What they're saying about George Mason


What they're saying about George Mason

In this space over the coming days weeks and months ahead you can expect to find all kinds of George Mason men's basketball features, blog posts and analysis from yours truly and others in the CSNwashington world. I'm personally looking forward to chatting up head coach Paul Hewitt at next week's Colonial Athletic Association media day (fingers crossed for some good grub and SWAG while we're at it), getting his take on subjects including:

The new season and Mason's challenging non-conference schedule.

The state of the CAA in light of various defections and potential additions.

Replacing frontcourt stalwarts Ryan Pearson and Mike Morrison.

What we can expect from rising stars Sherrod Wright and Erik Copes along with new players added to the roster.

Until then, thought I'd give you a little flavor of what others from the college basketball world are saying about the Patriots...

Predicted order of finish in the CAA, Part 1...from Brian Mull of the Wilmington (N.C.) Star News, beat writer covering UNC-Wilmington and one of the most plugged in CAA beat writers around. After preseason favorite Drexel come the Patriots...
"2. George Mason Most forecasters will put Delaware on this line. And on paper, the Blue Hens have fewer questions and more answers. But I envision a breakout season for Sherrod Wright in the backcourt and either Jon Arledge or Erik Copes (perhaps both) in the lane."
Predicted order of finish in the CAA, Part 2...from the in-depth college basketball blog Rush the Court, which places Mason behind Drexel and Delaware...
"Development is the key word for Paul Hewitt. Eric Copes proved to be a defensive force on the backline, displaying athleticism and strength uncommon in CAA freshmen. He swatted 51 shots in just 405 minutes. However, Copes was a liability on offensenot uncommon. Jon Arledge showed he belongs on the offensive end, but allowed himself to be pushed around with regularity. If Copes is able to master a couple basic offensive moves or Arledge beefs up the toughness, George Mason becomes a very dangerous team. Whats more, Hewitts backcourt showed promise, but was also very sloppy at times. While Bryon Allen (123 assists, 89 turnovers) and Vaughan Gray played well, they were overwhelmed and committed too many turnovers. They will need to settle down. Hewitt does have the luxury of two gunnersVertrail Vaughans and Sherrod Wright can take over games offensively, but both disappeared at times last season. It seems like Mason has all the chess pieces, so developing the mode of play is critical."
Erik Copes, potential difference-maker...so says SI.com's D.C. based college basketball writer Rob Dauster, who included the defensive presence among his favorite players that could not only star, but fill holes for their respective teams this season...
"Erik Copes, George Mason: The Patriots are coming off of a 24-9 season that saw them finish third in the Colonial while riding the coattails of Player of the Year Ryan Pearson. But with Pearson, and his frontcourt counterpart Mike Morrison, graduating, Mason's strength will shift to the backcourt, where a handful of young and talented players return. The frontcourt will now feature seldom-used reserves Jonathan Arledge, Johnny Williams and Seton Hall transfer Anali Okoloji, but the guy that Paul Hewitt will be counting on to anchor his lineup will be sophomore Erik Copes. Copes was a top 75 recruit who followed his uncle, Roland Houston, to Mason. And while he had a decent freshman season -- he averaged 3.3 points, 3.7 boards and an astounding 1.9 blocks in just 15 minutes -- Copes was banged up for much of the year. If he's healthy next season, the Patriots will be looking to him not only to protect the paint at the defensive end of the floor, but to become an offensive weapon on the interior to help keep defenses honest."
How will George Mason replace their frontcourt...is a question posed and answered by national college basketball writer Jon Rothstein.
"By committee. Ryan Pearson was an easy guy to throw the ball to when you needed a basket and Paul Hewitt regularly said that Mike Morrison was an exceptionally intelligent player, but the Patriots have the pieces to replace their departed front court. Both Erik Copes and Jonathan Arledge appear primed for breakout seasons and Johnny Williams, who red shirted last season is down 27 pounds and ready to make a contribution. The real sleeper for George Mason is Marko Gujanicic, a 6-9 skilled face up forward who could play a big role as a freshman thanks to his versatility."
Paradise Jam 411...from SI.com's Andy Glockner, one of my favorite college basketball writers around and a must follow on Twitter. Glockner previewed the pre-Thanksgiving event among the early tournaments on the college hoops calendar to watch.
"Overview: Huh? Another seemingly lopsided bracket that has the event's two best teams -- George Mason and New Mexico -- in the same side, meaning a potential semifinal matchup. Whoever wins that matchup, should it occur, should be favored to handle anyone coming out of the bottom."
"Matchup to watch: Mercer-George Mason. With Mason maybe having one eye on the Lobos, could the Bears spring an opening-round surprise? They bring back most of the talent from last season's squad that won the postseason CIT tournament, winning at Old Dominion, Fairfield and Utah State to do so. This is a dangerous game for Mason to overlook."

College Football Playoff projections: Ohio State still controls its own destiny


College Football Playoff projections: Ohio State still controls its own destiny

No longer among the ranks of the unbeatens, Ohio State’s playoff chances certainly took a hit Saturday with their loss to Penn State.

But let’s not start digging their grave just yet.

Michigan now sits atop the Big Ten East standings, but they still have to finish the season with the big game against the Buckeyes. And it’s at Ohio State.


The truth is, if the Buckeyes win out, they still will win the Big Ten East and will have a chance to play (likely) either Nebraska or Wisconsin for the conference championship.

Will the committee really leave a one-loss Big Ten champion out of the playoff? Perhaps, if either Baylor or West Virginia remain undefeated, but if the winner of the Big 12 has at least one loss, it’s hard to see how either team would get in over Ohio State.

Again, assuming they win out, the Buckeyes will have beaten Oklahoma in Norman, Wisconsin in Madison, Nebraska, Michigan and the Big Ten West winner. Neither Baylor or West Virginia can match that resume.

So let’s not declare Ohio State’s playoff hopes done just yet. Their biggest challenge is likely rival Michigan, and the Wolverines have to travel to Columbus. That’s a very tough place to play, especially if you’re wearing maize and blue.

Will the Buckeyes ultimately reach the playoff despite their loss to Penn State? Who else will join them? Found out here in this week’s updated College Football Playoff projections.

Worth accounts for 5 TDs as No. 24 Navy beats Memphis

USA Today Sports

Worth accounts for 5 TDs as No. 24 Navy beats Memphis

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) -- Will Worth and No. 24 Navy played keep-away with Memphis while running the Tigers into the ground.

Worth rushed for a career-high 201 yards and three touchdowns, and the Midshipmen put on a dazzling display of ball control in a 42-28 victory Saturday.

In addition to operating the triple option in near-flawless fashion, Worth completed three of four passes for 85 yards and two scores.

"We take what we can get, and today, the quarterback run game was there," Worth said. "We could manage that and set up a couple of pass plays to be able to score through the air. It's just executing the game plan."

The last Navy player to reach the 200-yard mark on the ground was Keenan Reynolds in 2014.

Worth carried 31 times and orchestrated an attack that held the ball for nearly 40 minutes. That left high-scoring Memphis little time to counter-punch.

"It was kind of hard because we weren't doing a great job of getting off the field defensively," Tigers coach Mike Norvell said. "Offensively, it's hard to be in rhythm, it's hard to stay in rhythm."

The Midshipmen (5-1, 4-0 American Athletic Conference) gained a season-high 447 yards on the ground, averaging 6 yards per carry.

The victory put Navy in sole possession of first place in the AAC West and served as a suitable encore for its 46-40 upset of defending league champion Houston two weeks ago.

Navy's 14-game home winning streak is its longest at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium since the facility opened in 1959.

Tony Pollard returned a kickoff 100 yards and Riley Ferguson completed 25 of 40 passes for 333 yards and two touchdowns for Memphis (5-2, 2-1). But the Tigers simply couldn't score enough to offset the damage inflicted by Navy's sensational running attack.

"They kind of got after us up front and we had a couple of assignment issues," Norvell said. "But I just thought they did a great job executing."

Worth's second touchdown run put Navy ahead 28-14 early in the third quarter. Memphis responded with a 9-yard TD pass from Furguson to Daniel Hurd.

As the clock wound down in the third quarter, Navy faced a fourth-and-4 at the Memphis 18. Norvell called a timeout, forcing the Midshipmen to deal with the possibility of a field goal try into a stiff wind. Instead, Navy sent its offense on the field and went up 35-21 on a touchdown pass from Worth to Tyler Carmona .

After Memphis again got within a touchdown, a 52-yard completion by Worth led to a 32-yard field goal try by Bennett Moehring. The kick clanged off the left upright with 5:40 to go.

But a fumble by Tigers wide receiver Roderick Proctor was recovered by Navy with 3:39 remaining, and Worth clinched it with a 1-yard plunge.

Worth, a 6-foot-1 senior, started the season as a second-string quarterback but was elevated to starting status after Tago Smith injured his right knee in the opener.

"Here's a kid who was a backup, kept his mouth quiet," Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo said. "Now he's doing great things."


Memphis forced 18 turnovers in its first six games, but the only one it got Saturday was when Worth hit the pylon trying to score a touchdown and lost control of the ball. The result was a touchback for the Tigers, whose lone turnover -- Proctor's fumble -- was far most costly.


Memphis: The Tigers came in as a slight favorite because their offense hadn't scored fewer than 24 points in any game. But the defense wasn't up for the challenge of Navy's running attack, and now Memphis needs help to get to the AAC title game.

Navy: The Midshipmen have proven they don't need Reynolds at quarterback to make the triple option sing. Navy's running game is tricky, shifty and just about unstoppable for teams not accustomed to chasing the quarterback, fullback and slotback all over the field.


Memphis: The Tigers host Tulsa next Saturday night at the Liberty Bowl.

Navy: The Midshipmen face AAC East Division co-leader South Florida (6-2, 3-1) on the road Friday night.