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.

Virginia Tech to hold four satellite camps

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USA TODAY Sports

Virginia Tech to hold four satellite camps

The hot topic around college football this offseason has been satellite camps and now the Hokies are getting into the mix. Head coach Justin Fuente announced on Tuesday that Virginia Tech will have four satellite camps over the summer, two will take place in key regions in Virginia while the other two will be out of state in Atlanta and New Jersey.

Of the two camps in Virginia, one will take place in the "757"—the Hampton, Norfolk, Virginia Beach area—while the other will be in Northern Virginia. The 757 region is an incredibly fertile recruiting area that has caught the attention of southern powerhouses like Florida State. Northern Virginia is also a hotly contested area with competition from the University of Virginia and the University of Maryland, among others.

The ACC previously banned satellite camps and pushed for a ban by the NCAA. The NCAA did ban the practice altogther, briefly, but after a national outcry, the ban was overturned last month.

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For his part, Fuente is not a fan of these camps, but recognizes the necessity of holding them.

“There’s a lot of issues with camps right now that we’re all trying to vet through,” Fuente said via Mike Barber of the Richmond Times-Dispatch. “In general, the whole traveling camp (idea) is not particularly good. It just opens up a lot of room for abuse. They’re not regulated at all. But I’m excited about being able to travel in our state.”

Going to Atlanta is an interesting move, but a necessary one if the Hokies hope to return to their former glory. Recruiting in the south opens Virginia Tech to more top-tier recruits. Obviously, it will be difficult to lure southern prospects away from the SEC powers, but being able to build a footprint in the SEC's backyard will greatly help Fuente's task of rebuilding the team into a conference contender.

The move to New Jersey also makes sense. The lack of a power program in the Northeast essentially makes the region up for grabs. Schools like Ohio State and Penn State have taken advantage of Rutgers' move to the Big Ten, but obviously the ACC maintains a presence throughout the east coast.

Virginia Tech's rather remote location makes holding these camps within the state important. The state was previously dominated by the Hokies in the glory days of the Frank Beamer era, but in-state recruiting has slipped in recent years. Holding Virginia camps will help Virginia Tech maintain its presence in the state.

“I think it’s certainly necessary in our state,” Fuente said. “We’re just going to dip our toe in the water of the other ones and see how that goes. I’m genuinely excited to do the ones here.”

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Virginia fires legendary lacrosse coach Dom Starsia

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(AP Photo/Kathy Kmonicek)

Virginia fires legendary lacrosse coach Dom Starsia

Virginia is making a change in leadership at the head of its lacrosse program.

On Monday the university announced that Dom Starsia, the all-time winningest coach in Division I lacrosse history with 375 victories, is being removed from his head coaching position, with a national search for a replacement to follow.

 

“Dom Starsia is a Hall of Fame coach and I want to thank him for all he has done for Virginia men’s lacrosse, UVA athletics, the University of Virginia, and the Charlottesville community,” Virginia athletic director Craig Littlepage said in a statement. “In addition to winning 73 percent of his games at UVA with multiple ACC and NCAA championships, Dom was committed to the development of student-athletes as his teams were cited for their sportsmanship and academic achievements. I’m grateful for the opportunity to have worked with and learned from Dom."

Under his watch, the Cavaliers won the ACC regular season championship ten times, and led the program to four National Championships (1999, 2003, 2006 and 2011).

He took a program that had not made the NCAA Tournament in four consecutive seasons and had not won a national championship since 1972 and turned it into arguably the top program in college lacrosse. Virginia is not just a good program, nor is it just a great program. It is a blue-blood program, something that can only be ascribed to one of three or four programs.

But the firing of Starsia comes on the heels of a 7-8 record, the program's second in three years, capping a four year stretch in which the program lost at least five games a year, for a 34-27 record since the start to the 2013 season. Prior to 2013, Starsia's Virginia teams had lost five games in a season just five times since taking over as the head coach of the Cavaliers in 1993. Virginia has a 1-15 record in the ACC since 2013 and has dropped 12 consecutive conference games. 

It also ends two weeks of speculation for Starsia, the program and recruits. On May 17th, it was reported that the university would not be renewing Starsia's contract. Two days later on May 19, a report indicated a contract extension had been confirmed.

But now it is official: Virginia is in the market for a new lacrosse coach for the first time since 1992.

Frank Beamer seems to be really enjoying retirement

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USA TODAY Sports

Frank Beamer seems to be really enjoying retirement

Retirement doesn't seem to suit everyone, especially in sports. History is full of examples of players and coaches who get antsy soon after calling it quits. That doesn't seem to be the case with Frank Beamer.

Beamer stepped aside at the end of the 2015 season after a 44-year college coaching career that included 29 years as the head coach at Virginia Tech. After such a long and storied career, you could understand if Beamer struggled a bit to adjust to life outside of coaching, but he seems to be doing just fine.

Hey, when you lead a program to 22 bowl games, seven conference championships and one national championship game berth, you can enjoy retirement any way you want.

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