Alana Beard was named the ACC's player of the week for the fifth time
this season. This has been a recording. She won't win it next week,
since Duke is off until January 6th.
Duke went to Texas and crushed a mediocre Detroit team and a pretty
decent Iowa State squad. Coach G was unhappy with the win against Detroit
(even if it was by 40), because Duke was depending way too much on turning
their opponent over and didn't concentrate on stepping up in the
halfcourt. As a result, Detroit shot 47% (and 50% from three), though they
only managed 38 shots to Duke's 59 and 16 free throw attempts to Duke's
35. Turning the ball over 30 times made it tough for them to do anything.
Coach G also thought Duke could have worked harder on the boards (they
were (+9 for the game).
Duke came out and controlled a much better Iowa State team from the
onset. This is a team whose specialty is the three pointer, with six
different shooters. ISU certainly wasn't shy about putting them up, going
10-24 from the field. Still, that's 41%--much better than against
Detroit, but still too high a mark. That was about the only negative for
Duke, as they forced 18 turnovers, dominated the boards 48-32, and held
ISu to 39% shooting overall. Not surprisingly, Beard was named MVP of the
South Padre Island Shootout. Of greater interest was the identity of the
other Duke players named to the all-tournament team: Sheana Mosch and
Jessica Foley. Mosch was solid against Detroit but played very well
against Iowa State, with 11 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists and a steal.
Jess finally found her stroke, hitting 4 of her 8 threes and scoring a
total of 25 points in the two games. Getting those two on a hot streak
can only help the Devils.
Clemson lost their showdown with Auburn, blowing a late 8 point lead and
losing by 2. The only quality win on their docket was against Western
Kentucky. The Tigers did managed to slog by Miami (OH) tonight on the
road, but it wasn't pretty. Clemson plays Virginia on Thursday to open
their ACC schedule, in a game important to both teams. The Tigers still
have the fourth leading scorer in the ACC in Chrissy Floyd, but she's the
team's only double-digit scorer. Clemson's defense and rebounding have
improved greatly, while they lead the league in blocks. The team still
struggles to score and take care of the ball, however. The best news for
the team is that frosh Amanda White is second in the ACC in rebounding,
while Khaili Sanders is a decent scorer, rebounder and shotblocker (second
best in the league in the last category). The key to the Clemson-UVa game
is tempo. Virginia will want to speed it up and force some turnovers,
while Clemson will want to slow it down and work the ball inside. If the
Tigers take care of the ball and keep Charrise Graham in check, they will
win. If the Hoos force 20 or more turnovers and get some easy baskets,
they will win.
Florida State is still a big question mark, especially after losing to
Northern Arizona. Tonight, they had their clocks cleaned by UConn,
shooting just 34%. The 'noles even led the Huskies 17-13 before UConn
went on a huge run to lead by 13 at the half. FSU also has only one
double-digit scorer, and that's Tasheika Morris at 14.5 ppg. She's not
shooting all that well, but a trio of players that are at around 8-9 ppg
are backing her up. FSU opens their season at Wake Forest. I predict
Wake will spring the upset here. FSU can be shaky on the road (though to
their credit they've played 4 road games prior to this contest). While
Wake doesn't have much depth, I love their starting five. I'm not sure
FSU has anyone who can cover Wake's Eafton Hill on the inside and Cotelia
Bond-Young & Tonia Brown on the perimeter.
Georgia Tech right now is at worst the third best team in the ACC.
They've won 9 in a row, including a dramatic win over archrival Georgia.
The Jackets took care of business against St. John's tonight, setting up a
huge home game against UNC on Thursday. Tech has a big three that relies
on Sonja Mallory's imposing inside presence. At this point, she is a
surefire first-team All-ACC performer. She gets 20 points and 9 boards in
every single game. She's second in scoring and leads the league in
rebounds and blocks. She's an especially lethal offensive rebounder,
grabbing an impressive 3.7 per game. Fallon Stokes is posting up from the
wing and Megan Isom is hitting 36% of her threes, with both scoring in
double figures. Starting point Alex Stewart is scoring decently at 7.9
ppg and leads the league in assists at an impressive 6.4 per game. Frosh
post Kasha Terry isn't scoring a ton, but she's a fine rebounder and
shotblocker. Tech's main concern is that they aren't an explosive club on
offense, don't generate a lot of turnovers, and aren't great shooters.
They defend extremely well and are tough to score on inside. Their
starting five can hang with anyone in the league. Unfortunately, their
depth is questionable. Only Megan Harpring and Ashley Guerrant have been
getting meaningful playing time off the bench. In their home matchup with
UNC, I will take Tech to pull an upset by a slim margin. UNC is playing
very well and tends to rise up to challenges, but Tech's excellent
frontcourt combined with UNC's erratic three point shooting could result
in an ugly game decided by whomever controls the boards. UNC leads the
league in that category, but hasn't faced a player of Mallory's caliber.
If Mallory gets in any kind of foul trouble, UNC will win this game by 15
points. If Mallory stays on the court, look for Tech to win by 3 or 4.
Over in College Park, Maryland continues to struggle, getting blown out
by Miami (FL). The good news is that transfer Delvona Oliver appears to
be for real, averaging 14 ppg in her first two games with the team. This
means that Renneika Razor finally has some help. Razor is averaging 14
ppg, 5.8 rpg, 3.1 apg, 3.5 spg, and his hitting 36% of her threes--a poor
man's Alana Beard. Unfortunately for Razor, there are no Mistie Bass's or
Iciss Tillis's giving her a hand. Maryland doesn't have much of a chance
in their ACC opener against NC State. The Pack have had their problems
scoring this year, but I don't think the Terps can handle NC State's
potent post game.
UNC is having a fine season, having just beaten Charleston Southern.
CSU's coach Stephanie (Lawrence) Yelton's actually fared reasonably well
in this game, losing 84-49, compared to a 70 point beating at the hands of
Duke. Interestingly, she thought UNC was more athletic and had more
one-on-one type players, and that the main reason the score was closer
here was that UNC had been off for so long and that when they played Duke,
the Devils had been rolling. Of course, this is wrong--UNC did indeed
have a 9 day layoff, but Duke had an 8 day layoff before they met CSU.
Yelton is a former UNC player, so perhaps her memory is cast in baby-blue.
UNC does have excellent athleticism and superb balance. There are no
standout scorers this year, but rather a group with a variety of ways to
attack. With Candace Sutton, Nikki Bell and La'Tangela Atkinson, UNC has
a great frontcourt that has led to the Heels leading the league in
rebounding margin (+15). Coretta Brown, Leah Metcalf and Jessica Sell
have felt a little more pressure in the backcourt as the Heels are the
worst-shooting team from three in the ACC. What sets the Heels apart from
most teams in the league is their depth. Eleven different players are
getting ten or more minutes a game; seven different players are averaging
at least 5 ppg. While I did pick Tech to beat the Heels, I think UNC will
beat State, Wake, FSU and Clemson before matching up with Duke. While
there are some problems here and there (point guard continues to be a
nagging issue), there's a ton of experience and talent.
NC State continues to struggle, getting blown out by Old Dominion. ODU
is a good team, but they had been trounced by UNC & Duke and beaten
decisively by Virginia as well. State's scheduled has been absolutely
brutal, and they will have to dominate the ACC to come out with an NCAA
bid. They will beat Maryland this week, but will not beat UNC. Still,
never count out a Kay Yow team, especially with the team's third leading
scorer in Kaayla Chones. State's woes center around one issue: they can't
put the ball in the hole. They simply don't shoot well, beyond Chones.
Virginia gets harder to predict. After stinking it up against Furman
and Ohio State, UVa easily handled top 25 Michigan in a grudge game. Then
they were blown out by Florida. It always hurts when the ACC loses to an
SEC team. Cherrise Graham and Brandi Teamer are the only ones putting up
any real numbers for that team. The Hoos as a whole have depth and
talent, but struggle to shoot, defend and rebound (-3.1 for the season).
The Hoos need to wake up soon, because the ACC will not be easy. Clemson,
NC State and Wake Forest will all be tough road games, while playing Duke
at home is an enormous challenge. If Virginia isn't careful, they could
start the year 0-4 in the ACC. We'll see what kind of lineup Debbie Ryan
puts together before the ACC starts.
Wake now stands at 9-1 after beating an undefeated UNC-Wilmington team,
their best start in years. They start the ACC with three winnable games
in their first four outings: home games with FSU, Virginia and Maryland.
They also have to travel to UNC, a game they won't win. The
Hill/Bond-Young/T.Brown troika is still one of the best "big threes" in
the league. Beyond that, Wake has no depth and little talent. Their
starting five can hang, but I don't know how long they could hold out
against, for example, UNC's depth.
Finally, a quick look at the ACC rookies. I had predicted the following
players would be All-Rook:
Lindsay Harding, Duke
LaTangela Atkinson, UNC
Kasha Terry, Georgia Tech
Charmaine Carr, Maryland
Ganiyat Adeduntan, Florida State
Atkinson and Terry have both been terrific, with Atkinson a top-15
scorer and top 3 rebounder. She's the current leader for ACC Rookie of
the Year. Carr has been OK for Maryland but not brilliant. Harding has
been one of two excellent rookies for Duke. Harding is top 10 in the
league in assists, steals and assist:turnover ratio. Adeduntan has also
been a good player. Harding is still a borderline top-5 frosh, but has
been bumped by her teammate Mistie Bass. She's a top 20 scorer and good
rebounder who has added a new dimension to Duke. Also on this list should
be Wake's Cotelia Bond-Young. A deadly three point shooter and adept
ballhandler, she's been able to handle either guard position. The last
player I'd add is Khaili Sanders of Clemson. She's a top thirty scorer,
top ten rebounder, and second ranked shotblocker for a team that needs all
of those elements. Throw in Atkinson and Terry, and that's my all-frosh
team going into the ACC season. This can, of course, change around at any