Monday, October 29, 2012

Who's on your All-LadySwish team?


Lots of preseason teams and polls coming out this time of year. LadySwish offers its own All-Virginia team. Don't like our ideas? Let us know yours!


Devon Brown 5-10 Sr. G/F Liberty
Emily Correal, 6-3 F Sr. William and Mary
Ataira Franklin, 5-11 Jr. G Virginia
Tarik Hislop, 5-7 Sr. G James Madison
Genevieve Okoro, 6-0 Jr. F Richmond


Monet Tellier 5-11 Jr. G. Virginia Tech
Amber Easter, 6-0 Sr. G/F George Mason
Rachel Gordon, 6-0 Soph. F Norfolk State
Nikki Newman, James Madison
Da'Naria Erwin-Spencer, 5-5 Sr. G Radford

On Devon: The redshirt senior from Waynesboro has the tools to have her best season at Liberty, and that's saying something for a kid who has made the Big South's first team as a freshman, sophomore and junior. We like her versatility and the numbers aren't bad, either: 16.9 ppg, 7 rpg, 2 spg and .790 free-throw percentage, second in the league. With 1,441 career points, she's on track to be in the 2,000-point club.

On Emily: We love that Emily has so many career interests -- actress, comedian, next Erin Andrews, singer -- that she can't decide, but we offer another: baller. Correal averaged 13.2 ppg and 8.6 rpg, and frankly, we believe she can do even in the block while imposing herself on the defensive end.

On Ataira: There's a reason the 5-11 guard started all 36 games last season. She averaged 12.4 ppg with 53 3-pointers last season and turned in a monster-effort 19 points, 12 boards against Duke last January. She'll be a handful for JMU to match up with when the teams meet on Nov. 9. Special kudos to her ballhandling and athleticism.

On Tarik: One of the best kids I've coached? The words are from Kenny Brooks, who loves his point guard, noting he says has a great head on her shoulders to go with her clutch shooting. The woman who says she'd like to be a lion so she could be king of the jungle might just be queen of the CAA (OK, we know about Elena.....). Hislop led the Dukes in scoring, assists, free-throw percentage and minutes played and while her shooting percentage ain't the prettiest, we want the ball in her hands in a tight game. Why? Consider her game winners last season versus ODU and VCU and her OT performance to help JMU down Drexel in OT. Hislop was instrumental in the Dukes' WNIT run, averaging 15.2 ppg.

On Gen: Poised for a monster year, the 6-foot forward scored in double figures 17 times with nine double-doubles, averaging 10.9 ppg and a team-best 7.3 rpg. Dumped 27 on JMU in the Lehigh Christmas Classic. Shoots . Rebounds like crazy. Wanna guard her?

On Monet: She's got great size and a pretty stroke (a Monet, eh?), and we think her upside is tremendous. She started 28 games last season, led the Hokies in scoring (13.7 ppg) and had 21 double-doubles, twice scoring more than 30 points. A better team around her should make for an even bigger year for the 5-11 guard.


On Rachel: Baby, can she board. The youngest on our LadySwish team, Gordon ranked 16th nationally in rebounds (10.4 rpg) and set a school record with 303. Toss in 8.3 ppg and the fact that she's only a sophomore .....

On Da'Naria: She was first team All Big South and it's easy to see why. The 5-5 guard started all 31 games, scoring in double figures in 26 of them. Averaging 17.4 ppg, Erwin-Spencer shot .459 from the field. Did we mention she's 5-5? In heels. Plus she has a great first name.


On Amber: Coach Jeri Porter needs even bigger production from Easter now that Taleia Moton is an alumna, and we think the senior can deliver, coming off a season when she started 28 games, averaging 12 ppg, 7 rpg and 2.1 spg.

On Nikki: Stats don't tell her story. She might just be the best defender in the state, and she does all the intangibles coaches are crazy about. Led the Dukes with 7.8 rebounds and averaged 5.8 ppg. Match her up against the opponent's best threat and you won't be sorry.


Who else do we like? We bound ourselves to 10, but which 10 is a hard call. We like ODU sophomore Ashley Betz-White, reigning CAA Rookie of the Year, and took a hard look at Hampton Alyssa Bennett.

VCU's Robyn Parks deserves a mention as does Longwood's Chelsea Coward. Tech's Aerial Wilson? Tough to overlook the senior guard, in double figures in 10 of the Hokies final 11 games.

Tell us who you like!

Sign of the times for ex-Lady Monarch

Remember former ODU point guard Carolann Cloutier, now one of the faces of the program for the UMass Minutewoman? The 5-9 point guard from Montreal averaged 5.5 ppg, 3.7 rpg and dished out a team-best 121 assists last season as the starting point guard. Bet Cloutier will get a kick out of UMass' Nov. 18 UMass road trip to South Bend for a matchup against Sky Dig and the Irish.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Virginia connections to the AP Top 25

Not surprisingly, no Virginia teams cracked the preseason Associated Press Top 25 poll released Saturday (although Virginia did receive some votes). But state teams will have plenty of opportunities to prove themselves against the so-called nation's best as determined by this august panel of voters.

1. Baylor
     Liberty, Nov. 23

2. Connecticut

3. Duke
     Virginia Tech, Jan. 16
     at Virginia, Feb. 8
     at Virginia Tech, Feb. 14

4. Stanford

5. Maryland
     Virginia, Dec. 6
     George Mason, Dec. 8
     Virginia Tech, Jan. 13
     Virginia, Feb. 17

6. Kentucky

7. Notre Dame
    Old Dominion and Notre Dame are both in the six-team World Vision Classic in Las Vegas Dec, 19-21.

8. Penn State
     at Virginia Tech, Dec. 12

9. Louisville

10. Georgia

11. Delaware
     George Mason, Jan. 10
     at Old Dominion, Jan. 13
     at James Madison, Feb. 10
     Old Dominion, Feb. 14
     at William and Mary, Feb. 17
     at George Mason, Feb. 19
     James Madison, Feb. 24

12. Oklahoma

13. California
     at Old Dominion, Nov. 30

14. St. John's

15. Texas A&M
     Liberty, Nov. 20
     Old Dominion and Texas A&M are both in the six-team World Vision Classic in Las Vegas Dec. 19-21

16. Vanderbilt
     vs. Virginia in San Juan Shootout, Nov. 23

17. West Virginia
     at Virginia, Dec. 2

18. Nebraska

19. Ohio State
     VCU, Dec. 27

20. Tennessee

21. Purdue

22. Georgia Tech
     Virginia, Jan. 10
     at Virginia, Feb. 3
     Virginia Tech, Feb. 8

23. Oklahoma State

24. Miami
     at Richmond, Nov. 12
     Radford is one of four teams in Miami's Thanksgiving Tournament Nov. 23-24
     Virginia, Jan. 6
     at Virginia, Jan. 20
     Virginia Tech, Feb. 3
     at Virginia Tech, March 3

25. DePaul
     vs. Hampton in Paradise Jam, Nov. 23

Others receiving votes


Middle Tennessee State

Green Bay
     vs. James Madison in Cancun Challenge, Nov. 22
     vs. Richmond in Cancun Challenge, Nov. 24


Iowa State

San Diego State



     at Hampton, Nov. 16



Florida State
     Virginia Tech, Jan. 27
      at Virginia Tech, Feb. 24
      at Virginia, March 3

North Carolina
     Radford, Dec. 5
     Virginia Tech, Jan. 6
     Virginia, Jan. 17
     at Virginia Tech, Feb. 22





South Carolina
     vs. Hampton in Paradise Jam, Nov. 22

Michigan State
     Virginia Tech, Nov. 18

Fresno State



Wednesday, October 24, 2012

It's Destinee: Young chooses ODU

Her Twitter bio says, "Ball is life."

It also says, "I've committed to Old Dominion."

Destinee Young will be a Lady Monarch in the 2013-14 season. The 6-foot forward from Hoffman Estates High in Illinois has committed to ODU. Hoffman Estates is a northwest suburb of Chicago.

Young won back-to-back state championships with her AAU team, Illinois Elite. She was named to the all-tournament team by opposing coaches at the Nike U.S. Junior National Summer Final.

ODU's other verbal is from 6-1 forward Odegua Oigbokie of  Ridgeway, Tenn. Chelisa Painter, a transfer from George Washington and graduate of Indian River (Chesapeake) High, will also be eligible for the 2013-14 season.

"Loved the coaches and the team," Young told LadySwish via twitter. "I was also considering Kent State and the University of Denver."

We're glad to have Destinee at ODU!

Friday, October 19, 2012

ODU's Tia Lewis suits up for pro career in Israel

How do you spell Lewis in Hebrew? Check out Tia Lewis' new uniform above. The former Old Dominion star is in Israel, beginning her professional career with Elitzur Netanya. Her teammates include VCU's Courtney Hurt and Richmond's Abby Oliver. Games begin Nov. 5. LadySwish wishes them all a successful season!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Dribbles & bits: VCU's Marlene Stollings

Getting to know VCU head coach Marlene Stollings

You took a Winthrop team that had gone 13-18 the previous year and led them to an 18-13 mark. VCU won 19 games last year. So, can we put you down for 24 wins this year?

I'd love to be talking about 24 wins at the end of the season! Honestly, each situation is different, and we've had some big (personnel) losses... But if we're sitting down at the end of the year with 24 wins, I'd be happy with that.

You scored a ridiculous 3,514 points in high school. And as a coach, you preach offense, offense, offense. Did you become the coach you wanted to play for?

I think I am (laughing). That's one of the first things I told my players, that I'm a player's coach.

Seriously, describe your playing style.

We like to get up and down the floor, shoot the 3 and put points on the board .Now we certainly value defense, and that's something that gets lost in the media version of what we do. And it's not a chaotic style; it's a structured style. But we definitely like to get up and down. And I think it's a style fans like to see.

It also sounds like a style that could use a nickname. Have one for it?

If you have a name for it, we'll use it. We're actually working on a one-word catchphrase, like (men's basketball coach) Shaka (Smart) has with "Havoc." I have a competition with my staff to come up with one. The winner gets a prize. But yeah, we're open to suggestions.

We saw somewhere where, when asked how you're going to deal with all the graduation/transfer losses, you said something like, "You can't worry about who's gone. You can only worry about who's here." Well, who is here? Who's going to surprise us?

Well, we've got three freshmen that I think are going to surprise some people, and maybe even start. Jessica (Pellechio) can flat out put the ball in the basket. Daisy (Adaeze Alaeze Dinma) is a tremendous athlete who can score. And Janni (Janniina Koivunen) is someone who can also shoot, from the post positions. She's got that international style. Of the returners, players like Daphne (Adebayo), Robyn (Hobson) and Carleeda (Green), played some minutes in the past but will have the opportunity to play a lot more now. And then there's Robyn Parks. I expect her to more than double her statistical output this season (6.6 ppg, 3.2 rpg).

People take stock of presidential administrations after the first 100 days. By our count, you've been on the job 123 days (actually, more like 130 or so now; we had this talk several days ago). So, how would you sum up the first 123 days?

Super-exciting. It's definitely been a whirlwind, but we've kind of gotten to a point where we can breathe a little bit. But it's been great because VCU is an incredible place, and the atmosphere here is unlike any place I've ever been.

Excluding places on campus, what's your best spot you've discovered so far in Richmond?

Joe's Inn. Wendy Larry is our new associate commissioner in the Atlantic 10, and I had a talk with her and she told me about it. I think there are two of them. You gotta check it out.

You taking care of our ol' pal Niki Dawkins?
She's taking care of me! She's my right hand. You know, I played for her at Ohio State, so we have like a 20-year relationship. Yeah, she's taking care of me, and I'm looking out for her, too.

What do you remember about the night you went for 69 points in a high school game?

I remember being shocked after the game that I had that many points. People laugh about that now, but honestly I had no idea. I just wanted to win the game.

How 'bout the time you splashed 10 3-pointers against Wright State?

Same thing. I knew I was on that night, and I knew I'd made a lot of shots. But not 10.

Offensive teams typically have to be in superior physical condition. Was it a shock to your players' system when you made 'em run so much?

It's definitely an adjustment, because they're moving at a pace and rate they're not used to. Everything we do in practice, every drill, has a fullcourt mindset. But they'll adjust relatively quickly. They came to me in pretty good shape anyway. And from Day One to Day Two of practice, I've already seen the improvement.

Finally, complete this sentence: After watching us play this season, I hope people leave the arena saying -

They work extremely hard and they're fun to watch.

Your guide to the the can't-miss non-conference games

Getting antsy to see some real games? We are, too. Unfortunately, the regular season doesn't start until Nov. 9. But to tide us over in the meantime, we've combed through the schedules and identified the 10 non-conference games we're most eager to see. Click on the link on your team's name to see its complete schedule. Oh, and don't hold us to our predictions.

10. West Virginia at Virginia, Dec. 2 - The new Big 12 member Mountaineers were one of the most bruising teams we saw last year. Add that to the fact that the Cavaliers also did it with defense last season and we may be looking at a 44-42 game. But there's no such thing as an ugly win, right? Given the rash of injuries that have already struck the Cavs, it's a fair question if Virginia will be ready for such a stern test a mere three weeks in. Then again, a year ago odds weren't high on Virginia in an early season home matchup against an even more ballyhooed foe. Final score: Virginia 69, Tennessee 64 (OT). Besides, the Mountaineers have their own injury concerns - last week, first team All-Big East center Asya Bussie went down for the season with a knee injury.
   Shot-in-the-dark prediction: Led by Ataira Franklin, the Cavaliers grind out a W in an intensely physical affair, then skip the postgame interviews and head directly to the cold tub.

9. Hampton at Paradise Jam, Nov. 22-24. They have games against NCAA qualifiers South Carolina, DePaul and Florida Gulf Coast lined up over a three-day span, so consider this the Lady Pirates' emphatic answer to getting shafted with a No. 16 seed by the NCAA tournament committee last year. See, the committee doesn't care how many MEAC victories you rack up. Fair or not, seeding for teams in conferences like this are based almost exclusively by the quality of your non-conference schedule (This is also essentially why Middle Tennessee State got a bid over JMU even though the Dukes beat the Blue Raiders head-to-head). Now, just playing these teams is only half the battle; to really make it pay off you need to score a win or two.  Also, this potential three-game parlay would have been even more timely in either of the previous two years, when Hampton had more veteran teams. This year, head coach David Six has a lot of new parts to sort through. But, hey, you have to take these opportunities when you can get them. And this year, Hampton has lined up three big ones.
   Shot-in-the-dark prediction: After tough encounters with South Carolina and DePaul, all that preseason conditioning pays off as the fitter Lady Pirates upend FGCU in Game No. 3 (The Lady Pirates are doing a lot of preseason conditioning, right, Coach Six?).

8. Longwood at Radford, Dec. 29: We're cheating a bit here - OK, we're cheating big-time - because this is actually a Big South conference game. But it's Longwood's first-ever Big South conference game, and we can't emphasize enough how big of a deal conference affiliation is to the formerly vagabond Lancers. Just don't expect the Highlanders to offer a warm welcome. In fact, they figure to be pretty ticked off - last season, the Lancers spanked Radford 73-59 in Farmville.
   Shot-in-the-dark prediction: Tie game, five seconds left, Da'Naria Erwin Spencer pulls up and fires, and it's....

7. VCU at Ohio State, Dec. 27 - Hmmm...Rams head coach Marlene Stollings played at Ohio State - as did assistant Niki Dawkins; in fact she coached Stollings in Columbus - and is an Ohio high school basketball legend. And this game is being played two days after Christmas...could she have scheduled this in part as a way to get home for the holidays? Seriously, no question this will be an ultra-tough challenge for this year's retooling Rams. Then again, these Buckeyes are undergoing a bit of a makeover themselves. Besides, if there's a return date on this contract and a marquee team like the Buckeyes will visit the Siegel Center after Stollings and staff have fortified the roster, it's all worth it.
   Shot-in-the-dark prediction: The coaches will enjoy roaming their old stomping grounds. What? A prediction about the game? Oh. Well.... How 'bout Robyn Hobson notches a Courtney Hurt-style double-double as the Rams keep this one closer than expected.

6. Florida Gulf Coast at Virginia Tech, Dec. 16 - We love different styles, and these Eagles went 29-3 last season in large part because they typically start burying 3-pointers as soon as they get off the team bus. FGCU set NCAA single-season records for threes made and per game and appear hell-bent on eclipsing their own standard in 2012-13. The Eagles spanked the Hokies by 28 points last season, but with five talented Tech newcomers in the fold, last year's film will probably do FGCU little good. Three days after taking on the Hokies (Dec. 19), the Eagles will travel to Richmond for a rematch with a Spiders team they whipped 81-67 a year ago.
   Shot-in-the-dark prediction: The exquisitely-named Monet Tellier goes off as the new-look Hokies avenge last season's debacle in Florida.

5. Miami at Richmond, Nov. 12 - The Spiders have an excellent opportunity to generate some early-season buzz in this matchup with a Hurricanes bunch that, while still talented, must adjust to life without high-scoring  guards Riquna Williams and Shenise Johnson. Additionally, the 'Canes have in recent years been unbeatable at home (40 straight wins heading into this season) but merely mortal (18-11 in road/neutral court games the past two seasons) in someone else's building. Here's hoping the notoriously finicky Spiders fans show up for this one - they may bear witness to something pretty special.
   Shot-in-the-dark prediction: Rachael Bilney pours in seven 3-pointers to lead the Spiders past the Hurricanes in an entertaining, high-scoring affair.

4. Liberty at Baylor, Nov. 23 - It's the day after Thanksgiving, so if nothing else the Lady Flames will be well-nourished for their date with Brittney Griner and Co. Add in the fact that the Bears will be a few days back from a trip to Hawaii, plus the distraction of Thanksgiving, and maybe, just maybe, Liberty can hang around for a while. But let's not forget that when these teams met two years ago, Griner (35 points) came close to outscoring Liberty all by herself in an 81-42 victory. Still, what athlete with any competitive fire in their belly doesn't want to size themselves up against the very best?
   Shot-in-the-dark prediction: The small handful of Liberty fans in attendance taunt the Baylor fans by chanting "What do we eat? What do we eat? Bear meat! Bear meat! How do we like it? How do we like it? Raw! Raw! Raw!" Once play begins, the chant dies quickly.

3. JMU vs. Green Bay in Cancun Challenge, Nov. 22 - No one's going to write about it - except us, of course - but this meeting of so-called mid-major powers looms as one of the most intriguing non-conference games on the entire women's basketball calendar. Few teams play as hard or execute as cleanly as the Phoenix, and the Dukes return most of the cast that whipped five quality foes en route to the WNIT final. This will be both teams' first game in the three-games-in-three-days event, so each should be well-prepared for what the other brings. Can't wait for it all to go down.
   Shot-in-the-dark prediction: Like last year, Tarik Hislop, Nikki Newman and Co. somehow find a way. But it won't be easy. Green Bay plays something called the "buzz defense," and we suspect the Dukes are about to learn how it got that name.

2. LSU at Hampton, Nov. 16 - The HU campus is loaded with stylishly dressed women, so LSU head coach and new momma Nikki Caldwell should feel right at home. But hopefully not too much at home, right? Seriously, major props to Hampton for landing another home game with a team from the mighty SEC. The last time a team from that league (Florida in 2010), the Lady Pirates racked up a double-digit victory.
   Shot-in-the-dark prediction: In a game featuring two teams in transition, Hampton's Alyssa Bennett announces herself as one of the state's best players as the Lady Pirates survive for a signature win. Meanwhile, Caldwell leaves the building kicking herself for scheduling this game in the first place.

1. JMU at Virginia, Nov. 9 - From our standpoint, this is the perfect way to kick off the 2012-13 season. A special tip of the cap to Virginia coach Joanne Boyle. She didn't have to schedule JMU, and frankly, a lot of coaches in her position wouldn't. Thanks, Coach, for giving us the game we all want to see.
   Shot-in-the-dark prediction: We'll hold off on a pick for now. But we will say this: given what's happened in this series in recent years, including most recently in last season's WNIT, Virginia really, really, really wants this one.

Best of the rest

Old Dominion at VCU, Nov. 17 - An ex-CAA member vs. a soon-to-be ex-CAA member. In a lot of respects, VCU is going through what ODU went through last year (new coach with an exciting uptempo style inheriting a stripped-down roster).

Norfolk State at Cavalier Classic, Dec. 28-29 - An opening-round date with host Virginia provides the Spartans by far their toughest non-conference competition.

Radford at North Carolina, Dec. 5 - The Highlanders have five players from North Carolina, including star Da'Naria Erwin Spencer. You just know they'll want to be at their very best for this visit to the Tar Heels.

George Mason at George Washington, Dec. 22 - Another edition of the Battle of the Orange Line. Loser loses rights to use the word "George" in its name for the rest of the season (kidding).

William and Mary at Pittsburgh, Nov. 9 - A homecoming of sorts for the western Pennsylvania wing of Tribe basketball - preseason All-CAA forward Emily Correal and sophomore point guard Anna Kestler.

CAA coaches speak out

Ever since practices began, we've been wondering:

   - What's Old Dominion coach Karen Barefoot's message to her team with no conference title to play for?

   - How will JMU coach Kenny Brooks squeeze more offense out of the Dukes?

   - What's life going to be for George Mason's Jeri Porter without Taleia Moton?

   - What's with all the coaching staff changes for William and Mary's Debbie Taylor?

Now, we're about to get some answers. LadySwish's Vicki L. Friedman is embedded at CAA Media Day Tuesday morning as the conference's official blogger, and you call follow her reports here:

Monday, October 8, 2012

Ex-Hokie now at LaSalle

Forgive us for being so late with this news that we figure many Virginia Tech fans may know. Former Hokie guard Shanel Harrison is set to play for LaSalle this season. The senior, a graduate student at the Philadelphia school, has one year of eligibility remaining.

Virginia Tech coach Dennis Wolff dismissed Harrison from the team in July 2011 for a violation of team rules.

The 6-0 guard from Washington, D.C., started 29 games her junior year, leading the Hokies in scoring (12.2 ppg) and 5.5 (rpg).

LaSalle finished 14-17 last season.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Parade All-American, once bound for ODU, lands at VCU

VCU has its first Parade All-American on the roster.

Kaneisha Atwater, recruited under Wendy Larry to attend Old Dominion, is a freshman for the Rams this season.

The 5-7 combo guard from Fort Pierce (Fla.) Westwood High, was among 40 honored on the 2011 Parade All-American team. In high school, she led her team in points (29.2) assists (6.2) and steals (7.9), adding 7.5 rpg. She saw time at all five positions and posted six triple-doubles as a senior. In addition, she ranks ninth all time in the state in the 400 meters (1:02.17).

Atwater did not play basketball last year and she considered going to a junior college in her hometown.

Atwater knew VCU assistant Nikita Dawkins, a former assistant to Larry at ODU. Dawkins is a first-year assistant to new Rams coach Marlene Stollings.

"I got a call from coach Niki to visit the (VCU) campus, and I fell in love with it," Atwater said. "It was just a  yes from there."

Atwater said she stayed in shape, but did not play much on-court ball, opting for cardio instead. She declined comment as to why she opted not to attend ODU.

"I'm not where I was, but I'm going to be better than where I was," Atwater said. "I have the best coaching staff ever. I love the support and the positiveness that they give. They're here for us as ballplayers and young women."

Atwater said in a short time she was bonded with teammate Zakia Williams a junior.

"She's just a leader," Atwater said. "She knows where I want to get to, and she's here to help."

The Parade All-American honor was huge, she said. She brought the plaque Parade awarded her to Richmond.

"I didn't know how to act," she says. "I didn't know whether I should cry or be excited. It's a big privilege."

As for her game....."I'm getting better on my 3-point shot."

As for the A-10, "I'm excited to play for the A-10. It's going to be a great year."