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.

College Football Playoff projections: From contender to pretender in just four weeks

College Football Playoff projections: From contender to pretender in just four weeks

There were high hopes for LSU at the start of the season. With the collection of talent the Tigers boast on their roster, there was no reason to think they could not challenge Alabama for SEC supremacy.

Even my preseason College Football Playoff projections at the start of the season had LSU as one of the four teams to make the playoff.

SEE THE NEW COLLEGE FOOTBALL PLAYOFF PROJECTION HERE

The Tigers' championship hopes took a hit with an opening loss to Wisconsin. Now just four games into their season, Les Miles been fired and their playoff aspirations appear to be completely dashed after a devastating loss Auburn.

With Alabama looking as dominant as ever and what was believed to be their main rival already looking down and out, who else can challenge the Tide for supremacy of the SEC? Who else joins the Alabama in the projected top four?

Find out here in this week's College Football Playoff projection.

Jerod Evans' 4 touchdowns carry Virginia Tech past East Carolina

Jerod Evans' 4 touchdowns carry Virginia Tech past East Carolina

BLACKSBURG, Va. (AP) -- Jerod Evans said that he needed to clean up some things during Virginia Tech's upcoming off week.

The Hokies' fan base may be wondering what exactly that is. His play so far has been sparkling.

Evans, the Hokies' starting quarterback, threw three touchdown passes and rushed for one to lift Virginia Tech over East Carolina 54-17 on Saturday.

The Hokies (3-1) scored on their final five possessions of the first half, including all four of their second-quarter possessions, to overwhelm East Carolina (2-2) and snap a two-game losing streak to the Pirates.

Evans completed 13 of 20 passes for a career-best 282 yards and rushed for a career-best 97 more. He has thrown at least three touchdown passes in three of the Hokies' first four games and is completing 67 percent of his passes.

"I missed a couple of things here and there," Evans said. "I have a lot of things that I can get better at for sure."

Evans entered the game with an ACC-best 10 touchdown passes this season. Of more importance to Virginia Tech coach Justin Fuente, he has thrown just one interception.

"I think he's pretty good," Virginia Tech coach Justin Fuente said of Evans. "He's been judicious with the ball and he's going to the right place most of the time. He's been pretty efficient."

Following a punt return for a touchdown by Greg Stroman and a touchdown run by Marshawn Williams that gave the Hokies a 14-0 lead in the first quarter, Evans threw touchdown passes of 24 yards to Isaiah Ford, 13 yards to Travon McMillian and 55 yards to Cam Phillips. That final score gave the Hokies a 38-0 halftime lead.

ECU quarterback Philip Nelson had 362 yards passing and two touchdown tosses to Jimmy Williams. The Pirates had 443 yards of offense, but committed three special teams mistakes, fumbled once and were sacked six times.

"We studied the film well and they had a lot of keys when they were sliding the protection," said Ken Ekanem, who had two of the Hokies' six sacks. "We had a lot of indicators and we knew when someone was going to be left one-on-one. We look forward to one-on-one matchups and pride ourselves on winning those. We did a good job of that today."

THE TAKEAWAY

EAST CAROLINA: Coming off a 20-15 loss at South Carolina and playing its third consecutive game against a Power 5 opponent, the Pirates looked a step slow and out of sorts from the opening kick. They went three-and-out on five first-half possessions. The Pirates hope to regroup now that they have finished the non-conference portion of their schedule.

"That was clearly the best football team that we have played," ECU coach Scottie Montgomery said. "The most physical. The biggest. The fastest. The strongest. The smartest. I thought they competed well in their scheme. They played great emotional football. They leaned on their crowd. They played a complete football game -- as complete as it gets."

VIRGINIA TECH: The Hokies dominated on special teams, scoring three touchdowns as a result of those units. Greg Stroman scored on an 87-yard punt return, and Cam Phillips blocked a punt that led to an Evans touchdown pass to Travon McMillian. A sack of ECU punter Worth Gregory in the fourth quarter led to a 1-yard touchdown run by backup quarterback Brenden Motley.

UP NEXT

EAST CAROLINA: The Pirates open AAC play next Saturday with a home game against UCF. ECU blasted the Golden Knights 44-7 last season for their first win in Orlando since 2008.

VIRGINIA TECH: The Hokies are off next week before taking on North Carolina on Oct. 8 and will be looking to avenge last year's 30-27 overtime loss. The Hokies have won nine of the 12 meetings with the Tar Heels since joining the ACC.