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Friday, July 19, 2019

NCAA 2010: In Terms of Quality, If This Year Were a Wine, It Would Be Used in Salad Dressing

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By Clay Kallam

So who can argue about anyone else’s Top 25? UConn’s number one, Stanford’s number two and then .... Well, who the heck knows?

I’ve been around the block a few times with collegiate Top 25s and I have to say this year is like no other – aside from the two aforementioned powerhouses, there are more reasons that any team shouldn’t be in the Top 10 than reasons it should. If you could, in 2009-10, you’d have a Top Two, and then skip down to number 11, where there are plenty of available candidates. But number three? Or number five? Not so much.

Some people are putting Baylor way up there, on the basis on the presence of one Brittney Griner, a 6-7 wunderkind who will be a dominant player very quickly, if not immediately. But Griner isn’t enough to vault the Bears into the Final Four—they only have two starters back, their ball-handling is questionable, and so is their shooting. And if Griner takes a half-season to settle in, which is likely, Baylor isn’t even Top 10 material at this point.

North Carolina? If Jessica Breland plays, maybe, but the Tar Heels turned the ball over 708 times last season and are missing two key starters even if Breland comes back. Sure, UNC is talented, and Waltia Rolle will eventually be a good ACC center, but this Tar Heel team is not as good as the ones that have taken the floor in recent years.

Some folks like Ohio State, despite the Buckeyes’ predictable collapses in postseason – but they, too, lost two starters, including Star Allen, an imposing inside presence who helped free up Jantel Lavender. The recruits have their detractors and though Sammy Prahalis should be better, is she going to be better enough to make up for the loss of both Allen and Ashlee Trebilcock? In a word, no.

Notre Dame is getting some early love, with all five starters back, plus super frosh Skylar Diggins, but this team lost nine games last year, including two to Villanova and one to Michigan, and was eliminated by 12-loss Minnesota in the first round of the NCAA tournament. Sure, the Irish should be better, but it’s not like they’re building on a rock-solid foundation.

Joanne McCallie is slowly putting her stamp on the Duke program, but the three seniors she lost (Chante Black, Abby Waner and Careem Gay) aren’t going to be easily replaced. The Blue Devils should be pretty good next year, but this season, they won’t be as good as they were last year.

I could go on in a similar vein, but the theme should be obvious: There are quality teams, but the quality isn’t what it was in 2008-09.

To be fair, though, there are some teams that could qualify as legit Top 10 teams if you squint a little and move your head just so. Tennessee was very young last year, and still doesn’t have a point guard, but the Volunteers are in good position to improve substantially.

Another team to watch out for is Xavier, as Amber Harris could well wind up as one of the top two or three picks in the WNBA draft next spring (after missing last season due to injury), and Ta’Shia Phillips is a big-time post presence. The Musketeers defend, shoot threes well and rebound, and with a little better ball-handling and free-throw shooting, could challenge any of the traditional powers mentioned above – excepting, of course, Stanford and Connecticut.

Middle Tennessee State, Gonzaga, South Dakota State and UC Santa Barbara will also have good mid-major records, and the Blue Raiders and Bulldogs each have WNBA-worthy talent to call on. This year, especially, they are not teams anyone wants to draw in the first couple rounds of the tournament.

In the grand scheme of things, though, this relative drop-off in quality really doesn’t matter that much. If you’re number seven in a good year or a bad year, you’re still number seven, and if you make the Sweet 16, no one will look back and say, “But if 2010 was a wine, it would be used in salad dressing.”

And the odds of Stanford and UConn playing in the championship game aren’t really that high – chances are something will happen to one of them (most likely the Cardinal) along the way, and the title match-up will feature UConn and … well, um, somebody.


Originally published Sun, November 08, 2009

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Week: February 7, 2012
1 Baylor (31) 24-0 1 1 1 775
2 Notre Dame 23-1 2 2 2 743
3 Connecticut 21-2 3 4 3 710
4 Stanford 20-1 4 5 4 685
5 Duke 19-3 6 8 5 650
6 Miami (FL) 20-3 7 7 6 604
7 Kentucky 21-3 5 15 7 584
8 Maryland 20-3 10 10 8 534
9 Wisconsin-Green Bay 20-0 9 24 9 530
10 Ohio State 21-2 11 NR-RV
10 483
11 Tennessee 17-6 8 3 11 476
12 Delaware 20-1 13 NR 12 434
13 Georgetown 18-5 15 11 14 379
14 Texas A&M 16-5 16 6 15 378
15 Nebraska 19-3 18 NR 13 309
16 Rutgers 17-4 14 12 17 372
17 Louisville 17-6 12 9 20 276
18 Gonzaga 21-3 19 NR-RV
19 234
19 Purdue 19-5 17 21 16 222
20 Georgia 18-6 20 12 21 202
21 Penn State 18-5 21 14 18 176
22 DePaul 17-7 23 18 NR-RV
23 Georgia Tech 16-6 22 NR-RV
22 104
24 South Carolina 18-5 NR-RV
NR 24 46
25 Vanderbilt 18-5 NR-RV
NR 45
Dropped Out: No. 24 North Carolina, No. 25 Kansas.
First-place votes: Total first-place votes received (if any) are indicated in parentheses following school name.
Others receiving votes: St. Bonaventure (22-2) 34; North Carolina (17-6) 19; California (17-6) 18; Florida Gulf Coast (21-2) 16; Middle Tennessee (19-5) 15; Texas-El Paso (20-2) 8; Texas Tech (16-6) 5; Brigham Young (21-4) 4; Fresno State (19-4) 4; St. John's (15-8) 4; Princeton (15-4) 3; Oklahoma (15-7) 2; West Virginia (17-6) 2; Kansas State (15-7) 1.
Rank remains unchanged since last week
Ranking has risen since last week.
Ranking has dropped since last week.
Credit: Courtesy Women's Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA). The weekly Division I Top 25 Coaches' Poll, sponsored by USA Today and ESPN, is based on voting by a Board of Coaches made up of 31 head coaches at Division I institutions all of whom are WBCA members.