Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Ladyswish state rankings

1. Richmond (13-4, 2-0 Atlantic 10) Last week: 2
RPI: 48
We're not emotionally committed to the idea of the Spiders as the state's best team. But while several of the teams below are still trying to figure out roles and develop youngsters, the Spiders seem to know exactly who they are and are playing to their strengths more consistently than anyone else. Next: Tonight vs. George Washington, Saturday at Dayton

2. Virginia (12-5, 1-2 ACC) Last week: 3
RPI: 19
Nice bounceback victory for the Cavaliers Monday, as they smothered Virginia Tech defensively and made them pay for the lack of a player capable of creating off the dribble. The Cavaliers also made much more efficient use of superstar Monica Wright, who scored 27 points on 11 of 17 shooting. It was Wright's best shooting performance since she hit 12 of 14 shots for 31 points against Manhattan on Nov. 15. Next: Thursday at Boston College

3. VCU (12-5, 5-0 CAA) Last week: 4
RPI: 103
The only thing better than the Rams' play of late (seven straight wins) is this idea by the VCU athletics department - a silent auction of Rams-related items with all proceeds to benefit victims of the tragic earthquake in Haiti. The auction begins Wednesday and will continue through the Rams' showdown against Elena Delle Donne and Delaware Thursday night before concluding Friday at 5 p.m. Next: Thursday vs. Delaware

4. Old Dominion (6-9, 4-1 CAA) Last week: 4
RPI: 76
A key in ODU's resurgence has been the improved form of forward Jessica Canady, who struggled with an arthritic knee through most of the non-conference season. In CAA-only play, Canady leads the entire conference in field-goal percentage (57.6 percent). In fact, the Lady Monarchs have three of the top five most accurate shooters, as Tia Lewis (2nd at 56.3 percent) and Shadasia Green (5th, 51.1) are also making better than half their shots. Next: Thursday vs. Georgia State

5. James Madison (13-3, 3-2 CAA) Last week: 1
RPI: 40
The Dukes' offense has been in a state of dysfunction ever since CAA play began, and Old Dominion finally made them pay for it Sunday by decisively snapping JMU's nine-game home winning streak. Simply put, through five conference games no CAA team shoots it more than these Dukes (341 attempts) but no one shoots it less accurately, either (33.1 percent from the field, tied with Towson for the lowest FG percentage in the league). Next: Thursday at Northeastern

6. Virginia Tech (11-6, 1-2 ACC) Last week: 7
RPI: 82
Hokies coach Beth Dunkenberger said after Tech's 70-56 loss to Virginia that her team came out "flat on several fronts." Let's see. The Hokies were coming off the biggest victory of their lives and were at home against their nationally ranked archrival. And they came out flat? College kids. Who can figure 'em out? Next: Thursday at No. 6 Duke

7. Liberty (12-4, 3-1 Big South) Last week: 5
RPI: 113
Defense-first Lady Flames continued to feast on the soft underbelly of the Big South in home routs over Presbyterian and UNC Asheville. It's not totally fair to drop Liberty two spots after the team blows out two opponents, but we're still waiting for a Liberty win over an upper echelon opponent. The Lady Flames have beaten only one Top 100 team this season, and that was back on Nov. 20 (Tulane). Next: Saturday at Charleston Southern

8. Hampton (6-10, 2-3 MEAC) Last week: 8
RPI: 197
Saturday's overtime victory over last-place Norfolk State and Monday's 82-81 loss at MEAC favorite North Carolina A&T perfectly captured the personality of these Lady Pirates - they tend to play to the level of their competition. Next: Saturday vs. Bethune-Cookman

9. William and Mary (9-7, 2-3 CAA) Last week: 9
RPI: 182
Pleasant developments with the Tribe offense - after shooting 38 percent from the field and 29 percent from the 3-point line through its first 13 games, William and Mary is at 45.6 percent from the field and 43.4 percent from deep in its last three games. Katherine DeHenzel in particular has been an offensive revelation. Next: Thursday at Hofstra

10. Radford (4-11, 3-1 Big South) Last week: 10
RPI: 220
Congratulations to junior Denay Wood, who on Tuesday was named the Big South Player of the Week. Wood averaged 14 points in two victories and continued to scorch the nets from behind the 3-point line. In five Big South games, Wood is shooting an unconscious 67 percent from long distance. Next: Saturday at Coastal Carolina

11. George Mason (8-8, 1-4 CAA) Last week: 11
RPI: 185
Amazing what a little offense can do. The 72 points the Patriots scoring in beating Northeastern Sunday were 22 more than they'd scored in any previous CAA game and 10 more than they'd managed in any game since Dec. 4. Next: Thursday at Drexel

12. Longwood (4-15) Last week: 12
RPI: 227
Career highs in points (22) and rebounds (11) from sophomore Brittanni Billups couldn't prevent the Lancers from dropping their seventh straight Monday night at Utah Valley State. Longwood hasn't won since Dec. 18 against High Point, but opportunity looms Thursday when the Lancers conclude their trip out West at 3-18 Seattle. Next: Thursday at Seattle

13. Norfolk State (2-11, 0-5 MEAC) Last week: 13
RPI: 340
The Spartans are clearly outmanned, particularly in the post, against even most MEAC teams. But credit coach Debra Clark and the players themselves for continuing to battle against the odds every night. We still think a handful of MEAC victories are in this team's future. Next: Saturday at Winston-Salem State

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