Just two weeks remain before the George Mason University basketball season kicks off with the beloved Mason Madness event and I, for one, am getting more and more excited by the day.

So much uncertainty surrounds our talented team with the well-documented changes having taken place this offseason.

The Patriots have gone from a shoo-in top-25 team to start the regular season, to a borderline NCAA tournament qualified.

.Yet, it is the uncertainty that excites me about this team. They respond to adversity as well as any group of guys I have ever seen.

With or without Andre Cornelius, who will likely miss at least some time with felony larceny charges pending, the Patriots’ strength for the 2011-12 season will be in the painted area.

Returning forwards Ryan Pearson, Mike Morrison and Jonathan Arledge, as well as newcomer Erik Copes, will have to control the basketball in order for this team to succeed. They will have to dominate the painted area; rebounding and scoring in volumes to make up for the lack of production from the backcourt. New assistant coach Roland Houston could be an outstanding hire in this regard, as he specializes in footwork and back-to-the-basket moves from solid big men.

Sophomore guard and former West Virginia Mountaineers recruit Bryon Allen is likely projected to move into the starting rotation while freshman point guard Corey Edwards comes in as a highly touted prospect.

Allen performs more as a scoring point guard, which can hinder his performance at times – but he has the ability to run the floor and distribute the basketball. Within Paul Hewitt’s system, he can excel as the quarterback to the Patriot offense, keeping opposing defenses honest with his ability to knock down contested jump shots.

Edwards is a much more polished basketball player at his position. He has the ability to distribute the basketball and create open shots for his teammates – the ideal, prototypical point guard who could very easily excel in the fast-paced system of new coach Paul Hewitt.

The tandem of returning redshirt sophomore Sherrod Wright and incoming swingman Vaughn Gray could prove to be a potent combination. The two players complement each other extremely well, with Wright providing the offensive explosion and Gray holding the fort down on the defensive end.

Vertrail Vaughns provides an extra and much-needed spark to the Patriot offense with his 3-point shooting ability and his late-season dedication to defense. His style of play is also one that could excel within Hewitt’s up-tempo offensive schemes.

Regardless, the loss of Cornelius may be felt earlier in the season, as the younger guys get acclimated to the collegiate game.

But, at the end of the season, this team will be atop the conference leader board, playing for a chance to cut down the nets and hoist the trophy.

Basketball season just cannot get here soon enough.