Friday, December 2, 2022
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Scores continue to be interesting

Today’s results:

No. 2 Stanford 82, Santa Clara 69

No. 4 Ohio State 96, No. 18 Louisville 77

Auburn 70, Little Rock 48

Purdue 87, Syracuse 78

Virginia 89, Penn State 68

Florida 68, Prairie View A&M, 53

Alabama 88, Mercer 52

Boston College 75, Rutgers 61

Oklahoma 88, Northwestern State 45

Colorado 75, Western Michigan 37

Kansas 74, Texas A&M 42

Wake Forest 63, Minnesota 59

Arizona State 80, Grand Canyon 72

Montana State 71, South Dakota State 66

USC 69, Cal Baptist 58

All scores

Tomorrow’s game schedule

College team news:

Iowa is looking to balance playing time against NC State and Wisconsin this week.

What we’ve learned from Arkansas’ 8-0 start.

Illinois has tied last season’s win total eight games into this year.

College player news:

Guard Grace Berger is day-to-day with a non-season-ending knee injury, and will miss the Hoosiers’ game against North Carolina tomorrow.

Berger will take on a new role while she is out.

Why Kierra Fletcher is winning the Gamecocks’ point guard battle, for now.

Jade Loville promises improvement after a slow start for Arizona.

Transfer N’Yah Boyd is living up to her billing at UTEP.

The NCAA’s starting five for the week.

WNBA news:

The 2023 schedule is out.

ACC/Big Ten Challenge preview

Caitlin Clark blocks a shot last weekend. Iowa Athletics photo.
Caitlin Clark blocks a shot last weekend. Iowa Athletics photo.

Taking place this Wednesday and Thursday will be the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, where two of the best women’s basketball conferences will face each other for superiority. Each has five teams ranked in the AP top 25, with the ACC at nine and the Big ten with seven, via ESPN’s bracketology. Many of the 14 games have very interesting storylines within:

Illinois vs. Pitt

When: Wednesday, 5 p.m. EST

Where: Petersen Events Center, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

How to watch: ACC Network

 

Syracuse vs. Purdue

When: Wednesday, 6 p.m. EST

Where: Mackey Arena, West Lafayette, Indiana

How to watch: Big Ten Network

Key Storyline: Both of these two teams have been slowly turned around by young head coaches. First-year Syracuse head coach Felisha Legette-Jack has the Orange at eighth in the ACC at 5-1, and has them as a pretty solid defensive team, allowing teams to shoot just 33 percent from the field, and averaging six blocked shots and 10.7 steals per game. Second-year Purdue head coach Katie Geralds continues to build off of their tournament appearance last season, as they are currently sixth in the Big Ten at 6-1 with an offense that is averaging 81.6 points per game, shooting 50 percent from the field and 39 percent from 3-point range.

 

Virginia vs. Penn State

When: Wednesday, 7 p.m. EST

Where: Bryce Jordan Center, University Park, Pennsylvania

How to watch: Big Ten Plus

Key Storyline: New Virginia head coach Amaka Agugua-Hamilton has turned around a team that finished dead last in the ACC last season at 5-22, and currently has them at 8-0 at the top of the ACC. Penn State is in a very similar head coach, as fourth-year head coach Carolyn Kieger has improved her team’s record every single year and looks to be doing the same this year as the Nittany Lions are currently third in the Big Ten at 7-0.

 

No. 4 Ohio State vs. No. 18 Louisville

When: Wednesday, 7:30 p.m. EST

Where: KFC Yum! Center, Louisville, Kentucky

How to watch: ACC Network

Key Storyline: These are two teams that are heading in two completely directions, given the expectations they had coming into this season. The Ohio State Buckeyes were ranked No. 14 in the preseason poll and are currently ranked No. 4, thanks to a high-powered offense that is averaging 94 points per game, the third-most in the nation. The Louisville Cardinals were ranked No. 7 coming into this season and have fallen all the way to No. 18, due to a struggling offense that puts so much of a burden on Hailey Van Lith to score, without much help.

 

Wake Forest vs. Minnesota

When: Wednesday, 8 p.m. EST

Where: Williams Arena, Minneapolis, Minnesota

How to watch: Big Ten Network

 

Northwestern vs. Duke

When: Thursday, 5 p.m. EST

Where: Cameron Indoor Stadium, Durham, North Carolina

How to watch: ACC Network

Key Storyline: Even though Duke had high expectations coming into this season, not just thanks to the addition of highly-touted recruit Ashlon Jackson, and already having good shooters such as Celeste Taylor and Shayeann Day-Wilson, they haven’t really reached their full potential this season. This is because their offense has been very standard, with just 68.7 points per game, and Taylor is their leading scorer with 11.7 points per game. 

 

No. 20 Maryland vs. No. 7 Notre Dame

When: Thursday, 6:30 p.m. EST

Where: Purcell Pavilion, South Bend, Indiana

How to watch: ESPN2

Key Storyline: The Notre Dame Fighting Irish have taken a big step this year behind Olivia Miles, Sonia Citron, Maddy Westbeld and Kylee Watson. Being third in the ACC standings, They are tied for fifth in the nation, averaging 90 points per game. They also lead the ACC in field-goal percentage at 48.9 percent, and are second in 3-point range, at 36.8 percent. This is because they really do play as a team, leading the ACC in assists with 18.3 per game and Miles leads in individual assists with 6.7 per game.

 

Nebraska vs. No. 9 Virginia Tech

When: Thursday, 7 p.m. EST

Where: Cassell Coliseum, Blacksburg, Virginia

How to watch: ACC Network

Key Storyline: The Virginia Tech Hokies have definitely lived up to the hype coming into this season with the return of ACC Player of the Year Elizabeth Kitley, and the addition of Ashley Owusu through the transfer portal. Head coach Kenny Brooks really has these women locked in, in his seventh season, as Kitley is still top five in both points and rebounds, and Georgia Amoore, Taylor Soule and Cayla King continue to contribute at a high level. He also really does a great job of emphasizing both sides, as the Hokies are scoring 81.8 points per game and allowing only 44.8 points, leading the entire ACC.

 

No. 12 NC State vs. No. 10 Iowa

When: Thursday, 8:30 p.m. EST

Where: Carver-Hawkeye Arena, Iowa City, Iowa

How to watch: ESPN2

Key Storyline: This might be the most intriguing matchup of all, as the Wolfpack take on the Hawkeyes, who have maybe the nation’s most exciting basketball player in Caitlin Clark, while boasting two other elite offensive players in Monika Czinano and McKenna Warnock. However, NC State is more than capable of getting into a shootout with them with players such as Diamond Johnson, Jakia Brown-Turner and Jada Boyd. They are averaging 83.1 points per game and are second in field-goal percentage at 48.4 percent, and first in 3-point percentage at 38.6 percent, making them more than capable of keeping up with a team as explosive as Iowa.

 

No. 17 Michigan vs. Miami

When: Thursday, 9 p.m. EST

Where: Watsco Center, Coral Gables, Florida

How to watch: ACC Network

Key Storyline: The Miami Hurricanes have been very interesting to follow this season, as they are currently off to a 6-2 start and have won their first three games without their head coach Katie Meier, who was suspended for the first three games of this season as a part of Miami’s cooperation with an NCAA investigation of an “enforcement matter.” It is truly amazing how they story just came and went and we still don’t know exactly what happened there.

 

No. 6 North Carolina vs. No. 5 Indiana

When: Thursday, 6 p.m. EST

Where: Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall, Bloomington, Indiana

How to watch: Big Ten Network

Key Storyline: No one should really be surprised by what the Tar Heels have done this season, given the talent that they have and the fact that they advanced to the Sweet 16 last season. The best guard duo in the ACC, Deja Kelly and Alyssa Utsby, are still playing like it. Kennedy Todd-Williams and Eva Hodgson have also really improved from last season. Head coach Courtney Banghart has dialed up her team’s offense to 11, as they went from averaging 73 points per game last season to averaging 82 points per game this season. 

 

Florida State vs. Wisconsin

When: Thursday, 7:30 p.m. EST

Where: Kohl Center, Madison, Wisconsin

How to watch: Big Ten Plus

Key Storyline: To me, at least, the Florida State Seminoles have been the biggest surprise of the season so far and a lot of that is due to freshman phenom Ta’niya Latson, who has won ACC Player and Rookie of the Week two weeks in a row. I wrote a column about this, so you can check that out for more detail.

 

Georgia Tech vs. Michigan State

When: Thursday, 8 p.m. EST

Where: Breslin Center, East Lansing, Michigan

How to watch: Big Ten Network

Key Storyline: The Georgia Tech Yellowjackets are definitely a leading candidate for biggest disappointment in the ACC so far this season. Even though they are 5-2, they have had trouble beating teams such as Georgia State, Kennesaw State, Air Force and Belmont that really have no trouble beating. You could point to several factors, including the seven new players that they have to work in, an extremely poor offense that is averaging the fewest amount of points in the ACC with just 58.1 points per game, or the fact that they only average nine assists per outing as a team, also at the bottom of the ACC. There is still time for head coach Nell Fortner to turn things around, but she must figure out a way to help her team score more points.

As FSU surpasses expectations early, the sky is the limit

Makayla Timpson launches a shot. Florida State Athletics photo.
Makayla Timpson launches a shot. Florida State Athletics photo.

So far, one of the biggest surprises in the ACC this season has been the success of the Florida State Seminoles. They are currently 7-1 and fifth in the ACC standings, far above their preseason predicted ninth-place finish.

They started the season 5-0, and recently went 2-1 in the Cancun Challenge in Mexico. FSU has managed to do all of this in spite of the loss of four players to the transfer portal in Morgan Jones, Sammie Puisis, Bianca Jackson and River Baldwin, and longtime associate head coach Brooke Wyckoff taking over the program after the retirement of Sue Semrau.

The biggest shepherd for the Seminoles this season has been freshman guard Ta’niya Latson, who is averaging 24.4 points, 5.4 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 1.4 steals and 1.3 blocks per game. Most importantly, she is doing this all while shooting efficiently from the field at 49.7 percent, and from 3-point range at 48.1 percent. I would definitely say that so far, she is definitely the front-runner for ACC Rookie of the Year. I predicted in the preseason that she would make the all-freshman team based on her recruiting ranking, and she has lived up to the hype.

I have especially been impressed with FSU’s defense, which I believe has been the key to their success. They are allowing just 69 points per game, while scoring 85. They lead the ACC in blocked shots with almost seven per game.

The defense is anchored by players such as Makayla Timpson (13.1 points, 9.6 rebounds and 2.5 blocks per game) and Erin Howard (seven rebounds and 1.8 steals per game). The duo has helped enable their team to hold opponents to 36.1 percent shooting from the field and 32 percent from 3-point range.

Seminole starters wait to be introduced at the Cancun Challenge. Florida State Athletics photo.

The team has seen some returners step up this year. Forward Mariana Valenzuela is giving more crucial minutes off of the bench, increasing her scoring average from 2.1 to 7.3 points per game and her rebounding average from 2.3 to 5.6 rebounds per game. 

Guard Sara Bejedi has increased her scoring average from 6.4 to 10.3 points per game, and her assists average from 2.1 to 2.9. Bucknell transfer Taylor O’Brien in three games has averaged 16.3 points, 4.7 rebounds, two assists and 3.3 steals. Kentucky transfer Jazmine Massengill is also an important role contributor with 6.7 points, five rebounds and four assists per game.

I was completely wrong about this team coming into this season. I had them ranked 11th in my preseason ACC rankings, stating that the player losses might be too much to overcome, and I wasn’t completely sure if the other players could really step up and help this team. But with the contributions of both newcomers and returners – to be completely honest – the Seminoles really are a dark horse contender in the ACC.

We won’t be able to get a sense of just how good this team is until conference play begins in December, but given their ability to defend at a high level and their stable of reliable role players, this will be a team that everybody should keep their eye on.

If FSU continues as the pace they’ve been on, and if they continue to play a team game, they could go far not only in conference play, but also in the NCAA Tournament.

Las Vegas tournament disaster should never have happened

The two scoreboards were not widely visible to many. Sue Favor photo.
The Indiana Hoosiers warm up before their game. Sue Favor photo.

I walked into the Mirage Hotel in Las Vegas Friday morning to cover the Las Vegas Invitational basketball tournament, and the place was overwhelming. I began asking employees where the event was, and person after person either said they didn’t know, directed me to someone else, or misdirected me to what they thought I was talking about.

Eventually I found the right ballroom, after walking for quite a distance that included a lot of turns. There were no signs indicating where to go; I followed some players that I finally spotted, and as I got closer, I saw parents in athletic clothing.

I walked through the door and couldn’t believe the setup: a court in a ballroom surrounded by a single row of cushioned chairs, some tables at each end, and some scaffolding where a few people stood, presumably to film the event for the Flohoops broadcast.

Two scoreboards sat at court level, each tilted toward one of the player benches, as is commonly done during high school games and AAU tournaments. The lighting was dim, and it was hard for most to see the score at any given time.

There was no media seating – heck, there was barely any seating at all, and most of the family members of the players, and others, stood during games. I had driven from Los Angeles to cover the tournament, but these people had flown in from New York, Tennessee, Texas and other distant cities. And for all their trouble, there was no seat for them.

The two scoreboards were not widely visible to many. Sue Favor photo.

I finally took a spot at one of the end tables, near the MTSU bench. There were no outlets where I could plug in my laptop. The ballroom was freezing. There was no water available anywhere. “Locker rooms” were rooms behind the bench that were accessed by going out a door, through a long hallway, and into another room.

In the middle of the second game, my laptop started to die, and I decided to go back to my hotel for a while and return for the matchup between No. 6 Indiana and Auburn. It began almost an hour late, at 6:40 p.m. instead of 5:45 p.m., and within the first two game minutes, Hooiser point guard Grace Berger went down with a knee injury.

Team personnel attended to the senior, who returned to the bench a while later with her knee wrapped in ice. There was no medical personnel on hand at the event, nor was there the next night when Auburn forward Kharyssa Richardson went down with an injury, stopping play for about 40 minutes. She was taken to a local hospital as a precaution.

I was sitting near the Hoosier bench during their matchup with the Tigers, and there was an instance when the shot clock suddenly stopped. One of the members of the officiating crew, who was sitting next to me, jumped up and told her associate on the court that the plug had popped out again – right next to us – as people walked by.

“It’s been happening all day,” the referee said, as she fixed it.

I looked down and realized why: none of the cords were taped to the floor, as is standard. It was yet another surreal moment of the day.

So was finding out that there was no press room. I conducted one interview in a banquet room several doors down from the room the court was in. Players and coaches were answering questions on Zoom, too.

Facilities seemed to be pieced together haphazardly. Sue Favor photo.

Teams had apparently been told that there would be a formal setup at the event, similar to that of Athletes United. The tournament had formerly been called the South Point Shootout, but had been moved to the Mirage and would be in a ballroom. But no team expected the crude arrangements, the lack of security, and the complete ignorance of details. One group, apparently not confident in the safety of their “locker room,” lined up their backpacks behind their bench, as players undoubtedly did in high school.

It was insulting. I’ve been to better AAU and high school gyms, and this event had the No. 6 team in the country on hand, in Indiana.

The organization putting on the event is run by Bryce McKey, who was not present. The representative of the organization who ran operations talked to me Saturday, but didn’t want to be identified beyond being “a worker.” Yet this person talked to ESPN’s M.A. Voepel and identified himself.

He told me that the tournament had been planned two years ago, after which time the Mirage had been sold to the Hard Rock Corporation, who didn’t want to do the event. This conflicts with an email from a sports information director from one of the teams that I wrote to in September about the event, who said that “It’s the tournament usually called the South Point Shootout. They had to move it to the Mirage this year – where apparently it will be played in a ballroom – so they had to change the name of it.”

Whatever the case, a Division I tournament that includes Power 5 and mid-major teams has no place in a hotel ballroom.

The “worker” also told me Saturday that he had apologized to each coach at this weekend’s event, and said that the company was done and would never host the tournament again.

Many fans had to stand to watch Friday’s games. Sue Favor photo.

In late summer, when I was planning to make the trip, I was trying to scope out other Division I women’s basketball tournaments in Las Vegas. I wrote to the NCAA and asked if they had a list of sanctioned tournaments that I could look at. They did not seem to know what I was talking about. It wasn’t until the week before my trip that I found out there were two other events in the city that week. I wish I had known about that before.

And I have questions.

Why doesn’t the NCAA have a list of all of the tournaments that teams will be participating in? Why does an organization that doesn’t have trouble regulating most other things seem to have no formal vetting process for events that athletes participate in? Where is the bar for minimum standards? Are they really trying to protect student-athletes? And why is Title IX still not being enforced 50 years after that fact?

Female athletes deserve fair and equal treatment. And they should be able to be confident that their best interests are in the hearts of those who are supposed to be safeguarding them.

Holiday tournament wrap

Phil Knight Tournament:

No. 3 UConn outlasted No. 9 Iowa, 86-79, to take the Legacy tournament title, while No. 8 North Carolina came back from behind to upset No. 5 Iowa State, 73-64, to take the invitational title.

Upsets of the ranked and unranked kind:

No. 22 Michigan 84, No. 21 Baylor 75

Towson 64, DePaul 56

Rice 66, Texas A&M 58

More results:

No. 1 South Carolina 85, Hampton 38.

No. 2 Stanford 68, Hawaii 39

No. 4 Ohio State 105, North Alabama 67

No. 11 Virginia Tech 89, Longwood 28

No. 14 Maryland 87, Pitt 63

No. 18 Oregon 86, Michigan State 78

No. 19 Texas 74, Princeton 50

No. 23 Tennessee 105, Eastern Kentucky 71

No. 23 Villanova 72, South Florida 50

Colorado 83, Chicago State 32

Georgia Tech 58, Belmont 52

UCF 67, Southeast Missouri State 41

Columbia 78, Miami 71

Duke 54, Oregon State 41

All scores

Tomorrow’s game schedule

College player news:

Gamecock standout Aliyah Boston is in a walking boot after a fall during today’s game.

College coach news:

Hoosiers coach Teri Moren criticized the tournament setup her team was in this weekend as “a major miss.”

Setting the table for a big game day

Upsets:

Arkansas took down No. 25 Kansas State, 69-53, for the Paradise Jam title.

Seton Hall handed Georgia their first loss, 86-80.

More results:

No. 6 Indiana 79, Memphis 64

No. 7 Notre Dame gave Arizona State their first loss, 85-65

No. 12 LSU 99, UAB 64

No. 14 Maryland 81, Towson 70

No. 15 Arizona 86, San Diego 60

No. 21 Baylor 75, No. 23 Villanova 70

No. 22 Mmichigan 63, South Florida 58

Florida State 88, Harvard 57

Florida 77, Houston 73 (OT)

Purdue 71, Oklahoma State 65

Nebraska 73, Mississippi State 65 (OT)

Virginia 73, Minnesota 70……and the Cavaliers are off to their best start in 30 years

VCU 75, Wisconsin 67

Georgia Tech 65, Air Force 59

Santa Clara 71, Washington 58

Auburn 74, Colorado State 73

FGCU 63, Hawaii 50

All scores

Tomorrow’s game schedule……..it’s going to be a HUGE day

College team news:

Here are some problems that could arise tomorrow, as UConn takes on Iowa.

The two teams will face off for the Phil Knight Legacy title.

College player news:

Texas point guard Rori Harmon is expected to make her season debut tomorrow, against Princeton.

Florida freshman Frieda Buhner has signed a pro contract in Germany and left the team.

Young season, hot season

Upset:

DePaul toppled o. 14 Maryland, 76-67.

More results:

No. 2 Stanford 93, FGCU 69

No. 3 UConn 78, Due 50

No. 6 Indiana 96, Auburn 81

No. 9 Iowa 73, Oregon State 59

No. 10 Louisville 100, Longwood 37

No. 13 NC State 78, West Virginia 40

No. 15 Arizona 81, Cal Baptist 63

No. 16 Creighton 57, Xavier 51

No. 20 UCLA 72, Jackson State 60

No. 21 Baylor 92, Saint Louis 58

No. 22 Michigan 68, Air Force 48

No. 23 Tennessee 69, Colorado 51

No. 25 Kansas State 93, Northern Arizona 80

Seton Hall 83, Wisconsin 72

Florida State 76, Purdue 75

Oklahoma State 71, Harvard 62

Mississippi State 67, Georgetown 32

Penn State 60, Toledo 59

Texas Tech 72, Middle Tennessee 67

UMass 100, Drake 83

Santa Clara 75, South Dakota 50

Georgia 68, VCU 54

Kansas 76, Maine 49

Arizona State 70, American 61

Washington 71, Fordham 62

South Florida 63, Georgia Tech 50

Arkansas 76, Clemson 62

All scores

Tomorrow’s game schedule

College team news:

How Louisville won today without Hailey Van Lith.

College player news:

Minnesota’s Rose Micheaux is driven to succeed for her brother and best friend.

WNBA news:

The globe-trotting Aces are remaining busy both here and abroad.

Love and basketball, sometimes continents apart.

High school news:

Archbishop Mitty coach Sue Phillips is piling up honors and victories.