Last year was sure an exciting time to be a fan of George Mason men's basketball.
The team went 26-6—including owning the nation's longest win streak at 16 games—and was ranked No. 25 in the ESPN/USA Today poll for a week. They also won the CAA regular season title for the first time in 11 years, with a 16-2 conference record and they scored their first NCAA tournament victory since that magical Final Four run in 2006, with a thrilling 61-57 victory over Villanova.
Obviously, this past offseason was turbulent for the Patriots.
For the first time since 1997, somebody other than Jim Larranaga will be prowling the sidelines for Mason, with ex-Georgia Tech head coach Paul Hewitt taking over, after coach Larranaga decided to take his talents to South Beach.
The Patriots have also had a lot of turnover from last season. They lost senior leaders Cam Long and Ike Tate to graduation and role player Rashad Whack, along with do-it-all man and NCAA tournament hero Luke Hancock to transfer. Senior point guard and three-point specialist Andre Cornelius is also suspended for the first 10 games of the year, after having some offseason legal issues.
All that aside, there is still plenty of hope for the Patriots this season and a lot of high expectations.
With the return of Sherrod Wright from redshirt, the arrival of highly touted freshman Erik Copes and the senior seasons of Ryan Pearson and Mike Morrison to look forward to, there is a lot for Mason fans to be excited about.
Here's a quick rundown of five games that I know I can't wait for, and I know that every Patriot fan has circled on their calendar already.