Along with our own college basketball preview, we're taking a deeper dive with several of the area's teams -- and with the help from some hoops-loving friends around town. First up, George Mason with GMUhoops.com's Ryan Kish.
1) Let’s put a bow on last season. When you look back, what first comes to mind?
GMUhoops: Inconsistency. For parts of last season we saw a team that looked like they could hang with anyone, I’m talking about the moments against New Mexico, Maryland, UVA, Richmond, and some others. But in the end they had trouble closing out some of those games, a glaring weakness that Northeastern exposed in the CAA tournament.
2) With most of last season’s team back, where are we on the expectations scale?
GMUhoops: Here’s something I get asked a lot, and it’s tough to answer. At first thought history with this program says senior starters equal an NCAA tournament trip. On the other hand we saw basically this same team underachieve against poor competition last season. Do the veteran guys finally understand what it takes to win?
3) Player you’re looking to step up most this season?
GMUhoops: Outsiders think it’s Sherrod Wright and while he’s going to be a rock for George Mason, the answer is Bryon Allen. Last season when he was moved from point guard duties to a more off-the-ball role, he flourished. His role on defense and overall tenacity was a big reason why they had success in the CBI tournament. The difference between Wright and Allen at this point is that we haven’t seen Allen’s best basketball yet. I think he’ll turn some heads in 2013-14.
4) Are you feeling the Atlantic 10 buzz or will it take time for the competitive juices to get flowing as a brand new member?
GMUhoops: I’m definitely feeling the buzz and I can see that fans are excited. I should mention I do have George Washington friends that make the transition even more personal but I’m sure I’m not alone among the George Mason fanbase. The GW-GMU rivalry will take some time to be a full-fledged battle that all fans take personal, but it’s great for DMV area hoops. How Mason they will fair in the move up in weight class is a big story for the program, but it’s not a bad season for them to be making the transition.
5) You get to be program czar for the day. What if anything on or off the court are you tweaking, fixing, throwing away, etc.
GMUhoops: I wish the program put some more effort into the overall brand and marketing. I see similar programs doing a lot more to sell what they have to offer. Also, I know a lot of Mason fans aren’t crazy about the current logo. It's small thing but it makes a difference. In general, I wish the school put more money into the basketball program (cough video scoreboard cough) because it is the athletic department’s biggest asset and serves as an ambassador for the school.