Adjusting George Mason picked second in CAA

Adjusting George Mason picked second in CAA
October 18, 2011, 11:57 pm
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By Benjamin Standig
CSNwashington.comIntroduced as the George Mason mens basketball coach back on May 2, Paul Hewitt spoke then of continuity when it came to the schemes his new squad would run. Considering he inherited four starters coming off a 27-win season and had reached the second round of the NCAA Tournament under then coach Jim Larranaga, not tossing out what was working certainly seemed reasonable.Much has happened within the Patriots program since then. Some of it - adding touted big man recruit Erik Copes positive. Some of it playmaker Luke Hancock transferring - disappointing. Some of it Andre Cornelius court case pending. Collectively, it means that continuity talk was soooo five months ago.Luke Hancocks not here anymore. Andre Cornelius is temporarily suspended until further notice; well see what happens. We picked up Erik Copes who has a chance to be a really good freshman in this league, Hewitt said. Were a different team than that May press conference.What has not changed? The Patriots continued lofty status within the Colonial Athletic Association.George Mason was picked to finish second in the CAA preseason poll, voted on by the leagues coaches media relations directors and media members. I think thats probably more based on what people saw last season, said a relaxed Hewitt at his first CAA media day in Arlington. The former Georgia Tech coach took over the programs reigns following Larranagas sudden departure to Miami after 14 seasons on the Fairfax campus.Were a different team. At the same time, were talented. Im glad they picked us second. Again, I think people are getting visions of what they saw last year. It could become more of that if we get people back, well see.Drexel, with coach Bruiser Flint returning four All-conference starters, was picked to win the regular season. Virginia Commonwealth, a final four team last season under coach Shaka Smart, was picked to finish third in the CAA, followed by Old Dominion and James Madison. Towson with first-year coach Pat Skeery was picked last.Ryan Pearson, voted to the preseason All-CAA first team, tops the player reasons why the Patriots received some preseason love. The burly 6-6 power forward averaged 14.2 points and 6.7 rebounds last season, enough to earn second-team honors, and knocked down 40 percent of his 3-point attempts.The Patriots have legitimate size up front with the powerful 6-8 Copes and 6-9 senior Mike Morrison. Those trees could have Pearson frequently playing small forward, not that such designations matter to the making the lineup decisions.If there is any guy that you dont put a label on its Ryan Pearson, Hewitt said. Hes just a basketball player. Hes very smart. He really can score. Really can score. Just an intelligent basketball player.Only Pearson and the enthusiastic Morrison are comfortably in the starting lineup, according to the Hewitt. When another interior player joins the pair on the court, Hewitt is not concerned about moving his power-packed leading scorer away from the basket.I think in the offense were running we can take advantage of Pearsons versatility, Hewitt said,Asked if Copes - the highest rated player ever to sign with George Mason - would be on the court November 11 for the opening tap against Rhode Island, Hewitt initially discounted the notion before returning to the topic moments later.Its still a few days into practice, but its an idea that were toying with.Hewitt likes his backcourt options, but was not tipping his hand on possible combinations just yet. I think we have a deep team, but well see how it kind of unfolds. Old Dominion swingman Kent Bazemore was selected the CAA Preseason Player of the Year. VCUs Bradford Burgess, Drexels Samme Givens and William & Marys Quinn McDowell round out the CAA first-team. No George Mason players made the second or third team.Led by All-American forward Elena Delle Donne, Delaware was picked to win the CAA Womens title.Additional notes:Recent media reports have mentioned George Mason and other CAA programs as potential targets by conferences looking to shore up its numbers. You hear a lot of things about George Mason. No one has contacted us, we havent contacted them, George Mason Athletic Director Tom OConnor said. We like the CAA. Nationwide we may be one of the more stable, if not the most stable conference in the country.Sophomore Bryon Allen (LargoSt. Thomas More) missed a couple of practices after getting stepped on, causing his toes to swell. The 6-3 guard played in 27 games as a reserve last season and is battling talkative freshman Corey Edwards for the starting point guard slot.Sherrod Wright missed last season due to a shoulder injury after averaging 5.5 points as a freshman. The 6-4 swingman, who shot 26.2 percent from beyond the arc during the 2009-10 season, is working his way back into form. Hes a little rusty after missing last year, a little tentative, but a terrific athlete and I think shooting the ball a little better than he did in the past, Hewitt said.

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