[ANALYSIS] With Johnny Williams out due to injury, Arledge has taken full advantage of his opportunity
|Jonathan Arledge scores against Drexel (Photo by John Irwin).|
Before the start of the 2012-2013 men's basketball season, junior forward Jonathan Arledge had very few chances to prove himself.
On teams stacked with frontcourt talent, including Colonial Athletic Association Player of the Year Ryan Pearson and Mike Morrison, Arledge would occasionally get playing time to give Pearson or Morrison a breather.
Nothing more. Nothing less. Just a fill-in for limited minutes.
In those opportunities, he seemed timid and lacking confidence. Whenever he had possession of the ball, he would rush and force shots against bigger, stronger defenders.
At the start of the season, with Pearson and Morrison graduating last May, Arledge finally got the opportunity to prove himself as a starter after sophomore forward Erik Copes was sentenced to a three-game suspension.
And maybe that pressure to perform as a starter got to his head in the early part of the season.
|First 3 starts ('12-'13)||13.3||3.6||3.3||44.4||43.0|
|Past 3 starts ('12-'13)||31.0||18.0||6.0||51.4||100.0|
He struggled to find a rhythm and stalled on the offensive end, averaging 3.6 points per game as a starter in those first three games. Once Copes, returned Arledge to the role of reliever, filling in for Copes and Williams when they would inevitably get in foul trouble or need a blow.
However, Johnny Williams went down with a concussion against Northeastern and Arledge was handed another chance to prove that he can be a starter in the CAA.
And he's been a pleasant surprise.
Averaging 31 minutes per game in his past three starts, Arledge has drastically improved his offensive production in terms of scoring, rebounding, shot selection and free throw shooting.
The Patriots have struggled finding a frontcourt offensive threat and a complementary scorer to leading scorer junior guard Sherrod Wright. In the 23 games Mason has played this season, Wright has been the Patriots' leading scorer in 18 of those games.
Entering the final stretch of games, Mason needs to dig deep with every player contributing in their role on the team. Arledge, if he can consistently be a threat to score in the paint, may be the missing piece that the Patriots need to make a run at a CAA Tournament championship in an accommodative tournament.