Wright leading Mason into BB&T clash with Maryland

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Wright leading Mason into BB&T clash with Maryland

Like the good ones do at whatever they do, Sherrod Wright took time to enhance his craft. Living the college basketball life, that meant a summer of purposefully firing off jumpers from all angles even though as a sophomore he knocked down shots with regularity. That meant tweaking the other components of his game that simply required more considering the task at hand.

Without the seniors that frequently carried the leadership role during the 2011-12 campaign, Wright's role would be changing. Heading into his junior season, the 6-foot-4 wing's mental game needed adjusting as well and exactly for situations George Mason finds itself right now. The wins are coming, but the point production is lacking - and surging Maryland waits. The local programs meet in the second game of the BB&T Classic doubleheader which tips off Sunday at 12:15 with George Washington against Manhattan.

With three straight wins and a 5-2 record, the Patriots are finding paths to victory even if the trail isn't a thing of beauty, at least not offensively. After leading the CAA in scoring with 70 points per game last season, the Patriots currently rank 302 nationally with 59.6 points. The last two games George Mason managed to triumph despite scoring totals 48 and 55 points.

That's likely not going to cut it against a Terps squad tallying 76 points per game even if the Patriots produce another imposing defensive effort. Behind 7-foot-1 center and potential NBA Draft lottery pick Alex Len, Maryland ranks third in the country in rebounds.

"They're good, they got some size, but we're ready to take on the challenge," said Wright, the only Patriot scoring in double figures at 14.9 points. "In practice we’re just picking our spots, fixing our offense. Well, not fixing it but getting in sync with each other. We have to become cohesive as a group. We’ll be fine.

"I know we’re not where we want to be scoring points wise, but I trust in my team and I know we can make big shots. Not stressing, but we’ve got to put more points on the board."

If that sounds like leader talk, it is. If it comes across as natural for the thoughtful Mount Vernon, NY native, it's not.
 
"Since I have to be the leader on the team I have to lead by example. I have to find ways to help my teammates, find ways to pick up my teammates. That’s different for me because I’m more of a keep to myself person rather than lead by example. I had to change my mentality and be able to lead, to help others and criticize others so that they could play better, but always a positive message."

If his teammates were following Wright's offensive example, the Patriots would have scant scoring issues. As a sophomore he shot 53 percent from the field, 86 percent at the free throw line, 40 percent from 3-point territory. This season - and despite opposing defenses setting the sights on Wright as Mason's primary weapon - the field goal percentages from inside and outside the arc are comparable. Wright's also yanking down five rebounds per game.

Not that it's all about the numbers.
 
"Of course you have to work hard over the summer and I did that, working with the coaches on the mid-range, on 3’s, other tools that I need to become a complete player," Wright said. "Mindset wise just had to change how I think on the court. I have to think more about getting people involved or taking over the game when my team needs me. Getting that key stop or getting that key rebound or just picking up my intensity on both ends of the floor."

Wright will be working hard on both ends of the floor against Maryland's stellar wing options, namely Dez Wells and Nick Faust. The fifth start of bruising center Erik Copes career comes against Len, who is averaging 15.2 points and 9.0 rebounds, and coming of a double-double Tuesday as the Terps (5-1) won by 20 at Northwestern. Bryon Allen's been a late-game hero, but the Patriots require more from their point guard during the first 39 minutes for there to be a last minute winning opportunity.

"We’re all figuring out our roles," Wright said, "and that includes a different role for me." I’m still learning. It’s early in the season and we still have things we need to do and have to work on. It’s a big step for me and I’m ready for the challenge."

Juco transfer named Hokies' starting quarterback for opener

Juco transfer named Hokies' starting quarterback for opener

In his first game with the Virginia Tech Hokies, Jerod Evans will be leading the team as the starting quarterback, head coach Justin Fuente announced on Thursday. The quarterback competition started as a two-man race between Evans and fifth-year senior Brenden Motley before a late surge by true freshman Josh Jackson turned it into a three-way battle. In the end, however, the decision was no surprise.

Evans, a junior transfer, began his college career at Air Force in 2013. He transferred to Trinity Valley Community College where he developed into a dynamic talent. In 2015, Evans threw for 395.5 yards per game and 38 touchdowns in just eight games before a wrist injury ended his season.

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Rated as the No. 1 dual-threat JUCO quarterback in the country, Evans was recruited by Fuente while he was still at Memphis and chose to follow the head coach to Blacksburg.

New coaches are rarely afforded the opportunity of starting their own recruit in their first season at a new school. Given that and the high potential of Evans as a playmaker, it was ultimately no surprise to hear Fuente peg him as the starter.

The announcement came with one caveat, however. Evans was named the starter specifically for the opener against Liberty, but not beyond that. Granted, Evans would have to play pretty poorly to force Fuente into switching starters the week before the Battle at Bristol against Tennessee, but an opener against an FCS team should allow for Fuente to play multiple quarterbacks. If Motley outplays Evans, perhaps it could reignite the quarterback battle.

Even so, Thursday's announcement shows the starting job is now Evans to lose.

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Virginia names ECU transfer their starting quarterback

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USA TODAY Sports

Virginia names ECU transfer their starting quarterback

When Virginia opens the season on Sept. 3 against Richmond, they will have a new quarterback starting under center. Head coach Bronco Mendenhall named junior transfer Kurt Benkert the starting quarterback on Wednesday morning over seniors Matt Johns and Connor Brewer, according to multiple reports.

Benkert was expected to start for ECU just last season, but a knee injury in preseason forced him to miss the entire year. He is considered the most mobile of the three, which given Mendenhall's history with dual-threat quarterbacks, likely was a major factor in the head coach's decision.

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As a junior, Benkert was the only candidate with two years of eligibility remaining, a prospect hat reportedly "intrigued" Mendenhall. If Benkert is able to hold on to the position and start next season as well, it would represent a measure of stability Virginia has not known for quite some time.

What likely helped Benkert was the fact that his head coach at ECU, Ruffin McNeill, is now an assistant as UVa. By coming into a school with an offensive system Benkert was familiar with, it eliminated the learning curve most transfers go through with their new teams.

Benkert will replace Johns who was the team's starter last season and co-starter the season before. The fact that the competition was a three-man race at this point in the summer despite Johns' experience was a clear indication that his ability to win back the starting job was in clear jeopardy.

In addition, Mendenhall also announced Johns and Brewer were still competing for the backup role.

MORE COLLEGE FOOTBALL: What is the ceiling for Maryland football in 2016?

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.

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