Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Virginia state rankings

1. James Madison (10-2, 0-1 CAA) Last week: 1
Dukes proved in games against Georgetown and Virginia Tech that they are a terrific come-from-behind team. The problem with that approach against Drexel is the Dragons don't miss free throws. The national leaders in FT percentage made 6 of 6 in the final 30 seconds of their 68-67 win over the Dukes Sunday. The loss cost the Dukes their Top 25 ranking and the reality is that given their remaining schedule, it will be difficult for JMU, or any other CAA team for that matter, to get a Top 25 ranking again. Next: Thursday vs. Georgia St.

2. Virginia (11-3, 0-0 ACC) Last week: 2

Cavs have won four straight, the last two without freshman G China Crosby, who is lost for the season with an ACL tear. Shooting practice appears to have paid off for freshman G Lexie Gerson, who made just 2 of her first 16 3-pointers but has nailed 4 of her last 5 over her last three games. Monday, Gerson was also 5-for-5 on free throws. Next: Thursday at Florida St.

3. Richmond (10-4, 0-0 Atlantic 10) Last week: 3
Maybe the Spiders are playing in the wrong conference. Monday's victory over Wake Forest boosted them to 2-0 against ACC teams this season (they also beat Clemson), with both victories coming by double figures. We'll start finding out how Richmond stands in its real league on Saturday when the Spiders host LaSalle. Next: Wednesday at Appalachian St.

4. VCU (8-5, 1-0 CAA) Last week: 4
Is it possible the 0-3 performance at the Duel in the Desert tournament was the best thing that happened to VCU? The Rams are 3-0 since with an average victory margin of 24.6 points. Next: Thursday at UNC Wilmington

5. Old Dominion (3-8, 1-0 CAA) Last week: 7
A Russia sighting! Little-used F Alena Voronina provided quality minutes against Delaware Sunday in a game where virtually everyone on the roster chipped in at one end of the floor or the other - and several performed well at both. That's what it's going to take for these Lady Monarchs to max out - Tia Lewis and Shadasia Green can't be expected to carry the whole load. Now, about those turnovers.... Next: Thursday at Northeastern

6. Liberty (7-4, 0-1 Big South) Last week: 5
Lady Flames took a few lumps during a road-intensive schedule of late but have a chance to make up ground as they begin a five-game homestand. Next: Tonight vs. North Carolina A&T, Saturday vs. Winthrop

7. Virginia Tech (10-4, 0-0 ACC) Last week: 6
The Hokies got a lot of young players minutes, had some good performances at home and away and recaptured their own tournament title during a generally successful non-conference schedule. Now let's see if they can transfer those positives to their ACC slate. Next: Thursday at Wake Forest

8. Hampton (4-8, 0-1 MEAC) Last week: 8
The Lady Pirates should be bolstered by the return to form of G Whitney Hill, who averaged nearly 17 ppg in leading Hampton to a 2-1 start before going down with a knee injury. After sitting out a few games and playing sparingly in a few others, Hill rebounded with 22 points in Hampton's last outing, a 68-48 victory over Bryant on Dec. 29. Next: Saturday vs. Coppin St.

9. William and Mary (8-4, 1-0 CAA) Last week: 9
The uglier the game, the more this Tribe thrives. So while televising Sunday's W&M's gritty 55-48 triumph over Hofstra probably didn't turn any casual viewers into women's basketball fans, it did provide a sample of the kind of get-down-in-the-dirt hoops that can make this team even tougher to play than it is to watch. Next: Thursday at Drexel

10. George Mason (7-5, 1-0 CAA) Last week: 10
The Patriots' 7-0 home record will be tested Thursday when Elena Delle Donne and Delaware visit the Patriot Center. Mason would benefit from the return of G Ashleigh Braxton, who has missed the last three games with a back injury. Braxton is the team's third-leading scorer; the Patriots managed just 46 points in Sunday's loss at Towson. Next: Thursday vs. Delaware

11. Radford (2-10, 1-0 Big South) Last week: 13
In her last three games, Big South Freshman of the Week Ashley Buckhannon is averaging 14.7 points on 67-percent shooting from the field and 75 percent from 3-point range. She was huge in Monday's eye-opening upset at Gardner-Webb, and is a big reason why the future suddenly looks very interesting for a Radford team that will play its next four games at home. Next: Saturday vs. High Point

12. Longwood (4-12) Last week: 11
Remember the time Michael Jordan got so hot from 3-point range he turned to his bench and shrugged his shoulders, as if even he couldn't believe they were all going in? Chelsea Coward must have felt that way Monday, as she drained 5 of 6 3s in the opening 6:41 against Longwood. It didn't last, and the Lancers didn't win. But if anyone wants to know what's it's like to truly be in the zone, and you can't reach Michael, just ask Chelsea. Next: Wednesday at Davidson

13. Norfolk State (2-7, 0-0 MEAC) Last week: 12
The Spartans have already played MEAC power North Carolina A&T and will have another tough one next Monday at Florida A&M. But unlike last season, the Spartans should be at least competitive with most of the other teams in this league. Next: Saturday at Bethune-Cookman

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