Mason, UVA battle for tempo in Commonwealth clash

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Mason, UVA battle for tempo in Commonwealth clash

Rather than do a traditional game preview for tonight's George Mason-Virginia matchup tonight at the Patriot Center, we're going notebook style...

*Without suspended center Erik Copes, the Patriots starting five won't look the same against UVA  - or the first three games - as it will the rest of the season. Barring injury setbacks, expect Paul Hewitt to trot out forwards Jonathan Arledge, Anali Okoloji and Johnny Williams with Sherrod Wright and Bryon Allen in the backcourt, the coach told CSNwashington on Thursday.

*As for a specific key to the Commonwealth Clash (catchy, right? Just made it up. Feel free to use it), look no further than the game's pace, which will be dictated on the defensive end. During the preseason, I wrote about Hewitt's desire for a more up-tempo offensive approach this season even though in 2011-12 the Patriots led the CAA in scoring with 70.4 points per game. Those plans will be tested against the half-court loving Cavaliers, who under coach Tony Bennett led the ACC in scoring defense last year, allowing opponents only 54.2 points per game. In last season's meeting in Charlottesville, Virginia did even better, holding George Mason to 48 points in a 20-point win. On the other side, the Patriots defensive designs won't include the shot-blocking Copes. Even with the physical center available in the previous meeting, Virginia shot 60.5 percent from the floor.

"It’s a case of case which team is more effective on the defensive end," Hewitt said. "Tony's teams historically don't give up a lot of points or easy baskets. We have to grind it out."

*So, the Patriots want to push the ball and have the scoreboard humming (or at least be semi-active).That means having a strong traffic cop of a point guard and one that limits turnovers. Allen had his moments during an up-and-down sophomore campaign -- led the team with 123 assists, but also tied Ryan Pearson with a team-high 89 turnovers -- but will need to find a happy medium against the consistently pesky UVA defenders. The good news is that after missing two weeks with what Hewitt called a pulled muscle in his back, Allen has "looked good over last 3-4 days."

*Virginia's starting lineup may include three freshmen, including former Montrose Christian star swingman Justin Anderson, center Mike Tobey and guard Taylor Barnette. The trio would likely join junior forward Akil Mitchell and junior guard Joe Harris, who takes over the scoring burden now that Mike Scott has moved onto the NBA.

"Joe Harris is obviously a terrific player. Terrific scorer, has size." Hewitt said of the 6-foot-6 who averaged 11.3 points and shot 38 percent from 3-point territory last season.

While the Cavaliers frontcourt lacks a scorer like Scott, a prolific double double machine, Hewitt says the unit "is deeper, more athletic."

*Last season Virginia finally made the long climb back to the NCAA Tournament. George Mason most recently reached the ultimate March Madness in 2011 and of course did the Final Four thing in 2006. Part of Hewitt's plan for getting the green and gold back in the field of 68 this season involved beefing up the non-conference schedule. The push starts Friday, for both teams.

"Great opportunity, but here we are here at the start of season, striving for same thing," Hewitt said. "People here remember '06 and '11. That's what were trying to do starting Friday."

*As for the suspensions to Copes and Vaughn Gray, Hewitt offered no specific details. "Student athletes probably today are probably under more scrutiny than in 25 years of coaching," Hewitt said. "Not an excuse, both made mistakes." Hewitt expects to have both plays back for the second round of the Paradise Jam tournament.

Media picks Virginia Tech, Virginia to finish low in the Coastal Division

Media picks Virginia Tech, Virginia to finish low in the Coastal Division

Expectations in Blacksburg and Charlottesville are high for their new coaches, just not among the media.

With Justin Fuente taking over for Frank Beamer at Virginia Tech and Broncon Mendenhall for Mike London at Virginia, the media is not expecting much from either coach in their first season. Virginia Tech was picked to finish fourth in the Coastal Division in the ACC Media Poll while Virginia was picked dead last.

Here are the full results with first place votes in parentheses:

Coastal Division
1. North Carolina (121) - 1,238
2. Miami (50) - 1,108
3. Pitt (14) - 859
4. Virginia Tech (3) - 697
5. Duke (2) - 597
6. Georgia Tech (1) - 588
7. Virginia - 261

Atlantic Division
1. Clemson (148) - 1,293
2. Florida State (42) - 1,176
3. Lousiville (1) - 961
4. NC State - 704
5. Boston College - 441
6. Syracuse - 426
7. Wake Forest - 347

ACC Championship
1. Clemson - 144
2. Florida State - 39
3. North Carolina - 7
4. Louisville - 1

Fourth is the lowest Virginia Tech has been picked since the ACC split into divisions in 2005. The good news for both Hokies and Cavaliers fans is that the media is almost always wrong when it comes to these polls. Last year's Coastal winner, North Carolina, was picked to finish fifth in last year's poll.

The lowest Virginia Tech has been picked to finish in the ACC was sixth in 2004, the Hokies' first year in the league. Virginia Tech went on to win the conference that year and played in the Sugar Bowl.

RELATED: TMZ RELEASES VIDEO OF MARCUS VICK RUNNING FROM POLICE

TMZ releases video of Marcus Vick running from police

TMZ releases video of Marcus Vick running from police

Marcus Vick has had a tough day.

First, he decided to start a Twitter beef with Buffalo Bills running back LeSean McCoy. Vick insinuated on Twitter that his ex-girlfriend contracted an STD from McCoy. (You can read the Tweets here but please note they contain explicit language).

As if that wasn't dumb enough, TMZ released video of Vick running from police in an April incident that resulted in his arrest.

In the video, three Cops are standing around Vick when he takes off. He makes it outside and down the sidewalk. It looks like he may get away, but then he sits down and gives himself up as a cop approaches with his gun drawn.

Vick was wanted for contempt of court in Montgomery County. As officers attempted to arrest Vick, he instead chose to flee from the police. That's right, Vick fled from police over a contempt of court charge. He ultimately pled guilty to resisting arrest.

RELATED: HALL TO BE INDUCTED INTO VT HALL OF FAME

DeAngelo Hall to be inducted into Virginia Tech Hall of Fame

DeAngelo Hall to be inducted into Virginia Tech Hall of Fame

Former Virginia Tech standout and current Washington Redskins safety DeAngelo Hall will be inducted into the Virginia Tech Sports Hall of Fame, the school has announced.

Hall played for the Hokies from 2001 to 2003, catching an interception as a true freshman in the very first game of his collegiate career. He was a dynamic player for Virginia Tech on defense, offense and special teams, scoring touchdowns in all three phases of the game. Hall remains the only player in school history to return two punts for touchdowns in the same game which he did in 2003 against Syracuse. He also played a major role in one of the biggest wins in program history, a 31-7 win over No. 2 Miami in 2003 in which Hall scored a touchdown on a strip and return.

The Chesapeake, Va. native was named an All-American after the 2003 season. He left Virginia Tech after three years and was selected by the Atlanta Falcons in the 2004 NFL Draft. He is now in his eighth season in Washington.

Kerri Gardin, Kevin Jones, Spyridon Jullien, Ashlee Lee and Jim Weaver will also be inducted with Hall. The ceremony will take place on Sept. 16 and all six will be introduced the following day during halftime of Virginia Tech's game against Boston College.

RELATED: VIRGINIA TECH LANDS FOUR COMMITMENTS SATURDAY