Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The schedule report: Virginia

The latest in our series of looks at the 2011-12 schedules:

On the marquee

Tennessee at Virginia, Nov. 20
   - Not only do you have the vaunted Lady Vols, but you also have the only scheduled visit to the Commonwealth by Tennessee coach Pat Summitt, who recently disclosed she's been diagnosed with early signs of dementia. But while this game sells itself, the right promotion can turbo-boost attendance. Two years ago, the attraction of Tennessee combined with the lure of a free hot dog and 12-oz. soda for each fan drew a record 11,895 to John Paul Jones Arena. Alas, the Lady Vols prevailed anyway, 76-63. A side note: In addition to winning the game, the Lady Vols also won back the use of their plush locker room at Thompson-Boling Arena. Summitt had barred the team from that space after the "spoiled'' Lady Vols fell 66-56 at Kentucky in February of the previous season. 

Get your tickets early for....

James Madison at Virginia, Dec. 20
Outside of her parents, we doubt anyone was happier to see Dawn Evans graduate JMU than Cavaliers fans sick and tired of watching the former Dukes star shoot down UVa. In 2009, Evans dropped 38 points on the Cavs in a 75-73 victory in Charlottesville. And last season, with Virginia leading by 13 and less than four minutes to play, Evans scored 13 of her school-record 42 points to rally JMU to an 82-80 victory in Harrisonburg. Virginia has the resources and pedigree to be the state's premier women's basketball program, but it's hard to rightfully claim that title while continually losing to JMU. With Evans finally gone and (hopefully) a strong crowd behind them, this sets up as an excellent chance for the Cavs to regain the upper hand.

Food for thought

- It's almost as though the non-conference schedule was designed to pit the Cavaliers against anyone that has coached with, played for or employed new Virginia coach Joanne Boyle. Among the Cavs opponents:

   - Texas (Nov. 25 in Hawaii) - coached by Gail Goestenkors; Boyle was an assistant for nine years under Coach G at Duke.
   - California (Nov. 27 in Hawaii) - Boyle was the head coach at Cal the last six seasons. The Golden Bears new head coach, Lindsay Gottlieb, was the "right-hand person" assistant to Boyle at Richmond and Cal before a three-year stint as the head coach at UC Santa Barbara.
   - High Point (Nov. 16) - New Panthers coach Jennifer Hoover was an assistant to Boyle for three seasons at Cal (Hoover also spent four years as a Cavaliers assistant under Debbie Ryan). In addition, High Point assistant DeUnna Hendrix was recruited by and played for Boyle at Richmond.
   - Richmond (Dec. 4) - Boyle was the Spiders head coach from 2002-05.

- The Cavaliers will open their season on Nov. 11 at home against Appalachian State (25-7 last season). The game will mark the college debut of Appalachian State's Maryah Sydnor, who scored 2,041 points in high school and led Radford High to the 2011 VHSL Group A Division II state title. Sydnor had signed with Longwood but was granted a release after the Lancers changed head coaches.

- The Cavaliers will host Indiana in the 5th annual Big Ten/ACC Challenge. Virginia is 3-1 lifetime in this event. The loss came last season, a 74-46 setback at Ohio State.

- Virginia has won eight straight Marriott Cavaliers Classic titles. This season the Cavaliers will open its own tournament against Wagner and then face either Elon (with new coach Charlotte Smith) or UMass (featuring Old Dominion transfer Carolann Cloutier).

- The ACC schedule has been bumped up from 14 to 16 games. Virginia will play home-and-home series with Clemson, Virginia Tech, Florida State, Maryland and North Carolina.

- The ACC Tournament runs March 1-4 at the Greensboro Coliseum.

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