The Rhode Island Rams have shown improvement in every game so far this season, and it parlayed into their first win in six tries on Sunday. Now Rhody is heading back to the Ryan Center to try and pick up their second win of the season, and the first in their home arena. They’ll be taking on a team that they are somewhat familiar with – the Rams faced George Mason in the season opener last year in the famous (infamous?) Jamal-Wilson-plays-out-of-his-mind game, as he scored 38 points in the 92-90 overtime loss. But it’s a new year, and a Wilson-less Rhody squad will be looking for a win this time around.
George Mason University
Location: Fairfax County, Virginia
Conference: Colonial Athletic Association (CAA)
2011-12 Record: 24-9 (14-4)
The Patriots’ record last season certainly looked good enough for post-season play, and perhaps it was. But they did not receive an NIT bid, and George Mason’s AD indicated that they would refuse invites to any other post-season tournaments:
As for this season, Mason is 4-2 and coming off a 48-45 win that they squeaked out over a not-very-good Boston University team. The Patriots have also posted close wins against Mercer and Virginia, and handled Quinnipiac (74-58) fairly easily. Their losses have come to New Mexico and Bucknell, with the latter being in their only road game to date.
Projected Starting Lineups
G: Bryon Allen, Jr, #0, 6’3″, 214
G: Sherrod Wright, Jr, #10, 6’4″, 196
F: Anali Okoloji, So, #14, 6’8″, 232
F: Johnny Williams, Jr, #2, 6’8″, 240
C: Erik Copes, So, #4, 6’8″, 244
G: Mike Powell, So, #1, 5’11″, 175
G: Xavier Munford, Jr, #5, 6’2″, 180
G: Andre Malone, Sr, #12, 6’6″, 210
F: Ryan Brooks, Sr, #33, 6’8″, 220
C: Jordan Hare, Fr, #4, 6’10″, 205
Sherrod Wright is one of only two returning starters for George Mason, and he gave the Rams fits when they matched up last season. Wright scored 17 points on 8-13 shooting last November, and he was one of four Patriots in double-figures. Wright also leads Mason in scoring this season, averaging 15 PPG to go along with 4.7 rebounds. He is averaging 51% shooting, including 44% from behind the arc, which are just insane numbers for a guard.
Byron Allen, a pass-first point guard, is the other returning starter. He’s scoring a little under eight points per game, but leads the team in assists with a 3.3 average. The three newcomers to the Patriots’ lineup this season are all 6’8″, which could certainly pose a problem for the Rams. The most dangerous of the bunch is junior Johnny Williams, who missed all of last season for George Mason with a shoulder injury. He has returned with authority, averaging 10 points and six rebounds per game.
Expect to see a low-scoring contest tonight as Mason runs a very deliberate offense. But they’re also a very efficient offense, with a team shooting percentage close to 45%. They’re also known for their full court pressure, so Powell and the rest of the ball handlers will have to beware. This is certainly a winnable game for the Rams, however – if they can limit turnovers and slow down Mason’s big men, win number two could be on the horizon.