Hewitt readying Mason for his up-tempo designs

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Hewitt readying Mason for his up-tempo designs

The ball moving north and south with a quickened pace, the players creating an up-tempo scenario by taking fast break opportunities when obviously presented and sometimes when they are not.

This is Paul Hewitt basketball. Mason Nation caught a glimpse of the coach's rapid play designs last season, but not the full throated scheme.

Assuming the Patriots youthful backcourt breaks from their turnover-heavy habits, expect a more sustained look at Hewitt's push-the-ball approach during the 2012-13 campaign --now that half-courters Ryan Pearson and Mike Morrison have graduated.

It's blasphimous to suggest the Patriots are better off now that their two long-time interior stalwarts have used up all their eligibility. Nobody is doing that here. Clearly replacing Pearson, the burly CAA Player of the Year, and a defensive stalwart like the lengthy Morrison is a sizable task.

That's why going forward, for the growth of the program under the second-year coach, consider Pearson and Morrison's departure as necessary evils.

In his first season on the Fairfax campus, Hewitt gently imposed his hardwood ideals on a team coming off an NCAA Tournament appearance under his predecessor Jim Larranaga. Wisely, the former Georgia Tech coach played to his team's strengths. At George Mason that meant keeping Pearson and Morrison in their comfort zones which meant more half-court action - and less running than many of Hewitt's previous teams,.

With his second recruiting class now in the mix, with the benefit of having an entire off-season rather than the mini version he had following Larranaga's surprise departure, with another year of teaching his playbook, Hewitt moves closer to his desired style. 

"I wouldn't mind having Ryan and Mike back," Hewitt exclaimed at the CAA media day earlier this month before acknowledging the potential benefits of change. "We relied on those guys so much last year, we probably didn't play as fast as we could have or wanted too."

That's not to say the Patriots sat on the ball; George Mason led the CAA in scoring with 70.4 points per game.

The Patriots were also among the worst when it came to coughing up possession.

George Mason's 15.2 turnovers per game average ranked among the CAA's highest. Some games, Hewitt surely wished the team only committed 15 turnovers. In three of their four non-conference losses, including a 20-point defeat at Virginia, the Patriots turned the ball over at least 20 times. George Mason opens the upcoming season hosting Virginia on Nov. 9.

In a win or go home scenario against VCU in the CAA Tournament, Mason committed 17 turnovers, eight coming during an epic 22-0 first half run by the winning Rams.

"That's a big problem that we had last year," Hewitt said. "The offseason workouts will help us improve that, but we've been making it a point of emphasis through practice. We keep harping on the fact that we turned the ball over so much."

In his first season as a starter, point guard Bryon Allen matched Pearson with a team-high 89 turnovers. Over the Patriots final four games, the Largo native lost possession a whopping 4.5 per contest. Allen's freshman backup Corey Edwards committed 2.2 turnovers per game despite averaging 15 minutes.

With a year of experience now on their resume, the coach expects improvement from his primary ball handlers and decision makers. Even without his top two scorers from last season's 24-win team, Hewitt believes his current edition can score more. That is, if they come to value possession.

"Even with all of the turnovers we were the highest scoring team in the CAA," Hewitt said. "If we can hold onto the ball a little more, get more shots, hey, maybe we add another 5-10 points to our scoring average per game."

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.

RELATED: HOKIES COMMIT PULLS OFF CRAZY SPIN MOVE

Hokies commit pulls off crazy spin move

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USA TODAY Sports

Hokies commit pulls off crazy spin move

Sometimes people can get too caught up with numbers. When fans hear about a player committing to their favorite team they immediately want to know how many stars? What are his stats? What are his rankings?

So when receiver Muskegon, Mich. native Kalil Pimpleton committed to Virginia Tech, it didn't get a lot of attention. Pimpleton is not rated by Rivals and is ranked as only a two-star commit from 247 Sports.

But when you see Pimpleton pull off moves like this, it's easy to see why the Hokies are excited about him:

Pimpleton is only 5-foot-7. The only other offer he received, according to 247, was from Eastern Michigan. But if he can keep making plays like that, the Hokies may have found a diamond in the rough.

RELATED: TWO HOKIES SUSPENDED INDEFINITELY AFTER ARRESTS