When a team works well together as a whole, very often individual players don’t stand out. The team may be quite successful, but the players can be overlooked when the end of the year awards are handed out.
Such may be the case with George Mason this season. The Patriots are tied for second place with Northeastern in the Colonial Athletic Association standings, just a game behind league-leader Virginia Commonwealth. But on March 4 when the all-conference teams are announced, there may be few George Mason players on the lists.
“We’re not a glamorous team with any superstars or names that come up on a regular basis when it comes to the statistics,” Coach Jim Larranaga said.
Because voting for the conference awards is done at the end of this week, the CAA coaches were asked during their conference call on Monday to make a case for the players on their teams they felt were deserving of accolades. Larranaga mentioned seniors John Vaughan and Darryl Monroe, sophomore Cam Long as well as freshman Ryan Pearson.
Though all four players are talented, they may have trouble catching voters’ eyes because of their unselfish style of play. Mason is the only team in the CAA not to have a player ranked among the top 15 in scoring. The Patriots are such a balanced team that the scoring averages of their top three scorers are nearly identical. The difference between the scoring average of their top scorer and fifth-leading scorer is a mere 4.5 points.
Vaughan is George Mason’s top three-point shooter. He has made 43 shots from behind the arc this season and ranks second in three-point field goal percentage (.413). Monroe, the only Patriot player to earn CAA player of the week honors this season, has the best field goal percentage in the conference (.582) and ranks second in rebounding (8.3 rebounds per game). Surprisingly for a center, he leads the team in steals (33).
Long, George Mason’s scoring leader at 11.9 points per game, plays more minutes than anyone on the team. He also owns the fifth-best field goal percentage in the CAA (.472). Pearson, who started one game for the Patriots, does not have enough shot attempts to qualify, but if he did, his field goal percentage (.483) would rank him, not Long, fifth in the CAA. He has twice been selected the CAA rookie of the week.
Larranaga also was asked who he thought the CAA player of the year would be.
“Well, I think there are a lot of players that have had great seasons and have really had an impact on this conference race,” he said. “Guys like [Hofstra’s] Charles Jenkins and [Northeastern’s] Matt Janning in particular come to mind. But I still think the magician down at VCU is probably the player of the year. He does so many things. He waves his magic wand and all of a sudden he’s got 32 points or 10 assists or he’s got a big steal. . . . I have to say Eric Maynor.”
February 24, 2009; 5:58 AM ET
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