Friday, November 12, 2010

Previews and picks - Nov. 12

Are you ready for some hoops? We certainly are. So here's the first in our daily series of previews and predictions of games involving the state's teams. We've also included the projected starting lineups of our teams, at least the ones we've been able to get a good sense of. We freely admit that at this stage, there's a lot we still don't know.

But that's why they play the games. For a look at upcoming games involving the state's teams, click the 2010-11 schedule link at the top of the page.

George Mason (10-20 last season) at UMass (11-19), 5 p.m.

George Mason's projected starters
G-Ashleigh Braxton
G-Brittany Poindexter
G-Taleia Moton (transfer)
F-Evelyn Lewis (transfer)
F-Amber Easter

Here's a great opportunity for the Patriots to announce that this season will be different. Last year, Mason was actually pretty good at home (9-7) but often were without a clue away from the Patriot Center (1-13). This game pits them again a Minutewomen squad playing their first game under ex-Vermont coach Sharon Dawley. The Patriots, meanwhile, return all five starters and are fortified by transfers Lewis and Moton, who already looks poised to Brittany Poindexter for team's best player honors.  George Mason 59, UMass 51

Presbyterian (5-25) at Virginia Tech (15-15), 5:30 p.m.

Virginia Tech's projected starters
G-Shanel Harrison
G-Alyssa Fenyn
G-Nikki Davis
C-Brittany Gordon
F-Nia Evans (freshman)

The Blue Hose (love that nickname!) are not without talent, but frankly it would be hard to schedule a less-intimidating season opener without dipping down to Division II. We're not mad at Tech, though; with 10 freshmen and sophomores we'd dip our toe into the 2010-11 season, too. When these teams met two years ago, the Hokies allowed the fewest points in program history in a 64-31 rout. We're not predicting any records this time, but that margin of victory sounds about right. Virginia Tech 75, Presbyterian 42

Virginia (21-10) at Hofstra (20-14), 7 p.m.

Virginia's projected starters
G-China Crosby
G-Whitny Edwards
G-Paulisha Kellum
C/F-Simone Egwu
F-Chelsea Shine

No easy opener here. The Pride is a darkhorse CAA title candidate, and rebounding machine Shante Evans is capable of being the best player on the floor for either team tonight. Hofstra can struggle to score at times, though, and while we're not sure what to expect from the Cavaliers offensively, we're sure Debbie Ryan will have them selling out on defense. We think that will be just enough to leave the Pride 0-14 lifetime against ACC opponents.  Virginia 63, Hofstra 58

Richmond (20-13) at Western Carolina (7-23), 7 p.m.

Richmond's projected starters
G-Abby Oliver
G-Brittani Shells
G-Kristina Puthoff-King (freshman)
F-Ryan Dannelly
C-Crystal Goring

Western Carolina returns only two starters, although maybe that's not a bad thing off a seven-win team. As for the Spiders, thanks to their Scandinavian trip in August they should be better prepared for an opener than most teams in the country. So we're expecting them to crush these Catamounts with the pressure defense that has become their trademark. It'll be interesting to see if, and how much, Puthoff-King and the Spiders' five other freshmen fit in. Richmond 68, Western Carolina 52 

Virginia Commonwealth (22-14) at High Point (17-14), 7 p.m.

Not sure what to expect from the Rams, who return just two starters and earlier this week learned they'll have to do without high-scoring transfer Andrea Barbour through at least the first semester. But we are sure that Beth Cunningham knows how to get her teams ready to play early - the Rams are 22-3 in November in her seven seasons as the Rams head coach. Can't wait to see how she pulls it off this time. VCU 65, High Point 55

Preseason WNIT

- Hampton (20-12) at James Madison (26-7), 7 p.m.

Two conference tournament champions that return much of the talent that reached those heights in 2009-10. In fact, Hampton returns all five of the players who started - and logged at least 32 minutes - in last season's MEAC Tournament final. The Dukes' depth is mitigated by a litany of injuries, the most serious of which is a broken toe that will sideline center Lauren Jimenez. Our focus in this game will be in the backourt, where JMU's Dawn Evans and Tarik Hislop will battle pesky Lady Pirates Bernadette Fortune and Jericka Jenkins. When the Hampton duo can generate turnovers, the Lady Pirates can be dynamic offensively. If the Dukes take care of the ball, we're not sure Hampton has enough other weapons to keep up. And of course, JMU is especially tough at home.  James Madison 67, Hampton 62

Sheraton Raleigh Wolfpack Invitational at N.C. State

- Liberty (27-6) vs. Creighton (21-11), 4 p.m.

The Bluejays can be dangerous, particularly if Sam Schuett gets hot from 3-point range. But we think the Lady Flames are flat-out loaded and see no reason why a team that returns 87 percent of its scoring and 95 percent of its rebounding shouldn't be really good right away. The winner will face today's 2 p.m. College of Charleston-N.C. State winner Saturday at either 6 p.m. (consolation) or 8 p.m. (championship).  Liberty 62, Creighton 52

Lancer Classic, at Longwood

 Campbell (14-16) vs. Longwood (9-20), 7 p.m.

These Lancers look a lot like they did last year (four starters and 10 letterwinners returning), and last year they routed Campbell 72-55. The Lancers were also a solid team against anyone in their own building (7-5). So credit Kristin Caruso for canny scheduling. And look for Longwood to get 2010-11 off to a successful start. Marshall will play Appalachian State in today's Classic opener at 5 p.m.  Longwood 70, Campbell 60

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