with JMU for the fourth seed and missing out on a tiebreaker. This year, Mason didn’t allow it to come to a tiebreaker as the Patriots beat Towson 2-0 in the season finale to earn the third seed into the CAA Tournament. It was Mason’s first trip to the CAA Tournament since 2007 and the Patriots brought their A game to Hofstra. It took penalty kicks against JMU to end Mason’s season after the teams tied at 1-1 after regulation and two overtimes.
Nov. 21 – Laura Sinclair put together a terrific sophomore season as she was CAA Runner of the Week multiple times, was named All-CAA and All-East, set the Delaware Invitational event record and was Mason’s top runner in every single meet. She finished second at the ECAC Championships.
Dec. 30 – Cayle Byers was expected to have a big year in 2009-10 but he ended up redshirting the season due to injury. He returned with a vengeance this season. Byers started the year 16-0 and beat the No. 1-ranked wrestler in the nation. His undefeated year came to an end when he fell in the finals of the Southern Scuffle to the nation’s second-ranked wrestler.
So it’s CAA media day, which means a couple of things for Colonial Athletic Association basketball fans. First, it means that the preseason All-CAA teams are announced. Secondly, it means the preseason polls come out predicting the order of finish for the conference’s 12 teams.
Let’s start by taking a look at the women’s preseason poll. The Patriots were picked to finish 10th by the league’s coaches. Mason, which finished 12th last season going 3-15 in the conference, is expected to move up in the standings while Towson and Northeastern were expected to drop. Mason’s Brittany Poindexter was named preseason honorable mention, the first Mason player to receive a preseason accolade since Lateisha Wade in 2007.
The Patriots return five starters from last year’s squad which won 10 games, doubling the previous season’s win total. If the Patriots can pick up five more wins this season, they will have their first winning season since the 2003-04 campaign which ended with Mason playing in the WNIT. The Patriots will have a chance to finish strong as their final two home games are against Towson and Northeastern.
Picked to finish first in the women’s poll was James Madison, which won the CAA title last year and returns All-America senior guard Dawn Evans who was fifth in the nation in scoring last year and has a shot at becoming the CAA’s all-time leading scorer. Picked to finish second was Old Dominion, which, in and of itself is news. In third is Delaware, with All-American Elena Delle Donne. The sophomore was named both CAA Rookie and Player of the Year last year when she was third in the nation in scoring.
The Fighting Delle Donnes come to Patriot Center on February 17. GoMason Blog can’t imagine a better place to be on a Thursday night.
On the men’s side, the defending champion Old Dominion Monarchs were picked to finish first as they return four starters from last year’s squad. Yes, the Monarchs have an impressive group returning but the starter they lost was first-team All-CAA selection Gerald Lee. That won’t be an easy hole to fill but the Monarchs will be keen to do a better job of defending their title than the last time they won it. In case you don’t remember, that was back in 2005-06 when they were nationally ranked in some preseason polls but finished fourth in the CAA regular-season standings. To their credit, they went to the NIT Final Four that year.
The Patriots have had quite a run of success for more than a decade and for the 13th-straight season, they were picked to finish among the top four in the league. Mason, which returns all five starters, was predicted to finish second in the CAA standings.
Cam Long, who has twice been named All-CAA, was named preseason first-team All-CAA for the second straight season. Long started slow battling leg cramps early in the season last year, got better as the year progressed, had a ridiculously good month of January last year before tailing off over the season’s final month. GoMason Blog does not expect a slow start this year as the senior will be looking to answer all the questions in the season’s first six games. Being named preseason honorable mention was Ryan Pearson.
VCU was picked to finish third. The Rams have lost their second player to the NBA in the past three seasons. Will another NBA-bound prospect find his way to their roster this season?
Hold on to your hats but James Madison was picked to finish fourth. The Dukes, from 2003-04 through 2007-08 tallied just 17 league wins. What the Dukes have this year is Denzel Bowles, who was an absolute beast in the paint last year, and Julius Wells, who was the 2009 Rookie of the Year.
In case you missed the press release earlier today on GoMason.com, at least 14 games are scheduled to be televised this season. That leaves seven of Mason’s 14 home games untelevised. The GoMason Blog won’t be taking any excuses for any empty seats spotted in the crowd.
Finally, are you as excited about GoMason Mobile as the GoMason Blog is? Being able to be anywhere and listen free to live broadcasts of men’s and women’s basketball games on MasonRadio? We can already hear Bill Rohland’s voice coming over our smart phone.
The CAA announced on Tuesday a two-year extension with the city of Richmond that will keep the CAA Men’s Basketball Championship at the Richmond Coliseum through 2014. Richmond has hosted the CAA tournament for 21 straight years and in that time, Mason has won three CAA titles.
In 1999, Jim Larranaga’s second year at Mason, the Patriots beat Old Dominion 63-58 to earn the school’s second CAA title. In 2001, Mason took the championship by beating UNCW, 35-33. That game saw the teams combine for 68 points, one shy of the record for fewest points combined in a game in the shot clock era. In 2008, Mason beat William & Mary, 68-59, denying the Tribe their first-ever NCAA men’s basketball appearance.
What’s your most memorable Mason moment in Richmond Coliseum history?