Mason Picked 1st in CAA; Monroe May Miss Month
George Mason has been picked to win the Colonial Athletic Association men's basketball title, but the Patriots will have to start the season without one of their key frontline players.
Senior forward Darryl Monroe, one of five returning starters, had arthroscopic surgery on his right big toe last week and might end up missing the first month of the season, Coach Jim Larranaga said yesterday during the CAA's media day in Washington.
Monroe, a 6-foot-7, 260-pound junior college transfer, started 19 of 33 games for the Patriots last season and averaged 6.1 points and 3.9 rebounds. Junior Chris Fleming, sophomore Louis Birdsong and freshman Vlad Moldoveanu (St. John's High) will compete for the starting job in the Nov. 9 opener against Vermont at Patriot Center.
George Mason, which overcame a mediocre regular season to reach the CAA tournament final before losing to Virginia Commonwealth in March, was chosen to finish first in a poll of the league's coaches, sports information directors and selected reporters. VCU, which upset Duke in the NCAA tournament and returns three starters, was picked second, followed by Old Dominion, Drexel and Hofstra.
"I wasn't surprised. I wouldn't have been surprised if VCU had been picked first, too," Larranaga said. "We're not going to dwell on it. We just want to play consistently well every night. Consistency is the whole thing with this team. Last year we were very inconsistent and we learned well from that experience."
VCU junior guard Eric Maynor was voted the preseason player of the year. George Mason forward Will Thomas, Drexel center Frank Elegar, Delaware forward Herb Courtney and Hofstra guard Antoine Aguido joined Maynor on the first team. Patriots swingman Folarin Campbell was named to the second team.
Old Dominion, winner of the past 16 CAA women's titles, was picked to win the league. George Mason was predicted to finish last.
-- Steven Goff