Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Duke puts down JMU; Florida downs ODU

Wednesday's games

#5 Duke 75, James Madison 58: In order to beat a team of this caliber, the Blue Devils needed some special things to happen. They got one - the play of Lauren Jimenez. In just her third game back from a foot injury, the Dukes center was a flat-out beast, scoring 7 of her team's first 8 points and finishing with 19 points and 11 rebounds. But nothing else JMU did was at the level required to take down Duke. The supremely talented Blue Devils made sure of that, attacking relentlessly (38-16 advantage on points in the paint) and hounding Dawn Evans throughout. "They were the aggressors tonight," JMU coach Kenny Brooks said. "They beat us on the boards. They went out and manhandled us sometimes, especially getting offensive rebounds and second-chance points." As the game wore on, JMU foul trouble mounted. And when the Dukes did get some open looks, the shots wouldn't go down (JMU hit just 3 of 21 3-point attempts). Evans finished with 20 points on 8 of 22 shooting, and Jimenez was a near-perfect 7 of 8 from the field. But Lauren Whitehurst was the only other JMU player to make more than one field goal (2 of 4). Again, Duke had a lot to do with that. But there are no more Dukes on JMU schedule. Let's just hope Jimenez can continue to play at or near this level. Attendance: 3,319.

Florida 63, Old Dominion 55: Late in the second half this game was just laying there for someone to take, and the more aggressive Gators (6-1) took it by making just enough (21) of their 36 free throw attempts. The Lady Monarchs, by contrast, got to the line only 13 times (making 8). Of course, you can't count on a friendly whistle on the road, so it's especially important to value your possessions. But ODU committed 25 turnovers, way too many in this relatively low-scoring game. Shadasia Green led ODU with 14 points.

Liberty 91, Glenville State 75: Hope the Lady Flames enjoyed this one because they won't have another game in their Vines Center until Jan. 17, nine games down the road. As for Tuesday's game, Liberty trailed 14-9 before seizing command with a 24-3 run. Avery Warley had 17 points and 10 rebounds, Jasmine Gardner 10 points and 13 boards and Jelena Antic chipped in 16 points in just 17 minutes.

Hoops notes: ODU - We're No. 2!

A few quick hits:

   - Old Dominion holds steady at No. 2 in this week's collegeinsider.com mid-major Top 25 poll, one spot behind Green Bay. Other teams of interest: Delaware is No. 10, James Madison is No. 13, VCU is No. 21 and Drexel is No. 24. Liberty and Hampton fall in the "others receiving votes" category. Incidentally, ODU is No. 1 in the website's men's poll.  And in case you missed it, the Lady Monarchs check in at No. 6 in our own Silent Majority rankings.

   - ODU's Jasmine Parker earned CAA Co-Player of the Week honors along with Hofstra's Shante Evans. The Lady Monarchs senior guard averaged 23.5 points, 5.5 rebounds and 4.5 steals in two games last week.

   - William and Mary's Kaitlyn Mathieu is the CAA Rookie of the Week. Mathieu averaged 19 points on 60-percent shooting, 5.5 rebounds and 2.5 blocks during the Cancun Thanksgiving Classic and was the only freshman on the all-tournament team.

   - Norfolk State's Rae Corbo was named the MEAC Rookie of the Week. A 5-foot-6 guard out of Englewood, N.J., Corbo tallied 13 points in NSU’s 66-51 win over Wofford Saturday afternoon in the Spartans’ home opener at Joseph Echols Hall.

   - Radford's Da'Naria Erwin Spencer is the Big South Player of the Week. Erwin Spencer averaged 17.5 points, 4.0 assists, 3.0 rebounds and 3.0 steals as Radford went 1-1 last week. The sophomore guard was the leading scorer in both contests, including a 63-56 comeback victory at George Mason on Nov. 26.

(JMU) Dukes, meet Duke

Just three games this evening but two of them are big ones, especially in one in Harrisonburg.

Tuesday's games

#5 Duke (6-0) at James Madison (3-2), 7 p.m.
Coaches will say that all games are important, but for most women's basketball teams, very few of their contests become campus-wide events. This one should qualify, though, as the Dukes host a Top-5 team for just the second time in coach Kenny Brooks' 9-year tenure (a 71-65 loss to Kristi Toliver-led No. 4 Maryland in 2007). A year ago in Durham, the Blue Devils prevailed 79-65. Dawn Evans finished with 31 points but made just 7 of 27 shots and coughed up 7 turnovers. In addition, JMU's five post players were a combined 0-for-11 from the field. Obviously the Dukes will need a much stronger inside presence this time to keep the athletic Blue Devils from swarming Evans again. Productive low-post play isn't something you can always count on at JMU. But if they have any hope of sending what should be an electric crowd home happy, they'll desperately need some tonight.  Duke 82, JMU 72

Old Dominion (3-1) at Florida (5-1), 7 p.m.
The Lady Monarchs already have two quality wins (Louisville, Georgia Tech), and while Florida is hardly an SEC power at this stage, getting this win on the road would say a lot about this ODU team's development. The Gators have struggled shooting the ball so far and ODU has been effectively aggressive defensively, so we expect them to guard the Gators much better than they did in last year's disappointing 81-67 home loss to Florida. Rebounding is the key; the Lady Monarchs have been subpar on the glass while Florida has won the rebounding battle in every game they've played so far. If ODU can at least hold its own on the boards - and foul trouble doesn't become a major issue as it did at N.C. State - we like the Lady Monarchs' chances. ODU 63, Florida 59


Glenville State (3-3) at Liberty (2-4), 7 p.m.
A relative breather for the Lady Flames after games at Texas A&M and Baylor. Glenville State plays fast and fires up a ton of shots, but Liberty is too sound a defensive team for that style to hold up long. On the other end, the Lady Flames should find little resistance and should have little trouble posting a score in the 80s. Liberty prevailed 86-45 when these teams met last year.  Liberty 88, Glenville State 48

Silent majority rankings #4

Another volatile week in the rankings, as more teams with a lot of preseason buzz have struggled while others that came in with less fanfare keep piling up impressive wins.

Previous rankings
Preseason
Week one
Week two

1. Xavier (6-0)
Last week: 1
Suppose the Musketeers beat Duke on Dec. 21, then travel to Stanford on Dec. 28 and defeat the Cardinal. Two days later, Stanford beats UConn. Would the Musketeers be the first No. 1 team of 2011? Of course, we're getting ahead of ourselves. Let's just hope the Musketeers don't get ahead of themselves.

2. Green Bay (6-0)
Last week: 3
Not sure what these guys need to do to get a little more love in the AP poll. At least the coaches know what's up. Green Bay's record includes a 3-0 mark against Big Ten teams (Wisconsin, Minnesota, Penn State). Senior Celeste Hoewisch had a career high 28 points in the win over the Nittany Lions and became the 25th member of the program's the 1,000-point club.

3. Marist (4-1)
Last week: 7
The Red Foxes spanked Villanova 71-60 last week, winning for just the 4th time in 24 games against Big East schools and the first time ever against the Wildcats. It was also Marist's fourth straight double-digit win since a season-opening loss to St. John's. Now imagine what the Red Foxes might do when they finally get a home game (Saturday vs. St. Bonaventure). Senior guard Erica Allensbach needs just 6 points to reach 1,000 for her career.

4. Houston (4-0)
Last week: NR
No wonder the Cougars are moving so quickly up this poll - they're riding a Porsche. Junior guard Porsche Landry averaged 23.5 ppg last week as Houston scored quality road wins at Louisiana Tech and Oral Roberts. Is this really the fourth-best non-BCS conference team? Who knows? But until someone beats them - TCU will have a chance on Thursday in Fort Worth - they've earned the benefit of the doubt.

5. Bowling Green (6-1)
Last week: 13
The Falcons notched a quality neutral-court win by rallying past UALR 56-47 behind 23 points (15-of-15 from the free throw line) and 10 rebounds by Lauren Prochaska. They followed by whipping Seattle in the championship game of the Redhawks Thanksgiving tournament and have now won six straight.

6. Old Dominion (3-1).
Last week: 5
An elite on-the-ball defender, Lady Monarchs senior guard Jasmine Parker would be one of her team's most important players if she never took a shot. That she's also the offensive catalyst and the go-to performer at crunch time makes her as central to ODU's fortunes as Dawn Evans is to James Madison's. Parker earned Colonial Athletic Association Co-Player of the Week honors after averaging 23.5 ppg in a two-point loss at N.C. State and a four-point win against Louisville.

7. Princeton (3-2)
Last week: 6
A one-point loss at Rutgers, a 6-point loss at No. 23 Vanderbilt...one of these days the Tigers are going to reel in the big fish. They did collect a nice one-point victory over Southern California. Can't wait to see what happens when they visit Delaware on Wednesday.

8. Delaware (5-0)
Last week: 15
For all of you who think the Blue Hens are just Elena Delle Donne and a bunch of players off the street, consider that Delaware won at LaSalle Sunday even though Delle Donne played just six minutes - without scoring a point - before shutting it down because she felt ill. Sophomore forward Danielle Parker seems to be really coming into her own, and the addition of 6-4 St. Joseph's transfer Sarah Acker (10 points, 8 rebounds, 6 blocks vs. LaSalle) has given a physical presence at both ends of the floor.

9. Florida Gulf Coast (4-0)
Last week: 14
The more the Eagles play, the more they fall in love with the 3-point shot. They attempted 23 3s in their first game, 33 in their second, 34 in the third and 43 (out of 63 total field goal attempts) in their fourth. Not sure if it's a trend they should continue, but so far it's working - they hit 13 3s in a 73-65 victory over Virginia Tech and 13 more in a 68-52 win over Montana at the Caribbean Challenge in Cancun.

10. Middle Tennessee State (4-1)
Last week: NR
We know Rick Insell always churns out quality teams, but after losing four seniors from a year ago and fielding 11 freshmen and sophomores this year, we wanted to see what this team could do. Well, last week they beat East Tennessee by 16 and South Dakota State by 19. We've seen enough. Looks like Insell's done it again.

11. TCU (3-3)
Last week: 3
Sure, the Horned Frogs' three losses last week came to a pair of ranked teams (Iowa State, West Virginia) and better-than-expected Virginia. And sure, TCU has enough talent to beat anyone south of Xavier on this list. But we don't award credit for reputation. We need to see the performance to match. And frankly, these Horned Frogs weren't really playing all that well before last week's tough stretch, either.

12. Tulane (5-1)
Last week: 9
LSU had won 33 straight games against Louisiana opponents until Nov. 23, when the Green Wave marched out of Baton Rouge with a 54-52 win. The victory was so big we initially chalked up Tulane's 83-76 loss to Portland State three days later as a letdown performance. That is, until we took a closer look at Portland State and realized that those Vikings are pretty good, too.

13. Drexel (4-0)
Last week: NR
Gabi who? OK, so it's not like the Dragons have forgotten the great Gabriela Marginean. But they sure do know how to play without her. Saturday's 56-50 decision over Villanova proved that.

14. UC Davis (5-1)
Last week: NR
Led by Heidi Heintz' 17 points, the Aggies scored their first-ever victory over an SEC team by rallying from 16 down to defeat South Carolina 61-52. A showdown with St. Mary's looms Wednesday.

15. Appalachian State (5-1)
Last week: 19
Some sizzling performances by the Mountaineers, who got 34 points from sophomore Ashlen Dewart in a 30-point rout of a tough Gardner-Webb team to give coach Darcie Vincent her 300th career victory. They then made 21(!) steals and forced 31 turnovers in a 100-67 pasting of much-improved Elon.

16. Dayton (3-3)
Last week: 4
We weren't expecting that 66-65 home loss to Chicago-Illinois. And while the Flyers lost on a buzzer-beater, the fact is they were outplayed for most of the game. Nice bounceback against Wright State, though, as junior forward Justine Raterman joined Dayton's 1,000-point club in a 91-61 rout of Wright State.

17. UALR (3-2)
Last week: 8
The Trojans rebounded from a tough loss to Bowling Green to nip Montana State in the consolation game of the Seattle Thanksgiving Classic. Have a huge opportunity Thursday when they visit Oklahoma State.

18. South Dakota State (3-2)
Last week: 10
Extremely dangerous in Brookings, S.D. (3-0 record includes last week's exciting 73-70 triumph over Illinois State). Still figuring things when they have to travel (0-2 mark includes a 33-point loss at Purdue and a 19-point loss at Middle Tennessee State).

19. Illinois State (3-1)
Last week: 11
No shame in their 73-70 loss at South Dakota State (featuring a 21-point, 11-rebound effort from Emily Hanley). They'll have another chance for a victory of consequence Wednesday when more than 3,000 Chicago-area elementary school students are expected for a noon "Field Trip Day" matinee at DePaul.

20. Gonzaga (4-3)
Last week: 12
Like TCU, we're waiting for the consistent performance befitting this team's preseason hype. They were all over the place last week in Hawaii, as they fell to Ole Miss 53-52 on a layup with four seconds to go, rolled over N.C. Central and nipped Washington State in the Wahine Rainbow Classic.

21. James Madison (3-2)
Last week: 18
Flirted with a significant victory before bowing to Iowa, then collected their second OT victory in three games against Montana in Cancun. Congratulations to Dawn Evans, who became just the second JMU player (Tamera Young) in the Dukes' 2,000-point club. Still looking for a signature win. Prevailing in Tuesday's home game against Duke would certainly suffice, but even a competitive showing against the Top-5 Blue Devils, like the one Charlotte turned in last week - would say a lot.

22. Charlotte (3-2)
Last week - 19
Tough to move up when you lose your only game of the week. But the 49ers' 61-55 setback against No. 6 Duke was no ordinary loss. The 49ers led by 15 early and were down by just a point with less than two minutes remaining.

23. Fresno State (3-2)
Last week: 22
An encouraging sign for the Bulldogs - they defeated Pepperdine 78-65 despite a quiet night by star Jaleesa Ross, who was the focus of the Pepperdine defense. Ross attempted only 3 shots and scored just 5 points. But we're sure she'll take the win.

24. Kent State (5-0)
Last week: NR
It's about time we recognize a team that is off to the best start in program history, especially since the first four wins - including a 59-58 decision over Washington in the Great Alaska Shootout - were on the road. When the Golden Flashes finally got on their own floor Sunday, they crushed Marshall 79-55.

25. Nevada (5-0)
Last week: NR
We're ticked off at Nevada for spoiling our Boise State dreams in football. But we can deny what the Wolf Pack is doing in women's basketball. Led by WAC Player of the Week Shavon Moore, Nevada beat N.C. State and San Diego State to win its own Nugget Classic over the weekend.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Hampton holds off Radford

Our prediction for this game was Hampton 55, Radford 51. Sometimes, we amaze ourselves. Of course, other times we embarrass ourselves with these picks. But no need to point that out now, because hey, we're on a (one-game) roll.

Hampton 52, Radford 51: The Highlanders (2-3), who erased a 10-point second-half deficit and had a chance to tie with .3 seconds left Victoria Hamilton at the line for two shots and Radford down 52-50. A career 57-percent free throw shooter, Hamilton made the first but missed the second. That was hardly why the Highlanders lost, though, as for the second straight game it took them until midway through the second half before they found their rhythm. They got away with it Saturday at George Mason; it bit them in the butt Monday. Radford did get another strong game from Da'Naria Erwin Spencer, who led all scorers with 17 points. Erwin Spence had 18 against George Mason. Ema Reskoska added 13 points and 5 rebounds in 23 minutes. Choicetta McMillian scored 14 points to lead shorthanded Hampton (2-4), which held on to snap a four-game losing streak. Starters McMillian, Quanneisha Perry, Melanie Warner and Laura Lewis all logged at least 38 minutes.

New York, New York for Ticha?

Sacramento Bee writer Ailene Voisin, who covered Ticha Penicheiro during all those years the former ODU point guard was with the Sacramento Monarchs, offers this speculation. Just maybe we'll see the WNBA all-time assists leader in a New York Liberty uniform? Ticha, now with the LA Sparks, is remaining mum.

ODU/Tennessee tickets going fast

Haven't got your tix for Sunday's Old Dominion/Tennessee game yet? Fewer than 1,600 remain. The Lady Monarchs are trying to sell out The Ted for the first time ever. Tipoff is 2 p.m., and in case you haven't heard Tennessee is ripe for the pickin'. Just ask Georgetown, which stunned the Lady Vols in the Paradise Jam on Sunday.

The ACC Review

PLAYER OF THE WEEK

Italee Lucas, North Carolina

Why Italee: Lucas claimed Most Valuable Player honors at the 2010 Rainbow Wahine Showdown after leading North Carolina to a trio of victories. The senior from Las Vegas had a game-high 21 points, five rebounds and four assists in the quarterfinal win over Washington State, and then posted a new season-high 25 points to go with three assists in the semifinal win over Illinois. Lucas secured the MVP honors when she registered 15 points, seven assists and six rebounds in the title game win over Hawaii. Lucas had 14 assists against just six turnovers in the three games on the week and shot 52 percent from the field, 40 percent from three-point land and 88 percent from the foul line

ACC Honor roll: Florida State's Cierra Bravard had 24 points and 10 rebounds vs. Alabama and 21 points against Arizona State and was named MVP of the Junkanoo Jam's Freeport Division...Boston College's Carolyn Swords made 17 of 20 shots in two games to earn MVP honors at the Junkanoo Jam...Clemson's Sthefany Thomas averaged 17 ppg in victories over Furman and South Carolina State...Maryland's Diandra Tchatchouang notched her first career double-double (13 points, 11 rebounds) against East Carolina and made the ECU Classic all-tournament team...Miami's Morgan Stroman averaged 18 ppg and was MVP of Miami's Thanksgiving Classic...Duke's Krystal Thomas had 10 points, a career-high 14 rebounds and a career-high 8 blocks(!) to spearhead the Blue Devils past pesky Charlotte...Virginia's Chelsea Shine dropped 20 points on then-No. 17 TCU in a 59-55 Cavaliers victory...Wake Forest's Secily Ray had her first double-double of the year (19 points, 10 rebounds) in an overtime victory over Butler and made the WBCA Classic all-tournament team.

ROOKIE OF THE WEEK

Alyssa Thomas, Maryland


Why Alyssa: The Terrapins freshman averaged 14.5 points, 5.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists in a pair of Maryland wins that earned the team the Eighth Annual East Carolina Thanksgiving Tournament title. Thomas, who has started every game in 2010 thus far for the Terps, shot 56.5 percent from the field en route to Tournament MVP honors. In addition, she dished seven assists and led the Terrapins in scoring against Massachusetts.

TWEET, TWEET!

We have some unfinished business to take care of before Turkey Day. Its going down @ 7pm. Clemson vs. Furman #LetsGoTigers! - Clemson coach Itoro Coleman last Tuesday prior to her first game with the team since giving birth to daughter Jasmine (7 pounds, 11 ounces) on Nov. 5. The Lady Tigers topped the Paladins 62-53.

Our MD hearts r heavy w/news of Drey Mingo's meningitis. We r all rooting for her and a full recovery. Drey is a super young lady. - Maryland coach Brenda Frese upon learning of the Purdue junior guard's illness. Mingo began her college career at Maryland.

Kids are so happy right now about to get on boat to st john island! I love to show them new things! Go jackets - Georgia Tech coach MaChelle Joseph, showing that the Yellow Jackets' trip to the Virgin Islands wasn't totally about basketball.

NEW MEDIA NUGGETS



Snow-ballin' with the Wolfpack women



Frese frame - the Maryland coach's two Santa's helpers getting a jump on Christmas.


ON THE MARQUEE

The ACC/Big Ten Challenge kicks off its fourth year on Wednesday and Thursday. So far the ACC has owned the series, winning at least seven of the matchups in each of the past three years. Feature matchups this year: Michigan at Florida State on Wednesday; Iowa at North Carolina and Maryland at Purdue on Thursday.

OUR PECKING ORDER

1. Duke (6-0) - Tougher-than-expected test against Charlotte - Jasmine Thomas to the rescue! - proves the Blue Devils can win with their "C" game. Not something they want to make a habit of, though. Next: Tuesday at James Madison (3-2); Thursday at Wisconsin (2-5).

2. Florida State (6-0) - Junkanoo Jam tournament MVP Cierra Bravard came up huge in victories over Alabama and Arizona State. But the Seminoles need to clean up those turnovers. Next: Wednesday vs. Michigan State (5-1).

3. North Carolina (7-0) - Tar Heels cruising through their typically mild early-season schedule. The competition ratchets up a few notches this week. Next: Thursday vs. Iowa (7-0).

4. Boston College (6-0) - Carolyn Swords continues making shots with ridiculous accuracy (74.6 FG percentage) while freshman Kristen Doherty competes as though she's been playing college ball for three years instead of three weeks. Next: Thursday vs. Penn State (6-1).

5. Maryland (5-1) - Somewhat ragged in a loss at Georgetown, but there's no shame in losing to the Hoyas, especially after seeing them convincingly handle Tennessee a few days later. Next: Thursday at Purdue (4-0).

6. Virginia (4-3) - Scored a significant victory with Saturday's 59-55 decision over then-No. 21 TCU, and the Cavaliers did it without starting guard Ariana Moorer. Next: Thursday at Ohio State (5-0).

7. Miami (5-1) - The Hurricanes haven't really been tested in their victories, and the 99 points they surrendered in a loss at Nebraska raised our eyebrows about the defense. But we love the way Riquna Williams, Shenise Johnson and now Morgan Stroman can fill it up. Next: Monday vs. Southern (2-2); Sunday vs. CSU Bakersfield (6-1).

8. Georgia Tech (4-4) - If most of these other teams played Connecticut, Tennessee and at Georgetown, they'd be hovering around .500, too. Next: Wednesday vs. Northwestern (6-0).

9. Wake Forest (5-1) - Nor sure what's more interesting, that the Deacs are averaging a robust 84.3 points a game or the fact that figure is only the fourth-best in the ACC. Next: Wednesday at Michigan (3-3).

10. Clemson (5-1) - The Tigers are off to their best start since the 2003-04 season. Next: Thursday vs. Indiana (3-3).

11. Virginia Tech (4-2) - Florida Gulf Coast and Iowa combined to make 25 3-pointers in victories over the Hokies in Cancun last week. Next: Thursday at Minnesota (4-3).

12. N.C. State (3-4) - We expected more than a 0-2 record after games at Nevada and against Minnesota, and we're sure they did too. But the Wolfpack won't finish last in the ACC, as they're struggling in areas - defense, rebounding, free throws - that can be corrected. Next: Wednesday at Illinois (3-4).

For more on ACC women's basketball, visit the conference's official site.







Hampton and Radford take center stage tonight

An extremely interesting week of games kicks off with a single matchup tonight pitting struggling Hampton against a Radford team that should be sky-high after Saturday's comeback victory over George Mason.

Hampton (1-4) at Radford (2-2), 7 p.m.
Injury-plagued Hampton has dropped four straight and failed to score more than 43 points in either of its last two games, both at home. The Highlanders got a much-needed second half offensive surge from Da'Naria Erwin Spencer and Brooke McElroy to chase down George Mason. We're tempted to say the first team to 50 points wins, but that would be kind of flip. Let's just say we're not expecting a high-scoring game. Despite their recent form, we'll still lean towards the Lady Pirates. But the Highlanders are catching Hampton at a good time and should have loads of confidence after Saturday's win. Hampton 55, Radford 51

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Getting to know Norfolk State's Rae Corbo


In case you haven't heard, Norfolk State is 4-1 behind a core group of freshmen who have already matched last season's win total. We caught up with 5-6 guard Rae Corbo, one of the Spartans' brightest talents, who has already made one start and is averaging 8.8 points and 3.0 rebounds while shooting 40 percent from the field.

You chose NSU despite the Spartans' 4-23 mark in 2009-10. Tell us what went into your thinking.

I knew it was new coaches, and when I took my visit, it seemed like they weren't going to let the same thing happen again. I knew that if I came it wasn't going to be the same. I just wanted to come into something different, and I knew we were all going into something new. So we all went into something new together.

Already four wins, and it is only November. Did you expect that?

Yes. I come from a winning program (Paramus Catholic, Englewood, N.J.). I know everyone else they recruited came from a winning program, so I knew we weren't going to sit back and let everyone roll over us. I don't expect to lose games.

You won 2 of 3 games in Kentucky. What did that do for this team?

A lot of confidence. After the second win (over Central Arkansas), we had a lot of confidence because that team was a really good team. Those girls were bigger than us. We showed so much toughness between the end of the game and overtime. We kept fighting.

Obviously it's a brand new life being a freshman in college. What's the hardest adjustment?

I'd say all the free time. When we first got here, we had a lot of free time. I had no idea what I was doing. I was so used to high school....first period, second period, third period. You go to all your periods. Then you practice and go home and do your homework. Here you have a class at 9 o'clock and then a class at 2 o'clock. There's so much freedom. I didn't know what to do with myself.

It's hard. But you know if you don't do your work, you're not going to play. And if you're slipping, they're going to know. There's so many people here who are so protective of the athletes and their work. There's study halls, labs. They're on top of it.


You came in undeclared, but you just chose a major?


Optical engineering. It's like the building of telescopes and microcopes. I was always going to do engineering, but I wanted to be a civil engineer and they didn't have it here. So I went in undecided and then I realized math is the only thing I'm really good at.


You're not practicing, playing or studying. What are you doing?


Sleeping. I'm in the room with my roommate just bugging out. I like to scream.


Scream?


Yes. You know, sporadically. I like to be loud. I like to dance. I sing. I sing anything.


I hit shuffle on your Ipod and what's likely to come up?


Anything. Rock Rap. Pop. A Christmas carol.


You couldn't go home for Thanksgiving. Did you do anything fun?


We had to stay here because we had a game (Saturday).  We went to coach (Debra) Clark's mom's house. She cooked for us. It was wonderful. I took home a plate and ate it that night. The mac and cheese was superb.


Where does your name come from?


My real name is Raeshonn. Everyone calls me Rae. No one calls me that ever. Unless I'm in trouble. My friends call me Rizzy. I was rappin' one day and I said my name is Rizzy so my name is going to be Rizzy for the rest of my life.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Virginia, Norfolk State post big victories

TODAY'S STAR

Kaitlyn Mathieu, William and Mary

Freshman forward averaged 19.0 ppg, 5.5 rpg, and 2.5 bpg while shooting 60% from the field in two games and earned all-tournament honors during the Cancun Thanksgiving Classic.

NOTABLE NUGGETS

   - Virginia racked up a season-high 16 assists in its 59-55 victory over No. 21 TCU, three more than its combined total against Iowa State (6) and West Virginia (7).

   - Norfolk State avenged last season's loss to Wofford and improved to 4-1 for the first time since 2001-02, the year in which they went on to claim the MEAC Tournament title.

   - State teams were just 2-9 in Thanksgiving tournaments this year, with Virginia (over TCU) and James Madison (Montana) producing the lone victories.

PREDICTION REPORT

Told ya! - Norfolk State 66, Wofford 51. We said - Norfolk State 65, Wofford 57

Uh, we can explain... - Virginia 59, TCU 55. We said - TCU 69, Virginia 63

Saturday's record: 2-3. Overall record: 45-17.

THE GAMES

Virginia 59, No. 21 TCU 55: Hailed for her vocal leadership during the offseason, Chelsea Shine led by example Saturday. With Virginia's offense reeling, Shine went for a season-high 20 points against the Horned Frogs before fouling out. Shine made Virginia's last field goal with 3:33 remaining, and the Cavs hung on by making 7-of-8 free throws over the final 1:03. As well as Shine played, though, the biggest story regarding the Cavaliers offense was the way they shared the ball with the 16 assists. The Cavs averaged 13.5 assists per game in getting off to a 3-1 start; it was only upon arriving in the Virgin Island that things started to bog down. Lexie Gerson added 10 points, 5 assists and 0 turnovers, Paulisha Kellum also scored 10 points and Telia McCall had 9 rebounds and 3 blocks. The Cavaliers played without guard Ariana Moorer, whose unavailability was apparently a coach's decision. Moorer had 0 points and 6 turnovers in 19 minutes of Friday's 57-43 loss to West Virginia. Virginia is now 4-3 with a victory over a ranked team, not bad through seven games given their schedule. Enjoy it, Cavs...then get ready for Ohio State on Thursday in Columbus.

Norfolk State 66, Wofford 51: The transformation of NSU women's basketball continued with this made-it-look easy performance. We're not quite sure what kind of offense Wofford runs because the new-look Spartans kept taking the ball away from them before they could run it. NSU forced 23 first-half turnovers which led to 25 of their 34 first-half points. For the game Wofford turned it over 36 times. Freshman Rae Corbo led a balanced NSU offense with 13 points (read our feature on Corbo on this site Sunday). Whitney Long added 12 points and Sarah Daily chipped in 11 as the Spartans (4-1) matched their victory total for the entire 2009-10 season.

No. 25 Michigan State 76, Richmond 52: This was one heck of a game through most of the first half; the Spiders even led 25-23. From that point, though, it was as though the Spartans figured out what worked against the Spiders and squeezed Richmond to death with it. Brittani Shells rebounded from Friday's 4-point performance with a team-high 16 points Saturday.

Buffalo 66, William and Mary 56: The Tribe (0-5) have yet to play a home game, so maybe this group just doesn't like traveling. We're sure they're sick of Buffalo's Kourtney Brown, who schooled them for 25 points and 9 rebounds. About the only on-court things worth remembering about this trip to Cancun are the breakout performances of Tribe freshman Kaitlyn Mathieu, who averaged 19.0 ppg, 5.5 rpg, and 2.5 bpg while shooting 60% from the field in the two games and earned all-tournament honors.

Jacksonville 49, Hampton 42: The Lady Pirates clamped down on the Dolphins defensively, but all the defense in the world can't bail out 25.8-percent shooting. No disrespect to Jacksonville (4-1), but this is a very disappointing result for a Lady Pirates team that, injuries notwithstanding, is still capable of a better performance on its home court.

Lady Monarchs worth the price of admission (again)

You can have all the marketing campaigns you want. You can even have Justin Bieber courtside signing autographs (OK, make that Drake). But at Old Dominion, the best way to demand attention has always been with quality basketball. And as they have throughout most of their existence, the Lady Monarchs are delivering those goods once again.

Just watching Jasmine Parker alone is high drama. In Friday night's 69-65 victory over Louisville, for example, the senior guard made clean steals and went coast-to-coast for layups. Continually blew past her defenders in the half court. Drained huge perimeter shots. And basically took over the game at crunch time. But she also went down late in the first half and had to be helped off the court (this tends to happen to JP from time to time). And so began the game-within-a-game - "Is she OK? Which leg is it? Good, she's back in, but how's she moving? Is she favoring anything? You can't take your eyes off her.

As riveting as Parker was, though, the Lady Monarchs don't win Friday night without a lot of other players coming through, too. During arguably the game's most pivotal stretch, Parker wasn't even on the floor. With Louisville threatening to pull away up 7 in the second half - and Parker on the bench with three fouls:

   - Jackie Cook rediscovered the 3-point stroke that had been betraying her of late.
   - Shadasia Green essentially said, "Screw it, I'm taking it to the rack!"
   - Tia Lewis began asserting herself inside.

That it took a 7-point deficit for ODU to find fifth gear, well, who knows? But the fact is, once again these Lady Monarchs refused to let a game get away and came up with their best ball when they needed it most.

Even with all of this, Louisville has to be kicking itself for not closing ODU out. The Cardinals left a lot of a lot of points on the floor with missed free throws. They shot into some tough luck with rim-outs on easy shots down the stretch. And after intermission, we're not sure what happened to Cardinals star Monique Reid (13 points in the first half, 3 points on 0-for-5 shooting in the second).

Still, that the Lady Monarchs showed this same resiliency against Georgia Tech and even in defeat at N.C. State suggests Friday's result was less about what Louisville didn't do than about what ODU continues to do - attack each game with bulldog tenacity.

And that's definitely worth the price of admission.

By the way, after rooting against Louisville all night, Lady Monarchs fans should be cheering for the Cardinals - and Georgia Tech and even N.C. State - the rest of the season. For while these are "name" opponents, those teams will need to do well in order for ODU's early season results to have maximum value come tournament selection time.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Virginia, NSU, Hampton, Richmond and W&M in action Saturday

SO MANY QUESTIONS....

Will Norfolk State match its entire win total for 2009-10 with a victory today?

Will Virginia break 50 points in a game before leaving the Virgin Islands?

Can William and Mary's Tribe play a first half the way they play the second?

THE GAMES
Note - all five local teams are coming off a loss

Jacksonville (3-1) at Hampton (1-3), 2 p.m.
Hampton's record is due in part to the quality of their opponents, as James Madison, Charlotte, South Dakota State and Richmond all have legitimate NCAA Tournament hopes and are WNIT-bound at the least. But it also indicated how much the Lady Pirates miss injured guards Bernadette Fortune and Jericka Jenkins. We're not expecting either player to go today, and, judging by how the Lady Pirates looked in Tuesday's 73-41 loss to Richmond, it's going to take Hampton a little time to figure out how to play without them. Still, we expect Hampton still has enough to successfully defend its home court today.

Wofford (2-3) at Norfolk State (3-1), 4 p.m.
Another good opportunity for the Spartans in their home opener against the similarly rebuilding Terriers. NSU can't afford to take anything for granted, though; the Terriers are no doubt looking at this game as a good opportunity, too. NSU's chances should be enhanced if freshman forward Rachel Gordon is available. Gordon went for 20 points and 11 rebounds in NSU's season opener against St. Paul's but has been sidelined since with a back injury. With a victory, NSU will match its entire win total for the 2009-10 season (4-23). As for Wofford, we're sure its coaching staff is happy to be in Hampton Roads. Wofford's head coach, Edgar Farmer Jr., is from Newport News, and his assistant, Ed Geth, is a Norfolk native who went on to play for North Carolina. We remember Geth as a star player at Granby High in the early 1990s; he now has a 10-year-old daughter. Where does all the time go? Norfolk State 65, Wofford 57

Paradise Jam, the Virgin Islands
Virginia (3-3) vs. No. 21 TCU (3-2), 2 p.m.
All along, we sort of felt this would be the Cavaliers' best chance at a Paradise Jam victory. Now, of course, it's their only chance. But even if they don't win, if the Cavs can find some offensive rhythm they can still leave the Virgin Islands feeling as though they accomplished something. We certainly expect a bounceback effort from Ariana Moorer after her 0-for-6, 0-points, 6-turnover line in Friday's 57-43 loss to West Virginia. Problem is, the Cavaliers are playing for the third time in three days - as are the Horned Frogs - so the execution might look a little ragged on both sides. By the way, the Cavaliers shouldn't feel too badly about giving up 9 3-pointers to Iowa State on Thursday. The following day, the Cyclones shot 14-of-25 from behind the arc in a 64-59 victory over these Horned Frogs.  TCU 69, Virginia 63

Cancun Thanksgiving Classic, Cancun, Mexico
William and Mary (0-4) vs. Buffalo (2-3), 5 p.m.
The Tribe aren't really giving themselves a chance. In their four games, here are the first-half deficits they've faced - 15 down against Wisconsin, 14 down against Wake Forest, 11 down against Davidson, 15 down against Bradley. Again, those are first-half deficits. The Tribe have staged a couple of nice late rallies. They're just leaving themselves way too much ground to make up.  William and Mary 58, Buffalo 55

Central Florida Thanksgiving Classic, at Central Florida
Richmond (3-2) vs. No. 25 Michigan State (4-1), noon
If the Spiders have a healthy, on-her-game Brittani Shells, this one could get interesting. Shells can not only get hers against anyone, but she can open things up for everyone else. Plus she's Richmond's best perimeter defender; heck, she's one of the best perimeter defenders in the country. But if the Shells who scored 4 points in 17 minutes in Friday's 79-53 loss to UCF shows up, big trouble. This isn't meant to slight the rest of the Spiders. But how many teams can upset a nationally ranked foe without their best player doing her thing? Michigan State 75, Richmond 60

ODU, JMU and Radford(!) win thrillers

Old Dominion 69, Louisville 65: Before we get into the heroics of the Lady Monarchs (3-1), we'll give ourselves a pat on the back for our almost bullseye prediction of 69-63 ODU. The momentum changed in this one more times than ESPN has mentioned UConn's win streak in the last month. The Cardinals (3-3) settled for the 3 and only converted 5 of 21 attempts. Jasmine Parker continued her marvelous play with 24 points and nailed the final two free throws to preserve the win. Tia Lewis wasn't too shabby, either, with 15 points and 10 boards. We can picture the smile on Wendy Larry's face at the thought of a CAA team downing a Big East power.

James Madison 76, Montana 69 OT
It looked as if it was going to be another dismal day for the state's team in the tropics, when lo and behold the Dukes rallied from 14 down to win going away. Dawn Evans was the Dukes' high scorer with 24 points on 6-of-24 shooting, but it was Courtney Hamner who delivered in OT. The senior drained back to back 3s to open OT and finished with 15 points. More good news for the Dukes post game that had been MIA so far this season: Lauren Jimenez scored 18 of her own and nabbed eight boards. Dukes get to come home on a feel-good note and prepare for, yikes, Duke on Tuesday night.

Radford 63, George Mason 56: We'll admit, we didn't see this coming. Apparently neither did the Patriots, who led by 15 in the second half in their own building before getting outscored 31-9 over the final 10:11.  Da'Naria Erwin Spencer and Brooke McElroy combined for 25 points after intermission. But Radford coach Tajama Abraham Ngongba happily spread the credit around. "We showed a lot of composure tonight and received positive contributions from every single player that stepped on the court. We buckled down and held George Mason to one shot on several possessions." The loss should be particularly stinging to the Patriots since their coach, Jeri Porter, and three of her assistants came from Radford - you have to know they did not want to lose this game. The larger lesson, of course, is that when you have an opponent down, step on their throats. As for Radford, we were starting to worry that this season was looking a lot like the 6-win 2009-10 campaign, so we're thrilled to see these guys say, take this, Ladyswish. And if the Highlanders can apply Saturday night's second-half effort over an entire 40-minutes, look out, world.

UCF 79, Richmond 53: Even under ideal circumstances, playing the Knights in their home opener and their own tournament was going to be tough. Then you get only four points from Brittani Shells? No chance. Earlier this week, Spiders coach Michael Shafer indicated that Shells had been under the weather, and he managed her minutes on Tuesday against Hampton. That fact that Shells played just 17 minutes Friday suggests she still may not be feeling well. Freshman Genevieve Okoro had 11 points and 5 rebounds in 16 minutes and Crystal Goring had 10 rebounds and 3 blocks in an otherwise forgettable afternoon in Orlando. Hope Shells is feeling better Saturday, especially since the Spiders have to face No. 25 Michigan State.

No. 10 West Virginia 57, Virginia 43: A simple formula explains this one - 30-percent shooting plus 0-for-11 3-pointers plus 29 turnovers equals, oh, about 43 points. But this is what we were afraid of, right? All offseason we wondered if the Cavaliers could score enough points without Monica Wright. Early signs were positive. But now here we are six games in and for the second game in a row the Cavaliers fail to break 50. Granted, they're playing tough teams. But the ACC is full of tough teams. This is the level at which the Cavaliers must be able to execute to finish in the top half of their conference. Again, this team has shown flashes and there's still time to get it together. Let's see what they can do Saturday against TCU. Back to Friday's game, Chelsea Shine had 12 points and 8 rebounds and Paulisha Kellam added 10 points (on 2 of 12 shooting) for Virginia. The Cavaliers were down by just one at halftime (27-26), but went the first 10:28 after intermission without a field goal.

Bradley 65, William and Mary 62: Admirable effort by the Tribe, who nearly came back despite trailing by 18. The good news is W&M might have found the scoring the Tribe has been lacking in freshman Kaitlyn Mathieu. The freshman center came off the bench for 19 points on 9-of-12 shooting. Bradley turned it over 29 times, but W&M coundn't hang with Bradley at the free-throw line (Braves were 20 of 27).

No. 20 Iowa 72, Virginia Tech 43: Took this paragraph straight from the Hokies' official release on this game: Tech (4-2), which was hit with 13 three-point baskets on Thursday in a 73-65 loss to Florida Gulf Coast, saw the Hawkeyes nail a school-record 12 treys in Friday’s contest. In the two games, the Hokies allowed 25 baskets from behind the arc while hitting only five. Guess we know what these guys will be working on in practice this week.

No. 2 Baylor 81, Liberty 42: The Lady Flames (2-4) brought out the best in Baylor star Brittney Griner - a career-high 35 points, 9 rebounds and 7 blocks. The 7 blocks tied for the most ever by a Liberty opponent, and the margin of defeat was the Lady Flames' largest since an 87-36 setback at North Carolina on Nov. 21, 2005.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

ODU-Louisville highlights big day of action

Friday's games

Louisville (3-2) at Old Dominion (2-1), 7 p.m.
If nothing else this should be a fun game to watch, as the Cardinals love to get up and down and shoot 3s (they've made at least 7 in each of their last four games). Heralded freshman point guard Shoni Schimmel in particular can operate with Ticha-like flair and has great range on her 3-ball. Louisville also has a horse inside with preseason All-Big East first teamer Monique Reid (17.2 ppg, 6.0 rpg). Defensively, the Lady Monarchs need to keep the Cardinals' 3-point game in check, and they'll also need a much more committed rebounding effort than they managed in Tuesday's 62-60 loss at N.C. State. Assuming bigs Tia Lewis and Alena Voronina can stay out of foul trouble, they should get it. Then question then becomes, can the Lady Monarchs make enough shots? Several of them are in line for bounce-back games after struggling in Raleigh. Now back in their friendly confines, we expect a few more of their shots to go down. Almost a year ago to the day (Nov. 28, 2009) in Cancun, the Lady Monarchs rallied from 23 down in the first half to get within three before falling 82-75. Lewis and Shadasia Green each scored 24 points.  Old Dominion 69, Louisville 63

Radford (1-2) at George Mason (2-2), 7 p.m.
A reunion game of sorts, as Patriots head coach Jeri Porter, point guard Taleia Moton and assistants Greg Pulliam, Jana Ashley and Simone Edwards were all Highlanders three years ago. We doubt the coaching staff has pulled out any ''win one for us" speeches, but they won't have to. The Patriots know the deal and should have plenty of extra juice for this matchup, particularly Moton. While only a few of the current Highlanders played for Porter or with Moton, we expect Radford to come out with something to prove, too. We're just not sure where the points will come from. After struggling offensively throughout the 2009-10 season, the Highlanders are shooting just 30.6 from the field through three games and are 5 of 34 from 3-point range. The Highlanders appear to be working hard at the other end. But it's tough to beat Division I teams when you consistently score in the 40s.  George Mason 58, Radford 47

Liberty (2-3) at No. 2 Baylor (5-1), 8 p.m.
The Bears have won their five home games by an average of 42 points, so.... But how often do you get to play against a once-a-generation talent like 6-8 phenom Brittney Griner? Play with confidence and without fear, and let's see what happens. Most of all, enjoy the experience. We suspect that one day, you'll be telling your kids about the time you scored - or even that you got your shot swatted - by Brittney Griner.  Baylor 82, Liberty 52

Cancun Thanksgiving Classic, Cancun, Mexico
William and Mary (0-3) vs. Bradley (2-2), 5 p.m.
The Tribe should have an enriching off-the-court experience in Mexico; coach Debbie Taylor typically sees to that. But can they also bring home a W or two? Bradley is solid and guard Raisa Taylor (16.3 ppg, 4.3 apg) is a tough cover, but the Braves are turning it over nearly 25 times a game so an active Tribe defense could pay big dividends. We're used to good Tribe defense, though. It's the offense we wonder about. It would help if Taysha Pye would heat up. The preseason All-CAA first teamer averages 14 ppg but is shooting just 31.8 percent from the field. Typically Pye doesn't really get it going until January. But with the Tribe currently shooting 28.6 percent, here's hoping Pye moves up that timetable this year.  Bradley 73, William and Mary 55

Central Florida Thanksgiving Classic, at Central Florida
Richmond (4-1) at Central Florida (1-2), 2:30 p.m.
Credit UCF for putting together a quality field - Michigan State reached the NCAA Tournament last year while Western Kentucky and Richmond were 20-win WNIT qualifiers. UCF showed its toughness by taking JMU to overtime last week in Harrisonburg, and the Knights should be stoked to play at home for the first time this season. Still, the Spiders have already proven they can play well anywhere as their four victories have come at three different sites (Appalachian State, Hampton and Richmond). Win or lose, the Spiders will get a crack at No. 25 Michigan State on Saturday. We're sure they'd love to go into that matchup with the momentum of a four-game winning streak. Richmond 69, UCF 58

In other games involving teams that played Thursday:

Paradise Jam, the Virgin Islands

Virginia (3-2) vs. No. 10 West Virginia (4-0), 2 p.m.
The Cavaliers continue running through their gauntlet of ranked opponents. The Mountaineers easily dispatched TCU on Thursday; the Cavs will try to rebound from a 66-48 loss to Iowa State.  West Virginia 75, Virginia 61

Caribbean Challenge, Riviera Maya, Mexico
Montana (2-2) vs. James Madison (2-2), 5 p.m.
The Dukes narrowly missed springing the upset over Iowa Thursday. The Grizzlies were supposed to face Purdue Thursday night before Boilermakers guard Drey Mingo contracted meningitis and the team canceled its trip. Montana will now face Florida Gulf Coast on Saturday.  James Madison 66, Montana 56

No. 20 Iowa (6-0) vs. Virginia Tech (4-1), 7:30 p.m.
A day after their 73-65 loss to Florida Gulf Coast, the Hokies face an even stiffer test with the unbeaten Hawkeyes. Iowa 77, Virginia Tech 58

JMU, UVa. and Virginia Tech all go down

We're thankful the state's teams get to play again today to erase memories of an 0-for-3 Thanksgiving Day performance.

TODAY'S STAR


THE GAMES

No. 22 Iowa 67, James Madison 61:  The Dukes (2-2) led by 10 with 10:35 to go and were tied at 61 with less than a minute left. But Dawn Evans was whistled for a foul with four seconds left on the shot clock (we hope it wasn't a ticky-tack call), and Kelsey Cermak made both free throws to put the Hawkeyes in front for good. Iowa made 6 of 6 free throws in the final 34 seconds, and 27 of 30 for the game. Evans, who finished with a game-high 32 points, eclipsed the 2,000-point mark when she nailed a 3-pointer at 16:36 of the second half. She now has 2,015 for her career.

Iowa State 66, Virginia 48: Simply put, the Cavaliers (3-2) fell because they couldn't stop Iowa State from doing what Iowa State does - make shots, especially 3s (7 of 13 in the first half, 9 overall).

Florida Gulf Coast 73, Virginia Tech 65: The teams played evenly through the first half before the Eagles buried the Hokies (4-1) with a barrage of 3-pointers. For the game the Eagles hit 13 from distance, one shy of the record by a Tech opponent (UConn, 2001). Who do these guys think they are, Tennessee?

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Turkey Day is game day for Virginia, Tech, JMU

 
Never been to Paradise? It's awesome, man. Bob Marley music everywhere. Water so blue it'll spoil your East Coast beach goin' days forevermore. Open air cabs that cost an arm and a leg. Don't even think of renting a car. Driving is crazy in these parts, man. Wanna good deal on a diamond? They'll see you comin' in downtown St. Thomas, where you'll leave with some glitter wondering if the deal is as good as it sounds. No place like it, man. No place.

And before we forget, Happy Thanksgiving, man.

Thursday's games:

Paradise Jam, the Virgin Islands

Hard to believe that these two programs have never met on the court, but that all changes on Thanksgiving when the Cavaliers begin a brutal stretch of games. After the Cyclones comes West Virginia, TCU and Ohio State, all ranked foes. Don't get too stressed about Iowa State's unbeaten mark. The Cyclones' slate of wins comes ever Northern Illinois, Drake and Northern Iowa. But Virginia can't underestimate Kelsey Bolte, shooting a sparking 60 percent (OK, so it's .594) from the field and averaging 18 ppg. While Virginia didn't put in the most polished effort in its last outing against Longwood (they rallied from 16 down for the win), we suspect they'll be ready here. Virginia 66, Iowa State 60


Caribbean Challenge, Riviera Maya, Mexico

- Florida Gulf Coast (2-0) vs. Virginia Tech (4-0), 5 p.m.
Any team that plays in the Atlantic Sun figures to know how to play in a tropical climate. If you think of Florida and Florida State as the big schools from the Sunshine State, then you haven't followed Florida Gulf Coast of late (they're No. 14 in our poll). Two years ago the Eagles stunned Florida in their home opener, and the program has been on the upswing since. They live by the 3 -- last season they finished second in the nation in 3-point shooting, though through two games this season their percentage has dipped to the low 20s. Tech has showed grit in compiling its unbeaten mark, and you get the sense that OT win over VCU filled the young Hokies with loads of confidence. We like Tech here. Virginia Tech 72, Florida Gulf Coast  61

Iowa has won the only two games these teams have ever played, though the last meeting was in 1994. In case you didn't read our earlier post, unless a hurricane strikes, we expect Dawn Evans to head into the 2,000-point club for her career (the senior has 1,983). Evans won't be the only guard on the floor receiving national acclaim. Hawkeye senior Kachine Alexander, averaging a double-double 17 points and 11 boards, is also a Naismith and Wade Trophy candidate. Given the struggles of the Dukes postgame and the fact that senior Jalissa Taylor is still listed as day-to-day with an ankle injury, we're giving the edge to Iowa, but we're betting Evans will get hers. Iowa 77, James Madision 73

Long night for Longwood

It's never easy to get up for a game on Thanksgiving Eve and that seemed to be the case for the state's lone team in action.

Longwood 76, Monmouth 60
Brittani Billups continues to shine for the Lancers (1-4), though the senior didn't get going until the second half when she scored 20 of her 22 points. Longwood was already in a hole by then, and a dismal effort from behind the arc (1-of-8) didn't help, especially when your opponent nails 7 of its 14 attempts. A 12-2 Lancer run prevented this from getting too ugly, but Longwood never drew closer than 14 in the second half.

JMU's Evans approaches 2,000-point club

When she takes the floor against Iowa in Thursday's Caribbean Challenge, James Madison star Dawn Evans will need only 17 points to reach 2,000 for her career. Given that she averages 25.7 points per game (on, no kidding, 25.7 shots per game), we like her chances.

But what kind of shot will she make to get the milestone? A 3-pointer? A deuce? A free throw? Well, here's how Evans' 1,983 points to date have broken down:

3-pointers -  894 (45.1 percent)
2-pointers -  676 (34.1)
free throws - 894 (20.8)

As you can see, Evans scores on something other than a 3-pointer a slight majority of the time (54.9 percent). But if you have to pick just one, the numbers say bet on the long bomb.

By the way, Evans is also within reasonably close range of Tamera Young's school record for career points (2,121). And if she maintains her current scoring average, Evans will break Gabriela Marginean's freshly minted CAA points record (2,581) on Feb. 20 at Delaware. Were it to happen there, Evans would be breaking the record in front of the player who is threatening to put the mark out of sight. As a freshman last season, Blue Hens star Elena Delle Donne scored a conference-record 774 points. Three more years of that and Delle Donne would close her career with 3,096 points.

Purdue player has meningitis; team pulls out of Cancun tourney

Purdue has pulled out of the this week's eight-team Caribbean Challenge, an eight-team event which includes James Madison and Virginia Tech, upon learning that Boilermakers junior guard Drey Mingo has a confirmed case of meningitis. The school said Wednesday morning that Mingo is hospitalized in critical but stable condition.

Neither JMU nor Virginia Tech were scheduled to play Purdue, and although there's been some shuffling of matchups both teams will face their originally scheduled opponents. The Dukes will meet No. 20 Iowa on Thursday and Montana on Friday while the Hokies will play Florida Gulf Coast on Thanksgiving and No. 20 Iowa on Friday.

Here's the new Caribbean Challenge schedule:

Thursday, Nov. 25

Hartford vs. Wisconsin Green Bay, Noon EST
Utah vs. Penn State, 2:30pm EST
Florida Gulf Coast vs. Virginia Tech, 5pm EST
James Madison vs. No. 20 Iowa, 7:30pm EST

Friday, Nov. 26
Utah vs. Hartford, Noon EST
Penn State vs. Wisconsin Green Bay, 2:30pm EST
Montana vs. James Madison, 5pm EST
Virginia Tech vs. No. 20 Iowa, 7:30pm EST

Saturday, Nov. 27
Florida Gulf Coast vs. Montana, 10:30am EST
Green Bay Wisconsin vs. Utah, 1pm EST
Hartford vs. Penn State, 3:30pm EST

Longwood travels to Monmouth

Just one game on the docket today....

Longwood (1-3) at Monmouth (1-2), 4 p.m.
Could be a bit of a trap game for the Lancers, who competed so hard and well Sunday at Virginia. Can they bring that same effort today at a place many of them probably hadn't even heard of a week ago? This is the Hawks' home opener so you know they'll be stoked. The Lancers will need to be just as stoked to pull this one out. We're sure Longwood coach Kristin Caruso has made all this clear. What we're not sure of is Longwood's ability to play well on the road, where they struggled big-time last year.  Monmouth 61, Longwood 57

Richmond and Mason roll, ODU comes oh-so-close

We went 3-0 on our picks, but if ODU could have made just a couple more plays, we'd have been happy to go 2-1.

Richmond 71, Hampton 43: Didn't really seem like a fair fight, as a deep, red-hot Richmond team had its way with a Hampton squad scrambling to patch over the loss of its starting backcourt due to injury. When healthy, these Pirates are extremely dangerous (ask James Madison). But now? While there's no replacing Bernadette Fortune and Jericka Jenkins, we fully expect the Lady Pirates (1-3) to develop the pieces to still be a strong MEAC competitor. But without their "Mighty Mite" guards, we're not sure how much more they can do.

We still enjoyed the game, though, because while we've written quite a bit about the Spiders (4-1), this was the first time we'd actually seen them play. We wondered how Brittani Shells was able to get so many good looks. Now we know - she goes from zero to 60 in about a half second, and good luck to anyone trying to stay in front of her. We kind of expected that, after so many knee injuries, poor Samantha Bilney would be laboring around out there. In fact, Bilney got up and down the floor just like everyone else (OK, not quite like Shells). And Crystal Goring? We'd pegged her as primarily a shot-blocker and rebounder. Where'd she get all those low-post moves? The Spiders ran 13 players out there, and each one brought something besides a warm body to the floor. Overall, an extremely impressive group that seems to be playing January-level ball in November.

N.C. State 62, Old Dominion 60: Imagine playing an ACC team on the road and going to the free throw line just 12 times to your opponent's 29 (come to think of it, you might have expected that). You get outrebounded by 15. Turn it over 20 times. And get just 15 minutes out of your preseason all-conference center before she fouls out. You figure you'll get blown out, right? It says a lot about the determination and grit of these Lady Monarchs (2-1) that they survived all of these challenges and had a pretty good look for freshman Shakeva Richards at the buzzer (back iron, unfortunately) to send this puppy into overtime. A 23-point, 6-rebound, 6-steals effort from Jasmine Parker helped them stay in it, along with 7 3-pointers and some disruptive defense that forced 24 N.C. State giveaways. Moral victories are still stored on the wrong side of the won-loss ledger, so we're sure there are a handful of sequences the Lady Monarchs will replay over and over in the minds and think, what if? But when you remember how little resistance ODU often put up on the road last season, the fact that they stood up to N.C. State in Raleigh when so much was going against them says a lot about how far this team has come.

George Mason 54, UMBC 38: We're sure Jeri Porter enjoyed perusing this box score because it shows her Patriots (2-2) dominating in the things coaches preach about all the time. They won the rebounding battle 37-24.Gobbled up 20 offensive boards. Forced 24 turnovers. Made 12 steals. Only had 12 fouls. And they needed to do the hustle things because on this night, Taleia Moton, who has gotten off to a terrific start, couldn't throw it in the ocean (2 of 17). Her teammates had her back, though. Amber Easter scored 16 points on 7 of 13 shooting. Evelyn Lewis made all three of her shots (and also grabbed eight rebounds). And Rahneeka Saunders notched a career-high 12 points thanks in part to 3-of-3 shooting from the 3-point line (a breakout game, perhaps?) as Mason scripted a successful home opener.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Silent Majority rankings #3

Lots of movement this week, but that's the way it should be early in the season. You see,our intention is to reflect what teams are doing now, not what we think they'll be doing in March. So while we still fully expect teams like Temple and San Diego State to excel down the road, other teams have gotten their act together sooner and have earned the love.

But if you're a fan of those teams, or any other team you feel we've missed, don't fret. There's plenty of season - and rankings - still to come.

Previous rankings
Preseason
Week One

1. Xavier (2-0)
Last week: 1
Last year, we suspect that deep down, everyone except UConn knew they were playing for second place. But last week's UConn-Baylor showdown should have infused the Musketeers and a handful of other teams with the confidence that this time, anything truly is possible.

2. Green Bay (3-0)
Last week: 3
Seized state bragging rights - again - with a stunning 69-43 beatdown of Wisconsin. Badgers coach Lisa Stone summed it up best - "We got smashed in the face."

3. TCU (3-0)
Last week: 2
The Horned Frogs drop a notch not because of anything they did but rather as a nod to Green Bay's sensational effort against Wisconsin. Speaking of sensational, how about TCU star Emily Carter's school-record 43 points in last week's 87-74 double-overtime victory over SMU?

4. Dayton (2-2)
Last week: 5
Led by tournament MVP Justine Raterman, the Flyers spanked South Dakota 78-56 and Minnesota 97-81 to win Minnesota's Subway Classic.

5. Old Dominion (2-0).
Last week: 9
After easily dispatching North Carolina A&T last week, the Lady Monarchs will go for their second victory over an ACC team Tuesday night at North Carolina State. ODU downed Georgia Tech in its season opener.

6. Princeton (2-1)
Last week: 18
The Tigers came within seconds of winning at Rutgers (54-53), then hammered a good Lehigh team by 17. It snapped Lehigh's 33-game home winning streak. Niveen Rasheed earned Ivy League Player of the Week honors.

7. Marist (3-1)
Last week: 21
The Red Foxes cruised to Vermont's TD Bank Classic, but because of the format were able to claim the title without playing fellow tournament unbeaten Boston College. Would have loved to have seen those two matchup. Marist certainly appears ready for more of a challenge as the Red Foxes have whipped their last three foes by an average of nearly 27 points.

8. UALR (2-1)
Last week: 8
We're not going to penalize the Trojans too much for getting dismantled at Texas A&M - a lot of teams get shredded in that meat grinder. Instead, we're crediting them for pulling off a 59-55 victory over tough Louisiana Tech.

9. Tulane (3-0)
Last week: 17
With Roshaunda Barnes, Tiffany Aidoo and freshman Whitney Bibbins leading the way, the Green Wave is off to its first 3-0 start since the 2001-02 season. To get to 4-0, all they have to do is win at LSU. No pressure, guys.

10. South Dakota State (2-1)
Last week: 6
Advanced to the WNIT semifinals, then suffered through a forgettable 73-40 drubbing at Purdue - the Jackrabbits' lowest scoring game since 1981-82.

11. Illinois State (3-0)
Last week: 13
The Redbirds consolidated their big victory over Illinois with solid wins over Eastern Illinois and SIU-Edwardsville. Can't wait to see what they do at South Dakota State Wednesday night.

12. Gonzaga (1-2)
Last week: 12
Saw their 19-game home winning streak end against No. 3 Stanford in what sounds like quite a game. At a sold-out McCarthey Athletic Center, the Bulldogs rallied to pull even at 68 before the Cardinal found a fifth gear and escaped 84-77.

13. Bowling Green (3-1)
Last week: 14
How's this for responding to adversity - since dropping their season opener, the Falcons have won their last three games, all at home, by an average of 35 points.

14. Florida Gulf Coast (2-0)
Last week: 22
The Eagles spanked Troy on Sunday to run their home winning streak to 26. Only UConn and Stanford have gone unbeaten at home longer. Now we'll see how well their act travels - the Eagles are headed to Cancun for games against unbeaten Virginia Tech (4-0) and Purdue (4-0).

15. Delaware (3-0)
Last week: 24
Two years ago, if someone had told us Elena Delle Donne would score 41 points in Connecticut, we'd have said, so what else is new? That she would do it at Yale while playing for Delaware....well, you know the story.

16. James Madison (2-1)
Last week: 19
Got back on the winning track with home wins over St. Francis (Pa.) and UCF in Preseason WNIT consolation play.

17. Louisiana Tech (2-1)
Last week: 20
Adrienne Johnson continued playing at an elite level with 26 points in the Techsters' 16-point win over Western Kentucky and 23 points in Tech's near-miss at UALR.

18. Richmond (3-1)
Last week - NR
The Spiders bonded during a Scandinavian trip in August and are reaping the benefits with a terrific start. Two-way guard Brittani Shells is averaging nearly 29 points per game, and on Saturday the Spiders engineered a statement home victory over N.C. State.

19. Appalachian State (4-1)
Last week: NR
The Mountaineers shrugged off a loss to Richmond by snapping East Tennessee State's 12-game home winning streak, then rolling by 30 over a quality Gardner-Webb outfit.

20. Charlotte (3-1)
Last week - NR
A solid home win over Hampton boosts the 49ers into the Top 25. They'll get to measure themselves on Saturday when they host Duke.

21. Hampton (1-2)
Last week: 10
Injuries to guards Bernadette Fortune and Jericka Jenkins haven't helped, but the Lady Pirates still acquitted themselves well at South Dakota State and Charlotte. Tuesday night they get Richmond at home.

22. Fresno State (3-2)
Last week: 7
We haven't given up on these guys but it was clearly a difficult week for the Bulldogs, who sandwiched losses to Cal Poly and at Oklahoma around a four-point squeaker over UC Irvine.

23. St. Mary's (2-2)
Last week: NR
You've got to be pretty good to lose by just one point at Nebraska. The other loss was at California, so clearly this team doesn't mind being tested. Home games against Northwestern and Wisconsin this week should provide more stiff tests.

24. Utah (2-1)
Last week: NR
The Utes' one-point win over SMU began looking even better after the Mustangs took TCU to double-overtime last week. Utah also showed itself well in a nine-point loss to mighty Stanford.

25. Portland (4-1)
 Last week: NR
Call this a bit of a leap of faith as we'll freely admit we're not totally sure about the Pilots. But we're impressed with the fast start and respectable showing in a four-point loss to Oregon. Just a hunch.

Feast on this instate matchup: Hampton vs. Richmond

Tuesday's games

Richmond (3-1) at Hampton (1-2), 6 p.m.
This one is such a doozy that we're heading there ourselves. Spiders should be riding high after victory over N.C. State and nobody has been better in the state than Brittani Shells, who dumped 28 points on the Wolfpack. Shells has gotten plenty of help, too, including Abby Oliver (19 points versus Wolfpack) and Crystal Goring (11 boards versus 'Pack). The Pirates don't have the gaudy record to show for what looks like a promising season, and that's because of the competition. After stunning James Madison in Harrisonburg, the Pirates fell at South Dakota State and Charlotte in the preseason WNIT. Both were close games, as the Spiders continue to impress behind second-year coach David Six and leading scorer Choicetta McMillian (15 ppg). Hampton hasn't beaten Richmond since the Spiders were in the CAA, but even though we're leaning toward the Spiders, we're not betting the house. Richmond 66, Hampton 64


Hard to forget
  Old Dominion (2-0) at North Carolina State (2-2), 7 p.m.
Lady Monarchs hit the road for the first time this season and take on their second ACC opponent in an N.C. State team that was upended by Richmond and Brittani Shells (see above) in its last outing. Balanced scoring and improved ballhandling have been key in ODU's victories over Georgia Tech and North Carolina A&T. The Lady Monarchs will have have their hands full controlling Marissa Kastanek, who is connecting on 58 percent of her field goals, and Amber White, the 'Pack's 5-6 senior point guard who was the MVP of the Wolfpack Invitational.This is the same N.C. State team that eased past ODU at the Constant Center 62-52 a year ago. Stray thought: Do you think Wendy Larry flashes back to the 1997 title game when she sees N.C. State coach and former Lady Vol Kellie Harper pacing the sidelines? NC State 69, Old Dominion 62 

UMBC (1-3) at George Mason (1-2), 7 p.m.
The Patriots begin their home schedule after coming oh-so-close in their last game at Wichita State. Amber Easter scored 16 in that one as GMU rallied from 16 down to make it a one possession game before falling 64-59. The Retrievers' lone win is against Coppin State. The Patriots need to be wary of junior center Tope Obajule, who led America East in blocks last season. Patriots could use Brittany Poindexter, who missed Mason's last game due to an ankle injury. Poindexter is listed as day to day. George Mason 74, UMBC 61




Monday, November 22, 2010

Liberty struggles in Texas

It was a tough night for Liberty in Monday's only game. At least that's over. Whatda say? Baylor's next?

No. 8 Texas A&M 81, Liberty 49:
The Aggies led by 21 at the half, forcing 10 Liberty turnovers in the first 10 minutes and 32 for the game. The Lady Flames, still without top player Devon Brown, were no match for the defending Big 12 champions and egads, No. 2 Baylor looms on Friday. Get well soon, Devon.

Lone team in action Liberty headed to Lone Star state

Liberty is the only state team playing a game Monday in the quiet before the storm of Thanksgiving women's hoops activity.

Monday's game

Liberty (2-2) at No. 8 Texas A&M (2-0), 8 p.m.
There's no place like home for the holidays, and that's exactly where four Lady Flames, all Texas natives,  (Danika Dale, Emily Frazier, Rachel McLeod, Tolu Omotola) will be. When we first heard Liberty had added Texas A&M and Baylor to its schedule, we were excited for the opportunity games like these present. But four games into the season, Big South Preseason Player of the Year Devon Brown hasn't played a minute due to a lingering toe injury. Upsetting Texas A&M with Brown is a longshot, but without her? The Aggies, on the other hand, skated through their first two games untested, defeating University of Arkansas-Little Rock and Rice, by an average of 43 points. Wade Trophy candidate Danielle Adams was dominant in both games, averaging 25 ppg and 10 rpg. Did we mention how it's good to be home for the holidays? Texas A&M 76, Liberty 53