Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Silent majority rankings (through Dec. 19)

Before we get to our rankings, we noticed that in the latest ESPN/USA Today poll of coaches, UConn received one first-place vote. Considering the events that took place Sunday night in Waco, that's an interesting call to say the least. Not sure what more Baylor has to do, especially since the Lady Bears' perfect record also includes a victory over No. 3 Notre Dame. I know the coaches usually don't go on the record with their ballots, but I'd love to hear the explanation for this one.

Now, let's talk Silent Majority:

1. Delaware (9-0)
Last week: 1
Star turn: Exam-break rust was clearly evident on Elena Delle Donne, as she actually missed a free throw in Monday's 21-point win at Providence. Her other numbers (29 points on 9 of 13 shooting, 9 rebounds and 3 blocks in 29 minutes) were vintage EDD. But that missed free throw plummeted her season's FT percentage to 92.4 percent (61 of 66). Better get in the gym, girl!
Dribbles and bits: The Blue Hens moved up to No. 19 in the latest AP poll...Monday's 68-47 victory over the Friars was Delaware's first game since Dec. 11, and the Blue Hens will be off another nine days before playing in Maryland's Terrapin Classic on Dec. 28-29...With Delle Donne and forward Danielle Parker leading the way, the Blue Hens are at plus-11.4 in rebounding margin, the ninth-best figure in Division I.
Next up: Dec. 28 vs. East Carolina in Maryland's Terrapin Classic. A victory would almost certainly set up a Dec. 29 showdown with the undefeated Terrapins.

2. Green Bay (8-0)
Last week: 2
Star turn: The team was off last week, so here's a belated shoutout to Lydia Bauer and Sarah Eichler for raining a combined 9 3-pointers on Toledo in a 72-65 victory Green Bay's last time out.
Next up: Green Bay will put its 21-game homecourt winning streak on the line Tuesday against Ball State. Green Bay has also won 27 straight regular season games..Adrian Ritchie is making 96.2 percent of her free throws (25 of 26)...Senior Julie Wojta has scored at least 21 points in five of the eight games...The Phoenix are at No. 18 in the latest AP Top 25 poll and are up to No. 14 in ESPN/USA Today's poll.
Next up: Tuesday vs. Ball State

3. St. Bonaventure (10-1)
Last week: 3
Star turn: Marist killer Megan Bowker was at it again Sunday, as she knocked down 5 3-pointers and scored a game-high 19 points as the Bonnies outfoxed the Red Foxes 67-56
Dribbles and bits: Megan Van Tatenhove sat out Friday's game against Niagara with a head injury but was productive off the bench (10 points, 5 rebounds in 18 minutes) against Marist...Click here to find out how you can help the family of Bonnies freshman Tatiana Wilson, which lost its home and everything in it to a fire last week...Just wondering, where's the AP or ESPN/USA Today poll love for these guys?
Next up: The Bonnies will try to remain undefeated on the road (5-0) Thursday at Colgate, and a showdown with Villanova looms Dec. 29 in the first round of Monmouth's Hawks Holiday Classic.

4. Gonzaga (9-2)
Last week: 5
Star turn: A few hours after being named West Coast Conference Player of the Week, Oregon State transfer Haiden Palmer poured a game-high 22 points on No. 12 Georgia and splashed the game-winning 3-pointer with less than a second remaining. Other than that, it was just your typical Monday..
Dribbles and bits: Gonzaga snuck into the latest ESPN/USA Today poll at No. 24...It's a testament to Gonzaga's depth that the Bulldogs engineered their 71-68 victory over Georgia in the Las Vegas Holiday Hoops Classic with starters Kayla Standish (8 points) and Kelly Bowen (4) producing less than half their scoring averages...Gonzaga never led until Palmer drilled her game-winner, and the Bulldogs trailed by 15 with less than seven minutes remaining.
Next up: Wednesday vs. Dayton in Holiday Hoops Classic in Las Vegas.

5. Florida Gulf Coast (7-1)
Last week: 4
Star turn: Sarah Hansen had a season-high 23 points on 8-of-13 shooting in Monday's 77-53 victory over USC Upstate.
Dribbles and bits: Monday's 77-53 victory over USC Upstate was the 300th of Eagles coach Karl Smesko's 13-year career (300-74, 239-47 at FGCU)...Oregon State transfer point guard Brittany Kennedy, a former teammate of Gonzaga's Haiden Palmer, started in her Eagles debut against Upstate and had 6 points and 6 assists in 26 minutes...Not only do the Eagles continue to lead the nation in 3-pointers, they are the only Division I school to average more 3-pointers (13.0) than turnovers (12.0).
Next up: Wednesday vs. Virginia Tech

6. Hartford (8-3)
Last week: 6
Star turn: Major props to Hawks coach Jennifer Rizzotti for getting her alma mater (UConn) to agree to come to Hartford for a game next season...
Dribbles and bits: The Hawks have won three straight since dropping back-to-back games at Marist and St. John's. The last two of those wins came despite the absence of scoring and rebounding leader Ruthanne Doherty, who has been sidelined with a concussion. Doherty has been cleared to return Thursday, and the timing is perfect since the Hawks will be playing at Richmond, which is Doherty's hometown. The plan is for the team to have dinner at Doherty's home on Wednesday.
Next up: Wednesday at Richmond

7. Richmond (8-2)
Last week: not ranked
Star turn: Freshman Keri Soppe secured Atlantic 10 Rookie of the Week honors after her 12-point, 7-assist effort in the Spiders' 14-point win at N.C. State.
Dribbles and bits: We're based in Virginia and, so to avoid charges of homerism, we tend to grade teams in this Commonwealth on a tougher curve. But after last week's 72-58 road beatdown of N.C. State - the same N.C. State that took out Vanderbilt a few days later - there's no denying that these Spiders are legit...Sophomore guard Becca Wann was the Atlantic 10 Offensive Player of the Year and a first-team All-American in soccer and is one of the rare Division I athletes to play both sports (Boston College's Marissa Mello and Longwood's Kacie Oliver are two others)...These guys sure can shoot: The Spiders continue to lead Division I in free-throw percentage (82.6) and are 7th in 3-point percentage (39.7).
Next up: Tuesday vs. Liberty; Thursday vs. Hartford

8. Hofstra (7-2)
Last week: 8
Star turn: Junior forward and U.S. Pan-Am Games team member Shante Evans recorded her 35th career double-double (17 points, 15 rebounds) in Sunday's 66-52 win over St. Peter's...It's a credit to the quality of Evans' teammates that the junior's numbers (15.9 ppg, 8.6 rpg) are actually down from a year ago, yet the team is having more success.
Dribbles and bits: The Pride has won seven of its last eight games, with the loss a two-point decision at Hartford...Hofstra ranks 13th in Division I in scoring offense at 78.9 points per game...
Next up: The Pride host the New York Life Holiday Invitational Wednesday and Thursday. They'll open with Central Connecticut State and will then face either Auburn or Marist.

9. Princeton (8-4)
Last week: 7
Star turn: Niveen Rasheed had 20 points, 6 rebounds and 5 assists in Monday's 77-61 win at Santa Clara.
Dribbles and bits: There aren't too many players that can average 19.5 points and 12 rebounds in consecutive games against ranked teams, but those were Rasheed's numbers in Princeton losses at DePaul and Stanford. Not surprisingly, Rasheed was named Ivy League Player of the Week; it's the 14th time she's won the award in the 29 week's she's been eligible over her career...The Tigers took their west coast trip as a nod to Rasheed and Tigers junior Lauren Polansky, both of whom grew up within 60 miles of Stanford/Santa Clara.
Next up: Dec. 29 at Hofstra

10. Fresno State (9-3)
Last week: 10
Star turn: Ex-Washington State star Ki-Ki Moore continued to thrive with her new program, averaging a team-best 17.5 ppg.
Dribbles and bits: Saturday's 61-52 victory over Pacific was the Bulldogs' fifth straight and eighth in their last nine games. The lone loss was at No. 4 Stanford...The Bulldogs rank third in Division I in 3-pointer per game (9.5)...Junior Rosie Moult leads the WAC in 3-pointers (34) and steals (31).
Next up: Wednesday at UC Riverside

11. BYU (10-2)
Last week: 12
Star turn: Senior guard Haley Steed dished out 8 assists for the second straight game in Saturday's victory over Utah State. Remarkably, the 5-4 Steed also grabbed 10 rebounds. Actually, it's not really that remarkable, as the diminutive Steed is this team's leading rebounder (6.4 rpg).
Dribbles and bits: BYU made it nine straight victories by defeating Utah State Saturday...Love teams that share the ball, and with Steed leading the way, few teams do it better than these Cougars (19.3 assists per game). A lot of teams talk about not caring who scores the points, but the Cougars didn't even mention who led the team in scoring against Utah State in the game story on their official website. Those details are relegated to the bottom of the page, under "Postgame notes."...At least someone's paying attention to these guys: the Cougars received two votes in the latest AP Top 25 poll.
Next up: Thursday vs. Nevada

12. Duquesne (9-1)
Last week: 13
Star turn: Orsi Szecsi earned Atlantic 10 Player of the Week honors after lighting up Akron and leading a furious comeback in a 61-55 win over West Virginia.
Dribbles and bits: The Dukes trailed West Virginia by 17 with 14:33 to play before Szecsi scored the first five points of a 16-0 run. The teams then swapped the lead a few times before a Szecsi 3-pointer with 1:03 left put Duquesne ahead for good...The victory was Duquesne's first over the Mountaineers in 11 meetings dating back to 1995.
Next up: Tuesday vs. Maine at Florida's Gator Holiday Classic. The Dukes will face either Charleston Southern or Florida on Wednesday.

13. UTEP (10-0)
Last week: 15
Star turn: Do-it-all sophomore point guard Kelli Willingham had nine assists and just one turnover last Tuesday against Northern Colorado, then recorded a team-high 18 points three nights later at Loyola Marymount.
Dribbles and bits: The Miners are one of nine unbeaten teams in Division I (as of Tuesday)...The 10-0 start is tied for the second-best in program history; UTEP won 23 straight in 2007-08...Opponents are shooting just 31.2 percent against UTEP this season and, led by Gloria Brown and Kristine Vitola, the Miners rank 13th nationally in blocked shots (6.0 bpg).
Next up: Wednesday vs. UC Santa Barbara

14. Long Island (10-2)
Last week: not ranked
Star turn: Junior Krystal Wells gave William and Mary some of its own medicine Monday, as her career-high 24 points came largely on the strength of 6 3-pointers. The Tribe began play ranked 10th in Division I in 3-point percentage.
Dribbles and bits: That 44-43 loss to Mount St. Mary's on Dec. 3 left us scratching our heads. But that's the Blackbirds' only stumble since a Nov. 13 loss at Hartford, and the team's resume includes solid wins over Drexel and Charlotte...Reigning Northeast Conference Player of the Week Ashley Palmer dropped a career-high 31 points on Cal Poly - and also pulled down 10 rebounds - in a 69-61 victory...The Blackbirds are riding a five-game winning streak and are 7-0 at home this season.
Next up: Dec. 29 at Nevada's Peppermill Holiday Classic. Long Island will open against the host school and will face either Mississippi State or Oklahoma State the following day.

15. Missouri State (6-3)
Last week: not ranked
Star turn: Senior Casey Garrison has scored at least 26 points in three of her last four games.
Dribbles and bits: No shame in any of the losses (to Louisville and Oklahoma State and by two points at Kansas State)...Garrison is averaging 20.1 points on 53.1 percent shooting...The Lady Bears flexed their muscles Sunday at Morgan State's expense, rolling to a 104-74 victory. It was the first 100-point game for Missouri State since 2003.
Next up: Tuesday at Arkansas State

On the verge: Hampton, Towson, Marist, Temple, James Madison, Memphis, Tulane, Northern Iowa, UAB, North Dakota, Howard.

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