Week 7: Virginia, Maryland suffer reality checks

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Week 7: Virginia, Maryland suffer reality checks

Virginia has looked like the front-runner in the Coast Division all season. That may have changed on Friday after a tough loss at Miami. Also, if you thought Josh Jackson did not add all that much to Maryland's offense, you thought wrong. That was made clear in Saturday's blowout loss to a bad Purdue team. Virginia Tech continues to try to turn things around with a new quarterback, Navy earned a key conference win and Penn State and Iowa continue to ruin football for everyone.

Here’s a recap of the week’s local action.

Miami 17, Virginia 9

The good

While the Cavaliers’ offense struggled in this one, the defense was tremendous and kept Virginia in it. After giving up 78 yards to Miami in their first possession, UVA held the Hurricanes to just 33 yards, no point and six punts on their next six drives. The defense began to bend late as Miami earned 147 of its 265 total yards and 10 of its 17 points on the final two drives. Still, Virginia’s defense clearly did enough to win this game.

The bad

It’s time to be concerned about the Cavalier’s rushing offense. Virginia was held to just 74 yards on the ground with its best rusher, Wayne Taulapapa, getting just 27 yards on eight carries. Once again, too much was asked of Bryce Perkins who attempted 42 passes and finished with 17 carries including five sacks.

In the past two games, Perkins has attempted 85 combined passes as UVA has failed to establish any semblance of a run game.

The ugly

Just how bad was the offense on Saturday? The Cavaliers got inside Miami’s 30 six times in the game and managed only three field goals. Perhaps the most indicative drive of the game came in the fourth quarter when Joe Reed set up Virginia in Miami territory off a 72-yard kickoff return. UVA would ultimately settle for a field goal off a drive that lasted seven plays and gained a grand total of zero yards (not a typo).

Star cornerback Bryce Hall also suffered a leg injury in the second quarter and had to be carted off. Hall elected to forego the NFL draft for a year in order to return for his senior season. It would be devastating if he suffered a major injury as a result. It would also be a huge blow to the secondary if he was lost for any significant time.

Purdue 40, Maryland 14

The good

Dontay Demus has established himself as the go-to receiver regardless of who is under center. With Tyrrell Pigrome in at quarterback, Demus caught 10 passes for 105 yards.

The bad

Purdue quarterback Jack Plummer threw for a whopping 420 yards and three touchdowns, both career-highs according to the AP. In the battle of the backup quarterbacks, Pummer certainly outplayed Pigrome who looked overmatched.

The ugly

A Purdue offense that ranked 129th in the nation with 50.8 rush-yards per game managed to double that for 127 rushing yards. That came off of 37 attempts so it is not as if the Boilermakers were great on the ground, but they were able to move the ball more efficiently than they should have been able to do.

Virginia Tech 34, Rhode Island 17

The good

The Hokies offense is definitely playing with some momentum after the quarterback switch to Hendon Hooker. Hooker passed for 261 yards and three touchdowns. DeShawn McClease also continued to establish himself as the team’s premiere back with 124 yards on just 12 carries.

The bad

Once again Virginia Tech struggled to put away an opponent. Despite all the good stats and the final score, Rhode Island stayed with Virginia Tech for much of the game, pulling to within three points in the third quarter before the Hokies pulled away.

The ugly

Virginia Tech will be without Reggie Floyd for the first half of next week’s game against North Carolina after he was ejected for targeting for a hit on Isaiah Coulter in the fourth quarter. That could be a key ACC matchup if the Hokies want to climb back into contention for the division.

Penn State 17, Iowa 12

The good

In a game with little offense to speak of, Noah Cain managed to find some room to work with, rushing for 102 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries. His touchdown proved to be the game-winner.

Iowa quarterback Nate Stanley threw an interception in the fourth quarter and Cain put the finishing touches on the 35-yard touchdown drive. That made a 10-6 game 17-6 and really put things out of reach.

The bad

The offense is always ugly when these two teams meet. Never forget the 2004 matchup that resulted in a 6-4 win for the Hawkeyes. This game felt like a tribute to that monstrosity.

One of the few offensive highlights of the night came off an unreal catch by Iowa’s Brandon Smith late in the game in which he victimized Penn State cornerback John Reid.

Sorry, Reid. You are going to be seeing yourself in that highlight for a long, long time.

The ugly

During pregame warmups, Penn State players wore shirts saying, “Chains, Tattoos, Dreads, & WE ARE.” The shirts were worn in support of teammate Jonathan Sutherland who was sent a letter last week by a Penn State alum critical of his “awful” hair.

“Surely there must be mirrors in the locker room!” the letter said. “Don’t you have parents or girlfriend who’ve told you those shoulder length dreadlocks look disgusting and are certainly not attractive. (sic)”

The shirts were confiscated after warmups reportedly because the players had not discussed their intention to wear the shirts with head coach James Franklin.

Navy 45, Tulsa 17

The good

Navy completely hand-cuffed Tulsa’s offense by allowing them absolutely nothing on the ground. The Golden Hurricane came into Saturday’s game averaging a modest 115.6 rushing yards per game. The Midshipmen limited them to just 69 yards.

The bad

Quarterback Malcolm Perry was critical of his performance after the game as he told reporters, "As far as executing the offense, seeing things clearly, making the right reads, just a little too much indecision. I wasn't too happy with my performance, but of course we got the win. I thought the offense as a whole played really well, so I'm happy about that, but overall, my personal play, I wasn't too pleased."

Perry is probably the only person who thought he had a bad game, however, as he rushed for 218 yards and three touchdowns.

The ugly

Tulsa was up 3-0 in the first quarter and looked like they had just scored on a 98-yard touchdown pass from Zach Smith to Sam Crawford. The touchdown was called back, however, after replay showed Crawford had stepped out of bounds before the catch. This could have been a very different game had Crawford stayed in bounds.


Mac McClung has entered the NBA draft, what happens if he doesn't return to Georgetown?

Mac McClung has entered the NBA draft, what happens if he doesn't return to Georgetown?

After back-to-back stellar seasons with the Georgetown Hoyas, Mac McClung has stated his intentions to enter the 2020 NBA Draft process. 

A general consensus from draft evaluators and fans is that McClung will eventually withdraw his name from the process after the NBA Combine and come back. Declaring can be used to gain feedback from scouts and agents alike on where he is at in his playing career.

If he came back to Georgetown he could use that criticism to develop and prepare for the draft next season. It makes sense and is a system that has worked countless times to create solid NBA players.

But what if McClung doesn't withdraw his name and fully commits to the draft? It can't be ruled out given that is why he is declaring. 

That could put Georgetown in a precarious situation next season. Not only would it hurt losing such a dynamic scorer and playmaker in McClung, but once again they would be thrust into another season with potential roster concerns. 

With McClung, there are seven returning players on scholarship for next year. It is assumed Omer Yurtseven will not be returning either for a graduate season after his post on Instagram "closed a chapter" and seemed like a goodbye message to the Hoyas. That would leave six scholarship players returning. 

Not an ideal situation for Patrick Ewing as he is still looking to make the NCAA Tournament for the first time. But, that situation is manageable with two starters returning and two others that saw significant playing time. 

If McClung leaves, that means five returning players will be on next year's roster. Only three having played regular minutes. There would also be only one guard.

Relief is coming, three of the four commitments for next year are guards, all of them being three-star recruits. In this situation, at least one, potentially two of them, would have to start immediately for Georgetown. Now, freshmen start all the time in college hoops but that's a tall task for three-stars. There's also the transfer market, but no big transfer has been publically linked to the Hoyas as of this writing.

Why is this an issue? The consensus is that McClung will return next season. He's slightly undersized for either the point or shooting guard positions in the NBA. He is a 3-point shooter, but at 32% last season he isn't consistent enough to make it on his shooting alone. The best, and most enticing part, of his game is his athleticism and dunking ability.

But at the combine, things can change quickly. Jordan Bone of Tennessee (2019) and Kevin Huerter from Maryland (2018) proved that.

Both are examples of prospects that can shine in the combine and then make a sudden decision to forgo their eligibility and get drafted. McClung already has a leg up on other prospects by being well known in the scouting community from the hype surrounding him in high school. He's already had valuable conversations and connections with those involved in the evaluation. 

A good combine can make McClung an attractive prospect and if a team is telling him the right things, it may be enough to get him to leave college. That is not a reality that Georgetown could afford to face next year. 

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March Madness Revisited: George Mason lives out of their Final Four shadow in 2011

March Madness Revisited: George Mason lives out of their Final Four shadow in 2011

As March wound down without its usual flurry of March Madness moments, NBC Sports Washington took a look back at some smaller DMV schools who made a big impact during their most recent NCAA Tournament appearances.  

When one thinks of George Mason basketball, instantly they're called back to the historic Final Four team in 2006. That team's legacy hasn’t outgrown that legendary performance when the Patriots stunned everyone with one of the great Cinderella runs in tournament history.

But the 2010-11 George Mason squad had something to prove, too. Those Patriots wanted to write their own history. Hard to do when the mark was an unprecedented Final Four appearance. In 2011 they moved the Final Four to the side and gave pundits another story to tell, adding another giant of the sport to their list of downed foes.

Five years removed from the original Cinderella story, it was an entirely new team. New players, new assistant coaches and a new era of Mason basketball. But, it was recent enough to still have extra motivation for those on the roster. 

“We were kind of in those shadows of ‘Alright we don’t want to be the guys that come to college and then don’t get to the tournament,'’” former Patriots forward Mike Morrison told NBC Sports Washington. “We still communicate with [the Final Four] guys as if we’re on the same team. We know them personally. We play videogames online with each other from across the world and group chats and all that stuff. So, we were pretty tight.”

During that 2010-11 season, the Patriots, led still by coach Jim Larranaga, set records that even the Final Four team never did. A program-best 16-game winning streak propelled the team to an at-large bid. As a rehe CAA regular-season title for the second time ever. They received a higher seed, in fact - the best in the league’s history by being the No. 8 seed. George Mason sult, they won twas the first CAA team to ever be the home seed in an NCAA Tournament game. 

And unlike Selection Sunday in 2006, there was no doubt they would hear their name called. A 26-6 (16-2) record in a three-bid CAA had them prepared to continue playing. It was a matter of who, when and where, not if. 

Mason’s first opponent was Villanova, a team that the Patriots had just lost to by a point a year prior in non-conference play, a team Mason believed it could beat.

“We weren’t just happy by the seeding. We were very excited to get Villanova," Morrison said. "The year before we played them in Puerto Rico and we really felt like we should have beat them and we didn’t play our best game. There was a lot of excitement behind our matchup for sure.”

Mason’s roster was full of characters. The quiet, lead-by-example Cam Long was one of two seniors in the rotation. With him were the loud and boisterous juniors Ryan Pearson and Morrison in the frontcourt. At the point was sophomore guard Luke Hancock. They didn’t back down from a challenge. Mason was aggressive, loud, talked smack and was not afraid to tell teams they were better than them. They were battle-tested.

“We played tough games that year,” then-assistant coach Mike Huger told NBC Sports Washington. “We were in battles throughout, even in the 16-game winning streak. The CAA was very good and very competitive with us and VCU and just battling each other throughout. Old Dominion was very good as well.”

The first-round matchup played out exactly how an No. 8-9 game should. Back-and-forth, each team trading blows, answering the bell when it looked like the other had them on the ropes. 

An 8-0 spark in the final moments gave Mason brief control of the game. Up until that point, Villanova had led for most of the contest and Mason would not go away. A foul on a Corey Fisher 3-point attempt gave Villanova the lead right back with the shot clock turned off. Mason was down one, with plenty of time left for multiple possessions and then Hancock stepped back for a three.

“Luke shot it and that wasn’t the plan,” Morrision said jokingly. “Luke just did what he does.”

“Well, first it was more like ‘What are you doing?!’ He had the lane to drive to the basket and then he stops on a dime and takes a step-back three… and it was like holy smokes,” Huger said. “The shot was just such a shock. I think Villanova was in shock that everything happened the way it did. I think that kind of froze them a little bit and they weren’t able to make a play after that.”

The Patriots withstood the final 20 seconds to beat Villanova 61-57. Another blue blood to go down, joining the list of Michigan State, North Carolina, Wichita State and Connecticut from 2006. Could Patriots, with a crop of new faces, do it again? 

The three by Hancock extended Mason’s tournament but did not extend his own. Before they were set to play No. 1 seed Ohio State, Hancock came down with food poisoning. The “glue” of the team was gone and quickly shut down the wild concept that this could be another Cinderella team. 

"That changed the dynamic of the team,” Huger said. “We didn’t understand how much we would miss Luke going into that Ohio State game until it really hit us and now it’s like, ‘Oh, he’s not here.’”

The David Lighty and Jared Sullinger-led Buckeyes throttled the Patriots 98-66 in the second round. A magical run wasn’t allowed to end organically. 

As fortune would have it, that was the end of the road for a group that had so much potential. With four starters returning, running it back and perhaps having an even better season was definitely in the cards. 

But Larranaga left at season’s end to coach the Miami Hurricanes. His assistants would follow. Hancock, who had just come off his ‘One Shining Moment’ shot, transferred to Louisville, where more NCAA Tournaments would follow. 

The 'what ifs' grow bigger as time has gone on, showing how quickly life can change for mid-major programs. The Patriots haven’t made the tournament since.

“We thought we could really do something special with that group coming back, but everything changed,” Huger said. “Who knows what would have happened if we would have stayed and had another crack at it the following year with that group back. So that’s the thing that you always wonder.”

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