Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Thursday dribble - Trouble at Longwood

We begin this report with a bit of a stunner - Longwood announced that coach Kristin Caruso has been placed on "indefinite paid leave of absence" while the university reviews "undisclosed personnel issues." Although the announcement came Wednesday, Caruso did not accompany the team to North Carolina on Monday when the Lancers fell at Campbell. First-year assistant Mike Davis led the Lancers in that game and was also in charge on Wednesday when the Lancers dropped a 69-53 decision at Davidson.

Naturally, the mind races with speculation over what this might be all about, but we're not in the business of rumor-forwarding. For now, all we can provide is the school's official release and the thoughts of veteran women's basketball writer Vic Dorr of the Richmond Times-Dispatch. But rest assured we're going to monitor this situation closely; Dorr believes some resolution could come within the next six days as the Lancers will not play another game until Jan. 12.

A Richmond native and former standout player and assistant coach at UConn, Caruso has posted a 28-47 record in her third year with the Lancers.

Meanwhile, in the only other game involving a state team Wednesday:

Richmond 78, Appalachian St. 56: Richmond's depth paid off handsomely as reserves contributed 30 of the team's first 39 points and 45 overall - particulary key since the Spiders were playing on the road for the second time in three nights. The Spiders (11-4) also had 20 steals and 18 assists in a thorough dismantling of the Mountaineers and and a near-perfect capper to their non-conference schedule.

Thursday's games

Old Dominion (3-8, 1-0) at Northeastern (5-7, 0-1), 5 p.m.
On Sunday the Lady Monarchs won their first road game in nearly a year and put a dent in erasing a gruesome nonconference start by defeating Delle Donne, I mean Delaware, 60-59. ODU shot a season high in a game that was closer than it should have been due to 26 Lady Monarch turnovers. Northeastern looks for its first CAA win of the season after dropping its conference opener to VCU despite 23 points and 11 rebounds from Kim Carr. The Huskies remain one of three league teams that has yet to defeat ODU. Old Dominion 71, Northeastern 59

No. 21 Virginia (11-3) at No. 13 Florida St. (13-2), 7 p.m.
Monica Wright collected her second ACC Player of the Week honor this week after averaging 23.7 points, 7.3 rebounds and 6.3 steals in a 3-0 week for the Cavaliers. At her pace, it would be no surprise if she becomes the all-time leading scorer in Virginia history in Friday’s ACC opener; she is 35 points shy of Dawn Staley’s record. Point guard duties will likely go to Ariana Moorer given freshman China Crosby is out for the remainder of the season with a knee injury. The Seminoles return seven from last year's team that was co-champion of the ACC. The teams split last year with each team winning on the other's court. We applaud Virginia coach Debbie Ryan and Florida State coach Sue Semrau as both women will coach barefoot in this one to show support for Samaritan's Feet, an organization aimed to provide worthy children with a pair of shoes. Fans are encouraged to bring a "new or slightly worn" pair of shoes to donate to the cause. Samaritan's Feet works to provide shoes for over 300 million children currently without them. Fans who bring a pair of shoes to the game can be entered into a drawing to win a pair of shoes signed by Semrau. Fans can also donate $5 to the cause by texting the word, "shoes" to 85944. Florida State 78, Virginia 75

Georgia St. (10-2, 1-0) at JMU (10-2, 0-1), 7 p.m.
The Dukes have to be disappointed by a one-point loss at Drexel that marred an otherwise spectacular afternoon by Dawn Evans, who turned in a 30-point performance for the 12th time in her career. Life should get easier for the Dukes, who play the next four at home where they are 6-0 this season. But it's hard to overlook the Panthers, whose only losses are to a pair of Top 25 teams (Florida State, Georgia Tech)? With a win today, GSU would tie its best start in school history that dates back to 1975-76. GSU leads the league in field-goal percentage, scoring defense and steals. JMU 72, Georgia State 65

VCU (8-5, 1-0) at UNC Wilmington (5-7, 0-1), 7 p.m.:
The Rams continue a five-game home stand against a UNCW team that boasts one of the top players in the conference in Brittany Blackwell. But Blackwell can't operate if her teammates can't protect the ball, and the Seahawks got picked clean (17 times, to be exact) by Georgia State in a 63-53 loss Sunday. They may be facing an even more tenacious defense today - the Rams had 18 steals in Sunday's 78-54 rout of Northeastern and forced 30 turnovers for the second straight game. VCU 66, UNC Wilmington 60

Virginia Tech (10-4) at Wake Forest (9-5), 7 p.m.
Last February Tech lost 66-44 in this matchup but routed Wake Forest on its homecourt 79-55. The Demon Deacons won their first six but have dropped five of their last eight, shooting just 37 percent from the field. The Hokies haven't won on the road since a Nov. 25 victory at Radford. We're counting on Utahya Dye to record her ninth double-double for the Hokies in their ACC opener. Virginia Tech 69, Wake Forest 59

William and Mary (8-4, 1-0) at Drexel (7-5, 1-0), 7 p.m.
Who'da thunk it? The Tribe and the Dragons square off in only battle of CAA unbeatens. Gabriela Marginean will surely become the CAA’s all-time leading scorer tonight, as she is seven points to tie Tamera Young’s 2,121 mark in the league. Marginean is the reigning CAA Player of the Week after her 23-point, 11-board showing Sunday when the Dragons upset JMU 68-67. We suspect the foul line will come into play here (remember ODU coach Wendy Larry called Marginean "a flopper). Drexel shoots a CAA-best 82 percent from the stripe; W&M shoots 63 percent. Drexel , William and Mary 58

Delaware (8-4, 0-1) at George Mason (7-6, 0-1), 7 p.m.
The Patriots haven’t lost at home in seven games but they haven’t faced a player like Elena Delle Donne, either. Delle Donne, who has scored 252 of her team's 652 points in 10 games, scored 28 in Sunday’s one-point loss to ODU. But the two she didn't score came into play against ODU as Delle Donne passed up the final shot to pass off to freshman Lauren Carra, who misfired on a contested layup. Look for the Hens, led by Delle Donne's CAA-best 8.8 boards, to dominate the boards against a Mason team that was outrebounded by 21 in Sunday’s loss at Towson. The Hens have won 10 of the last 11 in this series. Delaware 84, George Mason 62

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