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ACC Women's Hoops At The Halfway Point!

The ACC at the halfway point (give or take a game or two):

Before I get to each team, here's my halfway point player awards.


First Team:

Alana Beard, Duke
Nikki Teasley, UNC
Iciss Tillis, Duke
Brandi Teamer, Virginia
Chrissy Floyd, Clemson

Second Team:

Coretta Brown, UNC
Telisha Quarles, Virginia
Tasheika Morris, FSU
Sonja Mallory, Georgia Tech
Kaayla Chones, NC State

Third Team:

Monique Currie, Duke
Candace Sutton, UNC
Leah Metcalf, UNC
Tonia Brown, Wake Forest
Marche' Strickland, Maryland

Others considered: April Traylor, FSU; Carisse Moody, NC State;
Regina Tate, Georgia Tech; Milli Martinez, Georgia Tech;
Deedee Warley, Maryland; Vicki Brick, Maryland; Nina Barlin, Georgia Tech


Brandi Teamer, UVa
Monique Currie, Duke
Leah Metcalf, UNC
LaTonya Blue, UVa
Rachel Stockdale, NC State

Others Considered: Wynter Whitley, Duke; Kendra Bell, NC State;
Nikki Bell, UNC; Kenya McBee, UNC


Alana Beard, Duke
Renneika Razor, Maryland
Candace Sutton, UNC
Sonja Mallory, Georgia Tech
Iciss Tillis, Duke

Player of the Year: Alana Beard, Duke

Comments: #1 in scoring, #9 in rebounding, #1 in FG%, #1 in steals,
#2 in assists, #3 in assist/turnover ratio...there's not much left to
be said here, other than the fact that she does nothing but win.

Rookie of the Year: Tie: Brandi Teamer, Virginia and Monique Currie, Duke.

Comments: Right now, the difference between the two is razor-thin. Teamer
is scoring 15.4 ppg, leads the ACC in rebounding at 9.4 per, and shoots 47%
from the field. Currie is scoring at 14.8 ppg with a 50% success rate,
grabbing 5.8 rpg and shooting 74% from the foul line. Teamer has more
opportunities as UVa's sole inside threat, but she's getting the job done
without much help. Currie gets a lot of her points in transition on great
Beard passes, but still finds plenty of ways to score on a team with many
other great scorers. Teamer is probably more integral to her team's success,
but Currie is the kind of spectacular scorer that Duke has never had.
Both of them are great, and it'll take the rest of the ACC season to
determine which one is more deserving of the award...and it may still be a

Coach of the Year: Gail Goestenkors, Duke.

Comments: Yes, she has a ton of talent, but she's had to deal with
two players defecting in December, a serious illness to a beloved assistant
coach and an 8-player roster. All she's done is guide them to an 8-0
start in the league. Agnus Berenato also deserves some consideration
here for taking a lightly-regarded Tech team, fixing its chemistry by
booting star-power guard Neisha Butler off the team and leading them to
four straight wins and second place in the league.

Team Summaries:

Florida State (11-8, 2-6 ACC). RPI: 77
Quality Wins: NC State

The Seminoles have had a very disappointing season thus far. After
an encouraging 10-2 start, with losses only to Florida (in OT) and Auburn,
the noles have lost 6 of their last 7 games. Even more agonizing, many
of them have been close: 4 points to Clemson, 4 points to Wake Forest,
and 4 points to Virginia. The good news for FSU is that five of their
last eight ACC games are at home, and they can greatly improve their RPI
if they beat Duke on the 27th. Of course, they still have to travel to
UNC, Duke and NC State after only winning 1 ACC road game. FSU's best
players have been the always-solid April Traylor (14.5 ppg, 4.1 rpg),
Tennessee transfer Tasheika Morris (14.6 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 47% FG, 72% FT)
and newly emergent Shinikki Whiting (12.8 ppg, 5.3 rpg, and a team-leading
2.8 apg). Beyond that troika, the Seminoles have struggled. Post players
Katelyn Vujas and Lauren Bradley have been inconsistent, with the former
scoring 9 ppg and pulling down 4.5 rpg. Heralded frosh Genesis Choice
has not had an immediate impact, playing just nine minutes a game. FSU can
score (third in the league at 74 ppg), shoot (#2 at 45%) and rebound (+2.8
rpg). But right now, they're just an average team on the boards and on
defense. This team still has a lot of talent and a pretty good RPI--if they
can defend their home court and steal one on the road, they have an outside
shot at the NCAA's. But they will need another scorer to step up for this
to happen.

Wake Forest (9-10, 3-6 ACC). RPI: 106
Quality Wins: UNC

The perpetually struggling Deacs have actually been on a bit of an
upswing of late. They've won three of their last five, including wins
over FSU, Clemson and a 1-point squeaker over UNC. Oddly, this happened
to be their third consecutive home win against the Heels, who were
without star guard Nikki Teasley in all three games. This came after an
0-4 start in the ACC due in no small part to an injury to star forward
Eafton Hill. Hill had played quite well in the early part of the season
before her injury, and has been inconsistent since coming back. She will
need to be at her best for the Deacs to have any chance at all of getting
to .500 in the league, especially since they still have 4 road games left
on their schedule. The breakout star for Wake has been Tonia Brown, who
has scored in double figures in every ACC game, dropping 28 on FSU. The
Deacs have no other players averaging in double figures, however, with only
erratic post players LaChina Robinson and Tiffani Listenbee nearing that
mark. Wake has a number of problems: they only score 60 ppg and give up
67; they shoot only 38% from the field, including 30% from three; and
they have a negative turnover margin. They're a pretty good rebounding
team and have a lot of size, but their lack of scoring punch, injuries
and youth have been a season-long problem. Still, their offense has shown
signs of life recently, playing in a deliberate style. Their next two
games, on the road against NC State and Georgia Tech, will be crucial to
their season's hopes--especially since they just blew a 27-point lead on
the road against Maryland. If they can recover from that loss and pick
up these two crucial road wins, then they have a chance to salvage their
season. If not, the end could be painful.

Maryland (10-9, 3-5 ACC). RPI: 100
Quality Wins: DePaul

The Terps have been a major disappointment in the ACC so far, considering
that they have a deep and experienced roster. After losing 5 of their
first 7 ACC games, they gave themselves new life when they came back from
a 27-point deficit to beat Wake Forest. Their problems have been an
anemic offense and a lack of a true post game, resulting in some severe
rebounding deficits. As always, the team's best players have been guard
Marche' Strickland and forward DeeDee Warley. Strickland is averaging
13 ppg and shooting 41% from three, while Warley gets 11 ppg and 6 rpg.
Renneika Razor has been a great defender and slasher but doesn't put up
big offensive numbers. Vicki Brick has returned from injury and does a
good job running the team, but like her name suggests, she can't shoot at
all. Beyond that, no one else puts up any significant numbers, forcing
coach Chris Weller to go to a nine-woman lineup just to get some results.
Backup point guard Kiki Wimbush was dismissed from the team for academic
problems, leaving Maryland thin at that position. Maryland is a pretty
good shooting team, both from the field and the foul line. Their slow-it-
down game suits their athletic ability and patience in the halfcourt. Their
crippling weakness is rebounding and post play in general; only Virginia
has a worse rebounding margin and only FSU blocks fewer shots. The Terps are
experienced and deep; they simply need their support players to step up every
game and make up for their post problems.

NC State (9-9, 3-4 ACC). RPI: 45
Quality Wins: UNC, Drake, Old Dominion

No team has been hit with more problems than the Wolfpack Women. First,
their starting point guard, Terah James, goes out for the year. Then
co-captain and defensive leader Ivy Gardner quits the team, along with
reserve guard Daphne Hutcherson. State overcame all that to post a 3-1
record in the ACC, including a huge win over UNC in Chapel Hill. This
was Carolina's first league loss, but it cost them star forward Carisse
Moody, out with an injury. Since that injury, the Pack have lost three
straight, including a road loss to league cellar-dweller Florida State.
The loss of Moody has hurt State's rebounding ability and their defense,
giving up 52% shooting to FSU. Despite all of this, State's RPI remains
high because of their brutal non-conference schedule. It would have
helped for them to have beaten Georgia in OT, and their two double-digit
losses in the Sunsplash Shootout to unranked teams certainly didn't help
the team's confidence. With nine ACC games remaining, there's plenty of
time to recover; in fact, State started slowly last year and came on
strong at the end, making it to the ACC tournament finals. This makes
their next two games against Maryland and Wake (both at home) must-win
situations, setting up a potential season-maker in their rematch at
Virginia. The young Hoos won that first game and could clinch a tie-breaker
if they win the second. State's stars this year have been Moody and
Chones. After sitting out a year with an injury, Chones is scoring 12.7
ppg---but nearly 21 ppg in ACC play. She's stepped up her play in Moody's
absence. She's also getting an impressive 7 rpg and blocking a shot a
game. Moody was scoring 12.8 ppg before she went out and pulling down 5.8
rpg. On the perimeter, Amy Simpson and rookie Rachel Stockdale average
8.2 and 6.7 ppg, respectively, but neither shoots over 30% from three.
While their shooting isn't that great, a more pressing concern is their
playmaking. Without James, State has struggled, with a -2.78 turnover
margin and a hideous .69:1 assist to turnover ratio. Last year, it was
switching Tynesha Lewis over to point that sparked NC State's run. What
can Kay Yow do now to help her team? The answer may lie in simply shoring
up other areas on the team, like defense and rebounding, which are now
good but not great. Getting Moody back will also help. This is a tough
team that is struggling and by no means should they be counted out.

Clemson (12-8, 4-5 ACC). RPI: 52
Quality Wins: Illinois, South Carolina, Penn State, NC State

The Tigers have been up and down all year, with a six game winning
streak followed by losing four out of five. Their problem has been simple:
they can't shoot, and they have problems preventing the other team from
shooting. In addition, their rebounding is mediocre. Jim Davis has tried
to combat this with a fairly deep roster (9 to 10) players and a slower
style of play. The initial results were good, recently beating Maryland
and NC State by double digits, but a loss to Georgia Tech has left them
under .500 in the league and in danger of missing the NCAA tournament.
Their backcourt play has been excellent with the amazing Chrissy Floyd
attacking the basket and Krystal Scott running the show at point. Beyond
that, the Tigers are inconsistent and inexperienced. They brought in a
number of JuCo players who have had mixed success, and former UConn player
Marci Glenney has been a disappointment at times. Teams are playing Floyd
for her jumper, which is not the strongest part of her game (24% from three).
They must beat FSU on the road to stay in contention for a first-division
finish and then face Virginia at home in a game which could go a long
way in determining their final fate this year, because Duke and UNC on
the road follow that contest. More than anything, the Tigers have to shore
up their rebounding and defense and hope that Glenney continues to improve
her scoring average, which has risen in ACC play. Any Davis-coached team
will always be dangerous, especially in a year when it seems like any ACC
team can win or lose on a given night.

Virginia (11-8, 4-4 ACC). RPI: 42
Quality Wins: NC State, Virginia Tech, UCSB, FIU

The Hoos have been one of the surprise teams in the league, earning some
good non-conference wins against a tough schedule and winning three of their
last four games in the league after a 1-3 start. This painfully young team
brought back only four players from last year but has two great players
in Telisha Quarles and frosh superstar Brandi Teamer, in addition to a
talented young playmaker named LaTonya Blue and a solid shooter in Anna
Prillaman. Quarles is averaging 15.3 ppg but is only shooting 37% from
the field. Still, her quickness makes her a dangerous player even as other
teams swarm her defensively. Teamer has been a revelation in the post,
leading the league in rebounding and using polished moves to score in
the paint and from beyond the arc. Prillaman shoots an impressive 46%
from three while Blue leads the team in assists. With a great RPI, Virginia
is in position to make the NCAA's if they can take care of the teams below
them in standings and knock off one of the better teams. A victory over
State was their most impressive of the year as they shot 52% against one
of the better defensive teams in the league. But being a young team, their
shooting has been erratic. Their biggest problem is rebounding, where Teamer
simply doesn't have much help inside; the Hoos are last in the league in
this category. The big question remaining for this season is: can Virginia's
young players continue to improve or contribute, or will they hit the wall?
Teamer needs another post player to step up on a regular basis, Blue needs
more help with playmaking, and someone else needs to be able to drive to
the basket. Virginia has a nice collection of players, but is probably
one or two short for making a serious ACC run. Still, it will be no easy
task to play them, and they have a great shot at 9 or even 10 ACC wins.

UNC (14-6, 4-4 ACC). RPI: 38
Quality Wins: Old Dominion

UNC emerged early on as the most impressive-looking ACC team in December.
They went to the third round of the preseason NIT, losing to #1 UConn,
and beat tough Old Dominion. A huge loss to South Carolina was acceptable,
considering their meteoric rise in the polls and their win over Duke.
They stomped their first three ACC foes by an average of 25 points before
they lost to a depleted NC State squad in Chapel Hill by a narrow margin.
They shot 26% and were outrebounded by 19, and still only lost by 3 points.
Carolina rebounded with a road win against Clemson, but have since lost
three in a row, being blown out by Georgia Tech and Duke. Worse still,
they lost to Wake Forest on the road at the last second. That came when
senior guard Nikki Teasley was suspended for a game after unsportsmanlike
conduct after the Tech loss. The loss to Duke was especially difficult
since the Heels had a chance to go above .500 in the league and put pressure
on the league leaders, and they were instead beaten easily. The good
news for Carolina is that they have an opportunity to move up very quickly.
A game against Virginia will be a crucial first test, but they will be
favored to beat Maryland and FSU. The Heels actually still have to play
Virginia twice, and those two games will go a long way in determining the
mutual fates of the two squads. Looking at UNC's numbers, it seems like
their recent losses have come because they stopped doing what they excel
at: shooting the basketball and playing pressure defense. They also have
occasional big rebounding deficits, like their -25 against Georgia Tech
and -39 against UConn. Their big problem is their inexperience from their
bench, where there's a big drop-off in quality from the starters to reserves.
When their starters get in foul trouble, especially in their frontcourt,
the Heels are vulnerable. Otherwise, UNC puts up a ton of points, takes
care of the ball, blocks shots like crazy, forces turnovers and generally
shoots well. They may be at times too dependent on pressing other teams,
making them vulnerable in a halfcourt situation. Still, having Nikki
Teasley around makes a team better. She's scoring 15.8 ppg, shooting 38%
from three and dishes 4.3 apg. Coretta Brown is a dangerous and consistent
guard, scoring 15.4 ppg and shooting 36% from three, while passing for
4.1 apg. Frosh sensation Leah Metcalf has been a great scorer from day one,
scoring 12.2 ppg and leading the team in assists at 5.2 per game. Candace
Sutton is one of the best post players in the league, averaging 11.8 ppg,
6.7 rpg and leading the league in blocks at 2.3 per game. Chrystal Baptist
has been a dependable rebounder at 9.1 rpg and adds 9.1 ppg. Beyond that,
the Heels have very young players and inconsistency. Their ability to
score and pressure make them a very viable threat in the second half,
especially in the ACC tourney where the Heels always tend to do well.

Georgia Tech (12-6, 6-3 ACC). RPI: 53
Quality Wins: UNC, Virginia

Perhaps even more surprising than Virginia and more turbulent than Duke
or NC State has been the season of Georgia Tech. They were a major
disappointment last year and looked like they were headed for nowhere this
year after a 5-5 start. Handy backup guard Alex Stewart got injured and
is out for the year. The squad started 1-3 in the ACC and didn't improve
when star guard Niesha Butler came back from academic suspension. While
Sonja Mallory and Regina Tate were rebounding like crazy (8.2 and 7.8 rpg
to date, respectively), the team couldn't shoot and couldn't defend. Then
coach Agnus Berenato made a key move: benching Butler. The two had clashed
for years over Butler's role on the team (ie, how many shots she got) and
it hurt team chemistry. After getting just 1 minute of play in a blowout
against Virginia, Butler quit the team. Tech promptly went on a rampage,
winning 4 in a row, outscoring their opponents by double digits three times.
Tech does it with tough defense, relentless rebounding (nearly +10 per game!)
and all-around team play. The leading scorers are also Mallory and Tate,
a fifth year senior. She scores 13.1 ppg while Mallory adds 14. Then
there's hard-nosed utility guard Milli Martinez, who averages 11.4 ppg,
a remarkable 5.9 rpg and 2 steals per game. Running the show is the steady
Nina Barlin, leading the ACC in assists at 7.9 a game. She's a pass-first
guard whose job it is to feed the post. Tech really has two major weaknesses.
First off, they can't shoot from the perimeter, averaging just 26% from
three. They're also awful from the foul line at 62%. Second, they use
just seven players on a regular basis, though frosh Nefertiti Walker (bringing
up to two the number of ACC players named after Egyptian goddesses) is now
getting more minutes. Considering that they've had 11 foul-outs this year,
this could be a concern. Tech's next game is the big showdown against
Duke in Durham. Winning that game could legitimately give them a chance
at a first place finish and come close to clinching an NCAA bid if they
take care of business in the games they're favored in. 18 wins should also
get them into the tournament.

Duke (16-3, 8-0 ACC). RPI: 5
Quality Wins: Texas Tech, Louisiana Tech, NC State, Virginia

By now, everyone's heard about Crystal White and Rometra Craig leaving
the program in December, and Joanne Boyle's near-death experience with
a brain blood clot. Up to that point, Duke had been seriously underachieving.
They lost to a mediocre Toledo squad and blew a late-game lead at home
to South Carolina. But even in their wins, Duke seemed to struggle against
lesser opponents. Right before White and Craig left, Coach G made an
important adjustment: she started Vicki Krapohl at point guard, freeing up
Alana Beard to become more of a scorer. When White and Craig left, the
remainder of Duke's bench suddenly became incredibly important, with
virtually every player averaging 20 minutes a game. The team simply came
together, and their intensity level and execution improved game by game.
Duke crushed four overmatched opponents (including a now-resurgent Virginia)
before getting a taste of reality at the hands of #2 Tennessee. Since
then, Duke has run off 7 straight wins in the ACC, including road wins
at Clemson, Georgia Tech and NC State. Duke's offense is built around
its fast break and ability to generate steals, but they've won because
they've become efficient in the halfcourt as well. Six players on the
team average at least 2 assists per game, while Iciss Tillis has improved
her post-up and medium-range capabilities. At 15.2 ppg and 8.2 rpg, along
with 2.5 steals per game, she is perhaps the most improved player in the
league. Beard has become more comfortable as a leader and is better able
to pick her spots on offense and defense. Monique Currie has emerged as
a scoring machine who can take opponents off the dribble, hit fade-away
jumpers and rebound. She's averaging 14.8 ppg and 5.8 rpg. Sheana Mosch
is now coming off the bench but still averages 10.8 ppg. Duke tops the
league in scoring, FG%, FT%, three point shooting, assists, steals and
assist:turnover ratio. Their rebounding has been solid, with their lapses
costing them in some games. Their biggest area of improvement has been
three point shooting, which was horrible early on. It's improved because
Duke has become more patient on offense, allowing defenses to collapse
on Beard and Tillis and thus creating wide-open opportunities for Krista
Gingrich (44%) and Vicki Krapohl (54%). Three of Duke's first four games
in the second half of the season will be on the road, and the fourth will
be a showdown with Georgia Tech. Duke can really help their cause if they
do well in these games, especially against the Jackets.

by Rob Clough