Tuesday, December 8, 2009

State rankings - #5

We've written a lot about rankings the last two days, and while we only have 13 teams to juggle instead of 347, we have a pretty clear idea about who's the top team in the state as of Dec. 8.

1. James Madison
(6-0) Last week: 2
Of course, the players have to stay in the moment. But fans can't help but gaze ahead toward JMU's next statement-making opportunity Dec. 18 at Duke. Tough game, and an even tougher listen on radio - "Is he saying Dukes' ball, or Duke's ball?" Next: Sunday vs. Siena

2. Virginia
(6-2) Last week: 1
It's usually a good thing when Monica Wright delivers a career high, but not when the category is shots attempted. Wright's 32 tries against JMU Sunday - and her 21 against Tennessee - offer reminders that as good as Wright is, she can't do it alone. Next: Tonight vs. Furman

3. Richmond (7-2) Last week: 4
The Spiders might be able to argue that they're really the state's best team were it not for a subpar effort at home against Drexel two weeks ago. But let's see what happens Saturday. JMU had to rally to overtake Georgetown in Harrisonburg. If the Spiders have an easier time handling the Hoyas, hmmm.... Next: Saturday vs. Georgetown

4. VCU (3-2) Last week: 3
The Rams may have been disappointing in Sunday's 66-52 loss to Richmond, but VCU's fans made an even poorer showing than the players - only 463 turned out to see the Rams try to protect its 19-game home winning streak against a city rival.

Next: Saturday vs. Radford

5. Liberty (6-1) Last week: 5
Devon Brown remembered she was a freshman when Liberty fell to James Madison last week in its home gym. Flames lost by 10 to the Dukes bu rebounded by pounding Glenville State. They've got a chance to steal one in Alabama.

Next: Dec. 15 at Auburn

6. Old Dominion (1-5) Last week: 7
According to Collegiate Basketball News, ODU's strength of schedule to date has been the toughest in the country. Of course, the Lady Monarchs probably didn't need any numbers-crunching to figure that out. Next: Friday vs. Florida

7. Virginia Tech (4-3) Last week: 6
Teams that rely on a lot of newcomers are prone to wild swings in performance early in the season, so for now we'll give the Hokies a mulligan on last week's debacle against Michigan. Next: Wednesday vs. Mount St. Mary's

8. Hampton (2-4) Last week: 8
We love Hampton's non-conference schedule, which is travel-friendly, heavy on state/regional games and featuring a healthy chunk of home games. Seems like a perfect platform from which to launch play. Next: Tonight vs. Temple

9. William and Mary (4-3) Last week: 9
Preseason All-CAA forward Tiffany Benson turned in her best outing of the season in last week's loss to Richmond. Benson's has been battling to escape Debbie Taylor's doghouse all season, so let's hope she's finally all the way out. Remember, this is supposed to be the Tribe's best player.

Next: Dec. 18 at Norfolk State

10. George Mason (5-3) Last week: 10
An overlooked aspect of the Patriots' success has been that, with Janaa Pickard, Amber Easter and Angelee LaTouche leading the way, Mason has become one of the nation's best teams at blocking shots. Next: Saturday vs. Howard

11. Longwood (2-7) Last week: 11
The Lancers will be in over their heads this weekend, but games next week against Campbell and High Point should provide a truer test of Longwood's competitiveness.

Next: Saturday at West Virginia

12. Norfolk State (1-5) Last week: 12
You know you're having a tough time on the boards when your leading rebounder stands 5-foot-8 (Marquilla Evans with 5.0 rpg). Couple that with 34-percent field goal shooting and it's easy to see why, for all its hustle, this team will struggle to win games.

Next: Dec. 15 at Savannah State

13. Radford (1-5) Last week: 13
It's a good thing the Highlanders got that first victory business out of the way last weekend because with six of their next seven games on the road, win No. 2 won't come easily anytime soon. Next: Tonight at North Carolina

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