Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Comings and goings Part VII: James Madison

Aneah Young
Without further adieu, here is installment No. 7 for Comings and goings. We look at the best team in the state: James Madison.

The others we've written about so far:

Comings and Goings: Old Dominion
Comings and Goings: Richmond
Comings and Goings: George Mason
Comings and Goings: Virginia
Comings and Goings: Virginia Tech
Comings and Goings: William and Mary

Who's going?

Lauren Okafor 12.4 ppg, 9.8 rpg; 13 double-doubles; drafted in third round by Atlanta Dream but cut prior to the WNBA season
Toia Giggetts, 6-0 Sr. F; 8.6 ppg, 5.7 rpg; started all 33 games
Candice Williams, G, 5-7 Soph. Guard; has played in one collegiate game

No doubt the Dukes will miss Okafor and Giggetts, two significant starters, each of whom played major roles in last season's success that saw JMU finish as CAA champs with a 29-4 mark. Okafor's WNBA time was brief -- not uncommon these days when jobs in that league are scarce, but we're happy she's been accepted into the Advanced Biomedical Sciences program offered by George Mason and Georgetown. Giggetts battled bad knees her final two seasons but was an integral cog in the Dukes machine. Williams, who initially signed with Louisiana Tech before a coaching change there had her reconsider to JMU, leaves after playing in only one game. She will play at South Alabama, returning to Mobile where her grandparents live.

Who's coming?

Elemy Colome, 5-10 G, Lawrence, Mass. (Proctor Academy) 19 ppg; also played softball, soccer and field hockey in high school
Kayla Cooper-Williams, 6-3 C, Dumfries, Va. (C.D. Hylton), led Northern Virginia in blocks; Three-star ESPN recruit
Savannah Felgemacher, 6-2 F, Church Hill, Tenn. (Volunteer High); TriCities.com All-County Team; amassed more than 1,000 points and 1,000 rebounds in high school
Logan Reynolds, 5-8 G, Norton, Va. (Wise County Central); 2014 Bristol Herald Courier Girls Basketball Player of the Year (19 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 5 apg, 5 spg); led Wise County Central to 2014 2A state title
Aneah Young, 6-0 G, Baltimore (Baltimore Polytechnic Institute); Four-star recruit by Prospects nation

Note: Destiny Campbell, 6-2 F, Laurinburg, N.C., (Scotland High), N.C. 11 ppg, 8 rpb; Carolina Reign Elite, who initially verballed to JMU, will attend Cape Fear Community College.

It's a sizable class both in number and height, but given the JMU system that favors upperclassmen, we're not sure how much playing time this bunch will average on a veteran team that will rely on Precious Hall, Jazmen Gwathmey and Angela Mickens. We also expect DeDe Griffin and Destiny Jones to fill the void left by Okafor and Giggetts, and Ashley Perez, who plays with an energy that sparks JMU every time she is on the floor, will see increased time. Young is the most touted of the newbies and has noted she hopes to start as a freshman.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Same sex marriage: What's it to you?

A dear friend of mine likes to rail about the idiocy of Deflate-gate, the so-called scandal about the New England Patriots deflating footballs in the postseason last year. He noted the 10 hours Tom Brady had to testify and said it should have come down to about 10 seconds.

That is my exact feelings on the debate surrounding same-sex marriage.

Instead it took the Supreme Court to decide that it is legal for two members of the same sex to marry, a decision that should be an absolute no brainer.

To those who protest this decision, I ask this: What is it to you? You don't want to attend a same-sex wedding? Don't go. You don't want your business to prepare a wedding cake for a same-sex ceremony? No problem. But really, the fact that two consenting adults want to marry and go about their lives as a married couple, does that affect you? Maybe you don't like it or agree with it or find it dispicable. OK. Fine. Just don't deny basic liberties to two people who don't share your belief.

Please don't cite the Bible. You can find Bible references that denounce homosexuality? I can find Bible references that befuddle and others that make me cringe:

Do not wear clothing woven of two kinds of material (Leviticus 19:19)

I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent. (1 Timothy 2:12)

Slaves, submit yourselves to your masters will all the respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the cruel (1 Peter 2:18)

I wear cotton and polyester; I am a woman and refuse to be silent, and I find slavery repulsive. The Bible is a puzzling and marvelous book at the same time, much of it allegory, almost none of it to be taken literally, written in a time when the word homosexuality didn't exist. I try to love one another as the Bible asks, but I want no part of a Bible or an argument of any kind that suggests that discrimination is justified. Perhaps that is your Bible, but it is not mine.

Further, the Bible is not the law of the land. Live your life by it if you will, but do not tell me I have to live mine by it. You don't know me. I might be a Christian, of course. But I might be a Buddhist. I might be an Islamic. I might be an atheist. I might be gay. I might be straight. And indeed I might live my life by a Bible that I interpret differently than you do.

What is it to you? It is my life and if I am not infringing on your liberties, why should you do so on mine?

As Americans we have freedoms in this nation, and one of them is freedom of religion. If my religion isn't yours, it doesn't make it wrong. Do not ask me to belong to your evangelical sect and I will not ask you to belong to my community church, the one I grew up in where people joined together to worship and sing and enjoy fellowship. It was not a place where anyone spewed political beliefs because we are all unique people who do not share the same beliefs. I am allowed to believe differently. I am also allowed to interpret the Bible as I choose just as you are.

I promise I won't tell you what to believe and what not to. If you choose to go to a church that doesn't perform same-sex marriages, so be it. But those churches that open their doors to same sex marriages are not wrong or sinful. They are different from yours. That doesn't make what they do illegal or immoral.

LadySwish salutes a Supreme Court ruling that is nothing more than decency and common sense.

Coming up: Will the Supreme Court decision have an effect on women 's basketball., i.e., will coaches feel free to   marry long-time partners? Comment here or email us your thoughts at ladyswishing@hotmail.com

Saturday, June 27, 2015

ODU snags ESPN top 100 recruit

Western Kentucky and Virginia Tech got visits; Florida and West Virginia had an interest.

Old Dominion got both a visit and a verbal from Manaya Jones, who decided Saturday afternoon to play her college career as a Lady Monarch. The 6-3 post from Raleigh-Egypt High in Memphis will join the program in 2016-17.

"I love the coach," she said. "I love the staff and Coach (Jermaine) Woods. I trust Coach Woods."

Barefoot, Woods -- the former Virginia Tech assistant returned home to Norfolk to join the staff earlier this month -- and company landed a Top 100 ESPN recruit, ranked 16th in her position and likely climbing. She missed much of her junior year due to a patella injury to her left knee (she still finished Class AA All-State) but is back playing AAU again with Team Memphis Elite. Scouts have rated her a high for D-I potential, noting her drop-step move, ability to face up in the key, ballhandling ability and prowess for the boards.

An assistant to Raleigh-Egypt head coach Anthony Jones, Manaya's dad, dubbed her "The Big Ticket," a nickname that has stuck. Manaya's brother, Anthony, also a post player, played for Southeast Missouri before transferring to Concordia College in Alabama.

The "Criminal Minds" buff will major in forensics at ODU.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Comings and goings Part VI: William and Mary

Misha Jones
Here we go with Part VI of Comings and goings: William and Mary

In case you missed the others:

Comings and Goings: Old Dominion
Comings and Goings: Richmond
Comings and Goings: George Mason
Comings and Goings: Virginia
Comings and Goings: Virginia Tech

Who's going

Jazmen Boone 5-8 Sr. F; 11.8 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 3.2 apg
Kyle Kerstetter 5-11 G; 6.8 ppg, 3.9 rpg
Anna Kestler: 5-5 Sr., G DNP last year
Mackenzie Morrison 6-4 Sr. C 2.6 ppg
Camila Prock 5-5 Soph.: scored 2 points in three minutes of playing time last season

Third-year coach Ed Swanson is building at William and Mary and last season credited this group for laying the foundation. Boone and Kerstetter filled stat sheets, each playing more than 100 games apiece during their collegiate careers. Chemistry major Prock will not be returning for her sophomore season.

Who's coming

Bianca Boggs, 5-8 G, Waldorf, Md. (St. Mary's Ryken High); point guard and team captain; with a 4.56 GPA, the physics major she plans should be no sweat; ranked No. 296 among 1,500 in Brett McCormick's All-Star Report
Misha Jones, 5-9 G/F (Battlefield High); amassed more than 1,000 points in high school
Chandler Smith, 6-3 C, Clifton, Md. (St. Mary's Ryken High); ranked No. 407 among 1,500 in All-Star Report
Ali Engelhardt, 6-0 F, San Diego (Mt. Caramel High); all-time scoring (2,000-plus points) and rebounding leader at Mount Carmel; Mount Carmel Athlete of the Year

Boggs and Smith are best buds, chemistry we hope translates to the court; Smith and Jones were teammates for the AAU Fairfax Stars. Engelhardt looks to be a hidden gem with size. All will complement an emerging William and Mary team that made the postseason for the first time in school history, nipped by Xavier by one point in the first round of the Women's Basketball Invitational. W&M won 15 games in 2014-15, tying for fourth most in school history and returns three of its top four scorers in Marlena Tremba, Alexandra Masaquel and Abby Rendle, who will work to ensure the nailbiters go the Tribe's way in 2015-16.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Comings and goings Part V: Virginia Tech

Kelly Koshuta
Here is Part V of our series Comings and goings. We take a look at Virginia Tech, which pulled off back-to-back upsets over North Carolina State and Pitt in the ACC Tournament before endings its season against Florida State.

Comings and Goings: Old Dominion
Comings and Goings: Richmond
Comings and Goings: George Mason
Comings and Goings: Virginia

Who's going

- Kelsey Conyers, 5-9 Sr. G, Chesterfield, Va. (Cosby);

- Assistant coaches Bett Shelby and Jermaine Woods

Conyers started 22 of 32 games last season and averaged 3.6 points and ranked second on the team with 60 assists. One of only two Hokies (Panousis) with more assists than turnovers (51). Shelby is assisting Brenda Frese at Maryland and  Woods returned home to Norfolk to be an assistant to Old Dominion's Karen Barefoot.

Who's coming

- Kelly Koshuta, 6-2 F/C, Vienna, Va. (James Madison High); ranked No. 32 on ESPN's Top 100 list for 2015 recruits; had career totals of 1,726 points and 946 rebounds despite missing her entire sophomore year with a knee injury; All-Met Player of the Year by the Washington Post
- Chanette Hicks, 5-5 G, Norfolk, Va. (Maury High); ranked No. 53 on ESPN's Top 100 list for 2015 recruits; averaged 16.8 ppg and 7.1 spg as a senior; All-Atlantic Conference POY

- Alana Gilmer, 6-0 G/F, Easton, Mass (Archbishop Williams); led the Bishops to back-to-back Division 3 state titles; First-team All-USA Massachusetts (USA Today)

- Assistants Heather Vulin and Britney Anderson

Five-star recruit Koshuta leads a Top-20 recruiting class that will look to move Tech into the top half of the ACC. Remember also that Regan Magarity started her collegiate career averaging 14 points through five games before going down with a knee injury. Double-figure scorers Vanessa Panousis, who will play for the Australian national team in the upcoming World University Games, and impact freshman Rachel Camp also return for what looks, on paper, as a Tech team that is ready to make a statement in a league where being in the top half is good enough to get an invite to the national tournament.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Comings and goings Part IV: Virginia

Mone' Jones is a top 100 ESPN recruit 
We continue our series of Comings and goings with Part IV: Virginia.

Comings and Goings: Old Dominion
Comings and Goings: Richmond
Comings and Goings: George Mason

Who's going

- Sarah Beth Barnette: 6-2 F, Lexington, Ky.; lone career start was on Senior Day for the Kentucky transfer, who had her career-high 10 in her first game as a Cavalier against James Madison; member of the 2015 NCAA Good Works Team given her numerous volunteer efforts

- Tiffany Suarez, 5-11 G, Miami; appeared in 50 games over two seasons (10.8 minutes per game); transferred to Fordham, has two years of eligibility starting in 2016-17

- Sarah Imovbioh, 6-2 C, Abuja, Nigeria (St. Anne's Belfield); transferred to South Carolina, has one year of instant eligibility (2015-16) as she graduated from Virginia in May. Scored 1,028 points and grabbed 793 rebounds in three seasons; was ACC's leading rebounder last year (10.8 rpg). Had 22 points and 17 rebounds vs. Louisville; 18 points and 24 rebounds vs. Ohio State.

Virginia's huge loss in Imovbioh is Dawn Staley's big-time gain at South Carolina, which was a point away from advancing to the national championship a year ago. The Nigerian is the third transfer Gamecock Nation has snagged, as Staley has also added guard Kaela Davis (Georgia Tech) and Allisha Gray (North Carolina). Her loss and the transfer of Suarez are indicative of the difficult season the Cavs endured punctuated by a disappointing effort against Old Dominion in the first round of the WNIT, their final game.

Who's coming

- Debra Ferguson, 6-4 C, Madison Heights, Va. (Amherst County H.S.); power post who can shoot the 3 and anchor the defense

- Mone' Jones, 6-3 F, Durham, N.C. (Riverside H.S.); No. 61 on the ESPNW 100 recruiting rankings; averaged 23 points and 7.5 rebounds. Third team all-state pick by the North Carolina Basketball Coaches Association

- Shakyna Payne, 6-3 F, Acworth, Ga. (Southwest Atlanta Christian); played first three years of high school ball at Etowah High; athletic post with tremendous upside who needs to develop on offense

- J'Kyra Brown, 5-11 G, Rocky Mount, N.C. (Rocky Mount High); transfer from East Carolina; sat out last season and has three years of eligibility beginning in 2015-16.; averaged 5.9 ppg at ECU as a freshman in 2012-13

Talent hasn't been the problem at Virginia under Joanne Boyle, and 2015-16 continues the trend of solid recruits -- and in this case, recruits with size -- to the program that is looking to return to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2010. Boyle has lamented Virginia's inability to attract top post players, and signing three players 6-3 or taller makes up for that. But while the Cavs have bodies, developing players in the post time, so asking one of the freshmen to contribute big numbers in the ACC from the tip is a tall order. Ideally, Imovbioh would have carried the load, but without her, questions remain in the post for Virginia. In addition to the freshmen, Brown has shined in workouts.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Comings and goings Parts III: George Mason

Here we go with Part III of our series, Comings and Goings, looking at George Mason.

Comings and Goings: Old Dominion
Comings and Goings: Richmond

Who's going

- Rachel McNair, 6-0 F, 2.0 ppg, 3.2 rpg; started 14 of 29 games
- Talisha Watts, 6-2 F, 4.5 ppg, 5.2 rpg; started 10 of 29 games (also A-10 high jump champion)
- Sandra Ngoie, 6-1 F, 10.3 ppg (second-leading scorer); 5.2 rpg; team-high 73 treys (37.1 percent); started 11 of 29 games
- Cyndi Cole, 5-5 G, 2.5 ppg, 24 assists, appeared in 28 games, averaged 11 minutes
- Qierra Murray, 5-7 G, 4.9 ppg, started 13 of 29 games, averaged 21.2 minutes
-Jasmine Jackson, 5-9 G; 9.6 ppg; made 26 starts last season and was third in the team in scoring; she graduated from George Mason in May and will play her final year of eligibility at Georgetown, where she played her first two seasons.

Bidding adieu to Sweden's Ngoie is the biggest loss here as she was the second leading scorer for the Patriots last year and a part-time starter. It's also unusual to see a player return to the school she transferred from: Jackson will pursue her master's in sports industry management at her first alma mater, Georgetown. Point guard Cole and shooting guard Murray are both transferring out of the program into Appalachian State, 14-16 a year ago and ironically also a program relying heavily on transfers as two juco players are eligible this season.

Who's coming

Eligible transfers

 - Katrina Hutzell, 5-11 G (UMBC); limited action in 19 games
- Kara Wright, 5-11 G/F (Southeast Missouri St.), 7.9 ppg, 2.9 rpg (career-best 26 vs. Mizzou)
- Bridget O'Donnell, 6-6 C (UMBC); Leading shot blocker in America East her sophomore year, something she has in common with her Aunt Anne, that would be Anne Donovan; 6 ppg, 5.1 rpg
- Mikala McGhee, 5-11 G (Missouri St.); 3.8 ppg, 3.1 rpg
- Tiffany Padgett, 6-1 F (Loyola-Md.), 5.1 ppg, 5.0 rpg

Incoming freshmen

Allie McCool, 6-2 C, East Central High (Ind.), East Central Player of the Year 2015
- Jewel Triggs, 5-11 G Thibodaux High (La.), McDonald's All-American Game nominee; involved in bizarre eligibility court case as a sophomore
- Chinyere Bell, 6-0 F, Cumberland County High (NC); Fayetteville Observer All-Cape Fear POY; Led Mid-South 4A Conference in scoring as a senior with 24.9 ppg and 12.3 rpg

More than half the roster of the Patriots has turned over in a near-complete makeover engineered by third-year coach Nyla Milleson. This much is for sure; Taylor Brown (who also transferred in from Georgetown) will have a senior year unlike her previous three with almost an entirely new cast around her. The 5-7 guard set a program single-season scoring record with 643 points a year ago when Georgetown transfer Jasmine Jackson and Florida State Kristi Mokube joined the team. We give the nod to Milleson's former recruits at Southeast Missouri, Wright and McGhee, for playing time, though we're intrigued by what O'Donnell will bring defensively given an already impressive resume and some notable roots. All the freshmen look capable, though finding playing time on a team where transfers Wright, McGhee, Padgett and O'Donnell will be itching to play as juniors, will be a challenge. It's looking like Milleson is looking to make a dent in the A-10 in a hurry; her Patriots finished 13-17 overall last year, 5-11 in conference play.

An added note, Milleson has also added Sylvia Maxwell, a 5-7 guard from Niagara, and April Henson, a 5-9 guard from Drexel, both eligible for the 2016-17 season.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Comings and goings Part II: Richmond

Tuuli Menna of Finland
Here is the second part of our 13-part series called Comings and Goings that allows us to take a look at roster changes, both hellos and goodbyes, for each of the state's team.

Part I of our series was Old Dominion.

Richmond finished 19-14 last season, falling by a point in the second overtime of the WNIT to Atlantic 10 foe Duquesne. 

Who's going

Genevieve Okoro, 6-0 F, Gibbsboro, N.J.
   - Two-time All-Atlantic 10 selection (third-team in 2014-15)
   - Finished career with 1,334 points and 1,005 rebounds

Liz Brown, 6-3 F/C, Baltimore
    - 7.1 points and 5.5 rebounds per game
   - 35.6 percent 3-point shooter

Keri Soppe, 5-9 G, Rochester, N.Y.
   - Appeared in 106 games with 67 starts (10 last season) as a Spider

Yazmean Burgess, 6-3 F/C, Asheville, N.C.
   - Appeared in 87 games during her Richmond career.

Amber Battle, 6-3 F/C, Apex, N.C.
   - Did not play in 2014-15 due to injury.
   - Appeared in 24 games her first three seasons.

It's hard to imagine the Spiders minus the versatile Okoro and Brown, one of only two Richmond players (along with Lauren Tolson) to start all 33 games last season. Meanwhile, we're hopeful Liv Healy is on a quick mend from her second ACL surgery (left knee in March, right knee the year before). Richmond went 4-5 after Healy went down, with all five losses by two points or fewer or in overtime. Healy averaged 8.2 ppg and 4.4 rpg before her season abruptly ended. We also send positive vibes to Karleigh Wike, who had surgery to repair a severely torn labrum in early April, and is looking at 4-6 months of rehab.

Who's coming

Tuuli Menna, 5-11 F, Finland
   - Averaged team highs of 10.0 points and 7.6 rebounds in leading Finland to a fifth-place finish in the B Division of the 2014 U18 European Championships.
  - Averaged 15 points, 11 rebounds per game in 2013-14 U 18 European Championship

Salita Greene, 5-11 F, Durham, N.C. (Charles E. Jordan Sr. H.S.)
   - Graduates from Jordan High as the Lady Falcons all-time leading rebounder (1,202) and second leading scorer (over 1,500 points)
  - MVP in 2015 when she averaged more than 21 ppg and 13 rpg

Taisha Murphy, 5-10 G, Clayton, N.C. (Clayton HS)
 - Averaged 24.3 ppg, 5 rpg and 7 assists in 2015, reaching 30-plus points in 6 games
 - Played four seasons for Blue Star Carolina AAU, averaging a club-record 25.5 per game in summer of 2014

We'll be intrigued to see how well Menna's numbers translate to American ball. She comes in with plenty of experience, having played 72 international games for 26 different nations and is likely to feel right at home when the Spiders travel to Europe for four games in two weeks. Greene and Murphy bring in good-looking high school stats and ideally will contribute early given the loss of five players. But with Okoro, Brown and Burgess gone, the Spiders could use some size to go along with their quickness.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Updated Comings and Goings Part I: Old Dominion

Aneesah Daniels

Today we begin our 13-part series we call Comings and Goings that allows us to take a look at roster changes, both hellos and goodbyes, for each of the state's team.

We start with Old Dominion, which finished 21-13 a year ago, falling in the second round of the WNIT.

Who's gone

Departing seniors: Tiffany Minor, F; Chelisa Painter, F
Also not returning: Ashley Betz-White, G (redshirt junior graduated in May and has moved to Tampa for a job in pharmaceuticals)
Transfers: Maia Lee, F (headed for Towson, has 3 years eligibility beginning in 2016-17)

Minor and Painter had almost identical stat lines as seniors, each averaging just over 7 points and 4 rebounds. Minor was perhaps most valuable on defense and actually led the team in minutes played. Painter's offense was in spurts, and she will be particularly missed as a rebounder. Betz-White, meanwhile, was the most capable ballhandler on a team that suddenly is without a known quantity at point guard (Galaisha Goodhope would be a senior this year but was dismissed from the team and will play at VCU this fall).

The 6-3 Lee played a total of 23 minutes as a freshman and will sit out a year before getting a shot to play for one of the most promising coaches in the game in Niki Reid Geckeler, who led Howard to back-to-back 20-win seasons before taking over as Tigers coach in 2013.

Who's coming

Gianna Smith, 5-10 G/F, Norfolk (Lake Taylor)
   - 16.2 points, 11.2 rebounds, 3.2 steals, 2.8 assists as a senior
   - First-team All-Tidewater by The Virginian-Pilot
   - First Team All-State

Rhaven Kemp, 5-6 G, Jackson, Tenn. (Eastern Florida State Junior College)
  - 3.4 ppg and 1.3 apg as a sophomore
  - All-time assist leader at Liberty Tech High (571)

Carolina Bernardeco, 5-4 G, Lisbon, Portugal
 - 17-year-old who played point guard for U-18, U-16 Portuguese national team

Makayla Timmons, 5-7 G, Columbia, Tenn. (Columbia Central)
 - All-time leading scorer (1,640 points); also holds school records in high jump and long jump
- MVP of her district as a senior
- Second team All-USA Tennessee
- Played for four different coaches in high school

Aneesah Daniels, 6-0 F, Decatur, Ga., (Clemson, Alabama)
- Redshirt senior who is immediately eligible as she graduated from Clemson in May. Has not played since the 2011-12 season at Alabama; scored 7 points and 6 rebounds for Alabama in Paradise Jam (Virgin Islands) game against the Lady Monarchs -- which was Karen Barefoot's first victory at ODU; Never played at Clemson after sitting out a year and being sidelined the following year with a neck injury

Assistant coach Jermaine Woods replacing Richard Fortune, now at VCU. Norfolk native Woods comes to ODU from Virginia Tech and will be reunited with Smith, who played her first three years at Maury High where he was coach.

Karen Barefoot's collection of guards looks impressive on paper, but we give the nod to Kemp to get the early playing time given her junior college experience. While her numbers don't overwhelm, she came off the bench, saving her best game for postseason -- an 18-point effort in the NJCAA Region VIII tournament. She will be a junior and could challenge sophomore Ashley Jackson for point guard.

The ODU faithful with Ticha memories still lingering fondly in their minds will clamor to see Bernardeco, but adjusting to the American game will be part of her learning curve. Smith and Timmons both come in as promising freshmen on a team that needs to find somebody besides Jennie Simms to share the offensive load. Given Daniels has only one year, she's the logical choice, but conditioning will be key as she's sat out for three seasons.

Note: Tyshara Fleming, the 6-4 center from Virginia Beach's Salem High, who went to Northwest Florida State College in 2013 with the intent of transferring to ODU in two years, committed to Florida in January. She averaged 7 points and 7 rebounds in one year of junior college play.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

NBA finals: Who ya got? Ticha, Elizabeth Williams, our players and coaches all have an opinion

Tipoff is tonight and we wanted to know who ya got in the NBA finals. You told us, and it seems like we've got quite a few Lebron and Curry fans in our crowd.

Thanks to all who participated in the LadySwish poll, and it's not too late to weigh in. Tweet us @LadySwish and we'll add you to the list.

"I'm going with Lebron. He's been my favorite since he's joined the league and I'd love to see him do something as spectacular as what's about to happen in taking this team to a finals championship. Sucks bc SC is a close second, but I'm loyal to LBJ.. MVP!!! - Dawn Evans, actress, friend of the blog and a woman who enjoyed a few Curry-like nights herself during her days as a hair-trigger shotmaker at JMU

"Golden State Warriors! And Stephen Curry for MVP!" - Camille Calhoun, VCU forward, team leader in offensive rebounding and, with the transfer of Brittani Burgess, alliteration.

"I think the Cavs will win the NBA finals. I think that this time around LeBron has something to truly motivate him, his city.. I think that Cleveland is really something he's passionate about & really going to give his all for. The past championships he won, he did it to prove people wrong. This championship would truly be something meaningful for him. Ultimately he would also be the MVP. -- Kenia Cole, star guard at Paint Branch High (Md.) and Hampton University, newly-minted HU graduate.

"I think it's going to be a great series, but I give the edge to Cleveland. LeBron is so dominant! - Debra Clark, head coach, Norfolk State

"Mmmm. I really like LeBron, but I don't think the Cavs can hold the Warriors off. Steph would be MVP, too. - Duke grad and Virginia Beach's own Elizabeth Williams, the No. 4 pick in the WNBA draft, now with the Connecticut Sun.

"Steph Curry, because he's unstoppable!" - Macaela Parson, Richmond sophomore guard

Lebron for MVP and the Cavs for the championship." - Nyree Roberts, an ODU great from the '97 NCAA runner-up team

"Steph Curry. He is unstoppable; his shot is automatic;  his hands are great. He's fun to watch! - Autumn Childress, Longwood sophomore guard

Steph Curry MVP and Warriors because his daughter is adorable. Wouldn't mind seeing Lebron though just because everybody said he couldn't do it." -- Nikki Newman, former CAA Defensive Player of the Year and JMU captain, now radio phenom

"I love Steph Curry but I also like Harrison Barnes and Draymond Green. Steph is very inspiring and has changed the game because of the many ways he can score and how acrobatic his moves are. Harrrison Barnes is a solid player to me and Green plays hard and never gives up. MVP will be Steph; I believe he will carry his team to a championship." - Brittani Burgess, VCU's loss (transferred after two seasons); UMBC's gain (starting in 2016-17).

"I want the Cavs to win because I love Lebron James. I want him to prove that he doesn't need help to win a NBA championship and to quiet the crowd that he is one of the greatest of all times. If the Cavs don't win and then Steph Curry will be MVP. If Cavs win Lebron will be." -- Jazmen Boone, fearless, versatile ex-William and Mary star who helped lead recent revival of Tribe hoops fortunes.

"I'm going to have to go with the Cavaliers and the best player in the world. At times of adversity, he just puts the whole team on his back, and those guys all go with him. So obviously, I like LeBron for MVP, too." - James L. Flood Jr., CEO/League Operator, 7 Cities Pro-Am Basketball League.

"I go for the Warriors because it's nice to see a young group win it. And MVP to be Steph Curry! - Vanessa Panousis, outstanding combo guard at Virginia Tech by way of Sydney, Australia. G'day, VP!

"I would like to see Steph and Golden State win because I think it would cap off a great year and I don't think he'll get another shot at it." - Amber Nichols, ex-Richmond guard, cousin of Washington Wizards star John Wall and all-around basketball savant.

"I would like to see Golden State win because they are the underdogs and they play together every game. So of course Steph for MVP! - Precious Hall, JMU guard, reigning Colonial Athletic Association Player of the Year.

"Warriors and Curry. I'm a fan of the jump shot and his crazy form and a player's overall ability to win games. Curry does that flawlessly. - Liv Healy, Richmond guard (and a pretty fair sharpshooter herself)

"Steph is the most exciting player to watch in the NBA and I think Draymond Green is having a huge impact. Ultimately, are the Cavs riding as high as we think or is this East really that weak? I'm rooting for LeBron and it's hard to bet against him, but I think there's a 51 percent chance the Warriors win (smiley face). - Kate DeSorrento, assistant coach, VCU

"I'm going with Golden State, and Curry for MVP." - Jaclyn McKenna, underrated ex-William and Mary forward.

"Stephen Curry MVP, best shooter. (Warriors) win in Game 7. Deep bench and team plays with passion and energy. Love Coach (Steve) Kerr; great leader and proven winner! - Karen Barefoot, Old Dominion head coach and a woman who knows a thing or two about playing (or doing anything) with passion and energy.

"I'm going with the Warriors...even though they lean heavily on Curry and Thompson. I feel they play more as a team. They have a great supporting cast and on any given day either can give you 20-plus. I love the tempo they play with getting the ball up the floor. They play bothe ends of the court as well. I'm a huge Steph Curry fan - I love me a good shooter with great footwork. So I'm pick Curry as MVP - but I think (the series) is going seven. - Kim McNeil, Virginia assistant coach, mother of twins Cayden and Gabrielle, husband to fellow U.Va. assistant Cory (items not necessarily listed in order of importance).

"I have the Cavs, LeBron for MVP!" - Taysha Pye, gifted former William and Mary star now playing for pay in Italy.

"I want LeBron James and the Cavs to win...but the Golden State Warriors will. They have a deeper bench. I think Green can limit LeBron's post-up game. Klay (Thompson, if cleared to play) will get hot and be MVP of the Finals. Otherwise, Steph will be MVP." - Jen Brown, assistant coach, JMU

"I'm going with Golden State and Stephen Curry for MVP!" - Becca Allison, speedy former Old Dominion guard and current assistant coach for surprise Southland Conference tournament finalist Houston Baptist.

"I like both teams. In my opinion they were the two best teams in the league this season. I really like the style of play of the Golden State Warriors, but the Cleveland Cavaliers have a player named LEBRON JAMES who is the best player on the planet right now. And I don't see anybody on the GSW squad that can stop him. That said, I pick the Cavs. - Mery Andrade, heart and soul of the Portuguese Connection-led powerhouse Old Dominion teams of the late 1990s.

"Cleveland. And LeBron for MVP. Because he's won two championships. He's been to the Finals, won MVP, and you have to beat the best 2g2 the trophy. I wouldn't bet against him right now. But someone said this to me today - there's nothing to dislike about either team. It's a win-win." - Morgan Valley, three-time NCAA champion guard at UConn, current Virginia Tech assistant and owner of a truly great name.

"Cleveland! (The Cavaliers) are playing good basketball offensively and defensively, with the league's best player on the team. I don't think Golden State has enough to beat the Cavs top to bottom." - Shavon Earp, former star at Pitt and Radford and current assistant at perennial MEAC contender North Carolina A&T

"Warriors! I lived in the Bay Area for six years so I want to see them win." - Rachael Bilney, former Richmond sniper who once buried a school-record eight 3-pointers against George Washington.

"I have Golden State winning. (Steve) Kerr is a well-rounded coach who understands the delicate balance of a championship team. Not to mention he learned from the best in Phil Jackson. Not to mention he's a phenomenal motivator and strategist. Curry for MVP, although Golden State has important other pieces. Curry win hit big shots and make big plays." - Jen Wedo, assistant coach, William and Mary

"I really want Golden State to win and Curry to be the MVP, but if I was betting and not going with my heart I think the Cavs will win and LeBron will be MVP." - Beth O'Boyle, head coach, VCU

"Golden State Warriors because Steph Curry deserves a ring. Curry for MVP, too." - Taylor Brown, high-scoring George Mason guard, the Steph Curry of the Atlantic 10.

"I'm thinking the Warriors will take it with Steph being the MVP." - Sarah Williams, ex-JMU star, current Dukes assistant and former teammate of Elena Delle Donne at Ursuline Academy.

"The Warriors, because I'm not a LeBron fan. And Steph for MVP." - Jayda Worthy, Radford forward and one of two Highlanders (along with Janayla White) to make the Big South All-Freshman team.

"Cleveland in six...The King is the MVP! As you can see, I'm a huge LeBron fan! I just believe this is too big for him to lose. It's almost storybook." - Jermaine Woods, assistant coach, Old Dominion.

"I think the Cavaliers will win. LeBron is unstoppable. I don't think anyone from the Warriors can keep up with him." - Barbara Burgess, formerly the Chris Dailey of Hampton, now the Geno Auriemma of Delaware State (or better yet, the David Six of Delaware State)

"The Cavs will win in six games, maybe seven. In my opinion, they will win because LeBron is playing a consistent all-around game. Also, the Cavs have more offensive threats and with Tristan (Thompson) playing so well, he will be a problem for GS. LeBron for MVP. - Tia Lewis, ex-Old Dominion standout who has taken her talents to Denbigh High as the school's new head varsity girls basketball coach. Teach 'em, Tia!

"Matchups make fights.Cleveland has LeBron and Golden State doesn't. Simple. Plus the supporting cast has really stepped up for LeBron. If they defend the three of Golden State then they win. They also don't have to worry about playing against a big man down low because neither team has a low-post threat. - Brian Davis, Hampton assistant and sharp-dressed man with no dog in the fight - he's a Lakers fan.

"I believe Golden State will win because shooting (skill) can overcome a multitude of sins. Curry for MVP; LeBron and the Cavs get theirs in 2016! - Michael Shafer, Richmond head coach and orchestrator of a squad that, at times, does a pretty fair Golden State impression on offense (starring Janelle Hubbard in the role of Steph Curry. Lauren Tolson, you're Klay Thompson. Splash Sisters, anyone?).

"I think it will go to Game 7 for sure. I'm thinking matchups and coaching. LeBron said he's is playing his career best. But I love Curry and the way the Warriors move the ball. Final thoughts - Warriors in seven games. MVPS - Stephen and Riley Curry. I am looking forward to Riley's championship post-game speech. - Millette Green, William and Mary assistant.

"I am riding with the Cleveland Cavs and the experience of LeBron James being on the court. His presence will always give them the best chance to win. The MVP should go to the person that makes every play a matchup problem. The Cavs play great pressure defense, push the ball and score in bunches. LeBron is consistent with putting pressure on the defense by attacking the basket. Cavs win and LeBron is MVP! - Tim Valentine, Hampton assistant.

"I have Cavs in 6 -- Lebron for MVP!" - Ticha Penicheiro, All-American point guard at ODU and all-time WNBA assist leader who would love to feed Lebron or Steph in the post.

"Steph Curry! Because he's hungry!" - Aisha Foy, All-Big South point guard (second team) gearing up for her senior year at on-the-rise Radford.

"I believe that Cleveland will be named champions and that LeBron will be the MVP." - Trina Patterson, assistant coach, Old Dominion

"I'm going with Golden State in 7. I think they have too many weapons offensively and Steph Curry as MVP. My prediction is he will hit a game winner in Game 7 and hit multiple big shots like he has done throughout the entire finals. Lebron will be a tough matchup, but they will rotate and defend with different guys just like they did in the Houston series. I think it will be a great finals!" - Fran Recchia, assistant coach, Radford