NCAA

GW's next stop: consistency, BB&T Classic

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GW's next stop: consistency, BB&T Classic

For last year's BB&T Classic matchup, Mike Lonergan famously took his team from Foggy Bottom to Chinatown via the Metro - only to have VCU later ruin the ride by handing George Washington a 15-point loss.

For this year's matchup against Manhattan, the Colonials' coach is sticking with public transportation plan for the 15-block trip. However, he's hoping his new building blocks alter the game result.

"Hopefully, we'll play better this year," Lonergan said. The opportunity commences Sunday at 12:15 in the first game of the doubleheader, followed by Maryland versus George Mason.

Through six games, the Colonials (3-3) have been better in spots, especially regarding offensive efficiency and defense. However, scoring and overall inconsistency remain. That's hardly a stunner considering George Washington sports four new starters, including three freshmen.

That stands in contrast to a Manhattan (2-3) squad that returns five starters from a 21-win team, though the Jaspers have already suffered road losses at Louisville, Harvard and Dayton.

On Monday, George Washington couldn't take advantage of its home court advantage against Mount St. Mary's, falling 65-56. Two days later in Harrisonburg, Va., the Colonial kids led the way to a 55-54 triumph at James Madison. Guard Joe McDonald and center Kevin Larsen each scored 12 points while fellow freshman Patricio Garino drained a 3-pointer in the closing minutes during the decisive 7-2 run.

"The Mount game was definitely a heartbreaker, bad loss for us at home," Lonergan said. "That made the James Madison game that much more important. I thought we played pretty well...Our freshman made a lot of good plays late in the game. They've been inconsistent, which I thought they'd be, but they've played well."

The other new starter, junior transfer Isaiah Armwood, is George Washington's springy center not to mention leading scorer (11.5), rebounder (8.5) and shot blocker (2.5) plus anchor on both ends of the court. Wing guard Lasan Kromah is only recently returning to the opening lineup, but responding with aplomb. In his last three games, the Colonials leading returning scorer is averaging 14.3 points on 67.9 percent shooting (19-28) from the field with 2.7 assists and 1.7 steals.

Though scoring droughts remain an issue, collectively this unit has helped jump GW's field goal percentage from 42.5 last season to a healthier 45.3. Credit smarter shot selection and passing; even without last year's star point guard Tony Taylor the Colonials are averaging 15 assists per game, three more than a season ago.

"I think our basketball IQ is higher so we're going to get more assists," Lonergan said.

Defensively, GW is holding opponents to less than 60 points per game over the last five contests including three wins.

Lonergan noted, "I think we're a better defensive team. We play harder. We still struggle to score...Armwood has definitely brought a lot of energy. He plays so hard, he's intense and that's contagious. Joe and Patricio are two of our best defenders as freshman."

Senior swingman George Beamon (14.5 ppg) and junior guard Michael Alvarado (11.6) lead the Jaspers in scoring, though there hasn't been much scoring for Manhattan this year, yet to top 58 points in a game this season. The Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference program is stronger than the record and point production suggests, yet a curious opponent considering the higher profile matchups over the BB&T's long history.

Lonergan, who grew up in the Maryland suburbs and played High School ball in the District, has heard gripes from others outside his program regarding the current event setup and distant rumblings about the future, though "no one has said it's the last year." If anything Lonergan, like others have wished over the years, would like to see the event become a true local college showcase.

"I wish we were playing a team like Maryland or Georgetown or George Mason because it would be good for local basketball," Lonergan said. "But we're playing a mid-major team that's got five starters back from a 21-win season. People might not know Manhattan, but we're actually playing a pretty good team. I want to play the best team we can play on a neutral court."

That is indeed where the coach's focus is now, the next game, the rest of this year -and not missing the Gallery Place Metro stop.

Unique skillset benefits George Mason's Marquise Moore in NBA aspirations

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USA TODAY Sports

Unique skillset benefits George Mason's Marquise Moore in NBA aspirations

Marquise Moore is not your prototypical college basketball star. But as the 2016-17 season prooved, he is one of the most intriguing and interesting players. 

Standing at just 6-2, the George Mason guard averaged a double-double, and the second category wasn't assists.

The lightly recruited Queens, N.Y. native averaged 16.9 points and 10.9 rebounds, while being the eighth best rebounder in the country. Of the top 50 rebounders last season, Moore was the only one under 6-5 and was the best rebounder among guards. 

Entering college as a two-star recruit with just three offers, Moore's collegiate career ended as a all-conference performer at a traditional mid-major power.

This past season the Patriots finished 20-14, the best mark in Moore's four years with the team. It was also Moore's coming out party, Moore flourished on court and garnered attention from several national outlets due to his unique and unlikely skillset.

Outlets like the Washington Post and Bleacher Report were baffled on how a 6-2 guard could be so good at rebounding. His opponents were baffled too.

"Marquise could not be guarded and kept out of the paint one-on-one in the Atlantic 10," George Mason coach Dave Paulsen told CSN Mid-Atlantic. "I gotta believe he'd have the ability to get into the lane, to attack at the highest of levels."

Now, the Atlantic 10 is nothing compared to the level of play in the NBA, but his skills can transfer across all levels. In the association, teams cannot collapse on a small guard driving down the lane, otherwise sharp shooters will be left open. If his college game can translate, he could be the perfect bench point guard to at least get starters rest and generate scoring opportunities. Already his workouts with the Houston Rockets and Philadelphia 76ers prepared him for the higher level of play. 

"You want it more when you are playing against those type of guys," Moore told CSN in Early July. "I've never been highly ranked, highly recruited or anything. Definitely felt overlooked so I'm glad I proved I'm just as good or better than them." 

Getting some pre-draft workouts with both the Rockets and 76ers, there was optimism that Moore could get pulled for a summer league roster.

Unfortunately for the George Mason grad, an ankle tweak in early May served as a major setback for a player that has a lot to prove with opportunities few and far between.

"I think he'd have four or five more workouts if he hadn't had the ankle sprain," Paulsen said. "Had he had a few more workouts, that would have gotten him more exposure to get in for a summer league thing. He's a few weeks behind because of the ankle sprain and its going to take him a little longer to get where he wants to go."

With the summer league now gone without Moore on any roster, he is now in a limbo like many other talented stars who did not benefit from the high-major spotlight. Of course for all basketball prospects, the ultimate dream is to play in the NBA, but the best path to get there is not always clear.

The two primary options for Moore is to play overseas or continue to get workouts with the NBA and G-League teams domestically. 

Currently, Moore is still battling for his NBA path. He is set up to participate in the G-League Player Invitational Aug. 13 in Chicago, an event he can earn eligibility for the G-League draft in October. 

"I feel like I have interest from NBA teams," Moore said. "Going to the G-league will be a more foreseeable option, but I'm not sure if I want to enter the G-league blindly without hearing from any NBA teams becuase its really hard to move up that way."

As a guard with incredible physicality, the unknown is actually what could bring Moore to an NBA team.

Will there be a team willing to bite?

The G-League Player Invitational will be the next measuring stick on how NBA coaches and scouts feel about Moore a month removed from summer league. Admitting his weaknesses in the workouts, Moore thrives during live-ball action, which is a huge part of the invitational. 

Look out for teams that need rebounding and thrive off of physical play. Teams that come to mind instantly are the Atlanta Hawks, Washington Wizards, Dallas Mavericks, Los Angeles Clippers; two teams that had pre-draft interest, the Chicago Bulls and Rockets; and the team who followed him thoughout his senior season, the Brooklyn Nets.

Its too bad that Washington's G-League team will not be formed until next season, otherwise there would be a perfect backup guard that could work right into Washington's system. 

"Mason fans know what I can do but I feel like most people still don't know. Just trying to show people what I can do one person at a time, you know, get a shot."

University of Virginia cornerback wins $100k in Virginia lottery

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Virginia Lottery

University of Virginia cornerback wins $100k in Virginia lottery

Virginia cornerback Chuck Davis hit all five numbers recently on Cash Five game from the Virginia Lottery to take home $100,000.

He went on a coffee run one morning for his mom and decided to play the numbers his gradmother gave him and now he's $100k richer and looks like the happiest person on the planet.

God first last and always 🙌🏽

A post shared by Charles Davis (@forevergone6) on

Davis is a redshirt freshman after sitting out a year after a transfer from Nebraska. As for his plans for the money?

Here's hoping he gets to enjoy all the money and doesn't get a call from the NCAA.