Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas in the Commonwealth? Read what Santa has in store for your team

It's Christmas Eve in the Commonwealth and we're ready to wish gifts upon our 13 favorite teams in the land. With that, the Santa in us gets started and while our bag doesn't contain gold, frankincense or myrrh, let alone a mini iPad, we think we have some gifts our teams will enjoy.

Super size 'em for Duke
For Old Dominion:

What a job Karen Barefoot has done as coach in only her second year. But we're still confounded even after the Las Vegas tournament about how good these Lady Monarchs are. Here's what we know. They are much better than they were last year given the wins over Virginia Tech and Maryland Eastern Shore -- opponents they lost to at home last year and routed on the road this season. But they  have played some of the weakest opponents in Division I and lost handily to two of the better teams in the game in Cal and Texas A&M. Where do they stand? Are they a top 50 team? Top 100? We're not sure, but we'll find out come January.

Stocking stuffers: Milkbones, the super duper size for Duke, Jackie Cook's lovable mastiff. And how about a tape recorder for Mairi Buchan and Becca Allison so the rest of the team can listen to those glorious accents any time they want?

For Hampton: 

Well, kids, we're giving you a mix of Tom Brady and RG III -- in other words, some offense to match a defense UConn would envy. We love the job David Six has done with a team that didn't figure to beat LSU and Mississippi State yet did. But that same team only scored 34 points against South Carolina (albeit that S.C. team is looking pretty good these days; did you catch that Stanford result?) and ouch, 42 in a home loss to Prairie View A&M prior to break.

Stocking stuffers: We've contacted former NBA player Jerome James about where to get a size 22 shoe, as we're looking for a pair for Keiara Avant. The 5-11 junior guard, averaging 15.2 ppg and 9.2 rpg, has indeed filled the big shoes of Jericka Jenkins, and we continue to be in awe of the sensational season she's putting together.

For Virginia:

After the Cavs fell by a point to Alabama in double OT, coach Joanne Boyle lamented, "We just have to be good at something. Right now we're not good at anything." It sounds like a chemistry set is in order for the Cavaliers, who can't seem to find their rhythm, whether it be foul trouble, rebound issues or defensive stops.

If you can't get Nigerian, it's the next best thing!
Stocking stuffers: We love Sarah Imovbioh, who has only been back to Nigeria once since coming to America, so we're ordering out for her native dishes: efo (green stew), isu (spiced boiled yams) and  iyan (pounded yams and jollof rice). The thing is, we also hear she loves Olive Garden, so if that's her preference, she can have all the soup, salad and bread sticks she wants on us!

For Virginia Tech

Time to get out the boxing gloves and put up your dukes! Tech, which had a marvelous ACC debut with a rout of Wake Forest, is ready to enter conference play, and as usual, this league will be a dogfight with props to Maryland, Duke and North Carolina for starters.

Stocking stuffer: Stop by the Hokie bookstore and pick up a personal welcome mat for Uju Ugoka, who scored 28 in her college debut on Saturday. Welcome, welcome, welcome, Uju. And we'd like to offer a Monet (OK, a postcard with a Monet painting) to who else? Monet Tellier.

For Liberty:

The Lady Flames are some of the brainiest kids around, so we figure they'll get a kick out of "The Virtue of Selfishness," a collection of essays by Ayn Rand and Nathaniel Branden. Because as much as we love Liberty, we're not in love with how much they turn the ball over (22.2 turnovers per game) and think they need to learn to be a bit more greedy with the basketball.

Stocking stuffers: We're getting Brittany Campbell a shirt that reads, "The real Brittany Campbell in the game." We think Brittany might have the most common name in basketball (consider Chicago State's Brittany Campbell, formerly of Old Dominion, and Hollin' Britney Campbell to name a few). Also, we've got a great summer berry pie recipe for cook-a-holic Reagan Miller.

Bieber tix for Emily!
For William and Mary

How about a DVD of "True Grit" (and personally we prefer the John Wayne version to the Jeff Bridges one, though given the audience, perhaps Bridges is the way to go). You see the Tribe needs some grit down the stretch as they've already endured five losses in single digits.

Stocking stuffers: Justin Bieber tix for Emily Correal, Monticello tix for Kyla Kerstetter (she wants to have lunch with TJ, by the way) and a WNBA Barbie for former Barbie collector Chanel Muchinson.

For James Madison

We know every team battles with injuries, but man, JMU could use a break. Angela Mickens got the bug started with a bad thumb in preseason; Toia Giggetts suffered a concussion and now, one of LadySwish's all time faves Nikki Newman, has a broken foot (nice purple cast). Enough!

Laughs for Kirby!
Stocking stuffers: "A Night at the Improv" tix for team comedienne Kirby Burkholder, singing lessons for assistant coach Jennifer Brown (she keeps getting nailed for having the worst voice on the team) and a DVD of the pep band, the best in the league. Also, get well, Nikki!

For Virginia Commonwealth

Water bottles (with Rams logos, of course) and track shoes, because man, does Marlene Stollings like to run up and down. We applaud the Rams for keeping up, as they enter break at 6-6 after losing their first three.

Stocking stuffers: Hand warmers for Jessica Pellochio to keep that hot hand that has made for 45 3-pointers already this season. The freshman is averaging 13.9 ppg. We'll also throw in some toys (how about a mini hoop with a ball) for Niki Dawkins' twins!

For Richmond: Considering the loss of Gen Okoro (ACL), these Spiders have overachieved, so it's hard to ask too much of this group. However, we'd love to see a signature win at home this season for Richmond, which has suffered narrow defeats at the hands of Miami and Florida Gulf Coast. We've got the date with Dayton (Feb. 3) circled on our calendar.

Stocking stuffers: Matching footie pajamas for Rachael and Sam, and whatever Sleep Number bed Becca Wann wants. The soccer-basketball studette needs some rest! (We'll toss in a shadow box for her gold medal, too.)

For George Mason

The starters needs some help, guys! The Patriots bench is averaging 2.3 points (though we like what we saw from Talisha Watts against George Washington).

Stocking stuffer: A day at the spa for Amber Easter.

For Longwood

The Lancers' scoring defense is bring up the rear in the Big South, so we're sending in the Pittsburgh Steelers' D, the best in the NFL, to provide some support.

Stocking stuffer: We'll be raiding the Big South offices for all the gear we can find, because this team is going to do just fine in its new league. Not only do the Lancers belong, they'll no doubt cause some havoc early on and contend sooner than most would think.

We love Rachel, too!
For Norfolk State

Remember the kids book "The Little Engine that Could"? The Spartans haven't been the same since losing Rae Corbo to an ACL the second game of the season. The good news is the MEAC season is waiting, and we believe if NSU believes, they could make an impact.

Stocking stuffers: Surely we can find an RG (minus the III) shirt for Rachel Gordon (we'll add a 24) and a sewing machine for Batavia Owens.

For Radford

We like how the Highlanders have handled the nonconference, but we'd love the Da'Naria Erwin-Spencer of 2011-12 back (the one who averaged 17.4 ppg and was first team Big South). The senior has missed Radford's last two games and is averaging 8.5 ppg.

Stocking stuffers: NoDoz for chemistry majors La-She' Walker and Ashia Holmes. Tough classes, guys!

And it goes without saying, Merry Christmas to all our teams. We can't wait to see  you in the new year!

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