Erik Copes

George Mason suspends sophomores Vaughn Gray and Erik Copes

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George Mason coach Paul Hewitt has suspended sophomores Erik Copes and Vaughn Gray for the first three games of the 2012-13 regular season for unspecified “student conduct violations,” the school announced Tuesday.

Copes, a 6-8 native of Philadelphia, averaged 3.3 points and 3.7 rebounds in 15 minutes per game last season. Gray, a 6-5 native of New Jersey, averaged 3.4 points per game in 2011-12.

The suspension covers the Patriots’ home opener against Virginia on Nov. 9, GMU’s first road game against Bucknell on Nov. 13, and again at home versus Mercer on Nov. 16.

The two would be able to return for the second game of the Paradise Jam in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands. Copes and Gray will continue to practice with the team, but will not play in games.

George Mason enters its second season under Hewitt picked to finish third in the CAA, behind conference favorite Drexel and popular underdog Delaware.

Their biggest challenge will be to compensate for the loss of leading scorer and rebounder Ryan Pearson, who graduated after averaging 17 points and 8.2 rebounds per game in 2011-12.

To help fill the void, Hewitt welcomes a two-man recruiting class to Fairfax, guard Patrick Holloway and forward Marko Gujanicic.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

POSTERIZED: Wyoming’s Josh Adams takes flight

Josh Adams
Associated Press
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Not only is Wyoming senior guard Josh Adams the lone returning starter from a team that won the Mountain West tournament last season, but he’s also one of college basketball’s best dunkers. And if anyone may have forgotten about his jumping ability, Adams put it on display Saturday during the Cowboys’ win over Montana State.

After splitting two Montana State players at the top of the key Adams attacked the basket, dunking with two hands over a late-arriving help-side defender. If you’re going to rotate over, have to do it quicker than that.

Video credit: Wyoming Athletics

Defensive progress will determine No. 4 Iowa State’s ceiling

Monte Morris
Associated Press
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Even with the coaching change from Fred Hoiberg to Steve Prohm, No. 4 Iowa State remains one of the nation’s best offensive teams. Given their skills on that end of the floor many teams find it tough to go score for score with the Cyclones, and that’s what happened to Illinois in Iowa State’s 84-73 win in the Emerald Coast Classic title game.

Georges Niang scored 23 points and grabbed eight rebounds, with Monté Morris adding 20, nine rebounds and six assists and Abdel Nader 18 points as the Cyclones moved to 5-0 on the season. The three-pointers weren’t falling in the second half, as Iowa State shot 0-f0r-12, but they shot 19-for-24 inside of the arc to pull away from a team that lost big man Mike Thorne Jr. late in the first half to a left knee injury.

Illinois’ loss of size in the paint opened things up offensively for Iowa State, and the Cyclones took advantage. But where this group grabbed control of the game was on the defensive end of the floor, and that will be the key for a team with Big 12 and national title aspirations.

Nader took on the responsibility of defending Illinois’ Malcolm Hill (20 points) in the second half and did a solid job of keeping the junior wing in check, with that serving as the spark to a 12-2 run that put the game away. There’s no denying that the Cyclones can put points on the board; most of the talent from last season is back and the productivity on that end of the floor hasn’t changed as a result. Niang’s one of the nation’s best forwards, and both Morris (who now ranks among the country’s best point guards) and Nader have taken significant strides in their respective games.

Iowa State will add Deonte Burton in December, giving them another option to call upon. Front court depth is a bit of a concern, as Iowa State can ill afford to lose a Niang or Jameel McKay, but there’s enough on the roster to compensate for that and force mismatches in other areas.

But the biggest question for this group is how effective they can become at stringing together stops. Illinois certainly had its moments in both halves Saturday night, but Iowa State also showed during the game’s decisive stretch that they can step up defensively. The key now is to do so consistently, and if that occurs the Cyclones can be a threat both within the Big 12 and nationally.