Tuesday, December 15, 2009

State rankings - #6

Action has been so scarce with state teams of late there was almost no point in doing these weekly rankings. Almost. But it's always fun to take a closer look at each of the schools. Besides, the action will begin to heat up again this weekend - only to cool down again next week during the Christmas break.

Tuesday also brought more national recognition for JMU, which settled in at No. 25 in the ESPN/USA Today poll. Wonder where Kenny Brooks ranked his Dukes....

1. James Madison (7-0) Last week: 1
As of Tuesday, the Dukes were one of 13 undefeated teams in Division I. If they're still in that group four days from now, stop the presses. Or to put it in 2009 parlance, freeze the download. Next: Friday at No. 7 Duke

2. Virginia (7-2) Last week: 2
Monica Wright is the reigning ACC Player of the Week after stuffing the statsheet against Furman. It's "only" the fourth time in her career Wright has claimed the honor, a relatively low number given Wright's production throughout a four-year career. It just shows how tough it is to get singled out in a high-quality, 12-team league. Next: Sunday at No. 11 Georgia

3. Richmond (7-3) Last week: 3
It's tough to complain too much when you're winning 70 percent of your games. Still, the Spiders have to be a little disappointed over the fact that they spit the second-half bit in two home games against quality opponents Georgetown and Drexel and suffered 15-point losses in both. Next: Monday vs. Radford

4. VCU (4-2) Last week: 4
This weekend's eight-team Duel in the Desert should be beneficial on two fronts - exposing the Rams to the (potential) three-games-in-three-days grind of the CAA tournament and matching them up against high-level competition - five of the teams made the NCAA tournament a year ago and a sixth went to the WNIT. Oh, and there's a third front - Las Vegas is a cool city in which to spend a weekend. Next: Tonight at Winthrop; Friday at UNLV's Duel in the Desert Classic

5. Liberty (6-1) Last week: 5
Defense rules at Liberty - the Lady Flames have held 92 consecutive opponents under 50 percent shooting and had kept 34 in a row under 70 points until Tuesday's 70-64 setback at Auburn. They currently rank among the top three teams in the nation in points allowed and field goal percentage allowed. Next: Tonight at Auburn; Dec. 28 vs. Cornell in UVa.'s Cavalier Classic

6. Virginia Tech (6-3) Last week: 7
The future continues to look bright for the Hokies, who next season will add the nation's No. 28 recruiting class to this year's promising cast of newcomers. Next: Saturday vs. UAB in St. John's Holiday Classic

7. Old Dominion (1-6) Last week: 6
Tia Lewis ranks first in the CAA at 9.3 rebounds per game, and more than half of her boards come off the offensive glass. But while we love the way Lewis goes and gets the ball, there are too many balls for her to go and get - ODU ranks in the bottom 50 of the 332 Division I schools in field goal percentage (35.6). Next: Sunday vs. Hampton

8. Hampton (2-6) Last week: 8
Speaking of a gang that can't shoot straight...The Lady Pirates rank dead last among D-I schools in field-goal percentage. Yet they continue to give opponents fits, making Hampton a case study in how competitive a team can be without actually putting the ball in the basket. Next: Sunday at Old Dominion (AKA the Brick Bowl)

9. William and Mary (4-3) Last week: 9
The Tribe will be returning to action this week after a two-week exam break. William and Mary has lost its first game after the break the past two years, both at home. The last time they were successful was three years ago, at Norfolk State. Looks like someone knew what they were doing when they put together the Tribe's 2009-10 schedule. Next: Friday at Norfolk State

10. George Mason (6-3) Last week: 10
Forget losing at home. George Mason has yet to even trail at any point in their six contests at the Patriot Center. The 6-0 mark is the best in program history. Next: Dec. 22 vs. George Washington

11. Longwood (2-8) Last week: 11
Despite the record, the long-term prognosis for the Lancers looks good. Freshmen Heather Tobeck (18th nationally in blocked shots) and Crystal Smith (formerly of Richmond's Meadowbrook High) have already proven to be keepers, and sophomore Morgan Smith has also been solid. In all, nine of the 11 Lancers are first- or second-year players. Next: Tonight vs. Campbell; Friday at High Point

12. Norfolk State (1-5) Last week: 12
Poor Tiffany McNair. After already missing two full seasons with shoulder injuries, the 6-2 redshirt senior has been forced to shut it down for good. It's also a tough break for the Spartans, who start no one taller than 5-9 and get killed on the boards most nights. Next: Tonight at Savannah State; Friday vs. William and Mary

13. Radford (1-7) Last week: 13
One thing the Highlanders do as well as anyone is steal the ball. Led by sophomore guard Denay Wood (2.8 spg), Radford's 12.4 steals per game is the highest figure among Virginia schools and the 9th-best in Division I. Next: Friday vs. Davidson

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