Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The Silent Majority Report

Dedicated to the belief that the term "mid-major" is an insult to the majority of Division I teams.

Hampton's Keiara Avant

One of the more interesting, albeit hardly surprisingly, trends of the young season is watching how much more compelling games pitting teams from BCS conferences against their non-BCS counterparts tend to play out when staged somewhere other than the BCS school's gym. Check out these scores from Monday night:

Virginia 68, Penn 65
Indiana 63, Murray State 62
West Virginia 60, Boston University 57
Miami 69, Richmond 63

In each case, the non-BCS school played host. After four days of play, non-BCS programs are just 5-17 in road/neutral site contests against BCS programs. But six of the losses were by single digits, five by 6 points or less. In other words, competitive early-season games. This sport can use as many of those as it can get.

The raw data (through games of Nov. 12)

Overall record of non-BCS teams vs. BCS teams: 13-71

Home/neutral: 5-17

Road: 8-54

And the winners were...

Chattanooga (Southern) 80, Tennessee (SEC) 71
Dayton (Atlantic 10) 92, DePaul (Big East) 80
Youngstown State (Horizon) 64, Pittsburgh (Big East) 50
Valparaiso (Horizon) 64, Indiana (Big Ten) 52
Old Dominion (CAA) 55, Virginia Tech (ACC) 46
Boston University (America East) 52, Indiana (Big Ten) 46
Drexel (CAA) 60, Providence (Big East) 50
Hampton (MEAC) 54, Mississippi State (SEC) 48
Presbyterian (Big South) 49, Clemson (ACC) 46
Gonzaga (WCC) 63, USC (Pac-12) 52
St. Mary's (WCC) 78, Oregon (Pac-12) 69
South Dakota St. (Summit) 65, Washington State (Pac-12) 56
Cal Poly (Big West) 72, Oregon State (Pac-12) 62

Hot Hooper 

Keiara Avant, Hampton: The Lady Pirates senior and reigning MEAC Player of the Week torched Southern Mississippi for 26 points on Friday, then dropped a game-high 19 points on Mississippi State. And scoring isn't even her best asset. Despite standing just 5-foot-11, Avant is averaging 14.5 rebounds in the two victories. Inch-for-inch, this may be the best rebounder in the country.

Big Shot Dria

Presbyterian senior guard Dria David (above) splashed a 3-pointer at the buzzer Sunday to vault the Blue Hose to a 49-46 victory at Clemson. David was an 18-percent 3-pointer shooter last season, and was just 1 of 6 from deep against Clemson before letting the game-winner fly. Evidently, as Shaquille O'Neal used to say about his free-throw shooting, she's makes 'em when it counts.

Breakout star

Amber Deane
There's been a lot of talk about the great young talent at Dayton, but little of it had centered on freshman Amber Deane - that is, until the 5-9 guard lit up DePaul for a game-high 27 points and copped tournament MVP honors at the Maggie Dixon Classic. But while the rest of us may be just now learning the deal on Deane, Flyers coach Jim Jabir sounds like a man who already knew what he had and also understands what it's going to take for Deane to realize her considerable potential.

"I knew several years ago when she was at Detroit Country Day that she would be a special player for us," Jabir said of Deane, who earned Atlantic 10 Rookie of the Week honors. "Now the task is to get her to play hard all the time. Most freshmen have that same problem. She needs to run hard, stay mentally locked in defensively and not take breaks. (But) she has a chance to be a great one. Amber is a great kid who works hard and is mature. Put that together with her athleticism and you have something very special."

She said it

"I told my players, 'ACC teams don't come and play at Richmond. They're smarter than that.' " - Miami coach Katie Meier, who nevertheless booked a date at the dangerous Spiders (23-9 last season) and challenged her team to respond. As expected, the Spiders gave Miami fits before the 'Canes got out of Dodge with a 69-63 decision. Best of all, both Meier and Richmond coach Michael Shafer came away believing each team got a lot out of the experience.

Who's hot?

Finally, we're ignoring all the preseason polls - including our own - and resisting the urge to project what teams will look like in the future. So consider this a snapshot of what's gone down so far. Through four games of play, the non-BCS teams that have achieved the most are:

1. Dayton (2-0) - Hard to ignore a double-digit victory over a nationally-ranked team in a place where the home team rarely loses.

2. Chattanooga (1-0) - In a better world, people would focus less on what Tennessee did wrong and more on all the things the Mocs did right.

3. Hampton (2-0) - Two road victories, one by 37 points (Southern Miss) and the other over an SEC school (Mississippi State). Not bad for a team that graduated its top three players from a year ago.

4. Middle Tennessee State (2-0) - Wins over Kennesaw State and Memphis move the Blue Raiders into the WNIT semifinals Wednesday at Iowa.

5. Gonzaga (2-0) - The beat goes on in Spokane, as the Zags pick up wins over UC Riverside and at USC.