Monday, February 8, 2010

Monday dribble: UVa., Drexel, Liberty on tap

We know the phrase is already taken, but we're calling this Big Monday in these parts because of its bounty of interesting matchups:

- Virginia travels to Maryland for a regionally televised affair
- Liberty and Gardner-Webb in a regionally televised first-place showdown
- Drexel and JMU in a rematch of the 2009 CAA title game
- Norfolk State looks to get off the MEAC schneid at Delaware State

Monday's game

No. 24 Virginia (16-6, 5-3 ACC) at Maryland (16-7, 3-5 ACC), 7 p.m. (Comcast) The Cavaliers ought to want this one badly. How dare Maryland come into JPJ Arena and spoil the night Monica Wright became Virginia's all-time leading scorer? What? You say the Cavaliers actually gave that game away? Oh, yeah, that's right.... Well, take it out on the Terps anyway, guys. Actually, that Maryland loss turned out to be a springboard to much crisper play from the Cavaliers, who ripped off four straight wins after that decacle and have taken five of six since. The Cavaliers also come in off perhaps their cleanest offensive performance in ACC play - an 82-60 win over Clemson that featured 52.9 percent shooting, four double-digit scorers and efficient 10-of-15 shooting from Monica Wright. At this stage of UVa.'s development, we shouldn't expect them to operate that smoothly every night, particularly on the road. But against the Terrapins, they may not have to. Maryland coughed up 28 turnovers in the first meeting with Virginia and averages nearly 23 a game against ACC teams. This should set the Cavaliers up for several fastbreak opportunities - that is, unless Debbie Ryan calls a timeout to stop them (We kid because we care, Debbie).

Drexel (14-7, 8-2 CAA) at James Madison (17-4, 7-3 CAA), 7 p.m. Another game with a revenge angle - Drexel downed JMU in the Dukes' building to claim last year's CAA tournament title and this year opened CAA play with a 68-67 victory over the Dukes in Philadelphia. The Dukes could be without their biggest weapon as Dawn Evans is questionable after spraining her ankle midway through the first half of Thursday's 71-56 rout of VCU. The Dragons shouldn't take too much comfort in playing an Evans-less JMU, though. The Dukes played so well after Evans departed we began to wonder, does JMU actually play better team ball without their superstar? Let's be clear about this - no one is suggesting JMU has a higher ceiling without the nation's No. 4 scorer. But Thursday marked the second time this season the Dukes have been forced to play all or a significant part of a game minus Evans, and on both occasions the team has operated more efficiently and cohesively, as though they actually enjoy the challenge. Having said this, we sincerely hope they don't have to prove this again again as we hate to see anyone miss games because of injury. As for Drexel, the Dragons are hoping Thursday's 53-48 loss at Towson served as a wake-up call for a team that had been dodging self-fired bullets and prevailing despite subpar play for several games before their ill-fated trip to Baltimore.

Gardner-Webb (18-3, 7-1 Big South) at Liberty (17-4, 7-1 Big South), 7 p.m. The Lady Flames have won 10 straight since dropping a 70-65 decision to Gardner-Webb on Jan. 2 in Boiling Springs, N.C. Big South scoring leader Devon Brown scored just 9 points in that contest, and Liberty has tended to struggle against teams (Virginia, JMU) that can slow Brown down. Then again, offense wasn't the problem; 65 points is typically plenty for the defense-first Lady Flames. But the Bulldogs scorched the Liberty on three fronts - points off turnovers (21 off 23 Liberty giveaways), by moving the ball (17 assists on 19 field goals) and by getting to the free throw line (36 times). Liberty's turnover problem appears chronic. But the Lady Flames can definitely clean things up in the other two areas.

George Mason (8-13. 1-9 CAA) at Delaware (14-7, 6-4 CAA), 3 p.m. (approx.): Wii bowling anyone? Check out the Patriots video on their website, which shows off a couple of great hook shots and an intense game of checkers, part of the snow day GMU endured in Delaware. The fun isn't likely to continue against Dell-e-ware. This one follows a postponed men's game which begins at 1 p.m., so start time for the women is iffy. Delaware 80. George Mason 42

Hampton (11-10) at Winston-Salem State (2-20), 6 p.m. After poking its head up in the Division I waters for a couple of years, Winston-Salem is reclassifying back to Division II, and this caught-between-divisions status is reflected in the 18-game losing streak the Lady Rams will lug into battle. By contrast, Hampton has won five straight and should be able to name its score here. But the Lady Pirates need to guard against playing down to its opponent and making this one tougher than it should be. And congratulations to Hampton's Quanneisha Perry, who after two straight weeks of earning MEAC Player of the Week honors has been named the league's Defensive Player of the Week this time.

Delaware State (3-19, 1-8 MEAC)) at Norfolk State (3-15, 0-9 MEAC), 6 p.m.
If you read this earlier, we had the Spartans on the road. (Thanks for the correction.) We noted they hadn't won a conference road game since 2007. Throw out that fact, at least as far as this game is concerned. This much is true, though. Any win when you're 0-9 in the conference is welcomed.

1 comment:

  1. Heads up: Norfolk State is actually hosting Delaware State tonight, so it's going to be a bit longer before the Spartans get that road win.