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.

Virginia Tech reveals uniforms for Battle at Bristol game vs. Tennessee

Virginia Tech reveals uniforms for Battle at Bristol game vs. Tennessee

A big-time game deserves a big-time uniform.

Virginia Tech delivered on that claim aturday as they revealed their look for the upcoming Battle at Bristol game vs. Tennessee.

The Sept. 20 non-conference game between the border rivals will be played in the infield of Bristol International Speedway in is what expected to be the largest crowd in college football history.

The official reveal was made via a video posted on YouTube:

Other views of the uniforms were also posted on Twitter:

The famous Hokie Stone was the inspiration for the look. The Hokies Stone is a type of rock found in Western Virginia almost exclusively in a nearby quarry owned by the school. It has become an iconic symbol of the school as several building on campus were built from the stone. Players will tap a Hokie Stone that hangs over the tunnel as they enter Lane Stadium during the football season.

The uniform's primary color scheme of black and grey pays homage to the team's history as those were the official colors of Virginia Tech before the school adopted the classic burnt orange and Chicago maroon we recognize today. The color grey was also chosen because it is a prominent color of the Corps of Cadets, according to a statement on the school's athletics website.

And boy do they look sharp. What do you think? Be sure to let us know!

The Battle at Bristol against Tennessee will take place on Sept. 10 at Bristol Motor Speedway.

RELATED: HOKIES QB COMPETITION A THREE-MAN RACE?

Former Top 100 recruit White to transfer from Georgetown

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USA Today Sports

Former Top 100 recruit White to transfer from Georgetown

BY JEREMY FIALKOW (@JeremyFialkow)

For the seventh time since the start of the 2010 season, the Georgetown Hoyas are losing a player to transfer.

On Thursday, the school's athletic department announced rising junior Paul White — a small forward by trade — will be leaving "The Hilltop" to continue his basketball career at another school.

RELATED: SON OF FORMER BULLETS STAR SET TO JOIN HOYAS

Hampered by a nagging hip injury during the Hoyas' 2015-16 season which saw them finish 15-18, White will try to make a name for himself in another uniform. Last year, he averaged 1.6 ppg, 1.6 apg and 1.6 apg in seven appearances before calling it a year with season-ending surgery.

White began his career in a promising manner, putting up 5.0 ppg and 2.8 rpg as a freshman in 2014-15. But a wealth of talent at the forward position and an lingering injury meant White spent more time on the bench than on the court. After averaging 18.4 mpg in his freshman campaign, he averaged just 9.6 mpg as a sophomore.

White has a smooth mid-range game and his long frame allows him to play in multiple spots on the floor, providing a matchup problem for opposing defense. But the Hoyas just have too many players at forward. With L.J. Peak, Isaac Copeland, Marcus Derrickson, Reggie Cameron and Louisville transfer Akoy Agau all competing for solid minutes, there just isn't enough time to go around for White. 

The Chicago native was a four-star Class of 2014 forward from  Whitney Young High School who received offers from Miami (Fla.), Arizona, UConn, DePaul and Minnesota in addition to Georgetown. He was ranked No. 34 in ESPN's Top 100 for the class of 2014. 

RELATED: HOYAS PART OF A LOADED MAUI INVITATIONAL FIELD

Virginia Tech quarterback competition suddenly a three-man race

Virginia Tech quarterback competition suddenly a three-man race

The quarterback competition at Virginia Tech was thought to be down to senior Brenden Motley and Juco transfer Jerod Evans, but now it seems a third contender has emerged. On Tuesday, Justin Fuente spoke glowingly of freshman quarterback Josh Jackson after practice, seemingly declaring the quarterback race to now be between three players.

“[Jackson's] had a really good camp and a great summer," Fuente said. "Don’t overreact to what I’m saying. I still don’t know what way it’s going to go, but he’s had a really good camp."

A true freshman out of Ann Arbor, Mich., Jackson was recruited by former offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler. His emergence in the quarterback race is rather sudden.

RELATED: VIRGINIA TECH THEMED RACE CAR REVEALED

Jackson enrolled at Virginia Tech early and took part in spring practice, but at the time he appeared to fall behind Motley and Evans. His work at practice this summer has impressed Fuente enough, however, to put him in the running for the starting job.

“I think he’s done the three things that we have set out for those guys to do," Fuente said. "I’m not saying that he is doing it on a more consistent basis than anybody else. I’m just saying he is doing things more consistently than he did in the spring. In turns of valuing the football, managing the ups and downs in practice and predicting outcomes – distributing the ball in the places it’s supposed to go."

Fuente has remained diplomatic in his comments on his quarterbacks, but his direct praise of Jackson who was not previously thought to be in the running is notable.

Virginia Tech has already lost one quarterback this summer as the highly touted Dwayne Lawson elected to transfer to Hutchinson Community College. Jackson is a freshman from Michigan who was recruited by a coach no longer on the staff. With three-star quarterbacks Hendon Hooker and DeJuan Ellis committed to the 2017 and 2018 classes respectively, perhaps there is a fear that Jackson could follow Lawson out of Blacksburg. Making Jackson feel as if he is competing for the starting job could be Fuente's way of trying to keep Jackson from leaving.

Could Jackson actually emerge as the team's starter this season? If Fuente believes he gives the team the best chance to win then yes, but considering what Jerod Evans was able to do in junior college and that he was recruited by Fuente while he was still at Memphis, it seems safe to assume he remains the front runner.

Still, Fuente has made clear that it's too soon to count out anyone, including the young Jackson.

"I’m encouraged by all three," Fuente said. "All three work hard. They are good people, and they want what is best for Virginia Tech.”

MORE VIRGINIA TECH: Hokies nab local four-star receiver