By Rob Clough|
Parsing The Week's Results:
The biggest game this week was Duke's loss to #1 UConn, a game that demonstrated just how wide the gulf is between UConn and everyone else in the country this year. (see below for more). That loss puts Notre Dame into the #1 slot in my power ranking, as they stayed undefeated going on the road against Michigan (see below). Syracuse beat Temple behind a huge game from center Shakeya Leary. However, the Orange nearly coughed up a big lead to the sweet-shooting Owls, once again creating concerns that their zone may not be tight enough to contain teams with multiple three point shooting threats.
Virginia Tech got some good news this week when frosh sniper Maddison Penn returned from injury. She bolstered VT's bench with 8 points as the Hokies held off a surprisingly competitive USC-Upstate team. Going into the ACC season, coach Dennis Wolff has to be ecstatic about the productivity of his starting five but concerned about the state of his bench. Florida State easily dispatched North Florida, but the best news for the Noles is that Emiah Bingley is finally eligible. The transfer from Iowa State had 6 points and provided some desperately-needed depth at guard. Now with eight players, FSU has a team that can function in the ACC.
Pitt and Clemson both picked up needed wins. Brianna Kiesel continues to dominate the Panthers' scoring, but she got support from Asia Logan in the win against Old Dominion. The Tigers got 24 points (all on threes) from guard Kelly Gramlich as the Tigers whipped South Carolina State. Interestingly, veterans Nikki Dixon and Quinyotta Pettaway are now coming off the bench, and both had big games. Maryland crushed Delaware State in a game where frosh Shatori Walker-Kimbrough continued her excellent start. She's now Maryland's second-leading scorer at 10 ppg. Wake Forest easily defeated UNC-Wilmington, thanks to double-digit scoring by redshirt frosh Kelila Atkinson. Chelsea Douglas didn't reach double figures for the first time all year, so the fact that Wake was able to get some offense from elsewhere was a good sign. Boston College got over .500 thanks to wins against Boston University and New Hampshire. Frosh Kelly Hughes earned ACC rookie of the week thanks to her offensive burst off the bench, while Kat Cooper continues to play well (see below).
Best Win: Notre Dame 86, Michigan 64. This true road win against a solid Big 10 team was anchored by another rock-solid game by Natalie Achonwa (18 points, 9 rebounds). Jewel Loyd's short game dominated the Wolverines, as she had 20 on 10-14 shooting. The Irish put this one away at the half, and that level of focus, talent and depth is what now has them atop the ACCWBB's power rankings this week. The buzz around the press room at the Duke-UConn game was that the Irish were one of the very few teams that had a chance against the Huskies this year.
Worst Loss: UConn 83, Duke 61. This happened to be the ACC's only loss of the week, but the Huskies once again dominated the Blue Devils. What was a close game turned ugly in the first half when UConn pushed a 1 point lead up over 20 thanks to a display of precision passing. For their part, Duke was reduced to a jump-shooting squad during that stretch. What really hurt the Blue Devils was their inability to close out on open shooters as the Huskies shot 12-24 from three--most of those wide open shots created by one of UConn's 25 assists.
Trending Up: North Carolina. The fact that the Heels blew out two weak opponents in Charleston Southern and New Orleans isn't what impressed me about their week and their future. It's the fact that coach Andrew Calder finally moved all four of his stud frosh into the starting lineup. Stephanie Mavunga has been a mainstay in the starting lineup all season long, thanks to her consistent ability to score, rebound and block shots. However, Allisha Gray, Jessica Washington and even Diamond DeShields have spent some time coming off the bench. It's obvious that this group has the potential to develop some special chemistry together, and putting them alongside Xylina McDaniel is UNC's best chance to evolve into a true championship threat, even if they wind up taking some lumps along the way. Of course, it's also evident that there aren't necessarily better choices to start sitting on the bench. Brittany Rountree is probably better utilized as a shooting threat off the bench because of her limitations as a player. Latifah Coleman is a solid point guard backup, one who can also provide some scoring punch off the bench. The Heels can bring in size with Hillary Fuller and Hillary Summers and a physical, veteran athlete in Danielle Butts. Given that UNC doesn't have any seniors anyway, it makes sense to go with not only your best five players, but the five players who play best together.
Trending Down: None. Even the worst teams in the ACC had moments of hope this week, as Clemson, BC and Pitt all got solid wins and encouraging play from a number of different players. While Duke's loss to UConn was discouraging, the Devils did show far more fight in their loss than they have against the Huskies in recent years.
Surprise Player Of The Week: Kat Cooper, Boston College. A deep reserve last year, Cooper has been pressed into service thanks to BC's extreme difficulties with regard to injury. Already missing two players expected to contribute in the post, veteran guard Shayra Brown hasn't played since injuring her foot in BC's opener against Stanford. Cooper has slowly come on and took Alexa Coloumbe's spot in the starting line-up. She had 21 points (5-8 from three) against New Hampshire and 10 points against Boston University, adding some desperately-needed offense for a team that simply doesn't have a lot of options outside of its top two or three players.
Stat Of the Week: 54-36, 33-20. Miami was outrebounded by Coppin State 54-36 in their narrow win over the Eagles, and the reason why they won is that they forced 33 turnovers to their own 20. Coppin State had 23 offensive rebounds, and if they had shot a little better at the foul line (12-23), they may well have pulled off the upset. This also reflects Katie Meier's scramble style of defense, with a lot of pressing, trapping and ball pressure. It's a high-risk/high-reward system, but those rebounding numbers show that this is the only way her team can win. Without much size at either end and a team reliant on guards, Miami will be vulnerable to big teams that focus on rebounding all year, especially when their default halfcourt defense is a zone. As a result, Miami will be walking a razor's edge for much of the season, making their games potentially some of the closest and most entertaining to watch in the ACC this season.
The ACC Women's Basketball Digest and ACCWBBDigest.com are published by DWHoops. Website Contents are Copyright ©
2012-2015 DWHOOPS.COM (Orin A. Day, Durham, NC, USA.),
All Rights Reserved.