Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Ladyswish state rankings

1. Virginia (14-5, 3-2 ACC) Last week: 2
RPI: 13
The ACC confirmed the obvious Monday, tabbing Monica Wright its Player of the Week - for the third time this season - after the Cavaliers' superstar lugged her team to road victories at Virginia Tech and Boston College. The league can probably go ahead and ship the Player of the Year award to Charlottesville, too - barring injury, it's hard to imagine it winding up anywhere else. Next: Tonight vs. N.C. State

2. VCU (13-6, 6-1 CAA) Last week: 3
RPI: 106
Given the wafer-thin margin of victory in several CAA games this season, it's fitting that three teams - VCU, ODU and Drexel - share the league lead. Trading buzzer-beaters with Delaware and Drexel last week proved the Rams belong in the title conversation. But the real test will come beginning Feb. 4, when VCU begins the following four-game stretch - vs. JMU, at Old Dominion, at Hofstra and a home rematch with Drexel. Next: Thursday vs. UNC Wilmington

3. ODU (8-9, 6-1 CAA) Last week: 4
RPI: 62
What we're about to write may have gotten us committed a month ago. But if the Lady Monarchs keep piling up wins but finish short of claiming the CAA Tournament title, they may be able to make a fairly decent case for an at-large NCAA Tournament bid (although being able to close the deal against Florida and/or N.C. State would have helped considerably). But just to be on the safe side, guys, go ahead and win the CAA Tournament. Next: Thursday at William and Mary

4. James Madison (15-3, 5-2 CAA) Last week: 5
RPI: 30
Not sure if this qualifies as news, but Dawn Evans is the CAA Player of the Week, her fourth such honor of the season. When you consider Evans at JMU, Wright at UVa., Gabriela Marginean at Drexel, Elena Delle Donne at Delaware and even Brittani Shells at Richmond, has there every been a year when so many of the top state/regional teams have been so centered around one player? Next: Thursday vs. Hofstra

5. Richmond (14-6, 3-2 Atlantic 10) Last week: 1
RPI: 52
Extremely disappointing two-game swing through Dayton - a 52-point loss - and Charlotte - Spiders in a 46-46 tie before failing to score over the final 5:28 - leaves Richmond searching for answers. No disgrace in losing to either team, especially on the road, it's the manner in which the Spiders went down that's perplexing. Strange, too, because up until Saturday, consistency of performance seemed to be a Richmond strength. Next: Saturday vs. Duquesne

6. Virginia Tech (12-7, 2-3 ACC)
Last week: 6
RPI: 71
We would have given the Hokies a lot of credit for coming up with even one victory in the four-game gauntlet of North Carolina, Virginia, at Duke and at Miami. Major props to coach Beth Dunkenberger and Co. for finding ways to pull off two, and both fairly decisively. The Hokies now have as many ACC victories as they managed in either of the previous two seasons. Next: Thursday vs. Maryland

7. Liberty (14-4, 5-1 Big South) Last week: 7
RPI: 113
More amazing defense by the Lady Flames, who on Monday held their fourth Big South opponent to 40 points or less in a 57-38 suffocation of Coastal Carolina. Hard to believe Gardner-Webb singed Liberty for 70 a few weeks ago. Next: Saturday at High Point

8. Hampton (8-10, 4-3 MEAC) Last week: 8
RPI: 181
This is the Lady Pirates team we've been waiting to see, as they've added scoring punch to their stingy defense and won four of their last five. And all this despite injuries having slowed expected stalwarts Laura Lewis (a preseason second-team All-MEAC pick) and Whitney Hill. If those two round into top form, watch out. Next: Saturday at Delaware St.

9. William and Mary (10-8, 3-4 CAA) Last week: 9
RPI: 177
Lots of nice, young pieces assembled here, but we're still waiting for the Tribe to rise up and beat someone they're not supposed to beat - they'll get another chance Thursday. Tiffany Benson needs only three more blocked shots to become the conference's all-time leader. Next: Thursday vs. Old Dominion

10. Radford (5-13, 4-3 Big South) Last week: 10
RPI: 222
Given the difficulties most teams have in winning conference games on the road, it wasn't that surprising to see the Highlanders stumble twice on their two-game swing through South Carolina. We'll learn a lot more about whether these guys are contenders or pretenders during their upcoming three-game homestand, which includes games against Liberty and Gardner-Webb. Next: Friday vs. Davidson

11. George Mason (8-10, 1-6 CAA) Last week: 11
RPI: 188
Even their heavily relied-upon homecourt advantage couldn't save the Patriots Sunday against William and Mary. Without a true low-post game to speak of, Mason continues to be the easiest team in the CAA to defend. Next: Thursday vs. Georgia State

12. Longwood (5-16) Last week: 12
RPI: 284
Tuesday's victory over Winthrop was the Lancers' first since Dec. 18 and boosted their record to an extremely respectable 4-3 in home games. Longwood is one game into a four-game homestand so they'll have chances to improve that record. But they'll have to really bring it against their next opponent. Next: Sunday vs. Maryland.

13. Norfolk State (3-12, 0-6 MEAC) Last week: 13
RPI: 339
The silver lining in Monday's 74-73 loss at South Carolina State was that NSU's point total represented the team's highest in regulation against a Division I team this season. Four straight home games will give the Spartans a fighting chance to get in the MEAC win column. Next: Saturday vs. Morgan State

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