George Mason forward Jonathan Arledge, the team's second-leading scorer last season, has been ruled out for the next two games, CSNwashington has learned. The senior, who has been dealing with a lingering back injury, was absent from the Patriots bench as the team improved to 4-0 following Tuesday's 58-46 win over Saint Francis (Pa.), the latest victory for the short-handed roster.
Arledge, who has missed the last three games after playing 25 minutes in the season opener against American on November 8, has dealt with a sore back injury since preseason practices. Following Tuesday's win, coach Paul Hewitt said the Silver Spring native is "in pain, and it's all about what he can manage."
CSNwashington contacted the program regarding Arledge's distinct absence from the bench. According to an athletic department official, Arledge was initially not at the Patriot Center because he was attending a class. He later arrived at the arena but did not join his team on the bench. Because of the injury, he will not travel with the team for upcoming games at Iona (Saturday) and Princeton (Tuesday).
The 6-foot-8 forward, one of the area's pivotal players entering the 2013-14 campaign, improved dramatically over the second half of last season. Over the final 18 games, he efficiently averaged 13.2 points, reaching double figures 12 times. Arledge finished the season averaging 9.0 points and 4.8 rebounds. Hewitt said in the preseason that he expects the noticeable improvement to continue.
"At the end of the year he was attacking the rim," Hewitt told CSNwashington last month. "So far in practice, even with a bad back, he's been attacking the rim really hard. I think he has a chance to be one of the best players in our league, no question."
George Mason has also been without injured starting guard Bryon Allen (knee) for the last two games. Center Erik Copes has two games remaining on a six-game suspension for an athletic department violation.
With a win at Iona, the Patriots would start 5-0 for the first time in the program history.