John Powell, Asst. Sports Editor

As I was sitting in my hotel room in Baltimore, Md., I watched the Old Dominion Monarchs get dismantled by the Northern Iowa Panthers in the opening game of the ESPN BracketBusters event. I watched the William & Mary Tribe fall to the Iona Gaels. I watched the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs beat the Northeastern Huskies at Northeastern University.

I finally watched the George Mason Patriots lose to the College of Charleston Cougars on homecoming night.
Needless to say, it has not been a good few days for the conference. VCU was the only team in the Colonial Athletic Association to win its BracketBuster, and was one of only three conference teams to win over the weekend.

The CAA has touted how well it performs in televised games. This event however proved something quite contrary.

I have said that the only way for the CAA to get an at-large bid in the National Collegiate Athletic Association Tournament was for the losing team in the conference’s tournament to do well against quality non-conference teams. The CAA performed well at the beginning of the season, but the top conference teams have been performing terribly as of late.

Some teams have been hampered by injuries, some by foul-outs at the end of the game and some have just played poorly.

Good players have gone cold, like junior guard Cam Long’s two-point game at Georgia State. Long was held to a mere 10 (mere for him that is) points for homecoming.

This has given the opportunity for some new players to have breakout seasons. Freshman forward Luke Hancock was electric under the basket in Puerto Rico.

Fellow freshman forward Johnny Williams had a career night in the BracketBuster against College of Charleston, coming off the bench to score a career-high 18 points.

For any team from the CAA to find an at-large berth in the NCAA Tournament, they will need to be electric in these next two weeks, and especially on fire in the postseason. No one is automatically in at this point; they need to make a case for their postseason lives.

Mason had a good game against College of Charleston. The Cougars had as much as an 11-point lead in the second half.

ESPN’s Jon Sciambi referred to the event as “high scoring [and] offensively entertaining.” Of course it was!
There were 166 points in the game, made by the game’s best, and relative no-names, from Cougar Tony White, Jr. to Mason’s own Williams.

It has taken a while, but in that game, Mason finally figured out its scoring problem, tallying 80 points for the first time since winning at Towson.

With the big man, sophomore forward Mike Morrison, still out of the lineup, Mason was unable to rely on a big man defensively. And with a minor injury to sophomore forward Ryan Pearson, Mason was unable to rely on one of their top scorers.

Hopefully, when the lineup is back to normal — I use that term loosely, since three players are out for the season with injuries — Mason can return to their usual potent offense.

It seems to me that Mason will fare far better next season, losing only one player, Louis Birdsong, to graduation. Long will come into running his team in his senior year, and the team’s freshmen are getting valuable experience that will be put to good use next year.