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DWHoops Presents ACC Women's Basketball Digest

  Weekly ACC WBB Digest for 1/2/2014
Volume 3, Number 7
By Rob Clough

Digest ACC Power Rankings
Through December 31, 2013

#1 Duke 12-1,
Next: 1/2 ODU
1/5 @GT (ESPN3)

#2 Notre Dame 11-0,
Next: 1/2 SDSU
1/5 CLEM

#3 North Carolina 11-2,
Next: 1/2 JMU
1/5 MD (ESPNU)

#4 Maryland 12-1,
Next: 1/5 @UNC (ESPNU)

#5 Florida State 12-1,
Next: 1/2 @PITT

#6 Syracuse 11-2,
Next: 1/5 @NCSU

#7 NC State 13-1,
Next: 1/5 CUSE

#8 Georgia Tech 10-3,
Next: 1/5 DUKE (ESPN3)
1/8 @CLEM

#9 Virginia Tech 10-2,
Next: 1/5 @BC

#10 Miami 8-4,
Next: 1/4 @WF

#11 Boston College 8-5,
Next: 1/5 VT

#12 Wake Forest 9-4,
Next: 1/4 MIA

#13 Virginia 7-6,
Next: 1/5 PITT

#14 Pittsburgh 8-6,
Next: 1/2 FSU
1/5 @UVA

#15 Clemson 7-6,
Next: 1/2 @NJIT
1/5 @ND
1/8 GT

Editor's Note: Our sidebar is presented in pink in
remembrance of Kay Yow
Editor's Note: Three New Year's Day games overlapped our publication deadline and will be covered in next week's Digest: BC defeated Mount St. Mary's, Miami lost a squeaker to Penn, and Virginia Tech fell at Hampton.

Parsing The Week's Results:

There were a few good games this week, but the ACC mostly fattened up on weak nonconference competition in order to scrape off the post-holiday rust in anticipation for league play beginning next week. See below for some of the more interesting exceptions. Miami held their own holiday tournament and got easy, much-needed wins against Morgan State and New Mexico, for example. The U got contributions from a number of players and put both games away before halftime. Maryland crushed overmatched Wofford and Charleston in their own Terrapin Classic. Alyssa Thomas had a triple-double against Wofford. NC State went out to warmer climes and won San Diego State's Surf 'n Slam Classic. They beat a solid Kansas State club in the first round and then knocked off the hosts in the final, as hitting 13-28 from three was way too much for the Aztecs to cope with. I'm surprised that the Wolfpack Women haven't yet entered the polls, but if they keep winning, it will only be a matter of time.

Florida State scored an easy win against UT-Martin, but there were actually a few interesting games play. Boston College scored a solid road win against a BCS opponent when they knocked off Providence. In a game that was tight for a few minutes in the second half, BC pulled away on the strength of its three point shooting and discipline. Virginia Tech squeaked by Robert Morris in a game marked by foul trouble for the Hokies. When VT doesn't have its starting five in the game, especially its frontcourt players, they are vulnerable against any team in the country. Finally, Notre Dame actually trailed at the half against a mediocre Oregon State team on the road and led just 58-56 with about five minutes to go before they put the game away. OSU turned them into a bit of a jump-shooting team and took away their ability make easy passing connections. A number of coaches will be studying this game tape.

Best Win: Georgia Tech 89, Hampton 70. A game after trouncing overmatched Alabama State, the Jackets took on one of the best mid-majors in the country in Hampton. After a tight opening thirty or so minutes of play, Tech broke open a 52-all tie with a tremendous 21-2 run fueled by frosh Kaela Davis and Katerina Vuckovic. Davis has been killing everyone all season, but Vuckovic had been hampered back by an injury while making the adjustment to American college basketball. Coach MaChelle Joseph (who compared Vuckovic's length to former Duke player Allison Vernerey) thought she could be effective as a stretch four, and that's just what she did during the run, hitting threes and short jumpers while grabbing 8 rebounds. Tech hit their foul shots down the stretch and kept Hampton at arm's length the rest of the way. Getting a win over a good team was important, but developing young players for a team that needs size that can score is even more crucial going into ACC play. You can view Orin's coverage of this game including photos here.

Worst Loss: Middle Tennessee 76, Clemson 51. The Tigers fell behind early, rallied to pull within six at the half, and then succumbed to a 10-2 run early in the second half. The Tigers couldn't capitalize on good defensive play and pretty much packed it in down the stretch. If the Tigers can't compete with a solid mid-major opponent on the eve of conference play, then they will have little chance against the vast majority of ACC teams.

Trending Up: Virginia. Beating Coppin State and Princeton by modest margins doesn't represent a huge achievement, but the Hoos needed to see baskets go in and needed to get any kind of wins going into ACC play. Beyond those wins, however, is something that could be a significant development. Frosh guard Tiffany Suarez had a great game against Coppin State with 16 points, 6 assists and 3 steals. She was promoted to starter against Princeton and had a more modest 5 points and 2 assists, but in a desperate search for someone to play point guard, coach Joanne Boyle may have found her woman. If Suarez can continue to improve and stay healthy (she missed much of the season due to rehabbing some injuries), that will make things easier for Kelsey Wolfe and Lexie Gerson.

Trending Down: Syracuse. The Orange have no one to blame but themselves in their close loss to Arizona State. They had a chance to pick up another win against a ranked opponent, this time on the road, and their youth really showed as they made mistakes down the stretch. At the end of the first half, Syracuse coughed up an arm's length lead and made the game tighter than it should have been. The Orange managed to stay in front most of the second half until ASU got a stickback with 1:31 to go. Not blocking out to prevent that shot was a huge play. Briana Day then missed two free throws that would have put the Orange back on top. ASU missed, got an offensive rebound but then turned the ball over thanks to tremendous pressure from the Orange. However, Brittney Sykes was called for an offensive foul, and that was the ballgame when ASU hit 2 free throws after the Orange were forced to foul. Syracuse is going to be in a lot of close games against elite teams, and they have to figure out a way to make winning plays down the stretch.

Surprise Player Of The Week: Marquel Davis, Pitt. Against tough mid-major Duquesne, Davis had 16 points and 4 rebounds. Fairly quiet for most of the season, she came up big in a game that meant a lot both for her team and her new coach. I wouldn't quite call it a statement win, but it was a solid building block for a rebuilding program.

Stat Of the Week: 48, 24, 3-15. The 48 represents the school record number of points that freewheeling guard Chelsea Douglas scored in a thrilling road win against FIU. She outdueled FIU's Jerica Coley, last year's national leader in scoring, who had 47 points. Amazingly, Douglas got those points on just 25 shots. The 24 represents the number of points from Wake's other top player, Dearica Hamby, on 10-17 shooting. The 3-15 represents the combined field goals made and attempted by the other eight Deacs who participated. This is Wake Forest in a nutshell this year.

Five Games To Watch (1/1 - 1/7):

  1. FSU @ PItt (1/2 7pm) This is the ACC opener, one that promises to be a fairly easy win for the Seminoles. Still, if FSU gets into foul trouble and Pitt gets help from its bench, this game might be closer than one would think.

  2. Miami @ Wake Forest (1/4, 4pm) This has the potential to be an entertaining game if a duel breaks out between Wake's Chelsea Douglas and Miami's Suriya McGuire. The winner of the game will be the team that wins the rebounding battle. Orin will be in Winston-Salem for full coverage of this game.

  3. Syracuse @ NC State (1/5, 2pm) This is a statement game for two programs that are rebuilding for different reasons. NC State has posted a couple of big wins and is especially tough at home. Syracuse just dropped a brutally close road game and needs to prove itself in the ACC. If NC State is patient in their offensive attack, then their shooting should win the day for them.

  4. Maryland @ UNC (1/5, 3pm) This is a huge opener for both teams, as the Terps haven't really been tested other than their loss to UConn and the Heels are looking to prove that this version of the team is an elite one. Expect a lot of mistakes as both teams will field young teams. What it will come down to is UNC's ability to keep Alyssa Thomas of Maryland under control. If she posts big numbers, then the Heels will likely lose. Orin will be in Chapel Hill for full coverage of this game.

  5. Duke @ Georgia Tech (1/5, 2pm, ESPN3) This is a huge opportunity for the Jackets to get a major win at home. They are young, but their bench is growing and they certainly have the firepower to keep up with Duke. The question is, can they shut down Duke's prolific offense? A full DWHoops preview of this game will be published Friday, and Rob will also provide a full recap at DWHoops.

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