Saturday, January 31, 2015

ODU's Jennie Simms drops 45 on FIU


Darrick Simms saw it coming, sort of.

Through the magic of online viewing, Simms quickly detected the textbook shooting form and confidence off the dribble his daughter Jennie was dealing Florida International Thursday night in Miami.

"At halftime, I turned to my wife (Martina) and said, 'I think she may get 35 tonight," Papa Simms said.

Problem was, the Lady Monarchs needed more. So when 35 wasn't enough, Jennie kept firing, and the nets kept snapping. Remember Nolan Richardson's "40 minutes of hell?" Well, this was "40 minutes of heat." and when it was over ODU's new alpha-dog had blow-torched the Panthers for an eye-popping 45 points in the Lady Monarchs' 80-67 victory.

That's the second-highest total in the storied history of ODU women's basketball, trailing only Anne Donovan's 50-point performance against Norfolk State in 1980. Donovan wasn't in the house Thursday night, but ex-ODU great Ticha Penicheiro was. (Can you imagine how many Simms might have scored with an elite ball wizard like Ticha teeing her up?)

And as fate would have it, the Lady Monarch Simms edged out for the No. 2 spot, Inge Nissen, had one of the best seats in the joint - Nissen is now the head coach at FIU. So when Nissen, who once dropped 42 on Radford in 1979, clasped Simms' hand and said "great game," she was one of the few people that truly understood just how great a game it was.

Of course, we suspect she was also wondering why Simms couldn't have saved this scoring avalanche for Florida Atlantic.

Ironically, Simms, whose previous career high was 26 points, had been battling flu-like symptons for about a week and a half and said she didn't feel completely like her ol' self until Wednesday, the day before she lit up FIU. The Accokeek, Md. native was also as humble after the game and she was hot during it, saying that she wasn't keeping track of her total, got just as much satisfaction from dishing out an assist as she did from nailing a jumper and was simply providing what the team needed.

Fortunately for the Lady Monarchs - not to mention the school's record book - her teammates knew what was up and spent the game not just feeding Simms the ball, but also encouragement.

"They were like, 'Go for 30!' Simms said with a laugh. "And then, 'Go for 40!' "

During a late-game timeout, freshman forward Maia Lee upped the ante even more,

"Go for 50!" Lee exhorted.

Alas, time ran out before Simms could service Lee's request. Still, the 45 points were more than enough to link the 2014-15 Lady Monarchs with the great players and teams in the program's history. It also gave this year's team its first real needle-moving achievement, something that not just pleases the diehards but also gets casual fans on and around campus to go "Wow!"

To this point words like "solid" and "competent" and "gritty" best describe the Lady Monarchs (12-7), which are fine attributes but not the kind that typically rev up a fan base. In a way, going to ODU games this season has kind of been like visiting Cold Stone and ordering vanilla ice cream with no mix-ins. Tastes fine, but you kind of wish there was more to it.

But when, during a men's game timeout, PA announcer Jack Ankerson barked out that Simms led an ODU women's hoops victory with 45 points, the Constant Center crowd went "Oooooooh!" and a jolt of electricity shot through the place. It wasn't the first time an ODU women's victory was announced during a men's basketball game. It was the first time the news was greeted as though it was a really big deal.

Of course, Simms won't score 45 every night (right?). But the possibility that something special might happen at an ODU women's game, well, we're not sure people felt that before.

They'll feel it now.

Back at the Maryland homestead, the first thing Darrick and Martina Simms did after their daughter's epic performance was pray. Then they acted exactly the way the rest of us would if our kid had just scored more points in a victory than any other Division I player this season.

"We were running around the house, slapping five, acting like fools," Darrick Simms said. "Then we started calling relatives, but most of them already knew. You're just so proud."

They then waited for Jennie's usual call.

"Hello, parents," Jennie, the coolest customer in all this, began.

"We just started screaming," Darrick said. "And she started laughing."

What will Simms do for an encore Saturday at Florida Atlantic? If the redshirt sophomore has her way, it'll be nothing more or less than whatever's required for another victory. In other words, she's no Swaggy P. But after chatting with Darrick Simms, who played at the University of Virginia, breaks down the game like a coach and still works his daughter out, we suspect we haven't seen the last of monster scoring nights out of Jennie.

"In my opinion, she hasn't reached her ceiling as a player," he said.

In other words, Anne Donovan, your record's on the clock.




Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Former ODU guard Goodhope at VCU

Former Old Dominion guard Galaisha "GG" Goodhope is at Virginia Commonwealth.

The 5-5 junior, who was dismissed from the Lady Monarchs, will be eligible for the 2015-16 season. VCU coach Beth O'Boyle said the former Princess Anne High School star is practicing with the team.

"She's here; she joined our roster at semester," O'Boyle said. "She's obviously athletically talented and strong, and we're looking forward to having her on the team."

Goodhope, a top 100 recruit by ESPN, was named to the CAA's All-Rookie team as a freshman and averaged 8.1 ppg last year when she led the Lady Monarchs in assists (8.1). A biology major, Goodhope was also named to the Conference USA All-Academic team last year with a 3.75 GPA. She plans to attend medical school.

Wanna read more about the Rams? Check out our interview with O'Boyle later today.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Two-minute drill: Longwood's Autumn Childress


The Lancers promising freshmen talks about overcoming two knee injuries, poetry and piano. Listen close -- our sound quality wasn't the greatest -- but we promise you the 5-10 freshman guard is worth getting to know!

Also see:

Two-minute drill: George Mason's Taylor Brown
Two-minute drill: Richmond's Liz Brown
Two-minute drill: William and Mary's Kyla Kerstetter
Two-minute drill: James Madison's Lauren Okafor
Two-minute drill: Old Dominion's Jennie Simms
Two-minute drill: William and Mary's Marlena Tremba
Two-minute drill: Liberty's Ashley Rininger
Two-minute drill: Richmond's Janelle Hubbard
Two-minute drill: Richmond's Gen Okoro
Two-minute drill: Liberty's Karly Buer
Two-minute drill: Longwood's Treasure Avery
Two-minute drill: Richmond's Liv Healy
Two-minute drill: Norfolk State's Rae Corbo

Wanna nominate someone for Two-minute drill? Email us at ladyswishing@hotmail.com or tweet us @ladyswish

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Two-minute drill: George Mason's Taylor Brown




The Atlantic 10's leading scorer promises she's calm when the ball is in her hands, talks about her two favorite pro players and tells us which Patriot can brag about her singing voice. Enjoy Taylor Brown, a redshirt junior averaging 22.8 ppg.

Taylor's family are regular fans in the stands.




















See also:
Two-minute drill: Richmond's Liz Brown
Two-minute drill: William and Mary's Kyla Kerstetter
Two-minute drill: James Madison's Lauren Okafor
Two-minute drill: Old Dominion's Jennie Simms
Two-minute drill: William and Mary's Marlena Tremba
Two-minute drill: Liberty's Ashley Rininger
Two-minute drill: Richmond's Janelle Hubbard
Two-minute drill: Richmond's Gen Okoro
Two-minute drill: Liberty's Karly Buer
Two-minute drill: Longwood's Treasure Avery
Two-minute drill: Richmond's Liv Healy
Two-minute drill: Norfolk State's Rae Corbo

Wanna nominate someone for Two-minute drill? Email us at ladyswishing@hotmail.com or tweet us @ladyswish

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

JMU-Virginia-Liberty atop new LadySwish rankings

Three CAA Player of the Week awards for Lady Okafor.
The long-overdue LadySwish rankings at last:

1. James Madison (15-2)

No doubt about which team is the best in the state. Enough said.

2. Virginia (13-5)

Cavaliers have a daunting ACC slate ahead.

3. Liberty (12-5)

Karly Buer continues to be a great addition for the Lady Flames, winners of their last six.

4. Richmond (10-7)

Back-to-back overtime losses were painful along with dropping a two-point decision to Penn. Janelle Hubbard continues to play some of the best ball in the state, scoring double figures in her last six games including 15 treys.

5. Hampton (9-9)

Brutal nonconference behind them, it's all MEAC ahead for the five-time defending conference champions.

6. Old Dominion (10-6)

They snagged a pair in Texas, but have a home date with Middle Tennessee, winners of six of last seven, looming on Thursday.

7. George Mason (11-7)

Though no doubt disappointed by the loss at Richmond, Taylor Brown and company have to be happy about defeats of LaSalle and St. Bonaventure.

8. VCU (12-6)

Good ball by the Rams despite the recent loss to Fordham.

9.  Virginia Tech (9-10)

Hokies, who are still seeking first ACC win, have only won once on the road (Providence).

10. William and Mary (7-10)

Too many close ones have slipped away, but not Delaware!

11. Radford (8-9)

Highlanders have won five of their last six.

12. Norfolk State (6-11)

Rae Corbo, we're in awe. And Spartans, rallying from 19 down to beat preseason conference fave North Carolina A&T, we're doubly in awe. NSU is 5-1 in the MEAC.

13. Longwood (2-16)

Tough going for the Lancers continues.


Monday, January 19, 2015

Two-minute drill: Richmond's Liz Brown



Did you see the game Richmond senior Liz Brown (15 points, 5 rebounds vs. George Mason) had on Sunday? We did and afterward the redshirt senior forward talked with us about her zany teammate Janelle, how much she misses her pup and an upcoming internship with one of basketball's all-time greats.


See also:
Two-minute drill: William and Mary's Kyla Kerstetter
Two-minute drill: James Madison's Lauren Okafor
Two-minute drill: Old Dominion's Jennie Simms
Two-minute drill: William and Mary's Marlena Tremba
Two-minute drill: Liberty's Ashley Rininger
Two-minute drill: Richmond's Janelle Hubbard
Two-minute drill: Richmond's Gen Okoro
Two-minute drill: Liberty's Karly Buer
Two-minute drill: Longwood's Treasure Avery
Two-minute drill: Richmond's Liv Healy
Two-minute drill: Norfolk State's Rae Corbo

Wanna nominate someone for Two-minute drill? Email us at ladyswishing@hotmail.com or tweet us @ladyswish

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Special shout out to George Mason's Taylor Brown



Great to see Taylor Brown's biggest fans at George Mason's game at Richmond on Sunday! Check out the custom t-shirts.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Two-minute drill: William and Mary's Kyla Kerstetter



She loves the drama on "The Bachelor," has a sweet tooth and gives us the scoop on her goofiest Tribe teammate. Meet future pediatric physical therapy assistant and William and Mary senior guard Kyla Kerstetter!

See also:
Two-minute drill: James Madison's Lauren Okafor
Two-minute drill: Old Dominion's Jennie Simms
Two-minute drill: William and Mary's Marlena Tremba
Two-minute drill: Liberty's Ashley Rininger
Two-minute drill: Richmond's Janelle Hubbard
Two-minute drill: Richmond's Gen Okoro
Two-minute drill: Liberty's Karly Buer
Two-minute drill: Longwood's Treasure Avery
Two-minute drill: Richmond's Liv Healy
Two-minute drill: Norfolk State's Rae Corbo

Wanna nominate someone for Two-minute drill? Email us at ladyswishing@hotmail.com or tweet us @ladyswish

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Virginia coach Joanne Boyle -- officially a mom















Too often press conferences and interviews turn into cliche song-and-dances that offer almost nothing we didn't already know, let alone anything personal. But what I've always loved about talking to people and sharing their stories is sitting down for a genuine conversation with someone who isn't shy about allowing you to peek behind the curtain.

I had never met Virginia coach Joanne Boyle before I went to Charlottesville to talk with her about the excruciatingly long wait to realize a dream she first had as a 17-year-old: adopting a child from Africa. You can read the story I wrote for ESPN here, but I can tell you firsthand that I have never seen someone radiate with happiness as Boyle did when she spoke of being mom to nearly 3-year-old Ngoty.

"When I went to visit her the first time, I said, 'This is my life now. Now how do I get her out of here?' " Boyle said.

Boyle showed me pictures and told me stories about the remote village in Senegal that she visited any time she could spare four days off in a row. Many of the photos showed dismal, drab surroundings, particularly of the orphanage where Ngoty spent most of her first three years. The walls had no colorful pictures. There were no toys or electronic devices, and often no electricity, though the orphanage has it intermittently now because of Boyle's generosity. The twin beds looked dilapidated; the mattresses so flimsy. It was hard to envision anyone sleeping on them, let alone four to five to a bed sideways.  The bathroom was a hole in the ground; the shower was a bucket. The outdoors pictures showed a village where underfed animals roamed in a heat so imposing Boyle said it was like breathing in a heater.

But more of the pictures were of smiles -- giving workers in the orphanage, generous locals who treated the children as their own, and gleeful children, laughing, dancing children, including Ngoty herself. As Boyle explains it, the children have each other, and their friendships form without easily.

"The kids make up their own games," Boyle said. "They figure out how to play with each other. Everything is interactive -- the songs the girls sing, hide-and-seek. They communicate through their play. I try not to give Ngoty my Ipad too much because I want her to retain that."

Boyle painted a picture of Christmas morning for me -- which was two days after she and Ngoty arrived in the United States. Mom and daughter came downstairs slowly, Ngoty quickly spotting the Mickey Mouse chair for her. In fact, everything became hers -- even the gifts Boyle had wrapped for her mother, Joan.

"She delighted in unwrapping everything as any 2-year-old would," Boyle said.

Boyle has dozens of Christmas mornings to look forward to now -- along with birthday parties, field trips, coloring affixed to the fridge -- all the magic of parenthood made even more special given how long she waited to officially become Ngoty's mom. You wonder how she will juggle all that with being head coach of Virginia, but you know after talking to Boyle that this is a woman, who, when determined, will make it work no matter the hardship, or in this case, no matter the lack of sleep.

"Just as working moms do, I will manage," she promises.

As moms, we all anticipate the precious times, but too often, they become so easy to forget as we grow older and become exasperated given all the havoc both toddlers and teenagers can bring. While all of it doesn't promise to be roses for Boyle, I have the sense that she will savor every day with Ngoty. There will be memories, of course, but there will also be moments. I don't imagine Boyle overlooking any of them.


Sunday, January 11, 2015

Two-minute drill: James Madison's Lady Okafor



We love getting a chance to see the state's best team up close and were especially thrilled to chat with Lady Okafor, who put down the organic chemistry book long enough to talk to us. Why is she called Lady and what's this about chemistry? Watch our latest two-minute drill to find out!



See also:

Two-minute drill: Old Dominion's Jennie Simms
Two-minute drill: William and Mary's Marlena Tremba
Two-minute drill: Liberty's Ashley Rininger
Two-minute drill: Richmond's Janelle Hubbard
Two-minute drill: Richmond's Gen Okoro
Two-minute drill: Liberty's Karly Buer
Two-minute drill: Longwood's Treasure Avery
Two-minute drill: Richmond's Liv Healy
Two-minute drill: Norfolk State's Rae Corbo

Wanna nominate someone for Two-minute drill? Email us at ladyswishing@hotmail.com or tweet us @ladyswish

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Two-minute drill: Old Dominion's Jennie Simms


After a career-high 26 points on Saturday, ODU's Jennie Simm took time out for our two-minute drill. We learned it's not just basketball she loves; it's Legos and crayons, too.

See also:

Two-minute drill: William and Mary's Marlena Tremba
Two-minute drill: Liberty's Ashley Rininger
Two-minute drill: Richmond's Janelle Hubbard
Two-minute drill: Richmond's Gen Okoro
Two-minute drill: Liberty's Karly Buer
Two-minute drill: Longwood's Treasure Avery
Two-minute drill: Richmond's Liv Healy
Two-minute drill: Norfolk State's Rae Corbo

Wanna nominate someone for Two-minute drill? Email us at ladyswishing@hotmail.com or tweet us @ladyswish

Friday, January 9, 2015

Ex-Boo Williams stars ruled the courts Thursday

Miami's Adrienne Motley: the star of stars Thursday night
We were researching Marshall sophomore Kelsey Romero's exploits at Hampton's Kecoughtan High Thursday afternoon when we stumbled upon an old roster for the Boo Williams Girls 16 Elite team.

Several of these ex-Boo birds went on to have quite a night:

Adrienne Motley (Woodside High) - The Miami sophomore guard left the court to a standing ovation after pouring in a career-high 32 points - the third-most of any Division I player Thursday - as the Hurricanes emphatically snapped No. 4 Notre Dame's 30-game road winning streak with a 78-63 victory. "Adrienne consistently made every big bucket," Hurricanes coach Katie Meier told the Miami Herald. "Every time we needed a big bucket, every time we needed an answer, every time we needed to close the door, it was 'Money Mot." Said Motley: "Why not us be the ones that knock off Notre Dame. And with Skylar Diggins in the building."

Mikayla Venson (Yorktown) - The Virginia freshman guard had an ACC coming-out party of sorts against Wake Forest as she dropped a team-high 21 points and scored the Cavaliers' final 10, including a pair of cold-blooded 3-pointers and the game-winning free throws with one second left. "She's not a typical freshman because she wants the big shot at the end of the game," Virginia coach Joanne Boyle said.

Monnazjea Finney-Smith (Wilson) - The VCU sophomore guard led a balanced attack with 14 points (4 of 6 from 3) as the Rams secured their first Atlantic 10 victory by punishing Rhode Island 64-48. VCU improved to 7-0 at home.

Chelsey Romero (Kecoughtan) - Marshall's sophomore forward had 6 points and 7 rebounds in the Thundering Herd's stunningly comprehensive 69-37 rout at Old Dominion. But the best part of Romero's return to Hampton Roads may have occurred the night before, when the Hampton native was offered the ultimate alternative to the team hotel. Said Marshall coach Matt Daniel: "We let her sleep in her own bed."

Ataijah Taylor (Salem-Roanoke) - The Wake Forest sophomore guard struggled from the field (0 for 6) but did contribute 5 rebounds, 5 assists and 3 steals to the Deacs' almost-but-not-quite effort at Virginia.

As for the other members of that Boo Williams squad:

Temple sophomore guard Feyonda Fitzgerald (Lake Taylor) is leading the Owls in scoring (12.2 ppg); William and Mary sophomore guard Latrice Hunter (Norfolk Christian) is averaging 5.1 points and 2.9 assists while developing a reputation for coming up big in the clutch; Virginia Tech freshman forward/center Khadedra Croker (King's Fork) has 10 blocked shots in just 68 minutes of PT; Northwest Florida State College freshman center Tyshara Fleming (Salem-Virginia Beach) is averaging 6.7 points, 6.6 rebounds and 2.7 blocks (in just 12.1 minutes per game) for the 15-1 and fourth-ranked Raiders; JMU sophomore forward Da'Lishia Griffin (Western Branch) ranks fourth among Dukes with 5.1 rebounds per game; South Carolina freshman forward Jatarie White (Providence Day, N.C.) has sat out nine straight games with a right foot injury but has resumed practicing and could be cleared to play soon; C.H. Flowers High (Md.) senior forward De'Janae Boykin, a USA Basketball gold medalist at the 2014 U17 World Championships who has signed with UConn, is averaging better than 21 ppg during an injury-plagued final high school season.

Finally, it doesn't look as if Hannah Hayes (Potomac), is playing ball, but she appears to be loving life in California, having moved there from Nashville.




Thursday, January 8, 2015

Two-minute drill: William and Mary's Marlena Tremba



Meet William and Mary sophomore Marlena Tremba, whose dad liked this song for which she was named. She makes a mean chicken parm, doesn't know what she'll do with that econ major (Marlena, forgive us for asking twice what you're studying) and has four kitties (watch to learn their names). Thanks for playing along with two-minute drill!



See also:

Two-minute drill: Liberty's Ashley Rininger
Two-minute drill: Richmond's Janelle Hubbard
Two-minute drill: Richmond's Gen Okoro
Two-minute drill: Liberty's Karly Buer
Two-minute drill: Longwood's Treasure Avery
Two-minute drill: Richmond's Liv Healy
Two-minute drill: Norfolk State's Rae Corbo

Wanna nominate someone for Two-minute drill? Email us at ladyswishing@hotmail.com or tweet us @ladyswish

Monday, January 5, 2015

Two-minute drill: Liberty's Ashley Rininger


No more tall jokes for Lady Flames senior Ashley Rininger, who's already got one degree in hand (it only took three years) and can't remember what class she got that B in. Meet the Canton, Ohio, native, who knows her way around the Football Hall of Fame. Congrats to Ashley, by the way, for being Big South Player of the Week!

See also:

Two-minute drill: Richmond's Janelle Hubbard
Two-minute drill: Richmond's Gen Okoro
Two-minute drill: Liberty's Karly Buer
Two-minute drill: Longwood's Treasure Avery
Two-minute drill: Richmond's Liv Healy
Two-minute drill: Norfolk State's Rae Corbo

Wanna nominate someone for Two-minute drill? Email us at ladyswishing@hotmail.com or tweet us @ladyswish

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Can Tech tame its turnover woes against Virginia?

Virginia Tech has lost 16 straight times to Virginia. If Tech's turnover issues continue Sunday in Blacksburg, the streak likely will extend to 17.

The Hokies (9-5, 0-1 ACC) haven't turned it over in bushels every game - they've actually executed pretty well against the N.C. Centrals and Longwoods (no disrespect) on their schedule. But when the level of competition has risen, well....

Let's say for the sake of argument that Florida, Northwestern and Clemson are the three best teams Virginia Tech has faced this season. Here are some key stats from those three games:

vs. Florida, Dec. 1
Virginia Tech turnovers: 24 (4th-highest of season)
Florida points off turnovers: 28
Final score: Florida 73, Virginia Tech 44

at Northwestern, Dec. 4
Virginia Tech turnovers: 26 (season high)
Northwestern points off turnover: 29
Final score: Northwestern 70, Virginia Tech 45

at Clemson, Jan. 2
Virginia Tech turnovers: 25 (tied for 2nd-highest of season)
Clemson points off turnovers: 24
Final score: Clemson 63, Virginia Tech 54 (OT)

By the way, Virginia has forced 16.8 turnovers per game - middle-of-the-pack among Division I teams - and has induced 20 or more five times.

The Cavaliers (10-3) have surely seen film of the Hokies' turnover struggles and will likely spend a good portion of their ACC opener making Tech prove it can make plays under pressure.

Let's see how Tech responds this time.

Other games Sunday

Charlotte at Old Dominion, 2 p.m.
   The Conference USA opener for the Lady Monarchs (7-4), who fell 80-59 at Charlotte in their league debut a year ago. Game will be a homecoming for Lefty Webster (known as Danielle Webster during her days at Norfolk Christian), who leads the 49ers with 12.5 ppg.

William and Mary at UNC Wilmington, 2 p.m.
   The Colonial Athletic Association opener for both. Last year, the Seahawks ended the Tribe's season with a 67-65 decision in the CAA tournament's opening round. William and Mary (6-5) is coming off back-to-back three-point losses to Maine and Richmond.

Towson at JMU, 2 p.m.
   The CAA opener for both. The Dukes (9-2) have won 15 straight at the Convocation Center, the sixth-longest such streak in Division I.

Saint Louis at George Mason, 2 p.m.
   The Atlantic 10 opener for both. A win and the Patriots (8-5) would match their conference regular-season victory total for all of last season (1-15).

Richmond at Fordham, 3:30 p.m.
   The A-10 opener for both. The Spiders (8-4) enter on a five-game winning streak.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Wrapping up non-conference play


With the non-conference schedules all but complete - Hampton will stick its head in the lion's mouth yet again Monday against Princeton (15-0), Norfolk State is at South Carolina Upstate Saturday and Richmond travels to Penn on Jan. 14 - this is a good time to take women's basketball inventory. So let's hand out some non-conference hardware:

Michael Jordan Award
(best individual performance, single game)

Rachel Camp, Virginia Tech
Tech's precocious freshman had already introduced herself as a Division I force when she dropped the following numbers on Western Carolina: 33 points (13-21 FG, 4-7 3FG, 4-4 FT), 11 rebounds, 6 assists, 1 steal, 0 turnovers. There won’t be more than a handful of cleaner performances by a guard anywhere in the country this season - certainly not by a freshman.

   Runner-up: Sarah Imovbioh went for 18 points (on 7-of-10 shooting), 24 rebounds and 3 blocks in a 32-minute tour-de-force during Virginia's 87-82 decision over Ohio State.

Don’t Blame Me Award
(best performance in a losing effort)

Rae Corbo, Norfolk State
Rae was Corbo the Magnificent on Dec. 16 against Marshall as she absolutely torched the Thundering Herd from three, in the mid-range and at the rim en route to a NSU Division I-record 37 points. Alas, some ill-timed defensive breakdowns and an inability to control the defensive boards and...voila! -  a 14-point second-half lead morphed into a 73-71 loss. But before ripping into the Spartans, consider this – as of Jan. 1 there were 24 games in which a player scored at least 37 points against Division I competition. In 10 of those games, the big-time scorer played on the losing team. So while the Spartans may have choked away Corbo's big night, at least they have plenty of company.

Straight Shooter Award
(most candid postgame comment)

“I don’t know what happened.” – Virginia’s Sarah Imovbioh, after the Cavaliers dropped the opener of their own tournament by 10 to Davidson.

Don't worry, Sarah. We were kinda scratching our heads about it, too.

Triplets Award
(best performance by one team’s “Big Three,” single game)

On Nov. 23 against Pittsburgh, JMU’s Precious Hall scored 34 points on 12-of-23 shooting, Lady Okafor added 15 points and 19 rebounds and point guard Muff Mickens chipped in 12 points and 13 assists. Bird, Parish and McHale – or for you Cowboy fans out there, Smith, Aikman and Irvin - would be proud.

Forever Young Award
(line that has joined“We take ‘em one game at a time” in the pantheon of worn-out coach’s clich├ęs)

“We're such a young team.”

Who said it?  Virtually every Division I coach in America

All-LadySwish team
(non-conference edition)

Precious Hall, JMU; Taylor Brown, George Mason, Sarah Imovbioh, Virginia; Rachel Camp, Virginia Tech; Malia Tate-DeFreitas, Hampton

Second five: Rae Corbo, Norfolk State; Lady Okafor, JMU; Jazmen Boone, William and Mary; Faith Randolph, Virginia; Jennie Simms, OId Dominion

12 impact freshmen

Rachel Camp, Virginia Tech; Mikayla Venson, Virginia; Kayla Roberts, Norfolk State; Tayler Dodson, George Mason; Janayla White, Radford; Jenna Green, William and Mary; Jada Worthy, Radford; Lauren Moses, Virginia; Aliyah Huland El, Virginia; Regan Magarity, Virginia Tech; Khadedra Croker, Virginia Tech; Abby Rendle, William and Mary
   - Magarity (14.0 ppg, 10.6 rpg) is out for the season (calf surgery)
   P.S. - The original title of this list was "Five impact freshmen." Couldn't decide between 5 and 6, then between 6 and 7.... Oh well, they've all had nice starts. We have it at five by season's end.

Best win

Virginia 87, Ohio State 82
Unfortunately, there’s not a lot to choose from in this category, as Liberty’s win over Penn State (3-10) and JMU’s decision over UCLA (5-7) sound better than they actually are at this point.. And even this one comes with a bit of a caveat as the Cavaliers hosted a freshman-led, injury-riddled Buckeyes team at an ideal time (the season opener). But hey, a win is a win. And when you consider that Ohio State (9-5) just crushed No. 16 Rutgers, this one looks better by the day.

Worst loss

West Virginia State 58, Radford 52
Unfortunately, there are a few to choose from here, most notably Old Dominion’s overtime loss to Rider and Virginia’s meltdown against Davidson. But when you’re a Division I team and you lose on your home floor to a Division II squad that comes in with a losing record against D-II competition, well, Lady Monarchs, Cavaliers, you’re off the hook.

Most improved


A year ago, William and Mary picked up its sixth victory on Feb. 16. This season they shaved nearly two months off that pace, racking up six wins by Dec. 18 and beating three of their 2013-14 conquerors in the process. In addition, the Tribe's 6-5 record could actually be more like 8-3, as some shaky late-game execution resulted in William and Mary leaving at least two winnable games on the table. The Tribe will need to work that stuff out to take the next step, but assuming they do, William and Mary seems poised to shed years of mediocrity and re-join the ranks of the contenders.

Finally, here's our team-by-team report card for non-conference performance. Our grade guide - a team has to really do something special to get an A, and a team has got to really wet the bed to get a D or worse. In our view, neither of these things occurred for this state's teams in 2014.

JMU (9-2)
Grade - B-plus
The Dukes are what we thought they'd be - Top-25 caliber. But they missed opportunities to prove it to the rest of the free world by falling against Maryland and at Vanderbilt. There's obviously no shame in losing to either; it's just unfortunate the Dukes couldn't sync up their A game with one of these national powers. Maybe in March?

Radford (4-8, 3-6 non-conference)
Grade - B
The 2013-14 Highlanders didn't beat a Division I team until Jan. 16. Viewed in that context, the fact that this year's Highlanders had three such wins before Christmas can only be viewed as progress. 

Virginia (10-3)
Grade-B-minus
All needling aside, we recognize that the Davidson loss, while humbling, was probably an aberration. Still, the Cavaliers went just 2-2 away from John Paul Jones Arena and flunked badly (86-63) in their only road test against an opponent approaching ACC level (Illinois). And while the December schedule (six straight home games) was shaped as a time for development, the head coach wound up missing a good chunk of it. So while the record looks good on its face, we're still not sure if this team's ready for the ACC gauntlet.

Virginia Tech (9-4)
Grade - C
Like Virginia, the Hokies pretty much handled home business against a manageable schedule as expected. Unlike Virginia, the Hokies don't really have a win against a team likely to finish anywhere close to the RPI Top 100.  They also went just 1-2 on the road. The loss of center Regan Magarity was a clear setback. And the Hokies weren't just beaten by Florida and Northwestern, they were manhandled. Tech has won five straight games since, though, so hopefully they'll be a more confident, cohesive and productive bunch when the schedule ratchets up again Sunday (vs. Virginia).

Norfolk State (2-9, 2-8 non-conference)
Grade - C-minus
The record would be a little better had the Spartans not snatched victory out of defeat's mouth a couple of times. Still, we learned that Rae Corbo is playing at a MEAC Player of the Year level and the Roberts sisters (freshman Kayla and sophomore transfer Nia) are significant additions. In short, the Spartans will live with the non-conference struggles if they can get things in order in conference play.

George Mason (8-5)
Grade - B
The Patriots opened with a bang by dropping Virginia Tech and have been consistently entertaining, if not always successful, ever since. As a result, a team that won just one Atlantic 10 regular season game last season looks poised to do considerably more league damage this time around.

William and Mary (6-5)
Grade - B-plus
See "Most Improved" comment above. The Tribe would have ventured into "A" territory had it sealed the deal against Maine and Richmond. 

Liberty (7-5, 4-5 non-conference)
Grade - C-minus
The Lady Flames did bring home some tournament hardware (Georgia State tourney champions), but this team has a lot of really good players - veteran players - and frankly, a 4-5 mark is a bit of a disappointment. Liberty has another level, or maybe even two levels, it can play at. We're that high on this group's potential.

Old Dominion (7-4)
Grade - C-plus
The Lady Monarchs did a nice job bagging away from home wins at Virginia Tech and on a neutral court vs. Illinois-Chicago and were solid for the most part at home. We'll even give them a bit of a mulligan for the embarrassing home loss to Rider. But the goal at Old Dominion is to have a program capable of being competitive anywhere. Blowout losses at Louisville and Cal showed these Lady Monarchs aren't at that level yet. 

VCU (9-4)
Grade - B
The Rams took some early road lumps - hardly unexpected with a new coach - but will head into Atlantic 10 play on a five-game winning streak. VCU is also 6-0 at home.

Hampton (5-8, 4-8 non-conference)
Grade - B-plus
As we've noted before, the NCAA rates Hampton's non-conference schedule the toughest in the country. In fact it's so tough that Hampton is the only team with a losing record in the RPI Top 50 (46). Unlike in previous years, this year's Hampton team featured a host of either new players, or veterans shifted into expanded roles. Under these circumstances, we wouldn't have been shocked if the Lady Pirates had gone through this schedule with zero non-league wins. That they claimed four, all in road/neutral site games, is a significant accomplishment. 

Richmond (8-4)
Grade - B
Solid - and symmetrical - start by the Spiders, who won their first three, dropped their next four and then ripped off five in a row heading into Sunday's Atlantic 10 at Fordham. It's funny, when we see Richmond play we think, they've got a lot of good players, but they don't have THE player, a star that makes it easier for everyone else. But they keep on winning, and we're reminded of why Michael Shafer is the coach and we're sitting behind keyboards.

Longwood (1-12, 0-10 non-conference)
Grade - Incomplete
Of the Lancers' 10 non-conference games, eight were on the road and five of those were against Power 5 conference schools. Add the fact that their two most productive players, Daeisha Brown and Khalilah Ali, went down early in the campaign with season-ending injuries and it doesn't seem fair to evaluate this team for its November and December efforts. This group can still make noise in the Big South.