Sunday, November 20, 2011

Virginia hosts Tennessee; Richmond visits ODU

What, no free hot dogs? The Cavaliers have had remarkably success with aggressive zone defense, but this is a whole 'nother class of opponent. If the Cavaliers can defend these guys into a game in the 50s, Virginia's new-found ability to stop people will be one of the stories of the young season nationally. What's more likely, though, is that the Cavaliers put on a spirited, feisty effort that's not quite enough against one of the sport's elite teams. Tennessee 69, Virginia 55

Middle Tennessee State at James Madison, 2 p.m.
Dukes coach Kenny Brooks has called these Blue Raiders the best team on JMU's schedule, and with apologies to Delaware, he may have a point. MTSU won an entertaining 81-75 decision when these teams met in Murfreesboro, and if it's that kind of game again, we haven't seen the level of offensive productivity from JMU that suggests they're ready to keep pace. The Dukes certainly seem capable of such an effort, but until we actually see it.... MTSU 77, JMU 69

Longwood at High Point, 2 p.m.
The Jennifer Hoover-led Panthers couldn't solve Virginia's defense but has put up 82 points in victories over VCU and Davidson. Longwood's struggles on the road have been well-documented, and it's hard to see this being the place where they get that straightened out. High Point 85, Longwood 65

Richmond at Old Dominion, 5 p.m.
Given their roster turnover and the fact they're relying so heavily on underclassmen, the Spiders have to be pleased with their results so far. Rachael Bilney has been a revelation - not that we didn't think she could play, but that she's been so effective in her first games after a year-long ACL rehab - and freshman Liz Brown often looks as though she's been in the lineup three years instead of three games. Spiders star Abby Oliver needs just five points to reach 1,000 for her career. As for Old Dominion, the Lady Monarchs are difficult to evaluate at this stage because, thanks to some unfortunate scheduling, they've been away on road trips at Georgia Tech and Stanford that have had them in way over their heads. Coaches like to call this situations "learning experiences," and we certainly hope ODU did in fact get a lot out of playing these teams. But we can't overlook the possibility that games such as this did little to advance ODU's cause and in some cases may have even caused the development to regress. In other words, today's game will tell us a lot. One potential bright spot - Jackie Cook is listed as a potential starter on ODU's game notes. Cook played just four minutes in the Lady Monarchs' season opener before suffering an injury. She hasn't played since.
Richmond 72, Old Dominion 62

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