Wright leading Mason into BB&T clash with Maryland


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."

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.