#66 George Mason Patriots: College Basketball 111 in 111


george mason cheerleading

Welcome to The Sports Bank’s third annual college basketball season preview series.  Two years we looked at 99 teams in 99 days.  Last year, we were slightly more aggressive and expanded to 111 teams in 111 days and will do so again as we look ahead to the 2012-2013 season.

We will rank the 75 power conference teams and top 36 mid-majors in reverse power ranking order.  We’ll break down rosters, transfers, incoming freshmen, non-conference schedules, and pick a player to watch for each team.

Though they missed out on the NCAA Tournament, Paul Hewitt picked up right where Jim Larranaga left off, leading the George Mason Patriots to their fourth twenty win season in the past years.  With VCU leaving the CAA, GMU figures to be back competing for another conference crown.

GEORGE MASON PATRIOTS
Last Season: 3rd, 14-4 in CAA, 24-9 overall
Predicted CAA Finish: 2nd

Projected Depth Chart
F/C: Erik Copes (So)/Johnny Williams (Jr)
PF: Anali Okoloji (So)/Jonathan Arledge (Jr)/Jalen Jenkins (Fr)/Marko Gujanicic (Fr)
G/F: Sherod Wright (Sr)/Paris Bennett (Jr)
SG: Vertrail Vaughns (Jr)/Vaughn Gray (So)/Patrick Holloway (Fr)
PG: Byron Allen (Jr)/Corey Edwards (So)

Gone: PF-Ryan Pearson, F/C-Mike Morrison, PG-Andre Cornelius

2012-2013 Outlook:
The Patriots do lose their top two scorers from last season in Ryan Pearson and Mike Morrison but return three players starters, all in their backcourt with Byron Allen, Vertrail Vaughns, and Sherod Wright.  That means the focus of the team switches from their typically strong frontcourt to their guard play as they return five players who averaged at least eleven minutes a night last year..

Allen re-assumes his role of running the offense while Vaughns and Wright will get more opportunity to score.  Corey Edwards might be a better pure point guard than Allen and should see a more prevalent role off the bench.  Vaughn Gray adds more experience and versatility to the wing while freshman Patrick Holloway doesn’t figure to factor into the rotation.

With Morrison and Perason gone, sophomore Erik Copes will have to step into a much larger role.  Copes will be joined by either Jonathan Arledge, Anali Okoloji, or Johnny Williams in the starting line-up.  Arledge was a key reserve a year ago while Okoloji and Williams each sat out last season;  Okoloji because of NCAA transfer rules, Williams due to a medical redshirt year caused by a shoulder injury.  There isn’t a whole lot of height or offensive firepower within that group but there is plenty of strength that should hold down the fort especially on the glass.

Freshman Marko Gujanicic should ride the pine this season but another freshman could crack the rotation in Jalen Jenkins.  Jenkins was originally supposed to do a postgrad year at a prep school this season but is currently listed on the roster on George Mason’s website.  He is a skilled, face-up four who could add some needed versatility to the floor if he actually is on the roster and doesn’t get redshirted.

Drexel is the favorite to win the CAA but George Mason and Old Dominion will be in the mix as always.  The deciding factor for this team will be 1) how the backcourt handles the offensive load and 2) can anyone in the frontcourt emerge as a legitimate double digit per night scorer.

Player to Watch: Erik Copes
A rare top 100 recruit that the Patriots landed, Copes wasn’t a major factor during his freshman campaign although he did lead the team with nearly two blocked shots per game.  He knows how to throw his body around on the glass and has the length to make up for his undersized 6-8 height.  If he can show a reliable back to the basket game on the block, Copes might be the difference between GMU getting an invite to the dance.

Key Non-Conference Games:
11/9 vs. Virginia
11/13 at Bucknell
11/16 vs. Mercer (Paradise Jam)
11/17 vs. New Mexico/UIC (Paradise Jam)
11/18 vs. UConn/Wake Forest/Iona/Quinnipiac (Paradise Jam)
11/28 at Rhode Island
12/2 vs. Maryland
12/8 vs. Northern Iowa
12/22 vs. Richmond
12/29 at South Florida

OTHER 111 IN 111’S:
#67 Virginia Cavaliers
#68 Villanova Wildcats
#69 Maryland Terrapins
#70 Marshall Thundering Herd
#71 Iona Gaels
#72 Northwestern Wildcats
#73 Oklahoms State Cowboys
#74 Rutgers Scarlet Knights
#75 USC Trojans
#76 UConn Huskies
#77 Harvard Crimson
#78 Xavier Musketeers
#79 Ole Miss Rebels
#80 Clemson Tigers
#81 Oregon State Beavers
#82 Texas A&M Aggies
#83 Providence Friars
#84 Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
#85 Oklahoma Sooners
#86 Lehigh Mountain Hawks
#87 Washington State Cougars
#88 Long Beach State 49ers
#89 Belmont Bruins
#90 Vanderbilt Commodores
#91 Dayton Flyers
#92 Houston Cougars
#93 UCF Knights
#94 Old Dominion Monarchs
#95 Oregon Ducks
#96 LSU Tigers
#97 South Carolina Gamecocks
#98 Seton Hall Pirates
#99 Georgia Bulldogs
#100 DePaul Blue Demons
#101 Boston College Eagles
#102 Penn State Nittany Lions
#103 Arizona State Sun Devils
#104 Virginia Tech Hokies
#105 Texas Tech Red Raiders
#106 Auburn Tigers
#107 Wake Forest Demon Deacons
#108 TCU Horned Frogs
#109 Mississippi State Bulldogs
#110 Utah Utes
#111 Nebraska Cornhuskers

David Kay is a senior feature NBA DraftNBA, and college basketball writer for the Sports Bank.  He also heads up the NBA and college basketball material at Walter Football.com and is a former contributor at The Washington Times Communities.  David has appeared on numerous national radio programs spanning from Cleveland to New Orleans to Honolulu.  He also had the most accurate 2011 NBA Mock Draft and the most accurate 2012 NBA Mock Draft on the internet (Yup, repeat champ… #humblebrag.)

You can follow him on Twitter at David_Kmiecik.

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