College hoops roundup: Early season returns

College hoops roundup: Early season returns
November 16, 2011, 8:15 pm
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By Benjamin Standig
CSNwashington.comMaryland: One game into his run as the Terps head coach, we know this much about Mark Turgeon: He is not afraid to make a point, publicly. Despite a roster with only seven active scholarship players, despite indicating in the lead-up to the season that Terrell Stoglin was a lock for the starting lineup, Turgeon had the high-scoring sophomore on the bench during the opening moments of the opening game of the season.Now, the benching was hardly extreme; Stoglin entered the game less than three minutes in and he received more minutes than any other Terp. Initial results show the impact was significant as Stoglin played with aggressiveness throughout -on both ends of the court - and helped Maryland fend off UNC Wilmington.Neither Turgeon nor Stoglin fretted about the matter after the gameor chose to divulge the specific rationale for the move. On Tuesday, the coach hinted that his lead guard would be on the court from the startThursday againstAlabama in thePuerto Rico Tip-Off.Turgeon's Midwest charm does not exude a "my-way-or-the-highway" extremism, but this early move helps the new coach set the tone in his first season. Thin roster or not, get playing defense or get busy sitting. Stoglin appears to have received the message, at least one game in.Notes...Maryland will face Kentucky next season in the Barclays Center Classic in Brooklyn.Georgetown: Forecasting results based on the Hoyas' two blowoutresults is hardly fair, but the youthful rosters upside is evident. The multidimensional ways of the heralded freshman class have afforded coach John Thompson III the chance to get creative with his lineup combinations, something he acknowledges was not always an option during recent seasons.Using either Jason Clark or Markel Starks as the lone guard, the coachused four 6-foot-8 forwards on the court for stretches against Savannah State and UNCGreensnboro. Hollis Thompson works as the de facto second guard, which is hardly an issue the way the Hoyas' lone junior shoots over defenders. Greg Whittington provides yet another perimeter shooter while his fellow freshman Otto Porter has been a stat-stuffer, leading the Hoyas in rebounds against Savannah State and assists against UNC Greensboro. Then there is Nate Lubicks interior toughness and penchant for floor burns, and freshman Mikael Hopkins is another live body around the basket. This lineup is athleticism personified. This unit can run with excitement and defend with purpose, shoot from deep and aggressively slash to the basket. The finished product is hardly set, but the potential is tantalizing.Were going to have a lot of different combinations, Thompson III said. Its not like were going to have a set core, necessarily. A lot of that is because of our versatility across the board so different people are going to play different positions in different groups. We have to get precise regardless of who is in the game.George Mason: Among the concerns for the Patriots (2-1) entering the season, the switch at coach from Jim Larranagas tactical approach to Paul Hewitts up-tempo style topped the list. Through three games, worry remains.Against Rhode Island, George Masons talent shone through as Sherrod Wright made an explosive return to the court after sitting out last season with injury and Bryon Allen totaled seven assists in his starting point guard debut. However, a heavy dose of wildness on both ends of court was on display and continued in the NIT season tip-off.Turnovers and spotty perimeter offense were the Patriots' undoing in Mondays stunning, 79-76 overtime loss to Florida International. Against Isiah Thomass squad, Ryan Pearson plus the point guard combination of Allen and freshman Corey Edwards were responsible for 17 of the Patriots' 21 turnovers. Including Tuesdays comfortable 71-39 win over Monmouth, George Mason is averaging an untenable 19.3 turnovers per contest. Call the propensity for gaffes early season kinks if you want, but that level of miscues and erratic offensive sets will be costly against the likes of gritty Drexel and Old Dominion once conference play kicks in.George Washington: Considering the Colonials (1-1) played at the Smith Center Friday night and then flew way out west for a Sunday matchup against No. 24 Cal, perhaps the jet lag excuse explains the ghastly, 81-54 setback. Maybe chalk up the shooting woes (38.2 percent) to coach Mike Lonergan's still game planning without his top frontcourt scorer, Dwayne Smith (post-concussion syndrome). Then again, with this squad, we have seen this act before.Last season under then-coach Karl Hobbs, the Colonials shot less than 40 percent in six of their first seven games. The accuracy improved over the season, but was hardly ever robust. Remove stellar point guard Tony Taylor (16-for-32) from the shooting equation and the 2011-12 squads field goal percentage dips even lower, though sharpshooter Nemanja Mikic (4-for-8 on 3s) returned to form against the Bears.A sneaky three-game stretch comes up next week in the Progressive CBE Classic, beginning with pesky Detroit out of the Horizon Conference. Losing two of three games would not quash the positive vibes still emanating out of Foggy Bottom, but not finding the range offensively makesone wonder if last season'smisfiring ways.Virginia Tech: Injured during the 2010-11 season, guard Dorenzo Hudson is making up for lost time and the backcourt-scoring void following Malcolm Delaneys graduation. In the Hokies (3-0) two wins this week, the 6-5 senior dropped a cool 49 points, including 31 against Florida International as Virginia Tech advanced to the face Syracuse at Madison Square Garden in the NIT season tip-off. Credit Hudson with taking advantage of his shot opportunities. He connected on 15-of-23 field goal attempts in the victories and sank all 12 of his free throws against the Golden Panthers. Only that level of production could overshadow the stellar start for Hokies springy freshman Dorian Finney-Smith. The 6-8 forward scored 10 points and grabbed 16 rebounds against East Tennessee State. According to the school Finney-Smith is the first Hokie to double-double in his collegiate debut since Jeff Allen in 2007. Not satisfied with doing it once, Finney-Smith went for 14 and 10 against the Golden Panthers.Virginia: No team in the DMV has been more impressive out of the gate then Tony Bennett's Cavaliers (2-0). After routing South Carolina State by 37 points - the largest margin of victory in the Bennett era - Virginia walloped Winthrop 69-48. Expect more of a test at this weekend's Paradise Jam in the U.S. Virgin Islands where Virginia opens the tournament against TCU on Friday.Mike Scott's double-double ways have started quickly as the senior big man is averaging 13 points and 11.5 rebounds.Malcolm Brogdon's 8.5 points and 26 minutes per game tops the Cavaliers' newcomers. American: Getting my first look at the Eagles (0-2) in person Wednesday night. Scanning the initial box scores reveals a team struggling with its shot (32.8 fg) and getting scoring from anyone besides swingmen Troy Brewer and Charles Hinkle.American lost atRichmond by 10 points andMaryland-Eastern Shore in overtime,a MEAC school that finished 10th in the 11-team MEAC last season. The Eagleslook to avoid starting 0-3 for the second time in three seasons when they hostFlorida Atlantic, coached by former George Washington coach Mike Jarvis . In the 2009-10 season, American started the season 0-7.Brewer and Hinkle have combined for 68.4 percent (81 points) of the Eagles 118 points this season.Howard: Calvin Thompson is another local quickly shedding rust after sitting out last season and guard Sim Frazier is another freshman making an early impact.Injuries limited Thompson to 57 minutes last season for the Bison (1-1), but in 39 minutes against D-II Washington Adventist the scoring guard dropped in 23 points along with eight rebounds and five assists. Frazier, part of coach Kevin Nickelberrys impressive incoming class, is averaging 11 points and shooting 53.8 percent from the floor.