Yes it’s that time again. Even though official practices have already begun, it doesn’t quite feel like the new season is around the corner until the Mason Madness event happens. Doc Nix and the Green Machine will get us pumped for our first year in the Atlantic 10 and then we will begin over-analyzing a glorified green and gold scrimmage down to the smallest detail. We have certainly missed making these ncaa basketball odds predictions. What are you picks? View here for more on this.
With that in mind, here are some of my reasons for optimism in 2013-2014:
A better rotation. At this time last year the starting lineup wasn’t exactly set in stone. Crazy to think Anali Okoloji started the first 18 games of the season and that there were 10 straight games that Bryon Allen did not start in. This year we know what the team’s best lineup is and have a better understanding of who will be a fixture in a the rotation. Without question Patrick Holloway seems primed to be the team’s sixth man, with Marko Gujanicic and Jalen Jenkins not far behind. They used the lineup of Edwards, Allen, Wright, Arledge, and Copes for the final 18 games of the season. Starting the year with that same continuity will be a big advantage for the Patriots early on.
Jalen Jenkins. I’ll stop gushing about how big of a year I think Bryon Allen will have and instead talk about someone who could be an x-factor this year, redshirt freshman Jalen Jenkins. During his redshirt year he added some serious muscle to his 6-7 frame. GoMason.com currently lists him at 238 pounds. Where he might provide immediate help is on defense in the low post and he is also versatile enough to guard multiple positions. His size could create match-up problems if his perimeter game has developed enough. Hewitt seems very high on him, even calling him the team’s second best player over their early practices. It will be interesting to see where and when Hewitt inserts him but I think without a doubt he will have a big impact this year.
Seniors leading the way. Most successful George Mason squads have been led by a good group of seniors. They didn’t have any true seniors last year and it showed at times. Two of them this year, Bryon Allen and Jon Arledge, have yet to play their best basketball in my opinion. Both will be a vital part of leading this team along with Sherrod Wright and Johnny Williams. As a group the overall experience will factor in this season and hopefully prevent a lot of the miscues and hiccups we had to witness last year. A senior-led team usually knows what it takes to win, night in, night out. Will that be the case for Mason this season?
[Photo by Alexis Glenn]