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DWHoops Presents ACC Women's Basketball Digest

  Weekly ACC WBB Digest for 12/19/2012
Volume 1, Number 6
 
By Rob Clough

Parsing The Week's Results: In a very quiet week, the most interesting thing that happened was the roster implosion at Clemson. It was announced that star frosh Danaejah Grant and starting soph point guard Chelsea Lindsay would be transferring after the fall semester. Neither played in Clemson's surprisingly solid win against Radford (see below for details). Grant was leading the team with 13 ppg as well as grabbing 6 rpg. It was also announced that soph center Deja Hawkins would be taking a medical redshirt. What has not been officially announced but should be coming any day now, prize recruit Jonquel Jones will also announce that she is leaving Clemson, according to various sources. Jones was putting up 10 ppg, 10 rpg and 2 bpg, though it took her awhile to get up to speed. Jones did not play against Radford either and has been removed from the team website roster. While Itoro Coleman's team responded nicely, there's no question that she's officially entered hotseat territory. Losing her top two recruits and fielding a team that has otherwise only averaged 33 ppg means that this team will really need to embrace an "us against the world" mentality if they want to keep Coleman as their coach. Coleman does have two years left on her contract and I'm not certain the Tigers would fund a buyout for a non-revenue sport, but those transfers are a giant red flag.

Other than routine wins for Florida State, Georgia Tech and Maryland, the only other games of interest that I'm not reporting on below occurred in Chapel Hill. A depleted Heels squad beat winless NC Central in a game for the dark ages, 49-21. This was an excruciating slop fest whose sole redeeming quality was the fact that it gave UNC's younger players a chance to get real minutes thanks to a variety of weird, nagging injuries. Waltiea Rolle hurt her ankle falling down some stairs. A couple of other players were involved in a minor car accident. The team bounced back against Coastal Carolina (a much better team than NCCU) and throttled them as frosh Antoinette Bannister had a big game. If UNC can develop its bench and get its young players ready for spot minutes in big games, then they will go far this season.

Best Win: Clemson 74, Radford 55. In the wake of transfers and players being put on medical redshirt, the Tigers' offensive display against Radford was quite impressive. It should be noted that Radford is not a good team, but Clemson has been defeated by far weaker opposition this year - and often by double digits. Furthermore, Radford gave UNC a tough time a few nights ago, so they certainly aren't afraid of ACC competition. The key to this win was simple: Clemson attacked the basket relentlessly and went to the foul line 35 times as a result. That they only shot 57% from the charity stripe speaks to other issues, but the Tigers also shot over 50% for the second game in a row. Just as important is the fact that Clemson held the Highlanders to just 29% shooting. It's possible that the "magnificent seven" has a lot more fight in them now that several players have translated, but the reality is that their already thin margin of error is now paper-thin. It's going to take a lot of perfect nights just to win any games in the ACC.

Worst Loss: Rutgers 42, Miami 34. Big guns Morgan Stroman, Stefanie Yderstrom, Michelle Woods, and Suriya McGuire combined to go 3-24 from the floor against Rutgers' traditionally sticky zone defense. As a whole, the Canes shot just 19% from the floor and 56% from the foul line (13-23). As good as Miami has been at home the past few years, they've been wobbly on the road. Considering that the Canes outrebounded the Scarlet Knights, they really should have beaten a Rutgers team that is not of vintage quality. Miami missed out on a potentially resume-building win, and that's something that might catch up with them later.

Trending Up: NC State. The Wolfpack Women needed a definitive win against a Presbyterian team that's won five games against a brutal schedule, and they got it. NC State won by 46 points and looked good in all phases of the game: offense, defense, rebounding, pressuring the ball, valuing the ball, etc. As a bonus, Kiana Evans returned from injury to help bolster an already-solid frontcourt. The best part of the win, as coach Kellie Harper noted, was that her team played with energy. State has plenty of talent, but their energy, focus and enthusiasm seems to lag for extended periods of time. If they want a chance at postseason play, they have to play all-out every night for the rest of the year.

Trending Down: Virginia Tech. The Hokies' two losses to fine opponents (Penn State and Florida Gulf Coast) were really only mildly disappointing. The Hokies had a legitimate shot of beating FGCU but fell behind by 13 early and were never quite able to catch up. The fact that they missed 9 of 17 foul shots didn't help in an 8 point loss, nor did star Monet Tellier going 0-8 from the floor. They gave Penn State fits on defense in their 19 point loss but just don't have enough offensive balance to match up against good teams.

Surprise Player Of The Week: Erika Johnson, UNC. After the Heels' unimpressive win against NC Central, Cal transfer Johnson gave the team a shot in the arm against Coastal Carolina. The forward had 8 points and an impressive 9 rebounds. The Heels desperately need an experienced hand off the bench to play inside a bit, and Johnson could be a key member of their rotation.

Stat Of the Week: With my pick for rookie of the year exiting the ACC, let's take a look at the top five rookies to date as we approach widespread conference play. In alphabetical order by team, they are:

  • Nicole Boudreau, Boston College. She's averaging 12 ppg, 4 rpg and 2 apg and shooting 40% from three. She's a key factor in BC's solid start to the year.

  • Alexis Jones, Duke. On a team packed with veterans, Jones is holding her own with 8 ppg, 4 rpg 4.5 apg and 50% from three. She's a fine complement as scorer and playmaker to Chelsea Gray.

  • Tierney Pfirman, Maryland. Scoring 8 ppg and pulling down , 3 rpg. Pfirman's ability to hold down the wing will determine how good Maryland can be this year.

  • Xylina McDaniel, UNC. The current leading candidate for ACC rookie of the year, she's averaging 13 ppg and 10 rpg for a Tar Heel team that desperately needed toughness up front. While turnover-prone (nearly 5 per game!), she has a motor that won't quit.

  • Sarah Imovbioh, Virginia. The redshirt frosh is averaging 12 ppg and 7 rpg while shooting 68% from the field. Her ability to get stickbacks has enabled Virginia to manufacture points out of nothing.

Three Games To Watch (12/19 - 12/25/2012):

  1. Clemson vs Providence (in Myrtle Beach), 12/19. We'll see if a possibly more close-knit Clemson team can actually beat a major-conference opponent. Beating anyone with just seven players as the season progresses will be an increasingly difficult challenge.

  2. NC State @ Miami (12/20). This could be a very interesting game. NC State is the kind of opponent that Miami needs to beat in order to make it back to the NCAA tournament. That's especially true since the game is in Coral Gables. The Wolfpack certainly have the talent to beat the Canes, not to mention the size. This game will come down to NC State's ability to defend Miami's quicker guards.

  3. Wake Forest @ Virginia Tech (12/21). This game should feature the debut of forward Uju Ugoka for the Hokies, who limped to a 4-5 record but did manage to stay competitive. If she can be a difference-maker in the post, then a Wake team that's still adjusting to a new coach will have its work cut out for it. I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if the home team pulled an upset.

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