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DWHoops Presents ACC Women's Basketball Digest

  Weekly ACC WBB Digest for 11/21/2012
Volume 1, Number 2
By Rob Clough

Editor's Note: Welcome to the inaugural entry in our weekly ACC Women's Basketball Digest! We hope you'll join us here all year long for our unique analysis of ACC results, trends, surprises, and more. Please note that this entry is actually #2 in our 2013 publication, with #1 being our 49 page Conference Preview that is for sale here. But first it's time to dive right into another exciting ACC season! --Orin

Parsing The Week's Results: The first two weeks of the ACC saw some positive signs for programs like NC State, UNC, Virginia and Florida State, who are looking to make it back to the NCAA tournament. UNC won the Preseason Women's WNIT (see "Trending Up" for more details"), getting better with each game. The Hoos earned a convincing win over tough in-state rival James Madison (the team that knocked them out of the WNIT last year) and eked out a comeback road win against Penn. The emergence of redshirt frosh Sarah Imovbioh on the boards is the most interesting development in Charlottesville so far. NC State won their own tournament as JuCo center Markeisha Gatling is making everyone else better because of the space she occupies. That's especially true of junior Kody Burke, who's emerged as a dominant scorer in the early going. FSU's success includes a big win against arch-rival Florida. The Noles are using a line-up that one might say is counter-intuitive, bringing starters Alexa Deluzio and Natasha Howard off the bench and using two point guards to push tempo with Morgan Toles and Yashira Delgado. Chelsea Davis is acting as a mobile post, while Chasity Clayton is the power forward in this super-quick lineup that features Leo Rodriguez as the third guard and primary shooter.

Meanwhile, the most notable thing about Duke's opening blow-out wins is that center Elizabeth Williams was a force in both of them. Duke's upperclassmen are currently carrying the team until more reinforcements arrive off the injured list. Maryland had a couple of promising blowout wins of their own until running into St Joseph's (see Worst Loss, below) and the reality that lacking a point guard is going to hurt them at times this season. Georgia Tech and Miami have run into stumbling blocks of their own. The Jackets were hammered by Tennessee in their opener, a game after the Lady Vols lost to Middle Tennessee State. They earned a narrow victory against Marquette to bounce back, a game that showed that the emergent frosh this year in the Flats may well be wing Brittany Jackson, who had 21 points and a quintet of treys. But the Jackets still have serious issues in the post. Miami's 41-game home winning streak was snapped by Tennessee, who built a 20 point+ halftime lead, allowed a big comeback by the Canes, and then restored order down the stretch.

Turning to the bottom of the league, Wake Forest is showing some promise under new coach Jen Hoover, but still dropped a road game against Kansas that could have helped them down the line. We'll find out what they're really made of this week -- and their 1-point win against UNC-Wilmington at least shows that they can win close games. Read below for more details about Virginia Tech (Stat of the Week), Boston College (Best Win) and Clemson (Trending Down). Suffice it to say that all three of these teams are in trouble in different ways. Clemson has talent but no cohesion or experience; BC has experience but little talent, and VT is missing a key part of their team who could turn them into a real threat.

Best Win: Boston College 62, BYU 56. This is the kind of win that, if used properly by coaches and players, can change the course of an entire season. BC has the least talent and athleticism in the league, but there are some skilled players and a coach in Eric Johnson who has a handle on how best to use what he's got on hand. This win against an RPI top 50 opponent is a blueprint for how they can more games: keep turnovers low (10), get the ball early and often to center Katie Zenevitch (16 points, 12 rebounds, a team-high 13 field goal attempts), stay close on the boards (-2) and keep the score in the 60s.

Worst Loss: St. Joseph's 50, Maryland 49. Conversely, this game could serve as a blueprint on how to beat Maryland: keep the score low, keep the ball out of the hands of their posts, and go all-out in attacking their ball-handlers. Maryland did not score in the last seven minutes of the game and coughed up a pair of 7-point leads in the second half. Rampaging forward Tianna Hawkins was held to 3 points on 1-5 shooting. Maryland may have been distracted by rumors of their departure to the Big Ten; these rumors proved to be true, meaning that this will be the Terps second to last ACC campaign.

Trending Up: UNC. Playing their toughest early-season schedule in years, the Heels eked out two early wins, blew out ranked Georgetown, and then beat a tough Iowa team on the road. The Heels are doing it with a blend of experience and youth -- the senior trio of Tierra Ruffin Pratt, Krista Gross and Waltiea Rolle have stepped up, aided by the relentless energy of forward Xylina McDaniel. As a result, UNC's rotation has managed to stabilize early after a season of chaos last season. That lineup is still thin, but there's potential to grow it.

Trending Down: Clemson. All of that young, new talent has fallen flat on its face, starting the season out at 0-3. The Tigers dropped a close game to Big South also-ran Presbyterian, losing 49-46 on a last-second three. Then they lost in overtime in respectable fashion to South Florida, 75-73. They were in position to win both games but couldn't do it. That's why it was so disappointing to see the Tigers brutalized by arch-rival South Carolina, 64-43. The Tigers are rising and falling with their sophs and frosh for the most part. That lack of experience is hurting them down the stretch and opening them up to long periods of immaturity on the floor against elite teams. Coach Itoro Coleman desperately needs to string together a few wins for the team to feel better about itself.

Miami's Michelle Woods
Michelle Woods
Click to enlarge
Surprise Player Of The Week: Michelle Woods, Miami. In the U's 2-1 start, Woods has emerged as the most consistent scorer. Considering that she was a fairly deep reserve last year, it's been remarkable to see this guard supplant the more heralded Suriya McGuire in the starting lineup, putting up 19 ppg and shooting 60% from three. Considering that this includes a good showing against top 25 Tennessee, one might guess that she will continue to lead the team in scoring. For a club that desperately needed someone other than forward Morgan Stroman and guard Stefanie Yderstrom (currently mired in a slump) to score, this is good news indeed.

Stat Of the Week: 29. That's the number of points Virginia Tech scored against Michigan State in their loss. That's 4 fewer points than rebounds they collected, and only 8 more points than turnovers. Stars Aerial Wilson, Alyssa Fenyn and Monet Tellier combined for 6-22 shooting from the field. The good news is that potential star Uju Ugota is now 1/3 of the way through her NCAA-mandated nine game suspension.

Three Games To Watch (11/21 - 11/27/2012):

  1. Florida State and Virginia vs Vanderbilt, 11/23 & 11/24 (San Juan Shootout). I'm not exactly sure how two ACC teams wound up in the San Juan Shootout, but it's an opportunity for two teams looking for a bounceback NCAA season to prove themselves against a quality opponent. I expect FSU to win this game and Virginia to narrowly lose.

  2. NC State vs Florida, 11/23 (Las Vegas Invitational). The Wolfpack Women have been erratic away from Reynolds the past few years, so this will be a solid test against a decent major conference foe. If NC State wins this one convincingly, then it will be time to take them seriously.

  3. Wake Forest vs UConn, Purdue, Marist, 11/22 - 11/24 (Paradise Jam). This is a bit of completely crazy scheduling for Wake, one that will either make them better or else shatter the team's confidence. Beating UConn is way beyond their capabilities; Purdue and Marist are both well coached squads but winnable games for the Deacs. So, we'll quickly see how good a coach Jen Hoover actually is after this challenging stretch.

Please join us each Wednesday for the latest edition of the Digest, and don't forget to check out our great 2013 Conference Preview (purchase includes a free annual site membership).


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