13 Keys to the Season

Posted In Blog, News - By Alan Kelly On Friday, November 8th, 2013 With 0 Comments

A lot of people have written a lot of words about what to expect from your Patriots this season, and most of those predictions will be wrong. So, instead of writing another season preview, I wanted to look a little deeper: what we can hope to see from each of the thirteen men on scholarship on the Mason roster?

One by one, I’ve listed a mixture of developments I expect to see, and improvements I hope to see. Then, for fun, I’ve predicted something that might happen for each player if absolutely everything went right for them this season. These won’t all come true, but it’s fun to dream.

The Starters:

G Corey Edwards (Jr.) – Bring consistency to the point guard position. On offense, take better care of the ball, and make good decisions while on the move, without stopping his feet or his dribbling. On defense, continue to be a pest: draw charges, get steals, apply pressure on the perimeter.

If everything goes right: Finishes among the league leaders in assist-to-turnover ratio and steals.

G Bryon Allen (Sr.) – Build on his strong March and become a reliable, dynamic scoring threat to take some of the pressure off of Wright. Use his size and strength in the paint to drive to the basket for and-one layups or grab rebounds.

If everything goes right: Challenges Wright for the team lead in scoring. Breaks apart VCU’s havoc and gets some revenge for his forgettable night 2 season ago.

G Sherrod Wright (RSr.) – Become a more consistent scorer by becoming mentally tougher and choosing smarter shots. Feel less pressure to be the only go-to scorer on the team, and return to shooting the percentages he shot as a sophomore. Draw more fouls.

If everything goes (W)right: Averages 18+ points and 6+ rebounds per game while approaching the 40-50-90 shooting percentages Hewitt raved about 2 years ago.

F Jonathan Arledge (Sr.) – Build on his strong finish last season while becoming stronger and tougher physically. Be smarter about when to foul so he stays out of foul trouble. Keep doing the good things he did offensively, and do them more assertively. Draw more fouls.

If everything goes right: Leads the A-10 in made free throws and breaks the school record for career free throw percentage (the record is 81.6%, he’s currently at 79.5%).

F Johnny Williams (RSr.) – Stay healthy. Provide solid interior defense and rebounding in Copes’ absence for the first six games, and set the tone for the Patriots frontcourt. Stay healthy.

If everything goes right: Seizes on the starting opportunity opened by Copes’ suspension and never lets go, starting every game this season.

The Bench:

C Erik Copes (Jr.) – Accept responsibility for his suspension, put it behind him, and work extra hard on and off the court to prove to his coaches that he deserves to play starter’s minutes. Build on his strong performances late last season and average double figures in rebounds. Stay healthy and exert his presence defensively with athleticism and blocked shots.

If everything goes right: Averages double-digits in rebounds and 3+ blocks per game.

F Marko Gujanicic (So.) – Adopt his game to American rules and avoid foul trouble, which may have become a bigger challenge with the NCAA’s new contact rules. Become a more consistent shooter, inside and outside the arc and at the free throw line.

If everything goes right: Doesn’t foul out of a single game this season.

F Vaughn Gray (Jr.) – Put his lost season behind him, and become another scoring weapon off the bench. Build on the flashes of brilliance he showed as a freshman, and force his way back into the rotation as a regular contributor on offense and defense. Make Mason fans forget all about last year.

If everything goes right: Is the talk of the season in the A-10: the player that no one saw coming.

G Patrick Holloway (So.) – Add solid perimeter defense to his impressive offensive skill set and improve his ball-handling abilities. Become a well-rounded reserve that Hewitt can trust in all situations, not just a situational source of instant offense.

If everything goes right: Plays 18+ minutes per game and makes it rain.

F Jalen Jenkins (RFr.) – Provide a solid backup option at the 4 spot, especially early in the year when Copes will be unavailable. Play within his limits as he adjusts to the college game, and don’t try to do too much. Shake off any rust from sitting out for a season.

If everything goes right: Plays consistent minutes throughout the season and sprinkles in a few double-figure scoring and rebounding nights.

G Marquise Moore (Fr.) – Make a quick transition from high school to college game speed, and become a viable backup to Edwards at the point. Learn the offense, and focus on the fundamentals. Understand that his primary job this season is ball control and distribution. Embrace that good defense is often the path to increased playing time for a freshman.

If everything goes right: Becomes Edwards’ primary backup, while Allen doesn’t play a minute of point guard after mid-December.

F Anali Okoloji (RJr.) – Spread his high energy attitude to his teammates. Improve his ball-handling and shooting and make better decisions with the basketball so that Hewitt can trust him in the key situations where his natural competitive fire is most needed.

If everything goes right: Sparks the team off the bench every night, and channels that intensity into clean defense, smart plays, and smart passes.

The Redshirt:

F Julian Royal (Jr.) – Push his teammates in practice. Use his redshirt year to improve himself mentally, physically, and in the classroom. Learn Paul Hewitt’s system, and prepare himself for next season, but also realize his importance as a practice player and cheerleader this season.

If everything goes right: Starts alongside Copes in the frontcourt in 2014-15.

About - Alan Kelly is a 2010 and 2013 graduate of George Mason University and a former member of the Patriot Platoon. He had the memorable experience of being in the middle of the college decision process as George Mason's Final Four run unfolded. He currently resides in Northern Virginia.

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