Thursday, November 15, 2012

Dribbles and bits: Cook does it all for ODU

Jackie Cook
There was a lot to like about Jackie Cook's performance in Old Dominion's 77-46 spanking of South Carolina-Upstate Tuesday night. Start with the time when, after freshman Galaisha Goodhope showed some frustration after picking up a foul, Cook grabbed the rookie with both hands, talked her head back into the game and sent Goodhope on her way with instructions to "Just get that one back for us."

Or how about the play where Cook, despite having a hot hand, passed on an open baseline jump to feed Myeisha Hall for an even easier layup? Or her game-high five steals, the best statistical evidence of her fire-in-her-belly approach to play throughout the night?

Maybe this is what happens when you become a senior. Whatever the case, Cook would have been the best player on the floor if she'd never scored a point.

Oh, by the way, she had a career-high 24 of those.

Five takeaways from Miami 69, Richmond 63

     - The Spiders never gave up. After Miami opened the second half with a 13-0 run and threatened to run away with things, Rachael Bilney, Becca Wann, Kristina King and Genevieve Okoro spearheaded a Spiders surge that got Richmond to within three with less than 20 seconds to go. Had Richmond been able to secure a defensive rebound, the Spiders could have taken the final shot in regulation with a chance to tie.

    - No wonder Bilney couldn't get many open looks. Bilney said the Hurricanes recruited her heavily, and that Miami was her first official visit. "They've known about me since I was 16 years old," she said.

     - A few more contributions from their reserves will make the Spiders even more dangerous. Said Richmond coach Michael Shafer: "This was an early opportunity for us to play a really good basketball team that's used to winning. And it gave some of the players on our bench a chance to see the competitiveness you need to play with at this level."

     - Okoro's scoring prowess isn't limited to the low post. OK, so one of her perimeter jumpers went in off glass (not sure she called that), and another ricocheted off every bit of the rim before falling through. Still, the fact that she had the courage to take those shots - the only ones available against the bigger, physical Hurricanes - bodes well for her development.

     - If there's such a thing as a good loss, this may have been it. We're not trying to suggest the Spiders were happy in defeat, but Bilney in particular seemed energized by having gone through the experience. "I love being in fun games like this," she said. "This was a gut-check, and I think we responded. Stringing 40 minutes together is the biggest thing we need to get to. But we're fine. We're going to be fine."

Managing crunch time

An inability to take care of the ball in the final two minutes cost Radford and William and Mary dearly in a pair of early-season games. On Friday, after an Ayana Avery 3-pointer with 1:23 to play pulled Radford into a 63-63 tie at Marshall, the Highlanders turned the ball over on three of their next four possessions, then were unable to get off a shot in the final seven seconds of a 65-63 loss. Two days later, William and Mary led at Pitt 72-67 with just under three minutes left but turned it over on four straight trips. The Tribe also allowed Pitt offensive rebounds that led to fouls and free throws twice in the final 25 seconds. Those last two free throws, by Pitt's Asia Logan with one second left, were the difference in a 76-74 loss.

In the short-term, both teams solved the problem by eliminating late-game drama altogether. In William and Mary's next outing the Tribe trounced Virginia Union 78-44. And Radford rebounded from the Marshall defeat by thumping UNC Greensboro 76-64.

This and that

     - Norfolk State's season-opening 60-51 victory over Penn gained a little more luster after those same Quakers nearly took down Virginia three days later (68-65). A breakout performance from Cavaliers junior Kelsey Wolfe (22 points, 18 in the second half) carried Virginia out of upset mode, as you can read in this excellent recap of events by the venerable Mel Greenberg. If there was any chance the Cavaliers were going to take Norfolk State for granted in the first round of the Cavalier Classic on Dec. 28, that's gone now.

     - Heading into Wednesday's game at Manhattan, VCU guard Robyn Parks' career high was 18 points. The junior then nearly matched that in the first half alone (17) en route to a 34-point blitz in the Rams' 68-63 loss. A few weeks ago, Rams coach Marlene Stollings predicted that Parks would double last season's scoring average (6.6 ppg). OK. But five times last year's average?

     - Longwood didn't get its first victory until Tuesday (Air Force, 68-63), but the Lancers got their first dose of respect Friday after their season-opening 71-61 loss at Richmond. The Lancers trailed by just a point at halftime, then rallied from 21 points down in the second half to again make a game of it. "Longwood deserves a ton of credit," Richmond's Shafer said. "They absolutely played really hard. They're a lot better."
       Added Rachael Bilney: "They're really tough to play." Crystal Smith led the way in Longwood's victory over Air Force with 23 points.

     - Finally, we were moved by this signing day tweet from future Old Dominion Lady Monarch Destinee Young:

Thank you to the people who were there for me since day one. One of the happiest days of my life! #ThankingGod

Because of the volume of signings flowing into the various schools, we sometimes forget how special officially accepting a college scholarship feels to each player, each family. Thanks, Destinee, for helping us remember.

Coming up

Thursday, Nov. 15

USC Upstate at Norfolk State, 6 p.m.
Murray State at James Madison, 7 p.m.
Longwood at North Carolina State, 7 p.m.
Friday, Nov. 16
LSU at Hampton, 7 p.m.
Richmond at Boston University, 7 p.m.
Morgan State at George Mason, 7 p.m.
Saturday, Nov. 17
VCU at Old Dominion, 7 p.m.
Murray State at Longwood, 2 p.m.
Sunday, Nov. 18
Virginia Tech at Michigan State, 2 p.m.
Providence at Virginia, 2 p.m.
Richmond at Hartford, 2 p.m.
William and Mary at George Washington, 2 p.m.
Bluefield at Radford, 3 p.m.
Chicago State at Hampton, 4 p.m.




  1. Move over Larry Bird, Kyla Kerstetter of William Mary hosted one impressive stat line off the bench! 14 points, 6 assists, 6 rebounds and 8 steals.

  2. Good point about Kyla's contributions. But...Larry Bird?

  3. Could Jackie Cook be all CAA and not play in CAA Tournament?

  4. Yes. Jackie and all the Lady Monarchs - and Georgia State Panthers - are eligible for All-CAA honors, and Karen Barefoot can be considered for Coach of the Year.