Thursday, February 11, 2016

JMU, VCU, Tech top the LadySwish rankings

Apologies for how long it's taken us to rank the state's teams. We have a good idea of the top three, but we'd be lying if we said we were positive about 4 and 5. Share your thoughts with us if you disagree.

Courtesy of The Breeze
1. James Madison (16-5)

Our preseason No. 1 is back in the top spot during a season when Kenny Brooks continues to impress us by keeping the Dukes program at a certain level despite graduation and injuries. Remember, the Dukes are without Precious Hall, who most certainly would have been the CAA's preseason pick for Player of the Year, and Ashley Perez has been sidelined since mid-January with an ankle injury, significant considering the senior was averaging 15.3 ppg at the time. The Dukes are on a nine-game win streak and Jazmon Gwathmey is playing the kind of ball Brooks always promised us she was capable of, garnering her fourth conference player of the week honor this week. Gwathmey continues to shine from the perimeter -- she's made 41 treys this season compared to knocking down 42 in her first three years -- and we see nothing stopping her from collecting POY honors.

2. VCU (17-7)

Admittedly, we underestimated the Rams, who surprised us with a nonconference win over Arizona State and continue to do good things in an Atlantic 10 that continues to eat its own. Wins over Fordham, Dayton and St. Bonaventure are noteworthy as is a four-point loss against a Duquesne team that is 22-2 (yet can't seem to grab the attention of anyone in the AP poll, but we digress . . .). The Rams might have joined George Washington, the lone A-10 team to knock off the Dukes, but a 7-of-14 effort at the line and giving up nine 3s negated their plus-nine rebounding advantage. Hoping VCU can make some noise in the A-10 tournament that's in their back yard. By the way, how good was that win over the Sun Devils? ASU has won 17 of its last 18 since.

3. Virginia Tech (15-8)

Three wins in the ACC certainly isn't what the Hokies wanted, but credit this group for breaking a string of 18 straight losses to Virginia last week, futility that dates back to 2007. With Pitt and North Carolina on tap, we're hoping the Hokies can build some momentum for the second half of the season.

4. Liberty (15-8)

Eight straight wins, Ashley Rininger is healthy again and the Lady Flames are back on track in the Big South. Kudos to Katelyn Adams, who earned her first Big South POW honor this week after back-to-back double doubles.

5. Virginia (13-11)

Five straight losses doesn't do much for the Cavs confidence. Virginia can't find an answer without Faith Randolph, out for a month a thumb injury and expect to miss 2-3 games more. If they can get her back, the Cavaliers can get back in the win column, but this isn't a year where they're going to be in the chase for the ACC.

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