Monday, April 30, 2012

Beth Cunningham leaves VCU for Notre Dame

We never got that first tweet.

Several months ago, then-VCU coach Beth Cunningham opened up the Twitter page @LadyRamsHC, and picked up 147 followers in the time since. But in the space where you'd typically find a string of 140-character pearls of wisdom, all that's there is the line "LadyRamsHC hasn't tweeted yet."

It's one of the few things she didn't get done during her time at VCU.

Unfortunately for Rams fans, that time is over now, as the news that has been in the winds for several days is finally official. The Richmond Times-Dispatch reported Monday that Cunningham has stepped down to become associate coach at her alma mater, Notre Dame.

"It's a chance I couldn't turn down," Cunningham said. "It's just such a special place - an amazing place, really. The older I get, and the more I see and experience, the more I realize that there's really no place like it."

The South Bend Tribune also has an extensive piece on Cunningham and her new assignment.

An opening developed on the Notre Dame staff when associate head coach Jonathan Tsipis accepted the head job at George Washington after nine seasons with the Fighting Irish.

The move returns Cunningham to her native Indiana - she's from Bloomington - to her former coach Muffet McGraw and to the school where she twice earned Kodak All-America honors and still holds the program's all-time scoring record with 2,322 points. Notre Dame is also where she met her husband, Dan. On Aug. 24, Cunningham gave birth to the couple's first child, Margaret Jane.

That Cunningham would answer McGraw's call is hardly surprising. Last September, in this Richmond Times-Dispatch story chronicling the enduring relationship between player and coach, we learned that Cunningham and her husband, Dan, frequently stayed at McGraw's house when they visited South Bend. For her part, McGraw called Cunningham "the best leader I've ever coached."

VCU's all-time winningest coach, Cunningham led the Rams to a 167-115 record in her nine seasons.She also guided the Rams to a program-record five straight postseason appearances, including an at-large selection to the NCAA Tournament in 2008-09. Last season, VCU finished with a 19-15 mark and advanced to the third round of the WNIT.

Two weeks ago, forward Courtney Hurt became the third VCU player in five seasons to be drafted by a WNBA team when the Indiana Fever selected her with the 34th overall pick.

The 2012-13 season already projected as a transition year for the Rams given the loss of Hurt, the program's all-time leading scorer and rebounder, and high-scoring Andrea Barbour, a two-time All-CAA performer. Now, the transition will be greater than anyone imagined.

Late Monday, Hurt, who began training camp with the Fever on Sunday, tweeted the following:

"I feel bad for my girls back at VCU a lot of uncertainty right now..Gotta stick together through the good and the bad."

VT's Wolff going back to men's bb?

ESPN's Andy Katz reports that former Virginia Tech assistant James Johnson, who left for Clemson less than two weeks ago, is returning to Blacksburg as its head coach, which is interesting. But of much greater interest, at least to us, is Katz' speculation that Johnson "may look to add Virginia Tech's women's coach Dennis Wolff to the staff as an associate head coach." Wolff was the men's director of basketball operations on the staff that included Johnson two years ago before landing the women's gig.

We're just passing this along - without comment for now - because it's merely speculation. Besides, coaches get offered jobs all the time. Doesn't mean they'll accept. But if this is indeed the way things go down, both Wolff and especially Tech athletic director Jim Weaver will have a whole lot of 'splainin' to do, Lucy.

UPDATE: A little before 2 p.m. Monday, Hokies assistant coach Chantelle Anderson tweeted the following:

"Virginia Tech Head Coach, Dennis Wolff, IS NOT going back to the men's side to be a coach! He's staying right here!!!"

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Virginia Tech lands JC star Uju Ugoka

Here's all you need to know about the quality of recruit Virginia Tech just landed in junior college star Uju Ugoka - the Hokies beat out Tennessee to get her.

According to, the Nigerian-born Ugoka, one of three finalists for WBCA Junior College Player of the Year after her sophomore season at Gulf State College (Fla.), informed the Lady Vols on Wednesday night that she was heading to Blacksburg.

UPDATE: On Friday, Virginia Tech made it official. Said Hokies coach Dennis Wolff: "Uju is the type of impact player everyone is looking for. As good a player as she is, her style of play, personality and charisma will also help raise the bar for our team."

Can anyone remember when Virginia Tech got a women's basketball player Tennessee really wanted? Has this ever happened? Granted, there are special circumstances surrounding the Lady Vols these days. But still....

The Hokies have also added 6-1 Australian forward Hannah Young, "a skilled, versatile player who will add to our depth on the perimeter," Wolff said. This brings to six the total of incoming players for the Hokies for the 2012-13 season.

Ugoka, a 6-0 forward who won't turn 19 until May 23, grew up in Lagos, Nigeria and didn't touch a basketball until four years ago. She's obviously a fast study, though. Two years ago, she earned NJCAA All-America honors and led Grayson Community College (Texas) to a fifth-place finish in the national tournament. After Grayson disbanded its program, Ugoka moved to Gulf State and became a rare two-time Division I JC All-American after averaging 16.6 points and 8.7 rebounds a game.

The additions of Ugoka and Young are just the latest indications that the Hokies are serious about invigorating a program that has languished at or near the bottom of the ACC for years. Earlier this month, the Hokies signed Taijah Campbell, a 6-3 forward from Canada. And in November, Tech landed a three-player class of Alex Kiss-Rusk, Lauren Evans and Alexis Lloyd. Lloyd is ranked No. 81 in ESPN's ranking of the Top 100 recruits for 2012.

The newcomers will look to offset the loss of forwards Brittni Montgomery and LaTorri Hines-Allen, two sophomores who will transfer. They are the fourth players to transfer from Tech since Wolff became head coach last March.

Ashley Earley new assistant at Virginia

Virginia made it official on Wednesday - former Marquette assistant Ashley Earley has been hired by the Cavaliers. The school's release says Earley will coach Virginia's post players and assist in all recruiting efforts. She will replace Katie O'Connor, who left for personal reasons regarding her health.

Virginia Tech assistant Chantelle Anderson actually broke the news on Earley several days ago via Twitter when she congratulated her former teammate on her new gig. Anderson and Earley played together on those hellacious Vanderbilt teams in the early 2000s. We actually covered one of those teams in an NCAA Tournament game against Boston College at Old Dominion's Constant Center. The Commodores led by double figures midway through the second half, but the Eagles chased them down and would have won in regulation had one of their players not missed two free throws with the game tied and just one second left. The Commodores hit a three with about 12 seconds left in OT to go ahead by a point, but BC's Amber Jacobs made a layup just before the buzzer for a one-point victory. (Coach Earley, if you're out there, sorry to bring this up. But hey, it was one heck of a game. Can't believe you guys lost.)

Earley's arrival also gives her a spot on our 10-player ACC Coaches All-Star Team, a 10-player collection of the league's best ex-players (assistants and head coaches, women only) currently roaming the sidelines. Her credentials include scoring more than 1,300 points, earning first-team All-SEC honors and getting drafted by the WNBA's Indiana Fever.

For those curious, if there was such a thing as an All-ACC Coaches Team, we'd take:

Chantelle Anderson, Virginia Tech; MaChelle Joseph, Georgia Tech; Joy Cheek, Duke; Brooke Wyckoff, Florida State; Tricia Stafford-Odom, North Carolina; Shelley Sheetz, Boston College; Janie Mitchell, Georgia Tech; Katie Meier, Miami; Kelly Harper, North Carolina State; Ashley Earley, Virginia.

Who YOU got?

In other Virginia-related news, former Cavaliers assistant coach Tim Taylor was recently appointed the principal at Wetsel Middle School in Madison.

Also, Wilka Montout, a 6-5 junior college All-American from Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College and a Cavaliers recruiting target, is visiting South Carolina this weekend (April 28-29). Montout was in Charlottesville two weekends ago.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

ODU's Campbell plans to play closer to home

Brittany Campbell said she never got a chance to prove herself at Old Dominion.

The 6-3 sophomore center said coach Karen Barefoot told her during the middle of last season that her best option would be to find another team. Campbell said Barefoot told her she did not fit into ODU's system for the 2012-2013 season.

"I was surprised," Campbell said Wednesday. "The whole time she had been telling me I was doing everything right. I never got the chance to show what I could do."

Campbell and redshirt senior Jo Guilford will not return as Lady Monarchs next season. Guilford will play her final season at Hampton.

To say that Campbell, recruited by former ODU coach Wendy Larry, has played sparingly would be an understatement. In two years she has been on the floor a total of 41 minutes, scoring 6 points. That included five games during an injury-plagued freshman season when she spent much of the time in a boot. Campbell was healthy this year, but ineligible during the fall due to academic issues. As a sophomore, she played in 4 games for all of 13 minutes.

Still, Campbell said she loves ODU and her teammates. "I thought it was a perfect fit," she said.

Campbell said she is weighing options from two schools: Chicago State, which finished 6-24 last season, and Division II Lincoln Memorial in Harrogate, Tenn (one hour north of Knoxville). The Railsplitters finished 14-13 last season.

"As far as transferring, I want to be closer to home," said Campbell, who is from Indianapolis.

Campbell said she will decide in early May. Barefoot said she is happy that Campbell will be able to play for another program.

ODU's Guilford moving over to Hampton

Old Dominion's loss is Hampton's gain.

That's the way the three-time defending MEAC champion Lady Pirates are looking at the arrival of JoNiquia Guilford, who will transfer from ODU - with degree in hand - and take her talents to the other side of the Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel.

"We're going to try to make it four in a row," said Guilford, who will graduate from Old Dominion on May 7 after majoring in criminal justice with a minor in sports management. "I think (Hampton) Coach (David) Six is a great coach and I'm excited about playing for him."

How Guilford became available to Hampton isn't totally clear. Guilford and her former high school coach, Roger Smith are adamant that she was released from her ODU scholarship against her wishes; Lady Monarchs coach Karen Barefoot told a local newspaper she merely relayed that she couldn't promise Guilford would retain her starter's role next season and that it was the player's decision to move on.

What is clear is that this was one of the many awkward postseason player-coach meetings that happen at programs throughout the country, particularly after a new coach's first season. Barefoot is coming off an 11-win campaign and is working under a return-to-the-Top-25 mandate from her athletic director. While Guilford started 28 games last season, she never seemed like an ideal fit for the playing style Barefoot is trying to implement. While we can't say for sure whether Barefoot actually told Guilford she was pulling her scholarship, it does seem clear that at the very least, Guilford left that meeting feeling as though her contributions were no longer valued.

That won't be the case at Hampton, where Six is thrilled to get a player whose talents he has admired since the days when she was a star at Portsmouth's Wilson High and he was gameplanning to stop her as the coach of Hampton High.

"She was a handful then," Six said. "When (Smith) called over and asked can I use her, I said 'Absolutely.' "

Guilford was a scoring machine at Wilson, finishing with a school-record 2,350 points, but she struggled to get her offensive game on track at ODU. A 20-point explosion against George Mason offered a glimpse of her capabilities. But for the season she averaged just 6.6 points per game.

Both Guilford and Six expect her to pick up more of the scoring load at Hampton. And while how much that happens remains to be seen, there are several areas where Guilford's impact will be felt. For example, Hampton prides itself on defense; Guilford led ODU in steals.

Then there are the intangibles.

"In terms of experience, toughness and tremendous leadership, she'll definitely add to our team," Six said.

The leadership role is particularly key, as the Lady Pirates are losing five seniors from last season's championship team, including all-everything, never-left-the-floor point guard Jericka Jenkins. Six is assembling another interesting batch of incoming players. But you don't ordinarily find college graduates with three years of Division I playing experience on the recruiting trail.

Finally, Six heralded the arrival of Guilford, who will pursue her master's degree at Hampton, as a testament to the quality of program the MEAC school has developed.

"That a kid at her level would see Hampton as a viable option says a lot about where we are as a program and where we're going," Six said.

In other Hampton-related news, former Lady Pirates guard Chikilra Goodman has signed with Stony Brook. Goodman, whose mother, Tondalaya, set the Lady Pirates' all-time rebounding record, spent her freshman year at Hampton in 2010-11 after averaging more than 36 points per game at Bodine High in Philadelphia. Goodman played last season at Paris Junior College in Texas.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

ODU's Wendy Larry on Pat Summitt stepping down: "It's the end of an era"

Pat was on hand to commemorate Wendy's 500th coaching victory.

Former Old Dominion coach Wendy Larry spent Wednesday evening exchanging text messages -- with Pat Summitt.

Tennessee announced earlier in the day that Summitt would step down as coach after 38 seasons and 1,098 wins. Summitt will be "head coach emeritus" for the women's program she guided to eight national titles. Her assistant for 27 years and all eight of those titles, Holly Warlick, is the Lady Vols' new coach. The move comes less than a year after Summitt was diagnosed with early onset dementia.

"I'm so happy for Holly, but it's a mixed bag -- heart wrenching and exciting," Larry said. "Heart wrenching because you know Pat didn't want to step down on these terms. But it's also exciting for Holly."

Summitt and Larry have been professional peers for decades, but Larry said they really became friends after the 1997 Final Four.

"The respect factor changed after that Final Four," she said.

Larry's Lady Monarchs fell to the Lady Vols in the NCAA title game that year; during the regular season ODU beat Tennessee -- the first and only win for the Lady Monarchs over the Lady Vols under Larry.

Larry said she and Summitt would regularly dine after the teams played in the annual series. Still Larry made no secret over the years that orange wasn't exactly a favorite color of hers. Nonetheless, that didn't stop Larry from wearing orange and only orange to a ceremony in Knoxville honoring Summitt after she reached 1,000 coaching victories.

"I left all the tags on," Larry said.

Larry spent the 2011-12 season traveling, with one of the trips taking her Knoxville. Larry was there for Tennessee's date with LSU on Jan. 19 and also attended the baby shower for Nikki Caldwell.

"Spending time with Pat and her staff was one of the highlights of the last year," Larry said.

Larry said the special bond between Warlick and Summitt will make the new coaching arrangement work. While Summitt will not be allowed to sit on the bench, she will be able to sit behind it and still plans to be a mentor and advisor to the program.

"Pat's going to do what she's been doing -- she's just got a fancier title," Larry said. "She'll coach, mentor, have an opinion. Holly is a very lucky lady to have her in the wings."

No doubt, though, said Larry, "This is the end of an era."

Hey, Jeremy Lin, have we got a girl for you!

We're partial to the basketball scene in this video as it stars one of our favorite players in W&M's Emily Correal. Correal's buddy Lina Yeh made it in an effort to get New York Knicks point guard and pop culture sensation Jeremy Lin to take her to the formal. In just a little over two days, the video has gotten more than 37,000 hits and been on CNN. As for our two cents, we say why not come to Williamsburg and escort Lina to the dance? You're on injured reserve. What else do you have to do?

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Hampton's Jericka Jenkins' family loses home in tornado

Getting selected by a WNBA team is the least of Jericka Jenkins' concerns these days.

The family of Hampton's star point guard lost its home in Lancaster, Texas earlier this month after tornadoes ravaged the Dallas County region. More than 1,600 homes were damaged in Lancaster alone. Jenkins' family is currently living in a hotel.

Hampton University's student government has created a "Donate to Dallas Relief Fund" to benefit Jenkins and others affected by the storm.

"I'm humbled that my Hampton family has reached out to me and others during this time," Jenkins said. "It is tragic to me and my family to have lost our home, but knowing that others care and are spearheading efforts to help us makes a big difference."

Donations can be made at

Monday, April 16, 2012

VCU's Hurt will play out her hoop dream in Indiana

Welcome to the WNBA Courtney Hurt!

The VCU career leader in scoring and rebounding (and a whole bunch of other statistical categories) was drafted by the Indiana Fever on Monday -- picked 10th in the third round. That's 34th overall out of 36 players selected, making Courtney sweat it out a bit.

"I was verrrryyy nervous when the third round started but I really think I landed on a great team and have a good chance of making a roster at Indiana," Hurt said.

There are no Virginia ties on the team, but Hurt, who hails from Conyers, Ga., already has a buddy.

"I don't know anybody on the team but Tamika Catchings just called me so I am making friends rather quickly," she said.

And while making a team's final roster is no easy feat, ,we like the odds for the nation's leading rebounder the last two years.

"They are looking for a rebounder and a scoring threat, so I think I could really help them in those departments. I am going into training camp with a chip on my shoulder and leaving it all out there."

Hurt is the third Ram drafted by the WNBA in the last five years (Krystal Vaughn, 2008; Quanitra Hollingsworth, 2009).

As noted by her big bro on Courtney's Facebook page: C-Hurt got Drafted to Indiana Fever!! Leh Go!! My little Sister from Memorial Middle to Salem High to VCU to WNBA!!!! #Proud!!! #Team C-Hurt!!!

As we like to say at LadySwish, you go, girl!

Check out Hurt's WNBA draft moment as it played out on ESPN:

WNBA Draft: Could VCU's Hurt join Q in New York?

All along we've considered it a dream scenario - VCU's Courtney Hurt not only being a first-round draft pick, but getting selected by New York and being reunited with ex-Rams star Quanitra Hollingsworth. The two played together at VCU for one season in 2008-09, a year that saw the Rams advance to the NCAA Tournament.

Now that the draft is set for Monday (2 p.m., ESPN2), it appears as though Hurt is in the mix of players that could land in New York. The question now is, will Hollingsworth be there if Hurt gets there? According to this report, Hollingsworth either has or is set to acquire Turkish citizenship and will play for Turkey during this summer's Olympic Qualifying Tournament June 25-July 1 in Ankara, Turkey. The top five teams in that 12-team tournament advance to the London Olympics. The report suggests that Hollingsworth would train with the Turkish team in preparation for qualifying and miss at least the start of the WNBA season.

There's been no word from the Liberty on any of this. But on Friday, the team signed veteran forward and former Virginia star DeMya Walker. Walker was part of a WNBA championship team under current Liberty coach John Whisenant in Sacramento. The move could also bolster the Liberty's absence in case Hollingsworth isn't available.

Which brings us back to Hurt. One of the big reasons we see a potential link between the Rams star and New York is this comment from Whisenant:

"We're looking for a post that can guard and run the floor, but we need rebounds. Rebounding is critical in all basketball and the WNBA is no different. That's why big players are so critical; they're closer to the rebounding. We'll look for that."

Hurt, of course, led Division I in rebounding in each of the past two seasons. She seems to have a knack for sensing where a shot is going to come off the rim and getting to that spot before anyone else. It's a skill we think will transfer to the WNBA level. If the Liberty agree, the team might not pass her up with the No. 7 pick on the first round.

The website Swish Appeal, which has by far the most comprehensive draft coverage available, projects Hurt in this spot. If Swish Appeal's experts, analysts and numbers-crunchers see it this way, who are we to argue? Michelle Smith of ESPNW also has Hurt going No. 7 to the Liberty.

Phoenix, which has the No. 6 pick, also may be considering Hurt.

Of course, as we learned with last year with JMU star Dawn Evans, there are few certainties when it comes to the WNBA draft. Prior to the 2011 draft, everyone and their brother had the high-scoring Evans coming off the board somewhere within the first two rounds. We know how that turned out.

There isn't really a consensus on Hurt's draft position; some mock drafts have her lasting until the second round. That Hurt wasn't one of the 15 players selected to attend Monday's draft may reflect this uncertainty. Still, this shouldn't be taken as an indication Hurt won't be taken in the first round. In 2009, Hollingsworth wasn't invited to the draft party, either, and she was selected with the ninth pick by Minnesota.

If Hurt is chosen with one of the first 12 picks, she would become the ninth WNBA first-round draft pick from a Virginia college since the league began in 1997. No player from a Virginia school was chosen in the 2011 draft. This season, in addition to Hurt, we think Hampton's Jericka Jenkins, VCU's Andrea Barbour, ODU's Tia Lewis and Liberty's Avery Warley all merit consideration in the three-round draft. Warley's rebounding rate is even better than Hurt's. Also, while we suspect that Taleia Moton's lack of size and the fact that she's not a true point guard will work against her for WNBA types, we hope the sheer quality of her performance for George Mason last season makes someone think she's at least worth a look.

The all-time Virginia draft board:

1st round
2 - Monica Wright, Virginia (Minnesota, 2010)
2 - Ticha Penicheiro, Old Dominion (Sacramento, 1998)
5 - Tammi Reiss, Virginia (Utah, 1997)
7 - Tora Suber, Virginia (Charlotte, 1997)
8 - Katie Feenstra, Liberty (Connecticut, 2005; rights traded to San Antonio)
8 - Tamera Young, James Madison (Atlanta, 2008)
9 - Quanitra Hollingsworth, VCU (Minnesota, 2009)
12 - Hamchetou Maiga, Old Dominion (Sacramento, 2002)

2nd round
2 (14th overall) - Megan Frazee, Liberty (San Antonio, 2009)
3 (19th overall) - Lucienne Berthieu, Old Dominion (Seattle, 2002)
4 (16th overall) - Clarisse Machanguana, Old Dominion (Los Angeles, 1999)
4 (17th overall) - Lyndra Littles, Virginia (Connecticut, 2009)
10 (20th overall) - Nyree Roberts, Old Dominion (Houston, 1998)
11 (23rd overall) - Mery Andrade, Old Dominion (Cleveland, 1999)
15 (27th overall) - Schuye LaRue, Virginia (Los Angeles, 2003)

3rd round
3 (27th overall) - Adrienne Goodson, Old Dominion (Utah, 1999)
3 (29th overall) - Sharnee Zoll, Virginia (Los Angeles, 2008)
(30th overall) - Nare Diawara, Virginia Tech (San Antonio, 2007)
4 (31st overall) - Telisha Quarles, Virginia (Phoenix, 2003)
5 (31st overall) - Ieva Kublina, Virginia Tech (Indiana, 2004)
6 (34th overall) - Krystal Vaughn, VCU (Washington, 2008)
6 (34th overall) - Kerri Gardin, Virginia Tech (Chicago, 2006)
6 (38th overall) - Svetlana Volnaya, Virginia (Detroit, 2001)
13 (45th overall) - Tere Williams, Virginia Tech (Phoenix, 2001)

4th round (1997-2002)
6 (54th overall) - Sharron Francis, Old Dominion (Minnesota, 2002)
16 (64th overall) - Tiffany Thompson, Old Dominion (Los Angeles, 2002)

Elite draft
Prior to the WNBA's initial season in 1997, the league held an elite draft of players who had played in other professional leagues. Virginia's Wendy Palmer (9th overall) and Old Dominion's Nancy Lieberman (15th) were both 2nd-round picks.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Two ODU alums -- Diaz, Bellinghausen -- making news

Emily is back! Or should we say Noelle Movement (formerly ODU's Nicole Bellinghausen) appears on "House" at 9 p.m. Monday on Fox. Movement stars as Emily, a character that Hugh Laurie is, shall we say, quite fond of.

In other former Lady Monarch news, Natalie Diaz will be in town this week as part of National Poetry Month. Diaz, whose first book of poetry "When My Brother was an Aztec" is due out this month, will be reading her work at the Virginia Beach Higher Education Center on Thursday from 12:30-2 p.m. in Lecture Hall 244.

Diaz will also be at the University Bookstore on Wednesday from 2-3 p.m. signing copies of her book.

The event is followed by a reception and book signing, where you might just ask Nat about her current project. The former Lady Monarch guard lives in Fort Mojave Valley, Ariz., where she is coordinator of the Fort Mojave Language Recovery Program with the few remaining speakers of Mojave to preserve the language. Through audio recordings, visuals and documentation, Diaz is working with elders in the preservation effort, some of which is directed to retaining the bird songs or songs of celebration of the tribe.

Diaz was raised in the Fort Mojave Indian Village in Needles, Calif.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Signing period starts quietly for Virginia schools

Soon-to-be Old Dominion's Shae Kelley
It sure is a lot calmer in these parts than it was at this point last year.

A year ago to the day, Longwood removed the interim tag from head coach Bill Reinson. A few days before that, Virginia had announced that Joanne Boyle would succeed Debbie Ryan as the Cavaliers coach. And this was just a couple of weeks after Virginia Tech had surprised many by selecting longtime men's basketball coach Dennis Wolff to head up its women's program. Meanwhile, Old Dominion fans were still waiting for the second shoe to drop in the suddenly volatile Lady Monarchs coaching situation. That shoe landed on May 18, when Wendy Larry stepped down after 24 seasons in charge.

Fortunately, no such coaching tumult exists in this here Commonwealth a year later. Absent an unexpected twist in the coaching carousel, at this stage it appears as though everyone's going to stay in their seat. So we're free to focus on the players.

Wednesday's opening day of the signing period produced no news from the Virginia schools, but we're anticipating a fair amount of activity over the next several days. Some of the things we're looking out for:

Wilka Montout
Virginia: The website reports that the Cavaliers are poised for a visit this weekend from junior college standout Wilka "We-We" Montout, a 6-5 center from French Guiana by way of Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College. Montout averaged better than18 points and a shade under 8 rebounds in leading the Lady Norse to the NJCAA Division I Tournament. The fact that is keeping tabs on Montout's whereabouts lets you know that Tennessee is also in the hunt, as apparently is South Carolina and Washington, among others. One factor that may play in Virginia's favor is that academics is apparently a big deal for Montout, who is a 4.0 student.

Richmond: The Spiders are expecting a letter-of-intent from high-scoring Lauren Tolson, a 5-8 guard from Frederick High in Maryland. Tolson averaged a whopping 27 points per game and helped the Cadets advance to the Maryland 3A state tournament. Frederick won the state title in Tolson's junior year.

Virginia Tech: The Hokies will make official the addition of 6-2 forward Taijah Campbell, a veteran of junior national teams in Canada. Pickering will become the second Canadian-born player in Tech's recruiting class, joining Alex Kiss-Rusk, a 6-4 forward from Montreal who signed with the Hokies last fall.

Old Dominion: As reported previously, junior-college forward Shae Kelley is set to join the Lady Monarchs. Kelley, who began her college career at Colorado, earned third-team All-America honors last season at Northwest Florida State College. We think ODU would like to add another junior college big if they can.

George Mason: The Patriots appear set to welcome former Potomac High star Kyana Jacobs. The 5-7 guard spent her freshman year at South Carolina Upstate, then moved to Pensacola State College where she averaged 9.1 points, 3.4 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 2.4 steals for a 29-5 team that finished third at the NJCAA Tournament. The move will reunite Jacobs with former Fairfax Stars teammate and current Patriot Cierra Strickland.

We're also expecting some signing news from Longwood, which is probably recruiting like crazy now that it has the Big South wind at its back.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Cooper-Dyke bids adieu to UNCW

A week ago we were assured the rumors were false. UNC Wilmington coach Cynthia Cooper-Dyke was not going to USC as rumored by several news outlets.

Tuesday the CAA confirmed that Cooper-Dyke is leaving -- to take the head coaching position at Texas Southern University, pending approval by school officials. Cooper-Dyke coached SWAC school Prairie View A&M to its first conference title and NCAA tournament berth in 2006-07. Charles McCelland, who hired Cooper-Dyke at Prairie View, is the current athletic director at Texas Southern.

The four-time WNBA MVP spent five years at Prairie View before coming to Wilmington in 2010. The Seahawks have made back-to-back appearances in the WNIT. UNCW finished 20-13 last season and 24-9 in 2010-11 -- best ever for the program.

Associate head coach Joe Garrity has been named interim head coach and a national search will begin immediately.

In other CAA news, Georgia State announced it is leaving the league in 2013 to join the Sun Belt.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Happy Easter from LadySwish

LadySwish sends Easter wishes to all who play, coach and enjoy the game of women's basketball.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Dribbles and bits with ODU coach Karen Barefoot

Barefoot snapped this pic in Denver.
Like others, we saw the ad online and were puzzled. Old Dominion is hiring three women's basketball assistants and a Director of Operations?

Procedure, said ODU coach Karen Barefoot, who hired her staff in a hurry last year, as Barefoot herself wasn't hired until June. Her assistants, Adrienne Goodson, Tom McConnell, Amaka Agugua, and Director of Operations, Sarah Teachey, were emergency hires last summer. The NCAA requires that coaching jobs be formally posted, the story behind the online ad. But Barefoot assures she isn't expecting her staff to go anywhere.

The Lady Monarchs coach just returned from the Final Four in Denver, where like the nation, was awestruck by Brittany Griner's dominance and the 40-0 season NCAA champ Baylor put together.

As for her own team, Barefoot confirmed what Mairi Buchan had already told us. Buchan is planning to return for her senior season -- great news for the Lady Monarchs.

One more Barefoot note. Karen will be the speaker for the the Peninsula Sports Club on April 18 at the Boo Williams Complex in Hampton. Boo's Nike Girls Invitational Tournament kicks off on April 20.