Friday, November 25, 2011

Virginia-Texas, ODU-LaTech highlight Friday's games

Friday's games:

No. 24 Texas (2-1) vs. No. 22 Virginia (4-0) in Waikiki Beach Marriott Resort Showdown, Hawaii, 8 p.m.

For weeks we'd been assuming the main storyline for this game would involve Texas' Gail Goestenkors and former assistant and current Cavaliers leader Joanne Boyle meeting as head coaches for the first time. But that was before the Cavaliers slayed mighty Tennessee and showed that Virginia's retooling process may be well ahead of schedule. In fairness to the players, getting a full understanding of Boyle's system surely remains a work in progress, so the Tennessee result shouldn't necessarily be taken as a true gauge of where this team stands right now, especially on offense. But in four games, the Cavs have held their opponents to a combined 32.3 percent shooting percentage. If Virginia continues to defend like that, they should be able to hold their own against anyone. We think there's a tendency to overrate Texas early in the season, and in our opinion the pollsters are at it again pegging this squad at No. 24 in the country based on what the Longhorns have done so far. So we're cautiously optimistic about the Cavaliers defending their way to another "upset."  Virginia 62, Texas 55

Old Dominion (1-4) vs. Louisiana Tech (1-3) in Paradise Jam, Virgin Islands, 3:15 p.m.

The Lady Monarchs and Lady Techsters came out on different ends of very similar games in Thursday's tournament openers. Becca Allison's jumper with 1.2 seconds left boosted ODU past Alabama 77-76; Angie Felton's jumper with five seconds left and LaTech down two missed the mark and Seton Hall prevailed 72-69. The Lady Monarchs essentially went with seven players against Alabama, so we worry a bit about their legs on what should be a tough back-to-back. Then again, five of the seven played 29 minutes or less. Plus, they're young, right? We loved the matchup against Alabama; not so crazy about how the Lady Monarchs size up against LaTech. Their turnover count is still sky-high. And it looks like this is a team that, at least for now, is going to have to outscore people to win. But in recognition of what they did against Alabama, we'll roll the dice on ODU again. Hope Tia Lewis and Co. got plenty of rest last night. By the way, we're not sure which we'd rather see, this game, or a one-on-one matchup between Old Dominion coach Karen Barefoot and Louisiana Tech coach Teresa Weatherspoon. ODU 79, Louisiana Tech 75

Liberty (2-2) vs. No. 12 Oklahoma (2-0) in Vanderbilt Thanksgiving Tournament, 5 p.m.

The Lady Flames are coming off an 82-29 thumping of Virginia-Wise. Talk about stepping up in class. Obviously we're not crazy about Liberty's chances in this matchup. But we do want to recommend perusing Liberty's complete game notes, which as usual are loaded with interesting nuggets. Among our favorites:
   - Liberty's Tolu Omotola and Oklahoma's Jasmine Hartman were teammates on a Bellaire High School (Houston) team that went 36-2 in 2007-08 season.
   - The Lady Flames are 4-33 lifetime against Top-25 teams, with the last three victories all coming during the 2004-05 season.
   - Liberty star Devon Brown needs 20 points to become the 14th player in school history to reach 1,000 career points. Oklahoma 75, Liberty 56

Richmond (4-0) at Florida Gulf Coast (2-1), 7 p.m.
Given the volume of underclassmen in whom the Spiders are relying on for valuable minutes, coach Michael Shafer must be giddy (privately, of course) about the way this team has been able to play through its growing pains and still produce wins. Of course it helps when Richmond's few veterans, most notably Abby Oliver and reigning Atlantic 10 Player of the Week Rachael Bilney, are leading the way so effectively. The key against these Eagles is defending the 3-ball - no Division I team made more 3-pointers than FGCU last season, and so far this year, 62.7 percent of the Eagles' field-goal attempts have come from beyond the arc. Making matters even more difficult for the Spiders is the fact that the Eagles virtually never lose in Alico Arena (60-4 at home as a Division I team). Florida Gulf Coast 59, Richmond 56

Virginia Tech (2-2) at St. Mary’s (2-2) in SMC Concord Hilton Tournament (St. Mary’s), 10 p.m.

The Hokies are coming off a humbling 78-59 home loss to William and Mary, a result that reduced Monet Tellier's career-high 31-point effort to a mere footnote. Tellier looks to be on her way to become a true ACC star, and fellow guards Aerial Wilson and Alyssa Fenyn have been extremely solid despite having to play extended minutes (because of an overtime game, Fenyn is actually averaging more than 40 minutes a game). It's in the post where the Hokies could see significant improvement. Tech does have depth and some capable performers in this area. They just need some better performances. Virginia Tech 65, St. Mary's 54

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