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.
The George Mason wrestling team was off this past weekend but the other three winter sports were all in action as men’s basketball, women’s basketball and the swimming and diving teams all competed over the weekend.
Let’s start with the men’s basketball team. The Patriots took their fourth-straight win, beating UNCW 80-52. None of those opponents have scored more than 55 points against the Patriots. In Mason’s six wins, it’s holding the opposition to an average of 52 points while in its losses, it’s given up 80 points. For the Patriots, the victory over the Seahawks marked the sixth straight over the conference foe, the longest winning streak ever for Mason against UNCW. Andre Cornelius, Mike Morrison and Ryan Pearson have never lost to the Seahawks. We’ll see if that holds up with at least three more meetings between the teams before that trio departs Fairfax. Now the big story heading into the game with Loyola on Wednesday night (7 p.m. on MASN) is that senior Cam Long needs just two points to reach 1,000 for his career.
Here are some of the stories from the media after that contest:
The women’s basketball team wasn’t as fortunate in their local meetings as the men’s team. The Patriots lost to George Washington on Sunday as the Colonials closed the game with a 23-12 run to beat Mason, 67-58. This came a few days after Mason led American 39-34 before losing, 46-43. The losses are disappointing, but it’s clear that if the Patriots can play tougher down the stretch during the upcoming five-game homestand, a .500 record heading into conference play is within reach. Three Patriots are averaging double figures with Brittany Poindexter at 10.6 ppg and Amber Easter and Taleia Moton both at 10.0 ppg.
Finally, the swim teams competed at the US Short Course Swimming National Championships and Ashley Danner had the top performance of any Mason athlete as she was 7th in the 200-yard breaststroke. Danner also competed in the 100-yard breaststroke finishing 11th. Danner also was 36th in the 200-yard individual medley. The other Mason swimmers with top 50 finishes were Preston Wolter, who was 37th in the 1650-yard freestyle and 41ast in the 400-yard individual medley; and Paige Impink, who was 42nd in the 100-yard backstroke.
The swim team is off until January but the wrestling team will be back in action this week with a tri-meet against Rutgers and Princeton on Saturday. Each basketball team will take the court twice more though before Finals begin. The women’s team hosting Stony Brook on Thursday at 7 p.m. and Ohio on Sunday at 2 p.m. while the men’s team will host Loyola on Wednesday at 7 p.m. and play at Liberty on Saturday at 7 p.m.
The women’s basketball team is 2-2 on the year and tonight the Patriots host Radford at 7 p.m. at Patriot Center. GoMason Blog asked Brittany Eley to check in with some thoughts on the season so far and what lies ahead. Here’s what she had to say:
We are now four games into the season and we are making great progress. We are finally able to play on our home floor after our first three games being on the road. We have been working hard every day from practice, weights, and film to prepare ourselves for the long season in which we plan on having a great amount of success. Right now we are on Thanksgiving break in school which means no class! There is nobody on campus but the men’s and women’s basketball teams. We have two and a half more weeks of this semester and then finally we get a long break from school. After this semester I have one more until I graduate. With today being Thanksgiving, we get to go home and spend valuable time with our families and eat some good home cooked food. During the season being able to see our families doesn’t happen very often, so it is great to have some time off to go home and relax with them. Tomorrow is game day which means a lot of excitement and anxiety. We play Radford University, which is where our current coach was at for many years. We plan on coming out and playing our game to get this win. I have seen our team grow and get better every day and through every game, and I am excited what we will look like once conference starts. Each game we have played on the road has taught us something and we plan of taking each one of those lessons and applying it to the upcoming games. In order for our team to have even more success we need support from the GMU students to come out to games and cheer us on. GO PATRIOTS!!!!!
What a huge week for basketball in Fairfax. Over the next five days, four home basketball games will be played at Patriot Center starting with tonight’s women’s basketball home opener. The Patriots, fresh off three road games in barely a week are now home for a pair. Tonight it’s UMBC that Mason will face at 7 p.m.
“We are taking the court for the first time at home to show everybody what we’ve doing,” senior Brittany Eley told GoMason.com yesterday. “We’ve had three away games and it’s prepared us to step up at home and show everybody what we’re about.”
The Patriots won the season-opener at UMass, 60-55 and then dropped a game two days later at Fairfield. This past Saturday, Mason played at Wichita State and after trailing by 15, Mason rallied to make it a one-possession game in the final minute before ultimately losing, 65-59. OK, so it wasn’t as memorable as the last time a Mason team played in Charles Koch Arena (a 70-67 men’s basketball win in 2006 that allowed Mason to be nationally ranked for the first time in basketball while also effectively securing an at-large spot in the NCAA Tournament), but it certainly allowed a team to show its character in the early season.
Coach Jeri Porter, for one, is happy to be playing some home games. “Just for the opportunity to not have to get up at 3 a.m. to catch a flight or some of the crazy things we’ve had to do in the last couple weeks that will keep us in a consistent routine,” Porter told GoMason.com after Monday’s practice. “Sleeping in our own beds, being able to just play in a the gym we’re familiar with. So we’re excited about the opportunity to open up at home and to get these next couple of games at home before traveling again.”
On Wednesday, the Patriot Center will see its first men’s basketball game since the Nov. 13 season-opener against Harvard. The Patriots won that game, 66-53, then followed it up with a 78-56 win over Charlotte in the Charleston Classic. Mason was unable to keep the momentum going, however, losing to North Carolina State and one of the nation’s top mid-majors, Wofford in overtime. Despite that result, Mason is one spot ahead of Wofford in the latest CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major poll. The Patriots are 10th while the Terriers are 11th. Other notables there are VCU in eighth, Old Dominion tied for third (with Wichita State) with Butler in second and Gonzaga in first. The Patriots host Radford tomorrow night at 7 p.m.
Speaking of CollegeInsider.com, the web site is holding a tournament to raise money for the American Heart Association with head coaches and assistant coaches competing in free-throw shooting contests. Twenty-five shots with the first 20 counting as one point, the next four as two points and the final as three points (for a maximum of 31 points if you make all 25 shots). Mason assistant Eric Konkol competed against Colorado State’s DeMarlo Slocum in the opening round and won, 31-28. Yes, the legendary free throw shooter showed his prowess making all 25 of his attempts. Next up for Konkol will be Rick Croy of St. Mary’s who won his opener despite missing three shots (they were all one pointers).
GoMason Blog would say that Thursday will be a day of inaction at Patriot Center, but both teams will practice there at some point on Thanksgiving. On Friday, the doors open to the public again with the women’s team hosting Radford. This will be the first time Porter will face Radford since leaving the Highlanders to take over the Patriots three years ago. That game is scheduled for 7 p.m.
On Saturday, the busy week concludes with the Patriots hosting Florida Atlantic at 4 p.m. That’s the second of five-straight home games for the Patriots. Better catch them during that stretch, though, as after Dec. 8, Mason doesn’t play at home until Jan. 3.
And of course, basketball isn’t alone in competing during Thanksgiving Weekend. The wrestling team will be at the Northeast Duals on Saturday in Albany. Cayle Byers is off to a 7-0 start this season with a tournament title at the Navy Classic and four wins at the Hershey Duals.
So there’s one men’s basketball game and two women’s basketball games in the books. What have we learned so far about the 2010-11 season?
The first thing we learned is that the men’s basketball team defense looks sharp. The Patriots played well in the open-court, trapping and even running some scramble defense. The second half saw Mason score 12 points off turnovers.
The offense also showed some versatility, producing in the halfcourt while also thriving off the opportunities the defense presented. The second half was a fine example of that as Mason got 12 points off turnovers with 10 of those coming off fastbreaks. The Patriots scored an additional 14 points in the paint in the half as Ryan Pearson was 5 of 7 from the field in the final 20 minutes, scoring all of his 13 points in the second half.
GoMason Blog has heard Coach L speak about starting with a group of seven – your five starters, a frontcourt sub and a backcourt sub – and building from there. Well, if the Harvard game is any indication, Ike Tate looks to be the backcourt sub and Jonathan Arledge looks to be the frontcourt sub. At least for now.
What was learned about the women’s basketball team is nothing new. Head coach Jeri Porter said that what was missing from last year’s squad was a big rebounder and a shoot-first guard. Against UMass, Evelyn Lewis had 10 rebounds while Taleia Moton had 19 points. Both those players sat out last season after transferring to Mason. Against Fairfield, Moton was 1 of 8 from the field for four points while Lewis was held to just four rebounds.
The women’s basketball team hits the road again this weekend to play at Wichita State before opening up their home schedule next Tuesday against UMBC. The men’s team, meanwhile, travels to Charleston to play Charlotte on Thursday night (watch the game live on MASN) and either East Carolina or N.C. State on Friday (televised on either MASN or ESPNU).
All this week GoMason Blog will have coverage from Charleston including guest blogs from Bill Rohland, and a live chat with a player (any guesses who?). So watch here and on GoMason.com for your opportunity to read about the team’s trip to the Palmetto State.
It’s signing day and that means across the nation, high school seniors are putting their pen to paper and signing National Letters of Intent. GoMason Blog decided to take a look at what went into bringing some of those players to Mason. In particular, Corey Edwards and Vaughn Gray, a pair of signees that will join the men’s basketball team next season.
The point man in recruiting both Edwards and Gray was assistant coach Michael Huger. The native New Yorker drew on his connections in pursuing both players, who are each rated top 60 in the nation at their position.
Huger knew Edwards’ father, David, from their days playing ball in NYC in the late 80s. David was from Queens and Huger grew up in Harlem and they faced each other in AAU games. David spent a year at Georgetown before transferring to Texas A&M. While with the Aggies, he set the school’s career mark for assists and steals and when his career ended in 1994, he was one of seven guys in NCAA history with 1,200 points, 650 assists, 250 steals and 400 rebounds.
Huger also had a connection to Vaughn Gray. The New Jersey native plays AAU ball for the New Jersey Playaz, the same team current Patriot Sherrod Wright played for. Huger got a call from their coach Jimmy Salmon, and he told Huger he had a player he need to come see. Both Edwards and Gray knew each other from AAU ball and both came on official visits during Mason Madness.
Needless to say, visiting Mason played a large role in both players committing to the Patriots. And as often happens, landing one often leads to landing another. In this case, signing a pure point guard like Edwards, a player who likes to pass the ball first, score second, certainly helped pave the way to signing Gray.
Want more Mason basketball? The men’s and women’s basketball virtual guides are online today. The men’s guide has some cool shots of freshmen Bryon Allen and Jonathan Arledge while the women’s guide has info on first-year players Ceirra Strickland, Joyous Tharrington and Christine Wiethman.
We’re almost two weeks into practice, so the GoMason Blog thought it would head over to Patriot Center and talk to a few men’s and women’s basketball players to see what’s going. Check out this video to hear about the action behind the scenes.