George Mason seeks resume-building wins in paradise

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George Mason seeks resume-building wins in paradise

Coming off a loss at Bucknell, George Mason looks to rebound this weekend island-style, though there doesn't figure to be tons of toes in the sand time during the Patriots' jaunt to St. Thomas.

Without a pair of suspended sophomores, Paul Hewitt's squad faces Atlantic Sun program Mercer on Friday at 1:30 p.m., the first of three games in four days for the Patriots (1-1). After the meeting with the Bears, Hewitt will have the services of imposing center Erik Copes and swingman Vaughn Gray for the final two games. Before the season, the sophomores were each suspended three games for conduct violations.

The matchup with Mercer stands as potentially one of three games that will boost Mason's all-important RPI. Yes, it's important to live in the moment, especially when you're in, hello, paradise, but this tournament is tremendous opportunity to help the Patriots NCAA Tournament at-large resume.

Following Mercer, George Mason faces either New Mexico, an NCAA Tournament team last season, or Illinois-Chicago. No. 23 Connecticut and Wake Forest loom on the other side of the bracket along with Iona and Quinnipiac. With a little luck, the Patriots could leave the island with three matchups the bracketology community will love in addition to the two already in the can.

Facing a comparable scenario last season in the NIT Tipoff, the Patriots fell to upstart Florida International in the early rounds. That meant rather than playing Virginia Tech, George Mason took on the underwhelming trio of Monmouth, Brown and Albany.

Junior point guard Bryon Allen, the reigning CAA co-Player of the Week, scored five of his 13 points in the final minute of George Mason's season opening win over Virginia. Swingman Sherrod Wright leads the Patriots in scoring (15.5) while shooting 60 percent from the field.

The Bears (2-0) have won their games this season by an average of 37 points, though it's hard to gauge what to make over victories against Sewanee (?) and Oglethorpe (???). There is no mistaking the Macon, Ga. program's accomplishments last season as anything but impressive. Four starters return from a 27-win team that knocked off Georgia Tech during the regular season and captured a postseason championship in the College Insiders.com tournament. Guard Travis Smith (11.5 ppg) leads in scoring, though the Bears are expected to be without All-Conference point guard Langston Hall (ankle).

Beat Mercer and George Mason plays the New Mexico/UIC winner on Sunday at 7:00 p.m. Lose and the Patriots second game is 5:00 p.m. on Saturday. Regardless of the path, the third game will be on Monday.

Virginia guard Marial Shayok transferring from program

Virginia guard Marial Shayok transferring from program

By Ben Brown

Following a disappointing end to a once-promising season, Virginia guard Marial Shayok and forward Jarred Reuter will transfer to another school, head coach Tony Bennett announced Wednesday. 

"Marial and Jarred informed me today that they are leaving the Virginia basketball program and are looking to transfer to other schools," Bennett said. "I thank Marial and Jarred for their hard work and contributions to our program, and wish them success in the future."

Shayok was the Cavaliers' second-leading scorer at 8.9 points per game, despite playing only the fifth-most minutes and regularly coming off the bench. The Ontario product scored a career-high 23 points in Virginia's win over UNC-Wilmington in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. 

Reuter averaged 10 minutes a game and averaged 3.8 points per game. 

Shayok and Reuter transferring comes at the end of a very disappointing season for Virginia. The Cavaliers began the season in the top 10 of the AP poll, and halfway through conference play they were near the top of the standings in the ACC. But that was before the team went into a major funk as they lost four of their last seven games, which dropped them to sixth in the conference standings. 

Virginia lost in the second round of the ACC Tournament to Notre Dame, and then got blasted by Florida by 26 points in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. 

In addition to the losses of Shayok and Reuter, London Perrantes, the team's best player and leader, is graduating. 

After a rough regular season, Virginia's offseason is off to a rocky start as well. 

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VCU reportedly wastes little time finding Mike Rhoades, Will Wade's replacement

VCU reportedly wastes little time finding Mike Rhoades, Will Wade's replacement

BY TYLER BYRUM, @theTylerByrum

Less than 24 hours after VCU saw yet another head coach in Will Wade, take off to a Power 5 school, the athletic department has already found a replacement, according to a report. 

Wasting no time, or allowing any speculation to build, the Rams have hired Mike Rhoades, the head coach of Rice, as Will Wade's replacement.

Rhoades will be the 12th coach of the men's basketball program in VCU history. 

The announcement was first reported by CBS's Gary Parrish:

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Rhoades is a former VCU assistant and associate head coach for five seasons. During his time with the Rams he helped the Shaka Smart led team to four NCAA Tournament appearances, including the Final Four run in 2011.

After Smart's departure to Texas, many considered Rhoades to be on the short list of coaches that VCU would contact. His familiarity with the program and the culture was exactly what VCU was looking for in order to have continued success at the school. The athletic department went on to hire a former assistant, but instead hired Wade. 

In 2014, he took on the head coaching position at Rice where he has been for the past three years. His overall record with the Owls is 47-52 with this past year being the only one to finish above .500. Receiving a bid to the CBI Tournament, it was the Owls first postseason appearance since 2012. 

If Rhoades does not work out for the Rams, there is only one more assistant remaining from the Final Four team that has yet to take over the program. Mike Jones is currently the head coach of Radford and has been there ever since that season. 

Wade's departure was yet another in a long line of talented, up-and-coming coaches using VCU as a springboard to a high-major position.

Jeff Capel began the trend in 2006, when he left for Oklahoma after returning the Rams to the NCAA Tournament in 2004 for the first time since 1996. His replacement, Anthony Grant, led the Rams to two NCAA Tournaments before leaving to take the head coaching job at Alabama. Grant's replacem,ent, Shaka Smart, led the Rams to five straight NCAA Tournaments, including a trip to the Final Four in 2011. 

Wade led the Rams to two NCAA Tournaments in his two seasons and is now headed to LSU to attempt to revitalize the program.