Plenty Wright going for GMU; host BU next

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Plenty Wright going for GMU; host BU next

The Patriots did not return to the mainland with the Paradise Jam title. It could be months before we learn whether either of George Mason's two victories earned on the island of St. Thomas prove NCAA Tournament resume helpful. Saturday's matchup against winless Boston University (4:00 p.m., Patriot Center) may not provide additional clarity. However, we know this much about the Patriots right now:

- led by guard Sherrod Wright, the Patriots are offensively potent and efficient. Among CAA teams, George Mason ranks first in 3-point shooting and third in field goal percentage.

- Following the return of center Erik Copes and swingman Vaughn Gray, Mason is legitimately deep.Like mixing and matching 12 players without a noticeable drop off in most spots deep.

- The team quickly rebounded from the stunning collapse against New Mexico, one that cost the Patriots a championship game slot, to soundly beat Quinnipiac. Plenty of talking points and questions remain for coach Paul Hewitt to teach his players heading into the non-conference game against the Terriers (0-4), but that's some legitimate mental resolve showed considering how the loss unfolded.

Throughout the three-game event, Wright made shots, which is hardly a surprise seeing as knocked down looks from all angles last season. The 6-foot-4 guard, Mason's top scorer in four of games this season, shot 48.4 percent while averaging 16.7 points at the Paradise Jam. Though Wright's 3-point touch proved faulty against Mercer and Quinnipiac, the junior drilled 5 of 7 from beyond the arc en route to scoring 22 points against New Mexico. Hardly a one-trick Patriot, Wright grabbed seven rebounds in the tournament finale and made 15 of 18 free throws during the three games.

Forward Johnny Williams paced the Patriots against Mercer with 16 points and 10 rebounds then went for 12 and 8 with three steals against New Mexico. After sitting out last season, the slimmed-down 6-foot-8 forward looks much improved both as a scorer and banger. Not saying the Patriots have flat out replaced the graduated Ryan Pearson-Mike Morrison production, but Williams and Copes (4 of 5 FG, nine rebounds vs. Quinnipiac) are eliminating fears that they won't.

Turnovers remain a concern - 19 against Mercer, 16 against New Mexico including a costly late botch - though the Patriots pressure defense forced 16.7 per game.

Though winless, the Terriers suffered close encounters against CAA-program Northeastern and Rutgers, losing by one and two points respectively. Guard D.J. Irving leads Boston with 18.0 points though collectively the Terriers are shooting only 40.8 percent from the field.

Elsewhere in the CAA this weekend...

Saturday

Hofstra at George Washington - 2 p.m.: After claiming three straight wins, the Pride (3-3) lost at Manhattan on Wednesday despite 22 points from sophomore guard Taran Buie, Hofstra's leading scorer. Though Buie and 5-foot-10 dynamo Shaquille Stokes thrive on the perimeter, Hofstra is shooting only 29.8 percent from 3-point territory. Defensively against George Washington (1-2), the Pride must slow down freshman point guard Joe McDonald and keep energetic center Isaiah Armwood off the glass.

James Madison at Miami (Ohio) - Noon: In between two blowout losses, including a 22-point drubbing by North Dakota State, the Dukes lost by two in overtime at Duquesne and defeated Youngstown State. Leading scorer Raysahwn Goins scored at least 20 points in each of JMU's first three games, but finished 2 of 10 for five points against NDSU.

UNCW vs. Wofford - 2 p.m.: The Seahawks (1-3) return home for two weekend games after three straight road losses. UNCW also hosts Hampton on Sunday.

Old Dominion at Murray State - 8 p.m.: Starting the season 1-4 is not what you expect out of a Blaine Taylor coached team. Ending the current 3-game losing skid against the Racers and All-American candidate Isaiah Canaan won't be easy, or likely.

Northeastern (in Great Alaska Shootout): Following Friday's semifinal tilt against Belmont, the Huskies will play Charlotte or Oral Roberts on Saturday. Guard Quincy Ford scored 14 points in Wednesday's opening round 61-52 win over UC Riverside.

Sunday

Drexel (in Anaheim Classic): The CAA preseason favorites opened the campaign with a fierce non-conference schedule. Bruiser Flint's squad has not shown they can handle, losing four of five games including Friday's 69-65 setback against Xavier. Rarely pretty offensively, two of the Dragons primary scorers - Chris Fouch and Frantz Massenat - are both shooting less than 40 percent from the floor. While other games exist before the Dragons open CAA play, their NCAA Tournament fate essentially now lays in winning the conference tournament. As for their current tournament, Drexel will face either Drake or Rice on Sunday.

Delaware at Temple - 2 p.m.: Historically this matchup would seem lopsided in the Owls' favor, but these Blue Hens (2-3) are a tough out no matter the record. Guard Devon Saddler went for 28 points in Friday's loss at Pittsburgh while 6-foot-9 forward Jamelle Hagins averages 13 rebounds and 10 points. Senior swingman Scootie Randall leads Temple (2-0) with 23.5 points per game.

Virginia guard Marial Shayok transferring from program

Virginia guard Marial Shayok transferring from program

By Ben Brown

Following a disappointing end to a once-promising season, Virginia guard Marial Shayok and forward Jarred Reuter will transfer to another school, head coach Tony Bennett announced Wednesday. 

"Marial and Jarred informed me today that they are leaving the Virginia basketball program and are looking to transfer to other schools," Bennett said. "I thank Marial and Jarred for their hard work and contributions to our program, and wish them success in the future."

Shayok was the Cavaliers' second-leading scorer at 8.9 points per game, despite playing only the fifth-most minutes and regularly coming off the bench. The Ontario product scored a career-high 23 points in Virginia's win over UNC-Wilmington in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. 

Reuter averaged 10 minutes a game and averaged 3.8 points per game. 

Shayok and Reuter transferring comes at the end of a very disappointing season for Virginia. The Cavaliers began the season in the top 10 of the AP poll, and halfway through conference play they were near the top of the standings in the ACC. But that was before the team went into a major funk as they lost four of their last seven games, which dropped them to sixth in the conference standings. 

Virginia lost in the second round of the ACC Tournament to Notre Dame, and then got blasted by Florida by 26 points in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. 

In addition to the losses of Shayok and Reuter, London Perrantes, the team's best player and leader, is graduating. 

After a rough regular season, Virginia's offseason is off to a rocky start as well. 

Related: 2017 NBA Draft early entry list: Who is going and who is staying?

VCU reportedly wastes little time finding Mike Rhoades, Will Wade's replacement

VCU reportedly wastes little time finding Mike Rhoades, Will Wade's replacement

BY TYLER BYRUM, @theTylerByrum

Less than 24 hours after VCU saw yet another head coach in Will Wade, take off to a Power 5 school, the athletic department has already found a replacement, according to a report. 

Wasting no time, or allowing any speculation to build, the Rams have hired Mike Rhoades, the head coach of Rice, as Will Wade's replacement.

Rhoades will be the 12th coach of the men's basketball program in VCU history. 

The announcement was first reported by CBS's Gary Parrish:

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Rhoades is a former VCU assistant and associate head coach for five seasons. During his time with the Rams he helped the Shaka Smart led team to four NCAA Tournament appearances, including the Final Four run in 2011.

After Smart's departure to Texas, many considered Rhoades to be on the short list of coaches that VCU would contact. His familiarity with the program and the culture was exactly what VCU was looking for in order to have continued success at the school. The athletic department went on to hire a former assistant, but instead hired Wade. 

In 2014, he took on the head coaching position at Rice where he has been for the past three years. His overall record with the Owls is 47-52 with this past year being the only one to finish above .500. Receiving a bid to the CBI Tournament, it was the Owls first postseason appearance since 2012. 

If Rhoades does not work out for the Rams, there is only one more assistant remaining from the Final Four team that has yet to take over the program. Mike Jones is currently the head coach of Radford and has been there ever since that season. 

Wade's departure was yet another in a long line of talented, up-and-coming coaches using VCU as a springboard to a high-major position.

Jeff Capel began the trend in 2006, when he left for Oklahoma after returning the Rams to the NCAA Tournament in 2004 for the first time since 1996. His replacement, Anthony Grant, led the Rams to two NCAA Tournaments before leaving to take the head coaching job at Alabama. Grant's replacem,ent, Shaka Smart, led the Rams to five straight NCAA Tournaments, including a trip to the Final Four in 2011. 

Wade led the Rams to two NCAA Tournaments in his two seasons and is now headed to LSU to attempt to revitalize the program.