Following a disappointing 2009 season, the George Mason Patriots will begin their campaign to return the NCAA Tournament today. As Jim Larranaga enters his 14th season as head coach, the Patriots will meet the Harvard Crimson today at 4:00 in the Patriot Center.
The Crimson, who are playing in their 100th season, are coming off the best season in their history. In 2009, Harvard set several school records, winning 21 games overall, 11 non-conference games, 11 home games, and 10 road/neutral games.
Each team was eliminated in the first round of the CIT last year, and today's game will be the first ever meeting between the two teams.
The Sports Network breaks down the top players on each squad.
Picked to finish second in the Ivy this year by the league's media, Harvard will have to overcome the loss of all-conference performer Jeremy Lin who graduated. A 51.9 percent shooter from the floor, Lin led the team in scoring (16.4 ppg), assists (131) and steals (71) so replacing him will not be an easy task. Kyle Casey (10.4 ppg, 5.1 rpg) looks like a strong candidate, but he's not even available for today's game due to injury. With that being the case, the Crimson don't have a single player for today's matchup that averaged double digits in scoring a year ago. Keith Wright and Christian Webster come the closest after posting 8.9 and 8.8 ppg, respectively, the former able to handle some of the action on the inside (4.6 rpg) and the latter having made more three-pointers (41) than anyone else on the team a year ago. Brandyn Curry (7.3 ppg) could be ready to take up some of the slack left by Lin after he delivered on 93 assists and shot 43.1 percent from three-point range, but that still remains to be seen.
All five of the top scorers from a year ago are back for the Patriots in 2010-11, beginning with Cam Long who was responsible for 12.2 ppg and also found opportunities to deliver a team-best 97 assists along the way. The only player to start all 31 contests, Long had some troubles shooting from the floor, hitting just 38.1 percent, and because he shot so much he brought the entire group down to 43.9 percent. Ryan Pearson, who himself made only 28.6 percent behind the three-point line, was good for another 11.9 ppg and was also the top rebounder for the group with 6.4 boards per outing as well. In a strange twist, Andre Cornelius (9.4 ppg) actually had better accuracy beyond the arc (.433) than he did from the floor overall (.422) so the Harvard defense will have to extend itself out to the perimeter to keep him in check.