• Walk-on to Sing National Anthem at Homecoming Game

    Walk-on to Sing National Anthem at Homecoming Game

    Sports January 30, 2012 at 10:04 pm Comments are Disabled

    Walk-on junior Jordan Baird is a unique talent. He has been on “American Idol.” He performed live for Simon Cowell on “The X-Factor.” And he will be singing in front of a sold out Patriot Center on Saturday night as the men take on Old Dominion to put an exclamation point on Homecoming week. Right out of high school, Baird packed his bags for Orlando in hopes of landing a deal with a major record label. He excelled through four rounds of “American Idol” before being eliminated and, thus, winding up at Mason where he is pursuing a degree in music. “Something like that happening right out of high school — it was just a blast,” Baird said. “You can take something away from almost any experience. So that was a really big learning thing for me.” Despite his lack of playing time for the Patriots, Baird is enjoying the grind of a long basketball season and continues to work hard, preparing himself for the opportunity that he might one day be needed on the floor. “[College basketball] has been a dream come true,” he said. “We know our place as walk-ons. But just because you know your place doesn’t […]

  • by John Powell

    Back With Philly Swag

    Sports January 30, 2012 at 9:59 pm Comments are Disabled

    Two seasons ago, redshirt sophomore forward Janaa Pickard led the team with 45 blocks in 30 games as one of the women’s basketball team’s most consistent defenders off the bench. In preparing for last season, she sustained an injury that is becoming all too common for teams needing to play rougher: She tore her ACL during the preseason. It was an unfortunate, freak injury. “The exhibition game last year, most people probably don’t even remember, we’re up in our full-court pressure,” Coach Jeri Porter said. “She’s on the ball. She goes one way, her leg goes the other and [she] didn’t see a minute on the floor for us last year.” For a team relying on new blood to transform the program from perennial underachievers to competitors — a lofty goal in itself — the loss of Pickard for the 2010-11 season would prove difficult to overcome. The Patriots went 13-17 overall and 7-11 in the conference for an eighth-place finish and a first-round loss in the tournament. Pickard worked as much as possible during the offseason and at the midway point of the conference schedule, proves she did not miss a beat. Through 18 games she totaled 33 blocks, […]

  • More Than a Game

    Sports January 30, 2012 at 9:56 pm Comments are Disabled

    The life of a college student. Despite the workload and other scholastic challenges involved in a semester of academia, students all over find the time to workout their thumbs through video games. The Mason recreation department capitalized on students’ thirst for video games and challenged them to participate in an NFL Madden Tournament on Thursday night in Corner Pocket. Sixteen participants began the tournament at 7 p.m. in Student Union Building II, playing four rounds until junior Health, Fitness and Recreation Resources major Isaac Johnson walked away as the champion. “I can only play a couple games in a row,” Johnson said. “Otherwise, I get tired. So that was difficult.” Despite playing a couple games a day, Johnson came into the tournament at a major disadvantage. While Johnson plays at home on his XBOX 360, he was forced to make the switch to a Playstation 3 in the tournament. As well, he typically plays online as the Detroit Lions but, because contestants could not update the standard 2012 rosters, Johnson adapted and elected to play with the 2012 NFC Champion New York Giants. Johnson led at the half 14-7 and completed the victory by a final score of 23-14. “The […]

  • Oft-Injured Forward Sidelined Again

    Oft-Injured Forward Sidelined Again

    Sports January 30, 2012 at 9:54 pm Comments are Disabled

    Paris Bennett started the first exhibition for the Patriots to open their 2011-12 campaign. He also started the second, before an injury sidelined him for 10 games, the reason fans have not heard his name much since then. Returners came back with a vengeance and underclassmen — even freshmen — had a chance to step up. A second injury in three years cost him more than any other player could. “I think if he doesn’t get injured, he’s playing a lot more,” Coach Paul Hewitt said. “He had a bad ankle injury versus Marquette and subsequent to getting back on the court, he had a bad blister on the back of his foot. All those things contributed to a situation where certain guys got ahead of him.” Starting guard Andre Cornelius missed 10 games at the beginning of the season, but came back and upended the starting lineup, moving in where Hewitt rotated underclassmen at the top of the key. Forward Mike Morrison missed nearly all of his offseason games coming back from an injury of his own, but came back knowing his starting job would not be in jeopardy. Both upperclassmen had something that Bennett could not claim. Not […]

  • by Stephen Kline

    Homecourt Advantage

    Sports January 30, 2012 at 8:49 pm Comments are Disabled

    There is still time, Mason Nation. With the Patriots sitting atop the CAA with a 10-1 conference record and students returning to school to fill the Patriot Center for Saturday night’s matchup with James Madison, the Patriot Platoon is up for the Naismith Student Section of the Year award. As part of the award, the Platoon has been nominated as one of the top 80 selections representing 21 conferences, including the Big East and Big Ten Conferences. It will be presented to the loudest, most passionate group of fans in the nation and will be decided by the fans. Fewer things create the type of buzz around the city of Fairfax like a men’s basketball game. Students, professor, families and fans pack the arena for home games. They pour into Brion’s Grill and Hard Times Café for watch parties and postgame meals, awarding Coach Paul Hewitt a standing ovation each time he enters the restaurant. As they did on several occasions on Saturday night, noise meters in the Patriot Center hover far beyond 100 dosimeters, tipping the scales and assisting the Patriots, who owned one of the longest home winning streaks in the nation entering this season. Doc Nix and […]

  • Voice of the Patriots

    Sports October 24, 2011 at 8:15 pm Comments are Disabled

    For George Mason University’s men’s basketball radio announcer Bill Rohland, the game is his life. Rohland started his radio career working for WGMU radio as a student in 1989 and has been in the business ever since. “I had friends from high school who were older than me who were working at the campus radio station and they were calling the men’s games for the campus radio station,” Rohland said. “I said I wanted to get involved, but of course it’s kind of a hierarchy thing. The upperclassmen were doing it and freshman and sophomores weren’t really allowed. So I said, ‘Well, what about women’s games?’ So I started doing those.” Rohland began calling games for the women’s basketball team on the campus radio station. They played their home games in the old Linn Gym before moving to the Patriot Center. “It was one of those things where if someone was shooting a free throw, you couldn’t talk because there was maybe 50 people in the place and everyone could hear you talking.” Through calling women’s games, Rohland gained the experience and the connections needed to call men’s basketball games. His passion for sports and writing were also influential in […]

  • Capital  Challenge Cup

    Capital Challenge Cup

    Sports October 24, 2011 at 8:15 pm Comments are Disabled

    The stage was set. More than 150 fans piled into the bleachers and two teams, the Rams and the Patriots, were ready to compete in the inaugural Capital Cup challenge in Prince William. The cup was to serve as the equivalent to the Little Brown Jug, fought for between Minnesota and Michigan, in one of the oldest rivalries in college football. It was to promote a quality match between two teams that seemingly always produce close, hard-fought performances. “We play [VCU] once a year and it has always been a one or two goal game,” said Steve Hyjek, the ice hockey team’s coach for the last two seasons. “They seemed like a logical choice, so we decided to go with it.” Hyjek and his team put together the event, inviting the Rams into the Prince William Ice Center to kick off the inaugural match. VCU came out strong, jumping ahead 4-2 after just one period. Mason, however, responded with a dominating second period performance and tied the game just before the zamboni took the ice to prepare for the final 20 minutes. “We had them on their heels heading into the final period,” Hyjek said. “We got a couple of […]

  • Patriots Playoff Hopes Hang in the Balance

    Sports October 24, 2011 at 7:53 pm Comments are Disabled

    Around this time of year, things start to change. The air gets colder, trees change colors and holiday shopping begins. On the Mason women’s soccer team, Head Coach Diane Drake saw some changes unfold with her team as well. Sophomore goalkeeper Lyndse Hokanson was the first to turn her season around. Playing the Old Dominion Monarchs in Norfolk, Va. for the first game of the conference schedule, senior goalkeeper Alex Bodenschatz allowed three first half goals. When Hokanson came in, she allowed one late in the second half, but with a 4-save performance as her minutes increased in overtime, Hokanson solidified a starting job without a split in minutes. Over the next nine games, she only allowed eight goals, compiling four clean sheets along the way. “Everybody makes her look better and she makes other people look better,” Drake said. “It has been very good, very positive, peaking all at the right times.” The Patriots needed some strong goalkeeping down the stretch. After allowing seven goals in the first two conference games — four at Old Dominion and three at conference leader William & Mary — Mason allowed a mere three goals over the next seven games. “It’s just much […]

  • With Season Fast Approaching, Paul Hewitt Begins Filling  Void Left by Jim Larranaga’s Offseason Departure

    With Season Fast Approaching, Paul Hewitt Begins Filling Void Left by Jim Larranaga’s Offseason Departure

    Sports October 24, 2011 at 7:47 pm Comments are Disabled

    (AP) — A few days before the start of practice, there was still bubble wrap in Paul Hewitt’s office. Art work that would eventually go on the wall was still on the floor, including prints of “Skins and Shirts” by Ernie Barnes and “Short Stories” by Joseph Holston. It had been five months since Hewitt took the job as coach at George Mason University, but a nonstop summer of moving, recruiting and settling into new surroundings had put office decor way down on the priority list. It’s still a bit jarring to walk in and not be welcomed by Jim Larranaga, whose smiling face sat behind the desk for 14 seasons. “Coach L” became a local legend and a national mid-major hero, taking the Patriots to the Final Four in 2006 and winning a school-record 273 games. But Larranaga is gone, having made the jump to Miami of the Atlantic Coast Conference. Taking his place is Hewitt, who made the reverse trip, having been fired by Georgia Tech of the ACC before Mason hired him in May. Whoever the new coach happened to be, he would be standing squarely on Larranaga’s shoulders. Hewitt is no exception. When Hewitt was invited […]

  • Exposure Outweighs Profits for Mason Athletics

    News1, Sports October 24, 2011 at 7:06 pm Comments are Disabled

    George Mason University has a knack for forward thinking. It established the first engineering school in the country that focuses on information technology in order to meet the need of an emerging high-tech economy. It was the first university in the country to offer doctoral programs for majors such as conflict resolution, bioinformatics and information technology. Over the last five years, Mason has added more than 30 graduate and undergraduate degree programs. “I was driving around campus and everything just looks new to me,” said Lamar Butler, starting guard for the 2006 Final Four team. “This place has changed a lot in five years.” Butler was a vital part of the Cinderella story that took place in the 2006 NCAA Tournament. Since then, the university has undergone a magnificent facelift. More than $450 million has been poured into three Mason campuses, with a number of new buildings and residence halls being constructed over a span of just five years. Mason is the largest university in Virginia; It is home to more than 32,000 students and hosts over 200 clubs and organizations. Much of this growth is unarguably, though indirectly, due to the success of the athletic department. Intercollegiate sports, however, […]