Head Coach Paul Hewitt is preparing for his second season at
George Mason leading the men's basketball program. Patriot Vision sat down with him
to get his impressions on his first year as Mason head coach as well as a look towards the upcoming 2012-13 season. Video from the interview is above, while the transcript follows.
Q: What are some of
your impressions of George Mason University after your first year?
A: I think we have everything we need to be a successful
basketball program and continue to be a successful basketball program. I love
the fact that we have got a very, very loyal fan base. Our students are
terrific, the way that they fill up the student section and really bring some
energy and electricity to the games and probably the most important thing is
that I think we have a nurturing campus and environment for our student
athletes. They are asked to do an awful lot, obviously they have to go to class
and have got to do well in the class room, which is their main reason for being
here but then they also have to get into the weight room and work with our strength
coach Robert Handerahan, who does a great job. They have to come to practice
everyday. They are pretty much from Labor Day to when the season ends running
full time schedules and I think that everyone around here provides a great deal
of encouragement for them which makes it again a great atmosphere for
Q: This year's group
of freshman is your first recruiting class for the Patriots- what can fans
expect from the newcomers?
A: I think in Marko Gujanicic you have a young man that is
very experienced. He has played a lot of international basketball for his
country Serbia. Patrick Holloway coming out of the WCAC and Paul VI also has
experience playing in big time games and finally Jalen Jenkins, the young man
out of New York we got late. We were really fortunate to get him. I think those
three kids moving forward will provide a nice foundation and core as this
program moves forward and we are looking to lose 6 guys in 2014. It is nice to
have three guys like Marko, Patrick, and Jalen join our program this year.
Q: As far as
familiarizing them with your players, how beneficial are the new rules that
allow coaches a limited opportunity to work with their players during the
A: It is probably the best rule change that's been instituted
since I have been an NCAA coach, going back to 1988 when I first broke into
college basketball. It gave us a chance obviously to work on their game or work
on some of the things they need to improve on in the offseason. But I think it also
gave us a chance to really give them an idea, the young guys especially, just
some concepts how we are going to play this year. And finally, I think it makes
the message consistent. They are around us all of the time, we are talking
about education; we are talking about the necessity to do well in school and do
well in class. I think in years past the kids were always working out, as they
will, but sometimes they worked out with people that did not necessarily
reinforce the message of education.
Q: The CAA has
experienced national success during the past decade. What are your thoughts
after completing your first season in the CAA, particularly in the light of the
conference changes that have begun to take place?
A: Well, it is a terrific league. A reason why it is been
good because you have had some individual programs do very, very well.
Obviously, Mason had done an unbelievable job. Mason set the tone in terms of
what "mid-major" programs can aspire to. I think that the league will continue
to be strong. We have great leadership in Tom Yeager. Personally I think we
have got outstanding leadership in Tom O'Connor, our athletic director here. So
as we continue to check the landscape of college basketball, I think that the
CAA is a great league for us. What we are going to try to do, not only hope
that other CAA teams are good but we are going out and scheduling. This year we
open up with UVA, we are playing Maryland at a neutral court down at Verizon
Center. But I think that the CAA is very strong, and will continue to be
Q: As someone who has
coached in the Big East and ACC and has been exposed to top athletic
facilities, how was your experience with the basketball training facilities
here at Mason, holding practices at the Patriot Center and the RAC?
A: Well I think we have terrific facilities. I like
practicing in the RAC, because it gives us some privacy. I love the number of
baskets we have at our disposal and also the space, because we tend to so a lot
of shooting drills at practices. Obviously the Patriot Center is a terrific
home court, and also it is an adequate practice facility. But I think the RAC
is outstanding. I have told Tom O'Connor on many occasions that the
accessibility and the availability we have to that facility is outstanding. I
think it going to help us a lot. It helps us in recruiting when we bring kids
in there, show them that as our practice site. They love the fact that we can
get in there, use as many baskets as we can. They can work on things; I think
it is one of the better parts of our program to have that facility.
Q: The athletic
department's Center for Sports Performance initiated a nutrition program, Peak
Performance, a sports specific dining experience, this semester? What are your
thoughts on how this type of program can help your players on the court?
A: Well, performance is king for coaches. That's what we
want out of our players, we want them to perform at a high level, a consistently
high level. With Debi Corbatto, Theresa Logan, and everyone over there I think
we give our student-athletes a chance to prepare their bodies right to go out
and play. Nutrition is extremely important. Understanding what they have to do
to keep their bodies fit and energized is very, very important and one of the
bright spots for me here at Mason is the amount of energy and effort that we
put into helping out student-athletes understand what they need to do to
perform at a high level consistently.
Q: The Patriot Center
is one of the top arenas in the CAA and has a reputation as a tough place to
play for an opposing team. What do you think contributes to that success and
how does it compare for you to come of the hostile arenas you've coached in?
A: Well obviously we have had good players here. Last year,
the players being Ryan Pearson and Mike Morrison guys that were outstanding
players and I think we are going to have another talented team this year. But
that student section is great. Doc Nix and the Green Machine and what they do
to bring life to the building and I think that combined has brought people from
the outside, people from the community.
Certainly we have our Mason alums that come to the game and
really support us loyally but I think the atmosphere is a great atmosphere for
people who want to come out and enjoy a great college basketball game.