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."

Virginia Tech to hold four satellite camps

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USA TODAY Sports

Virginia Tech to hold four satellite camps

The hot topic around college football this offseason has been satellite camps and now the Hokies are getting into the mix. Head coach Justin Fuente announced on Tuesday that Virginia Tech will have four satellite camps over the summer, two will take place in key regions in Virginia while the other two will be out of state in Atlanta and New Jersey.

Of the two camps in Virginia, one will take place in the "757"—the Hampton, Norfolk, Virginia Beach area—while the other will be in Northern Virginia. The 757 region is an incredibly fertile recruiting area that has caught the attention of southern powerhouses like Florida State. Northern Virginia is also a hotly contested area with competition from the University of Virginia and the University of Maryland, among others.

The ACC previously banned satellite camps and pushed for a ban by the NCAA. The NCAA did ban the practice altogther, briefly, but after a national outcry, the ban was overturned last month.

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For his part, Fuente is not a fan of these camps, but recognizes the necessity of holding them.

“There’s a lot of issues with camps right now that we’re all trying to vet through,” Fuente said via Mike Barber of the Richmond Times-Dispatch. “In general, the whole traveling camp (idea) is not particularly good. It just opens up a lot of room for abuse. They’re not regulated at all. But I’m excited about being able to travel in our state.”

Going to Atlanta is an interesting move, but a necessary one if the Hokies hope to return to their former glory. Recruiting in the south opens Virginia Tech to more top-tier recruits. Obviously, it will be difficult to lure southern prospects away from the SEC powers, but being able to build a footprint in the SEC's backyard will greatly help Fuente's task of rebuilding the team into a conference contender.

The move to New Jersey also makes sense. The lack of a power program in the Northeast essentially makes the region up for grabs. Schools like Ohio State and Penn State have taken advantage of Rutgers' move to the Big Ten, but obviously the ACC maintains a presence throughout the east coast.

Virginia Tech's rather remote location makes holding these camps within the state important. The state was previously dominated by the Hokies in the glory days of the Frank Beamer era, but in-state recruiting has slipped in recent years. Holding Virginia camps will help Virginia Tech maintain its presence in the state.

“I think it’s certainly necessary in our state,” Fuente said. “We’re just going to dip our toe in the water of the other ones and see how that goes. I’m genuinely excited to do the ones here.”

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Virginia fires legendary lacrosse coach Dom Starsia

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(AP Photo/Kathy Kmonicek)

Virginia fires legendary lacrosse coach Dom Starsia

Virginia is making a change in leadership at the head of its lacrosse program.

On Monday the university announced that Dom Starsia, the all-time winningest coach in Division I lacrosse history with 375 victories, is being removed from his head coaching position, with a national search for a replacement to follow.

 

“Dom Starsia is a Hall of Fame coach and I want to thank him for all he has done for Virginia men’s lacrosse, UVA athletics, the University of Virginia, and the Charlottesville community,” Virginia athletic director Craig Littlepage said in a statement. “In addition to winning 73 percent of his games at UVA with multiple ACC and NCAA championships, Dom was committed to the development of student-athletes as his teams were cited for their sportsmanship and academic achievements. I’m grateful for the opportunity to have worked with and learned from Dom."

Under his watch, the Cavaliers won the ACC regular season championship ten times, and led the program to four National Championships (1999, 2003, 2006 and 2011).

He took a program that had not made the NCAA Tournament in four consecutive seasons and had not won a national championship since 1972 and turned it into arguably the top program in college lacrosse. Virginia is not just a good program, nor is it just a great program. It is a blue-blood program, something that can only be ascribed to one of three or four programs.

But the firing of Starsia comes on the heels of a 7-8 record, the program's second in three years, capping a four year stretch in which the program lost at least five games a year, for a 34-27 record since the start to the 2013 season. Prior to 2013, Starsia's Virginia teams had lost five games in a season just five times since taking over as the head coach of the Cavaliers in 1993. Virginia has a 1-15 record in the ACC since 2013 and has dropped 12 consecutive conference games. 

It also ends two weeks of speculation for Starsia, the program and recruits. On May 17th, it was reported that the university would not be renewing Starsia's contract. Two days later on May 19, a report indicated a contract extension had been confirmed.

But now it is official: Virginia is in the market for a new lacrosse coach for the first time since 1992.

Frank Beamer seems to be really enjoying retirement

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USA TODAY Sports

Frank Beamer seems to be really enjoying retirement

Retirement doesn't seem to suit everyone, especially in sports. History is full of examples of players and coaches who get antsy soon after calling it quits. That doesn't seem to be the case with Frank Beamer.

Beamer stepped aside at the end of the 2015 season after a 44-year college coaching career that included 29 years as the head coach at Virginia Tech. After such a long and storied career, you could understand if Beamer struggled a bit to adjust to life outside of coaching, but he seems to be doing just fine.

Hey, when you lead a program to 22 bowl games, seven conference championships and one national championship game berth, you can enjoy retirement any way you want.

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