On Monday’s conference call with the Colonial Athletic Association coaches, George Mason Coach Jim Larranaga had a simple explanation for why his team is off to its best league start in 10 years: scheduling.
“The schedule has kind of favored us a little bit,” said Larranaga whose team is 12-3 overall, 5-0 CAA. “We’ve had a pretty good balance of home and away games. Our guys have been pretty well rested.”
Picked to finish fourth in the CAA behind Virginia Commonwealth, Northeastern and Old Dominion in a preseason poll, the Patriots have been the surprise team early. No one expected this squad to start the conference season better than the one that reached the Final Four three years ago, but it has. That team began 4-1 in the CAA before finishing 15-3.
Certainly, Mason’s early CAA schedule hasn’t presented many challenges. The Patriots played three of their first five league games at home. Only one of their opponents had a winning record, and none has a conference record above .500. They won’t play their first CAA opponent with a winning record until Saturday when James Madison (11-6, 3-2) comes to Patriot Center. Then Mason has back-to-back road games at Northeastern (10-5, 5-0) and at VCU (11-5, 4-1).
“We’re going into a tough stretch of our schedule of the first round of [CAA] games this week and next week," Larranaga said. "I think as the season progresses everything gets a little bit tougher. I know we’ve got our hands full come Wednesday night at William and Mary.”
January 12, 2009; 2:17 PM ET
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