Tuesday, September 28, 2010

You mean, she's from HERE?

Some experts on Virginia women's basketball we are. All the time we've been following the IUPUI story we're thinking, "Boy, we're glad it's got nothing to do with us." That is, until the Daily Press informs us that ex-IUPUI coach Shann Hart is from NEWPORT NEWS! Furthermore, she graduated from Norfolk State.

Thanks, Daily Press. We're glad someone around here is on top of the state's women's hoops scene.

The many lives of Nancy Lieberman


What's Nancy Lieberman up to these days? As usual, quite a bit, the venerable Mel Greenberg reports. The Guru informs us that the Naismith Basketball Hall of Famer and former Old Dominion star:

   - Has a book coming out on Oct. 18 (check nancylieberman.com for more details;

   - Has Oprah Winfrey interested in her historic turn as a coach of an NBA Developmental League men's team;

   - Is being rumored for the vacant New York Liberty general manager job.

Not sure how she could find time for that last gig. Then again, few people have checked off more things on their bucket list than Lieberman. Something tells us that if the idea moved her, she'd figure out a way to fit it in.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Dunk you very much, Genevieve

Typical freshman, this Genevieve Okoro, the latest subject in the popular (at least to us) "Rach's Rundown" series. OK, so the Richmond freshman's got this really interesting full name. And her father's the king of a tribe in Nigeria. And she's a state champion and her school's record-holder in the triple jump. And she's the Philadelphia Inquirer's South Jersey Athlete of the Year. And she closes the interview with a dunk.

Other than that, pretty typical stuff.

By the way, guys, isn't that Katy Perry's "California Gurls" playing in the background during Genevieve's throwdown? That's so Lauren Shute. A move like Genevieve's ought to be enhanced by something like this.

UNCW: Stop, drop, roll - and resign

Hmmm, let's see. UNC Wilmington athletics director Kelly Mehrtens resigned Monday morning, less than a week after controversy - make that outrage - erupted after junior guard Julia Finlay was forced to roll the length of the floor for 30 minutes by Seahawks assistant coach Johnetta Hayes. But UNCW Chancellor Rosemary DePaolo insists the rolling and resigning are not linked, that this is all simply a "coincidence in time".

With all due respect, Chancellor...yeah, right.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Virginia's finest - Tracking down the state's Division I players

Sure, we concentrate on the 13 Division I programs in Virginia. But we'd like to give props to all of the state's D-I players, no matter where they are. So consider this something of a Virginia women's hoops Wikapedia page, featuring every player who:

   - Graduated from a Virginia high school;
   - Is on a Division I roster for the 2010-11 season.

Is this list comprehensive? We'd like to think so. But have we tracked down everybody? Well.... So if you know of any Division I players out there we've missed, alert us via e-mail - ladyswishing@hotmail.com - and we'll add 'em to the list.

ALBANY
Felecia Johnson, 5-4 Sr. G, Woodside
   - 9.4 ppg, 3.6 apg
   - Ranked 6th in the America East Conference in assists; set Albany record for assists by a sophomore (107).

BOSTON UNIVERSITY
Melissa Gallo, 5-10 Fr. G, W.T. Woodson
   - 13.7 ppg as a senior at Woodson
   - Three-time first-team all-district honoree

Kristen Sims, 5-10 So. G, Clover Hill
   - 3.3 ppg, 1.8 rpg in 10.9 minutes per game
   - Her uncle, Kenneth Sims, played football at James Madison

HARTFORD
Ruthanne Doherty, 5-11 Soph. F, L.C. Bird
   - 6.0 ppg, 4.8 rpg
   - Hawks won 20 straight games after Doherty was inserted into the starting lineup
   - Also see: Hartford's Doherty aims to help father's homeland

UMBC
Raven Harris, 5-7 Jr. G, Princess Anne
   - 6.7 ppg, team-leading 3.4 apg and 2.5 spg for American
   - Will sit out the 2010-11 season, has two seasons of eligibility left beginning in 2011-12
   - Also see: Ex-PA star Harris transfers to UMBC

Kim Browning, 6-2 Soph. F, Hanover
   - 4.3 ppg in 12 games
   - Finished her prep career as Hanover's all-time assists leader

STONY BROOK
Gerda Gatling, 5-11 Soph. F, Forest Park
   - 2.8 ppg and 2.6 rpg in 15.4 minutes per game (29 games)
   - Middle name is Datta
   - AAU team: Fairfax Stars

Sam Landers, 5-7 Soph. G, West Springfield
   - 4.1 ppg in 17.9 minutes per game (30 games, 14 starts)
   - Scored a career-high 14 points against Hofstra and had 12 points vs. Maryland
   - AAU team: Lessons Learned

RICHMOND
Tiffanie Couts, 5-6 Soph. G, Stonewall Jackson
   - Appeared in 13 games, averaged 3.3 minutes per contest
   - Joined Spiders as a walk-on in 2009

Abby Oliver, 5-8 Jr. G, Hidden Valley
   - 10.2 ppg, 81.2 FT pct in 33 games (10 starts), career-high 27 pts vs. George Washington
   - Atlantic 10 Sixth Player of the Year

Becca Wann, 5-10 Fr. G, Cosby
   - Group AAA state player of the year in soccer; 2nd team all-state in basketball. Central Region player of the year in both sports.
   - Currently leads the Spiders soccer team in goals and the Atlantic 10 in shots attempted.
   - Plans to walk-on to the basketball team.
   - Also see: Wann's double duty at Richmond

CHARLOTTE
Gabby Tyler, 6-2 Fr. F, Greensville County
   - 18.8 ppg, 17.6 rpg and 3.2 bpg at Greensville County
   - A first-team All-Group AA selection

DUQUESNE
Orsi Szecsi, 6-3 Fr. G/F, Oak Hill Academy (Budapest, Hungary)
   - According to the Duquesne website, Szecsi chose the Dukes over UConn and Oklahoma
   - Averaged 6.4 ppg and 6.7 rpg in helping Hungary to a 5th-place finish at the FIBA U20 Group B World Championships for Women in July

GEORGE WASHINGTON
Danni Jackson, 5-3 Soph. G, Forest Park
   - Displayed star-stuff for three games, then suffered a broken leg and was out for the rest of the season
   - Two-time Virginia Group AAA first-team all-state pick
   - Also see: Catching up with GW point guard Danni Jackson

Chelisa Painter, 6-1 Fr. F, Indian River
   - 14.9 ppg, 12 rpg as a senior for the Braves
   - Was ranked 78th overall in ESPN Hoopgurlz' Top 100

VIRGINIA
Ariana Moorer, 5-7 Jr. G, C.D. Hylton
   - Averaged 7.0 ppg, 4.1 rpg and a team-leading 2.1 apg (30 games, 20 starts)
   - Dropped a season-high 18 points on James Madison

Jazmin Pitts, 6-1 Fr. F, Cosby
   - Averaged 15 ppg, 9 rpg and 3 bpg as a senior at Cosby
   - Finished her prep career with a school-record 1,825 points

VIRGINIA TECH
Abby Redick, 6-1 Soph. F, Hidden Valley
   - Appeared in all 30 of Tech's games; scored a season-high 10 points vs. Longwood
   - An ACC Academic Honor Roll selection
   - Brother of former Duke star and current Orlando Magic sharpshooter J.J. Redick
   - AAU team: Fairfax Stars
   - Also see: Introducing Abby Redick

Kyani White, 5-6 Fr. G, Stonewall Jackson
   - Averaged 18.8 ppg, 8.8 apg, 5.8 rpg and 6.4 spg over her prep career.
   - Her head coach at Stonewall Jackson was her father, Nsonji White.
   - White is an accomplished drummer and carries a pair of drumsticks with her at (almost) all times.
   - Also see: Stonewall Jackson teammates take music and basketball seriously
   -
Elizabeth Basham, 6-2 Sr. F, Abingdon (Abingdon)
   - Missed the entire 2009-10 season with a left shoulder injury
   - Has made the ACC Academic Honor Roll the last two years

NORTH CAROLINA
She'la White, 5-5 Jr. G, Norfolk Collegiate
   - Averaged 7.2 ppg (5th among Tar Heels) in 31 games (16 starts)
   - Led UNC in 3-point percentage and won the team award for strength and conditioning
   - AAU team: Boo Williams

Chay Shegog, 6-5 Jr. F/C, Brooke Point
   - Averaged 8.9 ppg and 6.0 rpg in 29 games (23 starts)
   - An ACC All-Freshman Team selection in 2009
   - AAU team: Fairfax Stars

Tierra Ruffin-Pratt, 5-10 Soph. G, T.C. Williams
   - Averaged 6.6 ppg and 5.3 rpg in 30 games (19 starts)
   - Dropped 15 pounds (at least) over the summer after an inconsistent freshman season.

MARYLAND
Lynetta Kizer, 6-4 Jr. C, Potomac
   - 12.9 ppg and 7.8 rpg (4th in ACC). A 3rd-team All-ACC pick
   - Younger sister Quiana Kizer played at Hampton last year
   - AAU team: Boo Williams

Kim Rodgers, 5-9 Jr. G, Princess Anne
   - Last season: 7.5 ppg, 81.4 FT pct. in 30 games (23 starts)
   - Sat out the 2007-08 season after knee surgery and was hampered by injury and illness throughout 2008-09.
   - AAU team: Boo Williams
   - Also see: 21 questions for Kim Rodgers

NORTH CAROLINA STATE
Myisha Goodwin-Coleman, 5-6 Fr. G, Edison (Lorton)
   - Averaged 24 ppg, 5 apg and 3 spg as a senior at Edison
   - Ranked as the 47th-best recruit in the Class of 2010 by ESPN
   - Chose N.C. State over Richmond, Virginia Tech and Old Dominion
   - AAU team: Fairfax Stars

Bonae Holston, 5-11 Jr. F, Heritage (Newport News)
   - Team-leading 12.1 ppg and 6.3 rpg
   - Honorable mention All-ACC pick
   - Begins her junior season one point shy of 700 for her career

DUKE
Jasmine Thomas, 5-9 Sr. G, Oakton
   - Averaged 16.0 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 4.1 apg and 2.3 spg
   - AP Third-team All-American
   - ACC Tournament MVP
   - Became the third player in school history to record a triple-double
   - AAU team: Fairfax Stars

FLORIDA STATE
Chasity Clayton, 6-0 Soph. F, Edison
   - 8.0 ppg, 5.3 rpg (2nd on the team) in 35 games (started 16 of the final 17)
   - Named to 2010 ACC All-Freshman team
   - Redshirted the 2008-09 season

MIAMI
Shanel Williams, 5-8 Soph. G, Indian River
   - Appeared in 34 of 36 games (2.7 ppg)
   - Season-high 13 points vs. Cornell (3 of 3 from 3-point range)

SOUTH CAROLINA UPSTATE
Kyana Jacobs, 5-6 Fr. G, Potomac
   - Four-time team MVP at Potomac
   - First-team All-Cardinal District and All-Northwest Region
   - AAU team: Fairfax Stars

CAMPBELL
Rachel Estenson, 6-3 Soph. F/C, First Colonial
   - Appeared in 15 games (1.3 ppg)
   - 1st-team All-Tidewater pick as a senior at First Colonial

Amanda O'Neill, 6-0 Jr. G, Westfield
   - Averaged 5.0 ppg and made a team-high 49 steals (30 games, 16 starts)
   - Earned team's defensive player of the year award in 2008-09
   - AAU team: Fairfax Stars

Roslyn Presley, 5-11 Fr. F, Apomattox Regional Governor's School
   - Scored 2,089 points in her four-year prep career
   - Compiled a 3.65 GPA

EAST TENNESSEE STATE
Latisha Belcher, 6-2 Sr. F, Magna Vista
   - Atlantic Sun Defensive Player of the Year (08-09) and conference tournament MVP (07-08)
   - Career has been hampered by serious injuries to both knees
   - A redshirt senior, Belcher pondered giving up basketball but will give it one more go this season
   - Also see: ETSU battles on in honor of injured teammate

Gwen Washington, 5-11 Jr. F, Stonewall Jackson (Manassas)
   - 9.1 ppg, 5.0 rpg, started all 32 games
   - Atlantic Sun All-Freshman team pick in 2008-09
   - Scored 21 points in her first game as a Lady Buc

GEORGETOWN
Sugar Rodgers, 5-11 Fr. G, King's Fork
   - Averaged 17.6 ppg and led Big East in 3-pointers made
   - Big East Freshman of the Year and 1st-team All-Big East
   - One of 25 players on the Wade Trophy watch list

Adria Crawford, 6-1 Soph. F, Thomas Edison
   - 5.1 ppg, 3.9 rpg in 33 games (1 start)
   - Battled valiantly against 6-foot-8 Brittany Griner in G-town's NCAA Tournament loss to Baylor

Samisha  Powell, 5-8 Fr. G, Princess Anne
   - 15.6 points, 5.8 rebounds, 4.1 steals, & 3.5 assists per game for Group AAA state runner-up PA
   - AP 1st-team All-State selection

Andrea White, 5-11 Fr. F, Lancaster
   - Group A Player of the Year
   - Averaged 23.5 ppg
   - Had 25 pts, 11 reb. in the VHSCA All-Star Game

PITTSBURGH
Marquel Davis, 5-9 Fr. G, Stafford
   - 17 ppg, 10 rpg, 4 spg and 4 apg as a senior at Stafford
   - AAU team: Fairfax Stars

SYRACUSE
Carniece Greene, 5-4 Sr. G, Carlisle School
    - Appeared in 8 games
    - Made both 3-pointers she attempted on the season

VILLANOVA
Lauren Burford, 6-1 Fr. F, Fairfax
   - Averaged 20.2 ppg, 10.8 rebounds, 7.6 assists, 2.0 steals and 1.3 blocks for Fairfax
   - 2nd-team Group AAA All-State (AP)
   - AAU team: Fairfax Stars

RADFORD
Denay Wood, 5-10 Sr. G, Annandale
   - 8.7 ppg and a team-leading 47 steals in 25 games (24 starts)
   - Wood's mother, Chequita Wood, played for Maryland and has the fifth-highest single game field-goal percentage (min. 10 attempts) in NCAA Tournament history (10 of 11 vs. Cheyney in 1984).
   - AAU team: Fairfax Stars

Breshara Gordon, 5-6 Fr. G, Lake Taylor
   - Scored 1,085 points in her prep career
   - Helped the Titans defeat Princess Anne to win the 2010 Group AAA state title

Ashley Buckhannon, 5-9 Soph. G, George Wythe
   - Averaged 7.0 ppg in 27 games (4 starts)
   - Two-time Big South Freshman of the Week

Brooke McElroy, 6-0 Sr. G/F, Thomas Dale
   - Started the first 9 games of the season but was listed as inactive the rest of 2009-10
   - Led team in scoring 5 times and in assists 4 times in her limited stint
   - Played her first two seasons at Monmouth before transferring

Sarah Tabb, 6-1 Soph. F, StoneBridge
   - Appeared in 20 games as a freshman
   - Helped StoneBridge go 33-4 en route to a VISAA title

Kahealani Vick, 6-1 Jr. F, Princess Anne
   - Averaged 2.7 rpg and had 14 blocks (2nd on team) in 27 games (6 starts)
   - Helped Princess Anne win four district, two region and one state title

Hanka Musa, 6-4 Jr. C, Liberty Christian (Skopje, Macedonia)
   - Averaged team-leading 10.2 ppg and 6.1 rpg for New Mexico Junior College last season
   - Helped Liberty Christian to its first-ever VIS Division I state title game in 2009
   Also see: Radford adds junior college transfer

LIBERTY
Kylee Beecher, 6-4 Jr. F, Hidden Valley
   - Averaged 6.7 ppg and 4.2 rpg in 33 games (25 starts)
   - Helped Hidden Valley win back-to-back Group AA state titles
   - Kylee's father, Bobby, ranks 4th on Virginia Tech all-time blocked shots list and was a 4th-round draft pick by the NBA's Sacramento Kings

Devon Brown, 5-10 Soph. G/F, Waynesboro
   - Became 1st freshman in 13 years to lead Big South in scoring (17.6 ppg)
   - 1st team All-Big South
   - One of only 4 freshmen in the nation to average at least 17 ppg and 8 rpg
   - Big South Tournament MVP, made game-winning shot with 4.2 seconds left in title game vs. Gardner-Webb
   - Also see: Introducing Devon Brown

Brittany Campbell, 6-0 Soph. G, Brookville
   - Missed the entire 2009-10 season and all but five games in 2008-09 with a knee injury
   - Named to the Big South Presidential Honor Roll as a freshman

Jelena Antic, 6-2 Soph. G/F, Liberty Christian (Skopje, Macedonia)
   - Averaged 8.4 ppg and 5.1 rpg and made the Big South All-Freshman team
   - Named MVP of the European Division B Championship for Women after leading all players in scoring (25.0) and rebounding (12.3) for Macedonia
   - Also see: Antic named MVP at Euro U20s

CHARLESTON SOUTHERN
Katie St. Clair, 6-1 Fr. F, Virginia Episcopal
   - Sat out the 2009-10 season with an injury
   - Played at Liberty Christian before spending her final two prep seasons at VES

HIGH POINT
LaTeisha Dean, 5-7 Sr. G, Green Run
   - Averaged 7.6 ppg in 30 games (20 starts)
   - Has twice made the Big South Presidential Honor Roll

Carter Williams, 5-4 Fr. G, Spotswood
   - Averaged 13.6 ppg and led Spotswood to the Group AA Division 4 state title game
   - Scored 13 points (2nd on her team) in the VHSCA All-Star game

UNC ASHEVILLE
Lindsey Thompson, 5-8 Jr. G, Floyd County
   - Averaged 8.2 ppg (2nd on the team) and hit a team-best 52 3-pointers
   - Ranked 4th in the Big South in 3-pointers made (1.77 per game)

Grace Blaylock, 5-7 Soph. G, Lord Botetourt
   - Averaged 4.4 ppg and hit 32 3-pointers in 30 games (19 starts)
   - Neice of Bulldogs coach Betsy Blose; Grace's mother, Susan, is Blose's sister

GARDNER-WEBB
Brianna Dillard, 5-8 Soph. G, Hermitage
   - Averaged 3 points and 2 rebounds in 30 games (2 starts)
   - Posted a season-high 11 points and 7 rebounds vs. Texas-Pan American at Longwood's Lancer Classic

PENN STATE
Mia Nickson, 6-2 Soph. F, Notre Dame Academy
   - sat out the 2009-10 season after transferring from Boston College
   - Averaged 1.6 ppg and 2.0 rpg in 28 games for the Eagles in 2008-09
   - Has 3 years of eligibility remaining
Also see: Nickson's merit leads to captain's role

DELAWARE
Kelsey Buchanan, 6-3 Fr. F, Freedom
   - Group AA state player of the year (AP)
   - Averaged 19 points, 14 rebounds and 5 blocks in leading the Eagles to a second straight state title
   - Posted a triple-double (11 points, 21 rebounds, 10 blocks) in the 2009 state title game and had 25, 16 and 9 in the 2010 championship game.

GEORGE MASON
Ashleigh Braxton, 5-10 Sr. G, Forest Park
   - Connected on a team-high 40 3-pointers in 27 games (20 starts)
   - Sat out the 2008-09 season after transferring from Pittsburgh
   - Appeared in 56 games with one start in two seasons at Pitt

Amber Epps, 5-10 Jr. F, Forest Park
   - Appeared in 8 games last season and 20 in 2008-09
   - Helped Forest Park win a state title in 2006 and to state runner-up finishes in 2005 and 2008
   - AAU team: Lessons Learned

Amber Easter, 6-0 Soph. G/F, Bethel
   - Averaged 11.0 ppg and 5.7 rpg and was the only Patriot to start every game
   - Became the Patriots' first CAA All-Rookie team selection since 2001 (Jen Derevjanik)
   - Snatched 15 rebounds against North Carolina Central

Eveyln Lewis, 6-3, Jr. F/C, Hampton
   - Sat out the 2009-10 season after transferring from Penn State
   - Averaged 2.9 ppg and 5.0 rpg as a sophomore for the Nittany Lions
   - Averaged 15.6 ppg in leading Hampton to the 2007 Group AAA state title
   - Evelyn's mother, Barbara Gunter-Lewis, starred at Radford from 1983-85

Joyous Tharrington, 6-0 Jr. F, Brookville 
   -  Will sit out the 2010-11 season after transferring from Richmond
   - Appeared in 45 games during two seasons with the Spiders
   - Averaged 4.6 ppg and 3.2 rpg as a Richmond sophomore last year

JAMES MADISON
Jalissa Taylor, 6-3, Sr. F, L.C. Bird
   - Led the Dukes and ranked 10th in the CAA in rebounding
   - CAA All-Academic honorable mention
   - Two-time winner of the team's most improved player award
   - AAU team: Fairfax Stars

Courtney Hamner, 5-10 Sr. G, Osbourn Park
   - Has appeared in 97 games (4.6 ppg) over 3 seasons
   - Won the team's hustle award all three seasons
   - Younger sister Kelly will begin her college career at Holy Cross this fall

Debbie Smith, 5-10 Fr. G, Hampton
   - Averaged 21.2 ppg and was named Peninsula District Player of the Year
   - 2nd team Group AAA all-state pick (AP)

Lauren Whitehurst, 6-2 Jr. F, Indian River
   - Sat out the 2009-10 season after transferring from Boston College
   - Made the ACC All-Academic team in 2008-09
   - Has two seasons of eligibility remaining

Kirby Burkholder, 6-0 Fr. G, Turner Ashby
   - Averaged 17 ppg and 10 rpg at Turner Ashby
   - Reigns as her high school's all-time leading scorer
   - Older sister Jordan, a junior at Bridgewater, finished third in the Old Dominion Athletic Conference in scoring last year (16.8 ppg)

Nikki Newman, 6-2 Soph. G/F, Turner Ashby
   - Averaged 4.9 rpg and ranked 11th in the CAA in blocked shots (27)
   - Won the Dukes' most improved player award

VIRGINIA COMMONWEALTH
Ebony Patterson, 5-7 Sr. G, L.C. Bird
   - Averaged 5.4 ppg and 2.9 apg in 35 games (30 starts)
   - Will be out indefinitely after tearing an Achilles tendon during a workout in early September
   - AAU team: Fairfax Stars

Andrea Barbour, 5-10 Fr. G, Charlottesville
   - Averaged 26 ppg in leading Patrick Henry CC to a 24-1 season and the NJCAA Division II title game
   - Averaged 15 ppg as a freshman at Virginia Tech
   - Made the ACC All-Freshman team in 2007-08
   - AAU team: Fairfax Stars
   - Also see: Win or lose, VCU should be OK

Jessica Taylor, 5-8 Sr. G, Woodbridge
   - Averaged 2.9 ppg and 2.5 rpg
   - Has appeared in 66 of the Rams' 68 games the past two seasons
   - AAU team: Fairfax Stars

Sonia Johnson, 5-11 Soph. G/F, Heritage
   - Led Delaware State in scoring (11.4 ppg) and earned MEAC Rookie of the Year honors in 2008-09
   - Attended Patrick Henry Community College last season but did not play
   - AAU team: Boo Williams

OLD DOMINION
JoNiquia Guilford, 5-10 Soph. G, Wilson
   - Averaged 2.3 ppg and 1.7 rpg in 31 games
   - Played just five games before shutting it down in 2008-09 with a knee injury

Jasmine Parker, 5-6 Sr. G, Maury
   - Averaged 11.1 ppg and team-leading 3.5 assists and 2.4 steals
   - 2nd-team All-CAA who also made the CAA All-Defensive and Tournament teams
   - Made the CAA All-Rookie team in 2007-08

WILLIAM AND MARY
Chanel Murchison, 5-10 Soph. G/F, Colonial Forge
   - Appeared in 28 games (7 starts)
   - Redshirted in 2008-09
   - AAU team: Fairfax Stars

HOFSTRA
Marie Malone, 6-2 Jr. C, Kellam
   - Averaged 4.5 ppg and 4.2 rpg in 34 games (3 starts)
   - Sat out the 2008-09 season after transferring from West Virginia
   - Had 10 pts and 11 rebs in 41 minutes over 13 games for West Virginia in 2007-08

MARSHALL
Salesse Stovall, 6-2 Fr. F, William Fleming
   - Led Fleming in scoring and rebounding
   - A 2nd-team All-Northwest Region pick

LONGWOOD
Crystal Smith, 5-8 Soph. G, Meadowbrook
   - 8.9 ppg and 3.0 apg (2nd on team) in 29 games (28 starts)
   - Scored 28 points in Longwood's season finale against Florida Gulf Coast

Brittany Jones, 5-10 Jr. G/F, Maggie Walker Governor's School
   - Sat out 2009-10 after transferring from North Florida

Chelsea Coward, 6-1 Soph. G/F, Hanover
   - Led Lancers in scoring (11.4 ppg)
   - A 2nd-team All-Independent selection

Krystal Garrison, 5-8 Sr. G, Courtland
   - Averaged 7.9 ppg in 29 games (19 starts)
   - Hit a team-high 39 3-point shots
   - AAU team: Fairfax Stars

Jasmine Spence, 6-4 Soph. C, Amelia Academy
   - Appeared in 2 games (6 minutes total)

Lindsey Martin, 5-9 Jr. G, Atlee (Mechanicsville)
   - Appeared in 17 games
   - Shot 47.8 percent from the field (11 of 23)

Emilee Dunton, 5-8 Fr. G, Brookville (Forest)
   - Led Brookville to a 95-14 record in 4 years
   - Dished out 526 assists, 3rd all-time in (recorded) VHSL history

UTAH VALLEY
Kim Bell, 6-0 Fr. F, Briar Woods
   - Scored more than 1,000 points at Briar Woods despite missing most of her senior year with a knee injury
   - Her father and two brothers played football at BYU and her mother and sister played basketball at BYU

PRINCETON
Alex Rodgers, 5-9 Fr. G, Oak Hill Academy
   - Team captain who averaged 13.2 ppg, 6.1 rpg and 5 apg for Oak Hill
   - AAU team: Garner Flames (Raleigh)

PENN
Kristen Kody, 5-10 Fr. G, Langley
   - Three-time team captain at Langley
   - brother Thomas appeared in four games as a walk-on for Virginia's men's basketball team in 2009-10
   - AAU: Fairfax Stars

Caroline Nicholson, 6-2 Sr. C, West Springfield
   - 3.5 ppg and 3.2 rpg in 28 games (26 starts)
   - Led team in rebounding 3 times
Also see: Smith, Knapp and Nicholson named as women's basketball captains

IONA
Sarah Schoof, 6-3 Jr. C, W.T. Woodson
   - Appeared in 13 games
   - Grabbed a career-high 6 rebounds vs. Maryland-Eastern Shore in 2008
   - AAU team: Lessons Learned

FAIRFIELD
Karita Brown, 5-11 Soph. F/C, Park View
   - Appeared in 5 games
   - All-time leader in blocked shots at Park View (120)

NORFOLK STATE
Batavia Owens, 6-1 Soph. C, Maury
   - 4.9 ppg and a team-leading 5.4 rpg in 27 games (3 starts)
   - Had 22 points and 20 rebound in NSU's victory over Winston-Salem State

Carlon Chambers, 6-0 Fr. C, Herndon
   - two-time 2nd-team all-district pick
   - Also earned 1st-team all-defensvie honors

Rachel Gordon, 6-0 Fr. F, Osbourn Park
   - Averaged 13.4 ppg and 14 rpg as a senior at OP
   - Helped team capture Northwest Region title in 2010
   - Won team MVP award

Genor Dalton, 5-9 Sr. G, Martinsville
   - Averaged 6.3 ppg and 4.5 rpg (2nd on the team) in 26 games (23 starts)
   - MEAC All-Academic team selection

Marian Brooks, 5-10 Soph. F, Woodbridge
   - 6.6 ppg and 4.4 rpg in 27 games (22 starts)
   - Scored a season-high 16 points in NSU's MEAC Tournament loss to Bethune-Cookman

HAMPTON
Bernadette Fortune, 5-4 Jr. G, Kempsville
   - Averaged 9.5 ppg and 3.4 apg in 32 games (23 starts)
   - 2nd-team All-MEAC
   - Dropped a career-high 30 points on MEAC regular-season champion North Carolina A&T
   -
Keiara Avant, 5-11 Soph. F, Indian River
   - 1.9 ppg and 1.8 rpg in 24 games (2 starts)
   - Snatched a career-high 8 rebounds against Old Dominion

Ryen Henry, 6-1 Soph. F, Clover Hill (Midlothian)
   - Appeared in 22 games (1 start)

MARYLAND-EASTERN SHORE
Courtney Braxton, 5-7 Fr. G, Princess Anne
   - Part of the star-studded Cavaliers team that went 29-2 and reached the Group AAA state final
   - Scored a career-high 22 points to lead PA past Oakton in the state semifinals

Sha-Kiyla Finney, 5-7 Soph. G, Wilson
   - Appeared in 7 games
   - Older brother Ben is a senior men's basketball star at Old Dominion. Younger brother Dorian Finney-Smith is one of the most sought-after basketball recruits in the country
   - Also see: Finneys hold together in tragedy and success

SOUTH CAROLINA STATE
Lauren Johnson, 5-9 Soph. G, Western Branch
   - Averaged 2.5 ppg in 30 games (4 starts)

Trinese Fox, 5-9 Soph. G, Nansemond River
   - Averaged 2.9 ppg in 33 games (24 starts)
   - Played in the 2009 VHSCA All-Star game

COPPIN STATE
Brittany Boyd, 6-3 Soph. C, Nansemond River
   - Appeared in 12 games

Kyra Coleman, 5-10 Fr. F, Highland Springs
   - Averaged 20.3 ppg, 12.4 rpg and 4.3 spg for the Capital District champion Springers
   - District Player of the Year
   - Leading scorer in school's girls basketball history (1,683 points)

Jessica Mayes, 5-7 Fr. G, Indian River
   - Led the Southeastern District champion Braves in assists (4.0) and steals (3.2)
   - 1st team All-Southeastern District

Shawntae Payne, 5-7 Soph. G, Charlottesville
   - Averaged 2.5 ppg in 28 games (0 starts)
   - Averaged 20.9 ppg as a senior at Charlottesville

Endia Word, 6-2 Soph. F, Chatham (Blairs)
   - Sat out the 2008-09 season with a knee injury
   - Averaged 11 ppg and 8 rpg for Chatham as a senior

DELAWARE STATE
Tiffany Davis, 5-9 Fr. G, Hampton
    - Scored 1,877 career points and led the Crabbers to a Group AAA state title
    - Signed with Temple but asked for and was granted a release from her scholarship
    - Did not attend college in 2009-10
    - Also see: After a year away, Davis eager to get back

Tonya Clark, 5-9 Soph. F, Princess Anne
   - Averaged 5.8 ppg and made a team-high 48 steals in 20 games (13 starts)
   - Sat out the 2008-09 season because of injury

Kianna D'Oliveira, 5-10 Soph. F, Woodside
   - 5.0 ppg, 4.8 rpg and a team-high 27 blocks in 29 games (27 starts)
   - Last name is pronounced Doll-leh-vare-uh. Kianna Doll-leh-vare-uh. Sounds beautiful, doesn't it?

COLORADO STATE
Meixandra Porter, 5-6 Soph. G, Freedom
   - 4.1 ppg in 15 games
   - Missed the first half of the season with a wrist injury
   - Made all seven of her free throw attempts

SACRED HEART
Blair Koniszewski, 5-11 Fr. F, Paul VI
   - Averaged 16.7 ppg, 7.0 rpg and 4 apg as a senior for Paul VI
   - Her 103 3-pointers led all players in the Washington D.C., Maryland and Virginia metro areas

Alexis Campbell, 5-8 Jr. G, Broad Run
   - 1.9 ppg and 1.3 rpg in 30 games (1 start)
   - Favorite book: Anasi The Spider

QUINNIPIAC
Britt Hill, 5-8 Fr. G, Atlee
   - Scored more than 1,000 points in her career at Atlee
   - Three-time all-district selection

MOUNT ST. MARY'S
Sydney Henderson, 5-6 Soph. G, Atlee
   - Averaged 5.7 ppg and 3.4 rpg in 25 games (14 starts)
   - Scored a career-high 15 points against Monmouth

Selina Mann, 5-4 Soph. G, Battlefield
   - Averaged 4 ppg and 2.4 rpg in 25 games
   - Notched a double-double (12 pts, 12 rebs) vs. Sacred Heart
   - AAU team: Fairfax Stars

Rachel Matthews, 6-1 Fr. F, Midlothian
   - Scored nearly 800 points in her first two seasons
   - Has battled injuries the past two years

WAGNER
Brittney Thorpe, 6-1 Jr. F, Heritage
   - 1.3 ppg and 1.4 rpg in 22 games
   - Averaged 4.0 ppg in 29 games (2 starts) as a freshman
   - Led Heritage to a 30-2 record as a senior

FAIRLEIGH DICKINSON
Erica McKeithan, 6-1 Jr. F/C, Heritage
   - Appeared in 26 games (3 starts)
   - Blocked 14 shots during her freshman season
   - Father (Lloyd) played basketball at Hampton; mother (Sonya) played volleyball at Hampton

ST. FRANCIS (N.Y.)
Ashley Wilcots, 6-1 Jr. F, Landstown (Virginia Beach) - transfer from Hofstra
   - Sat out the 2009-10 season after transferring from Hofstra
   - Appeared in 51 games (9 starts) and averaged 2.0 ppg and 2.4 rpg (with 27 blocks) in 2 seasons at Hofstra.

UCLA
Doreena Campbell, 5-10 Sr. G, Thomas Edison
   - Earned 1st-team All-Pac-10 honors (9.8 ppg, 3.1 apg)
   - 2nd-team All-Pac-10 as a sophomore, All-Freshman team as a rookie
   - Finished her prep career 5th in Virginia history in points (2,237) and 2nd in assists (566).
   - AAU team: Potomac Valley Virginia Cardinals

AMERICAN
Ti'Asia McGeorge, 5-4 Fr. G, William Fleming (Roanoke)
   - Averaged 11.4 pts and 6.7 assists per game
   - Scored 1,022 points and had 516 asissts in her career at Fleming
   - Western Valley District Player of the Year; 1st team All-Northwest Region

ARMY
Deneka Williams, 5-8 Fr. G, Osbourn
   - Averaged 14.7 ppg, 6.5 rpg and 3.2 apg for the U.S. Military Academy Prep School
   - One of three captains on the USMAPS squad
   -
Jessie Coiffard, 5-6 Sr. G, Holy Cross
   - Averaged 7.1 ppg and a team-best 2.4 apg in 29 games (28 starts)
   - Saw action in all 31 games as a junior
   - Averaged 18.5 ppg for the U.S. Military Academy Prep School in 2006-07

COLGATE
Kelly Korkowski, 6-1 Jr. G/F, Walsingham Academy
   - Appeared in 19 games, scored a season-high 6 points on 3 occasions
   - Averaged 3.8 ppg and 3.0 rpg in 27 games (7 starts as a freshman)
   - In addition to Walsingham, Korkowski also spent two years at the American School of Paris in France

HOLY CROSS
Kelly Hamner, 5-9 Fr. G, Osbourn Park
   - 1st team All-Cedar Run District selection
   - Averaged 13.4 ppg to help Osbourn Park to a 20-5 record and the Northwest Region tournament quarterfinals
   - Sister Courtney is a senior women's basketball player at James Madison

LAFAYETTE
Samantha Jordan, 5-11 Soph. F, Stonewall Jackson
   - Averaged 2.4 ppg and 1.9 rpg and appeared in all 29 games (4 starts)
   - Named to the Patriot Leage All-Academic Honor Roll after compiling a 4.0 grade-point average as a freshman
   - Scored 1,151 points in her four-year high school career

BUCKNELL
Shelby Romine, 5-8 Fr. G, Westfield
   - 4th team All-Met selection by the Washington Post
   - Led Westfield to a 17-5 record and the Northwest Region quarterfinals
   - Concorde District Player of the Year as a junior

FLORIDA
Azania Stewart, 6-4 Jr. C, Notre Dame Academy (Wood Green, England)
   - Led the SEC in field goal percentage (61.9)
   - 8.7 ppg, 3.6 rpg and a team-high 46 blocks in 27 games (23 starts)
   - Led Notre Dame to Top-5 national rankings in each of her last two prep seasons
   - AAU team: Boo Williams

SAMFORD
J'Quita Babineaux, 5-11 Jr. F, Robert E. Lee
   - Appeared in 31 games in 2009-10
   - Appeared in 28 of Samford's 29 games as a freshman
   - Averaged 16.5 ppg and 9.8 rpg as a senior at Robert E. Lee
   - AAU team: Lessons Learned

COLLEGE OF CHARLESTON
Jillian Brown, 5-6 Fr. G, Trinity Episcopal
   - Averaged 11.4 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 4.1 apg and 3.1 spg as a senior
   - two-time 1st team All-League of Independent Schools
   - older sister Jordan is a sophomore women's soccer player at Howard
   - AAU team: James River Blaze

Alyssa Frye, 5-8 Fr. G, Thomas Dale )
   - Averaged 12.1 ppg, 4 rpg and 3 spg
   - Helped Dale win its first 22 games and advance to the Group AAA state quarterfinals
   - AAU team: James River Blaze

GEORGIA SOUTHERN
Meredyth Frye, 5-10 Soph. G, Riverbend
   - Averaged 4.4 ppg and 2.2 rpg in 31 games
   - Two-time team MVP and all-district selection at Riverbend
   - AAU team: Fairfax Stars

Briana Scott, 6-2 Soph. F, Forest Park
   - Appeared in 28 games
   - Senior class at Forest Park included George Washington's Danni Jackson and Stony Brook's Gerda Gatling
   - AAU team: Lessons Learned

DAVIDSON
Barbara Sitton, 5-5 Soph. G, L.C. Bird
   - 3.9 ppg, 3.4 rpg and 2.3 apg (2nd on the team) in 29 games (12 starts)
   - Averaged 11.4 ppg and 5.7 apg as a senior at Bird

ELON
Jermile' Batten, 5-7 Jr. G, Midlothian
   - Appeared in 16 games over two seasons at Elon
   - Team MVP as a senior and two-time team captain at Midlothian

Kallie Hovatter, 5-9 Jr. G, Stonewall Jackson
   - Averaged 4.2 ppg in 30 games (9 starts)
   - Sat out the 2008-09 season after transferring from St. Joseph's
   - Averaged 9.7 minutes in 22 games as a freshman for St. Joseph's

Kelly Jackson, 5-10 Fr. G, Staunton River
   - Former All-Seminole District selection

WOFFORD
Daniella Motley, 6-0 Soph. C/F, Christiansburg (Christiansburg)
   - Averaged 2.0 ppg and 2.4 rpg in 24 games
   - Only player in River Ridge District history with career totals of 1,000 points (1,246) and 1,000 rebounds (1,039)

Domi Gergeley, 5-9 Soph. G, Oak Hill Academy (Baja, Hungary)
   - Averaged 2.7 ppg in 18 games
   - Member of Hungarian U-16 and U-18 national teams from 2006-08
   - Named Math Student of the Year, Science Student of the Year and ESL (English as a second language) Student of the Year at Oak Hill.

NICHOLLS STATE
Chelsea McNamee, 5-11 Jr. F, Notre Dame Academy
   - Transferred to Nicholls State after playing one season at Northwest Florida State Junior College
   - Averaged 8 ppg and 6 rpg in JC play

FLORIDA INTERNATIONAL
Britne' Rakia Rodgers, 5-9 Jr. G/F, Princess Anne
   - Averaged 11.7 ppg in 10 games
   - Missed 11 games in 2009-10 with a knee injury
   - Sat out the first semester of the 2009-10 season after transferring from Hofstra
   - Averaged 9.4 ppg and 5 rpg as a freshman at Hofstra and made the Colonial Athletic Association All-Rookie team
   - Known as Britne' Rodgers during her days at Princess Anne, but is now known as Rakia Rodgers

PORTLAND
Egle Karolyte, 6-1 Jr. F, Virginia Episcopal (Klapeida, Lithuania)
   - Appeared in 17 games
   - Name pronounced egg-lee karrow-leety
   - Averaged 13.7 ppg and 7.2 rpg in two seasons at Cochise College in Arizona
   - 1st team All-Blue Ridge Conference as a senior at Episcopal in 2007

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

ODU: Lose a Pryncess, gain a Queen

Click here for a complete rundown of all schools' 2011 verbal commitments

Pryncess Tate-Dublin and Carolann Cloutier may have wanted out, but there's apparently no shortage of players who want in at Old Dominion. The latest two verbal commitments for 2011, as reported by The Virginian-Pilot: burly 5-11 forward Queen Tiye Jackson from Trenton Catholic (N.J.) and 5-7 combo guard Myeisha Hall of Palm Beach Lakes (Fla.). That makes four verbals for the Lady Monarchs (point guard Ashley Betz-White and forward Tiffany Minor are the others). Wendy Larry sure seems to have stepped up her recruiting game.

Jackson is especially intriguing, in part because of who else wanted her; NCAA Tournament qualifiers St. John's and Temple were apparently among her finalists. Also, Jackson reportedly visited ODU last weekend. If true, we wonder if the frenzied atmosphere surrounding Saturday's ODU-William and Mary football game helped nudge her to Norfolk.

Jackson is a high school teammate of 5-9 forward Miah Register, who recently gave a verbal to Richmond over, after considering, among other schools, Old Dominion.

Here's what ESPN thought of Jackson after the JFK Challenge Tournament in New York last January:

Jackson at 6 feet is a player who straddles the line between post and wing. She is a strong ball handler and has the ability to create her own shot off the dribble. Her solid build makes her a physical presence on the floor, and she does a great job of scoring in the paint from the low and high post. Jackson has good form on her jump shot and her range extends out to the 3-point line. She is a passionate and competitive player, which was evident in the way she played after Trenton Catholic's coach was ejected and the game was temporarily suspended. Jackson kept her head and the energy she infused into her teammates helped the team play through adverse circumstances. Right now Jackson has several Big East, A-10 and CAA schools interested and after this weekend's display of skill and character she will have plenty more.

And here's ESPN's take on Hall after an AAU event in July:

Her athleticism, size and length for the guard position are up there with the best in the class. She is the type of defender that once the opposition shows a weakness she is going to lock in on it and turn the player over. She can pick up 94 feet or pressure in the quarter-court. She showed some explosiveness on offense, scoring on some slashing moves from the wing. Continued development is needed in creating for herself but she doesn't need it to earn minutes with what she's capable of as a defender.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Spider on Spider, Part II

Richmond guard Rachael "Scoop" Bilney is at it again, this time introducing us to Spiders freshman Lauren Shute. Just as we'd hoped, Lauren's last name is pronounced "shoot". Imagine the headline fun in store for us...Shute shoots Spiders to victory! Sharp-shooting Shute shines against Charlotte! (Sorry, Lauren. We're sure you've heard this stuff way too many times). As for Rachel, another fine interviewing job. One thing, though. Lauren's got you by quite a few inches there. Next time, maybe you should stand on a box when you're questioning her.

Seriously, though, love the feature, guys. Can't understand why more schools aren't doing it.

Cavaliers take a Shine to new leadership

Jay Jenkins of the Charlottesville Daily Progress updates us on post-Monica Wright Virginia, where the key developments include:
   - Junior forward Chelsea Shine's emergence as a vocal leader;
   - Point guard China Crosby, in the final stages of recovery from last season's ACL injury, cleared for everything except contact drills;
   - A fairly wide-open competition for playing time. Coach Debbie Ryan didn't even rule out the possibility that one of the three freshmen, Jazmin Pitts, Ataira Franklin and Kelsey Wolfe, could work their way into the starting five.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Preseason poll report

First, a few thoughts about this preseason ranking business:

   - Don't get too worked up about it. I'm sure the people who produced these three lists did their homework. But we're also sure they'd tell you that no matter how much research is done, it's hard to tell much until the teams start actually playing games.

   - Not much love for the Virginia schools, with Virginia at No. 22 in the Athlon poll representing the state's lone mention. And even that's a bit strange - no disrespect to the Cavaliers, but shouldn't we wait and see how the team responds in this post-Monica Wright era before we start touting them as a Top-25 club?

   - There's very little consensus on the ACC in general. Maryland, for example, is No. 10 in the Athlon poll but doesn't even make the Top 25 in either of the other two polls. Lindy's has N.C. State at No. 20; the Sporting News and Athlon don't have the Wolfpack at all. And North Carolina is No. 11 according to the Sporting News, No. 14 with Lindy's and nowhere with Athlon.

   - We thought someone might go out on a limb and pick Stanford or Baylor over UConn as the preseason No. 1. We thought wrong.

And now, the polls:

Sporting News
1. Connecticut
2. Baylor
3. Stanford
4. Xavier
5. Tennessee
6. Duke
7. Ohio State
8. Notre Dame
9. West Virginia
10.  Oklahoma
11. North Carolina
12. Kentucky
13. Georgetown
14.  St. John’s
15 Texas A&M
16. Georgia Tech
17. Iowa State
18. Georgia
19. Texas
20. UCLA
21. Florida State
22. Temple
23. TCU
24. Michigan State
25. Rutgers

Lindy's
1. Connecticut
2. Baylor
3. Stanford
4. Tennessee
5. Xavier
6. Duke
7. Oklahoma
8. Ohio State
9.Kentucky
10. Texas A & M
11. Notre Dame
12. Georgetown
13. St. John's
14. North Carolina
15. Texas
16. UCLA
17. W. Virginia
18. Georgia
19. Iowa
20. NC State
21. Florida State
22. Dayton
23. Michigan State
24. TCU
25. Cal

Athlon
1. Connecticut
2. Stanford
3. Tennessee
4. Baylor
5. Ohio State
6. Xavier
7. Texas A&M
8. Duke
9. West Virginia
10. Maryland
11. Kentucky
12. Georgetown
13. UCLA
14. Notre Dame
15. St. John's
16. Oklahoma
17. Bowling Green
18. Iowa State
19. Florida State
20. Georgia
21. Texas
22. Virginia
23. Vanderbilt
24. LSU
25. Nebraska

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Hey, JMU Nation, remember me?

Who says you can't go home again? (OK, we just did, but we're trying to set up a story here so cut us some slack.)

Former James Madison assistant and Furman Hall of Famer Jackie Smith Carson seems to be doing just fine five months into the task of resurrecting the women's basketball program at her alma mater. Since Smith Carson planted her feet in Greenville, S.C., everything we've heard about Lady Paladin hoops radiates such energy and enthusiasm. Of course, her players are going to have to prove it on the court. But if positive attitude and want-to count for anything, the new coach is setting one heck of a foundation.

In fact, we thought she might be so busy looking forward she wouldn't have time to look back to her days at JMU. But Smith Carson made time, and thoughtfully reflected on life with the Dukes, whether she's still got game and why we shouldn't hold our breath waiting for her to match coaching wits with JMU coach Kenny Brooks.  

Would 'whirlwind' be a good word to describe your life since you took over at Furman?

Whirlwind is the perfect word!! The first few months of being a new head coach are filled with non-stop decisions, meetings, and demands. You really don't have time to be scared or worried about whether or not you are making the right decisions. When people ask how it is going, I simply say that I am trying to keep my head above water!

You obviously thought this would be a good job for you. Now that you've been there for a spell, has it been what you expected?

I knew it would take a pretty special job to take me away from JMU. I loved working and learning under Coach Brooks and I took pride in helping him build a first class program. When the opportunity arose to become the head coach of my alma mater, I knew I wanted to get the program back to the top of the Southern Conference. So far, it has been better than I expected because I landed a wonderful staff and have gotten overwhelming support from the Furman community, parents, and players.

Team Edward or Team Jacob?

I am not a fan of the Twilight series but I know just enough to know that Bella needs to go with Team Jacob!

Although I'm sure you absolutely, positively love it at Furman, the three things you miss most about JMU/Harrisonburg are:

Hands down, the No. 1 thing that I miss the most are the players and staff within the program. It sounds so cliche, but we really were a family. It was amazing how so many different personalities could truly complement each other. Every person within the program helped mold me to the coach that I am now. Coach Brooks is my mentor and it was an awesome experience to work under him.

The second thing I miss about JMU/Harrisonburg is the support given by the university, students, and community. Knowing that we would play in front of thousands of loyal and supportive fans at almost every game, home or away, was a wonderful feeling. The Crown Club is a one-of-a-kind booster club that truly loves and supports the JMU women's basketball team.

The third thing I miss about JMU/Harrisonburg is how close it was to my family in Woodbridge, Va., and my husband's family in Bedford, Va. Harrisonburg was an ideal location, so both me and my husband could get home within 2 hours. It was perfect for those tough days when I just needed to sneak off to "home sweet home" for a couple of hours.

Is your game still sharp enough for you to take your current players to school on the court? (In a not-that-long-ago previous life, Smith Carson was one of the greatest players in Furman's history)

I have made it a point to try to stay in shape just in case one of the girls decides to challenge me. I definitely will get some shots up and play noon hoops with other coaches before practice starts to keep my game up a little. I demonstrate all the drills I want them to do so I think that gives them a pretty good indication that I can bring my game back out if I need to. I think it helps my case that my jersey is hanging in the rafters above their head during workouts.

So far, what would you say is the biggest difference between being an assistant and being the Big Kahuna?

As an assistant, you are used to being in the shadow. As the Big Kahuna, I am in the spotlight and there is no place to hide. A typical day involves at least 20 people walking into my office asking me to make a decision about something. That doesn't include the hundreds of emails and phone calls you receive as well throughout the day. So many people want a piece of your time, and trying to build a relationship with everyone can be tiresome. I think being the head coach of your alma mater carries an added pressure as well, because there are so many people still in the community that remember me from my playing career and are equating my success as an athlete with how I will be as a head coach.

Your thoughts on Cher's outfit at Sunday night's VMAs.

I was like, "Wow!! Okay, Cher!" It was definitely an outfit that she dug out of the back of her closet, but if she still has the body to pull it off, go for it. (Smile)

Finally, how long must we wait before that much-anticipated Furman-JMU matchup?

Don't count on that matchup anytime soon. Hahaha! It would be way too weird to coach against Coach Brooks, the girls, and the fans in the immediate future. Plus, I do not want to be on the other side of that scorer's table so the JMU Pep Band can prove why JMU had the best home court advantage in the CAA.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Catching up with GW point guard Danni Jackson

For years, the following line has been a neat fit for the speed with which point guard Danni Jackson operates - if you blink, you'll miss it.

Last season, though, that phrase also summed up the former Forest Park High star's freshman season at George Washington.

We blinked, and she missed it.

Jackson dazzled for just three games before a broken left fibula reduced her to a spectator for the rest of the 2009-10 campaign. Now the Colonials had a lot of injuries throughout a what-else-can-go-wrong 6-22 campaign. But losing Jackson clearly triggered the avalanche. The Colonials were 2-1 and leading then-No. 25 Michigan State by a point when Jackson went down. They lost that game by 31 points and dropped 20 of their final 24.

Now cast-free and back on the court, Jackson talks about surviving her first major injury and resuming the business of running the Colonials.

First of all, you're listed at 5-foot-3, but pint-sized point guards sometimes stretch things a bit. Are you really that tall?

I would like to say I am. I think I am.

Well, you play big, so we'll take your word for it. Now, the transition from high school to Division I college basketball is often a difficult one. How'd you make it look so easy?

Well, I always went to practice with a good attitude and tried hard....but I mean, it's not like I forgot how to play basketball when I got to college. So I won't say it was easy, but I just went out and did the things that I know how to do.

OK, so you're beating Michigan State, 8:35 left in the first half...then what happened?

All I remember is I faked one girl out, went up for a layup, got fouled and as I was going up I heard a 'pop'. Then I hit the ground and I heard another 'pop'.

Must have been really painful.

Actually, it wasn't that bad. I didn't even cry, at first. I didn't cry until I talked to my mom. She wasn't there and when I told her what happened and she got scared....yeah, I cried then.

Wow, no crazy intense pain?

Not until they set it in the cast. That was beyond painful. Words can't even describe it.

Had you ever had a serious injury before?

Not really. I broke my nose in a game once, but I came right back about two minutes later. I separated my shoulder, but then popped it back into place. This was really the first one where I couldn't keep playing.

You write in the George Washington women's basketball blog about how you come from a family where everyone likes to laugh and crack jokes. Did this fun-loving attitude help you keep your spirits up?

Well, I felt like basketball was the one place where I could escape, so to be honest, my spirits weren't all that high.

So how were you able to deal with it all?

Two people really helped - my roommate (and Colonials teammate) Megan Nipe and my mom (Janice Jackson). Megan kept me joking and didn't treat me like I was hurt. In fact, sometimes I think she forgot I was hurt. Every weekend, she got me to go out - no, she forced me to go out and do something, anything. Basically she treated me like I was a normal person, not Danni Jackson, the girl who can't play basketball.

My mom called me every day. When I was feeling bad, it was as though she knew and the call would come. She just talked to me a lot, and really helped me calm down.

How was the rehab?

It was tough, but it was fun, too, especially the things that relate to basketball.

Are you back to the ol' Danni Jackson yet?

Well, sometimes I get in there and I'm good on the court, and other times it's not so good. Still need to work on my speed and quickness. But I'm getting there. There are more good days.

I know it had to be tough sitting there watching the Colonials struggle last season and being unable to help. But did anything good come of it?

Yeah, it killed my spirits watching us losing so much. But I think that watching, seeing what I normally didn't see, seeing the game like a coach, I think it'll make me a wiser player.

Finally, how stoked are you for Nov. 13 in Minnesota's Williams Arena, George Washington vs. Wisconsin-Green Bay and the official on-court return of Danni Jackson?

Very, very excited. I may have to come out like two minutes into the game because I'm having an asthma attack - that's how much adrenalin I'll probably have. But I also think I'll have a good game. And people will get to see what they missed last year.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Running down the Spiders, Part I

Cool new feature from Richmond, which uses junior guard/intrepid reporter Rachel Bilney to provide profiles on each of the Spiders freshmen. This week's "Rach's Rundown" subject - rookie guard Amber Nichols, a Raleigh native and first cousin of NBA No. 1 overall draft pick John Wall. Interesting stuff. Rachel, you've definitely got a future in the interview game. And Amber, uh, keep working on that John Wall dance.

"Pretty in Pink" starring ODU's Wendy Larry

Say what you will about ODU coach Wendy Larry, but the woman certainly does know how to wear a hat. She knows a good cause, too - this picture was taken (thanks, Saint Louis coach Shimmy Gray-Miller) at the third annual 4Kay Golf Classic on Monday at Barton Creek Resort and Spa in Austin, Texas. Named in honor of the late N.C. State coach Kay Yow, the tournament benefits the Kay Yow/Women's Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) Cancer Fund.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Get outta town!

I know this is a women's basketball blog, but....

JMU 21, Virginia Tech 16?

Get outta town!

Way to go, Dukes. And Hokies, better stay away from ESPN and talk radio for a few days.

Don't mess with the latest player to choose UVa.

With the Charlottesville Daily Progress fleshing out this week's news that Stafford High's Merritt Hempe has verbally committed to Virginia for 2012, we now know that the 6-foot-3 forward is also a karate kid. And it's not something she just does for kicks, either - Hempe has had a black belt since middle school.

“It definitely helps with balance and discipline,” she said. “It really empowers you.”

To see who Virginia and all the state's other Division I schools have signed for 2011, click here.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

ODU sked just what doctor ordered

It's not unusual to look at Old Dominion's schedule every year and be daunted. Not so this season. Before you Lady Monarch fans get up in arms, a bunch of patsies aren't on the agenda, either. We'll choose the word reasonable. ODU's schedule, released Wednesday, is reasonable considering the state of the program headed into the 2010-11 season.

We know what the rhetoric says. Every team releasing its schedule right now highlights how many opponents were in the postseason. That's not the glory statement it used to be, however. The WNIT expanded last season and the WBI was added.


Yep, we see the annual matchup against national power Tennessee is still on tap. Indeed, ODU opens against Georgia Tech, which returns four starters from a team that won 23 games and advanced to the NCAA Tournament. NC State is another lofty foe. The Wolfpack's 20-14 mark included wins over North Carolina and Virginia.

But we also see some manageable games for a team that needs to come out of the gates and build. Yes, ODU won the CAA regular season last year and won a game in the WNIT, but the bar for this program is far higher given the Lady Monarchs' storied history. Who's manageable? Florida, for one. The Gators are a big name in sports and they advanced to the WNIT last season, but their final record was 14-17 (including an 81-67 win in Norfolk). Charlotte, also in the WNIT, finished 18-14 but returns just two starters. Louisville, the NCAA runner-up a mere two seasons ago, was 14-18 last season with a seven-point victory over ODU in Cancun. Tulane, who ODU might play in a holiday tournament, had a gaudy 26-7 mark against a schedule ranked 106th. A Richmond team that was 18-11 and returns anticipated ACC first-teamer Brittani Shells should be a formidable test on the Spiders home floor.

NC A&T, Stony Brook and George Washington.....Those are three wins ODU should bag right now.

This is a good schedule for ODU and here's why. While coach Wendy Larry has always prepared her teams by going against the best of the best, a return game against Stanford is in no one's best interest right now. Nobody is saying the Lady Monarchs will beat Florida, Louisville, Tulane, Charlotte and Richmond, but they should be able to compete against this class of teams. They don't need to start another season 2-9. And the heavyweights (Tennessee, Georgia Tech) still offer opportunities to make a national statement. And let's not forget the CAA includes Dawn Evans returning for her senior year at James Madison and that kid from Delaware.

ODU fans are still longing for the glory days and who's to say they won't be back? That last Sweet 16 appearance was in 2007-08, a season, incidentally when ODU faced UConn, Tennessee, Purdue, Michigan State, Kentucky and Vanderbilt. This schedule is not that schedule nor should it be. But it's just what this team needs right now.

Can't wait to see how it plays out.

UVa.'s schedule - buckle up, Cavs

The flood of schedules continues with Virginia's, and as we noted previously, the Cavaliers' non-conference slate includes one brutal stretch. Beginning on Nov. 18, the Cavaliers begin a two-week stretch that sends them to Tennessee, Cancun - for games against Iowa State, West Virginia and TCU - and Ohio State. Tennessee is projected as a Top-5 team this season, Ohio State is likely to be Top 10 and the other three are good bets to open the season among the Top 25. In fact, when ESPN's Charlie Creme did his (extremely) early forecast of the 2010-11 season, he had all five teams in his Top 20.

Throw in the fact that the top of the ACC figures to be more potent this season and, well, we usually roll our eyes when a coach refers to their schedule as "challenging", because that's what they all say. But we're giving Debbie Ryan a pass on her "It's a very challenging schedule this year" quote. Because with this lineup, the woman ain't just blowin' smoke.

Schedule from VaTech? Check.

Clever scheduling by Virginia Tech coach Beth Dunkenberger. Sure, there aren't too many heavyweights on tap, but given that the Hokies needed a late surge to finish as a .500 team a year ago, this isn't a group that needed to go looking for too much trouble yet.

Furthermore, the best teams on Tech's non-conference schedule are usually preceded by one or more less daunting foes. In other words, the set-up should allow the Hokies to play their way up to their biggest tests. Perhaps the best team on Tech's schedule, for example, is Vanderbilt, whom the Hokies could meet in the final of Tech's own tournament. But before they potentially see the Commodores, they'll definitely see Alcorn State (8-20). Before Robert Morris (23-9, WNIT) comes Winthrop (13-18). And before VCU (23-9, WNIT 3rd round) comes Elon (12-19).

In fact, Tech's first three games - against Presbyterian (5-25), Wofford (8-21) and Elon, all at home - can kind of be looked at as one big lead-in to their first big test against the Rams. And we're not even that sure about the Rams, as they suffered heavy graduation losses and earlier this week learned that one of their starting guards is out for possibly the entire season with an Achilles injury. VCU does have an intriguing cast of newcomers, but can this group come together by Nov. 21?