Men’s and Women’s Basketball Hope to Build on Strong 22-23 Seasons.
BY GABRIEL KING, SPORTS EDITOR
Basketball season tips off at EagleBank Arena on Monday as both Mason basketball teams open their seasons at home. The women will open play against Division II opponent Bowie State at 2 p.m., while the men’s team hosts Monmouth at 7 p.m. in the nightcap.
The women’s team, which is entering its third season under head coach Vanessa Blair-Lewis, is looking to improve on their successful 2022-23 campaign. The team finished with a record of 16-15, which was its first winning record since the 2017-18 season.
A panel of the Atlantic 10 head coaches selected Mason women’s basketball to finish 8th out of 15 teams. If this projection were to hold, it would be an improvement from last year’s 9th place finish for the team. Senior forward Nalani Kaysia was also named to the All-Atlantic 10 Preseason Third Team, a year after she led the team in rebounds and blocks.
Meanwhile, the men’s team begins a new era with their first regular season game under head coach Tony Skinn. Skinn has been an assistant coach at four schools, most recently at the University of Maryland, but is entering his first season as a collegiate head coach.
Despite the coaching change, the men’s team is looking to build on their 20-13 record from last season. However, the roster experienced some turnover this offseason due to the change, as there are 11 new players, including eight transfers.
Senior guard Ronald Polite III, the only returning starter from last year’s team, earned a spot on the All-Atlantic 10 Preseason Third Team on the men’s side. He is also the only returning player that averaged over 10 points per game last season. From a team perspective, the conference’s head coaches picked the team to finish 10th, likely due to the offseason changes.