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Saturday, July 20, 2019

Up and Down the ACC:  Duke Loss to Notre Dame Caps a Gloomy Week in the League

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Photo Caption: Georgia Tech center Sasha Goodlett takes Full Court’s “Surprise ACC Player of the Week” honors after carrying her team into overtime in a near-upset of nationally ranked Green Bay last week behind a game-high 20 points, plus five rebounds, three steals and three assists. The 6-5 senior center (and tallest player on a Georgia Tech women’s basketball roster since the 6-7 Dolores Bootz played her last game more than 33 years ago, played well beyond her season average of 10.3 points (second-best for the Jackets) and 5.2 boards per game.

Photo Credit: Courtesy Georgia Tech Media Relations/IU Services

By Rob Clough

In what was a terrible week for the ACC all-around, Duke coughed up a 16-point halftime lead against Notre Dame in the finals of the Junkanoo Jam on Saturday, November 26. The first half had been all Duke, as their powerful post game led by frosh sensation Elizabeth Williams (16 points, 13 rebounds, seven blocks) easily dominated the Irish, ranked No. 3 this week in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches’ Poll and No. 4 by the AP voters.  Irish star Natalie Novosel had a nightmare first half but put the cap on the Notre Dame comeback by hitting a foul-line shot with one second left, giving Notre Dame the 56-54 victory.

After Haley Peters scored to push Duke’s lead to 18 in the opening minute of the second period, the Blue Devils missed their next 14 shots. Meanwhile, the maturity and chemistry of the Irish lineup cut into the young Duke team’s lead, and Duke Coach Joanne P. McCallie could do nothing to stem the changing tide, though, curiously, she called few time-outs in an effort to shift momentum.

The loss was both encouraging and discouraging for Duke. It was encouraging as proof that this team has the talent to play with the best of the best and take them to the limit.  It was discouraging in that there seemed to be no on-the-fly adjustments made in the second half and that the team broke down mentally as much as anything. The Devils whipped Gardner-Webb (one of the worst teams in the country) in their first-round game at the Jam.

Let’s take a look at how the rest of the league fared last week, before moving on to highlight the best of the coming week’s lineup.

Parsing The Week’s Results

From top to bottom, there wasn’t much good news for the league to hang its hat on last week. Georgia Tech popped into the rankings at No. 25, but their appearance was short-lived. The Jackets crushed Kennesaw State (94-51), but then promptly got blown out by No. 13 Rutgers (40-59) and nipped by No. 18 Green Bay in the San Juan Tournament (62-67, OT). They’ve dropped back out of the rankings this week but continue to receive votes.

The Jackets shot just 21 percent against the stingy Scarlet Knights, with only Ty Marshall tallying double figures (12 points).  The Green Bay loss will be a far more bitter pill to swallow.  Tech led, 29-22, at the half as both teams played at a fast and furious pace that resulted in lots of turnovers but little scoring.  Green Bay made a comeback but Georgia Tech still led by three with 10 seconds left and Marshall at the line for what could have been a game-clinching free throw.  She missed the shot and Green Bay’s Adrian Ritchie hit the tying three to send the game into overtime.

In the extra minutes, the Jackets led, 62-57, with 3:10 remaining, but then stalled, failing to score again, as Green Bay went on to win, 67-62. Green Bay’s Ritchie drained another three to tie the game at 62. Out of a timeout, Tech’s Metra Walthour turned the ball over.  Jacket Dawnn Maye then fouled Julie Wotja, who knocked down both penalty shots to put Green Bay ahead for good.

What these games tell us about Georgia Tech is that the Jackets are no closer to finding that elusive third scorer this season than they were last year.  Marshall is a rock, but Walthour is an erratic scorer and star frosh Sydney Wallace didn’t even make it off the bench against Green Bay after a poor showing against Rutgers.  Tech’s defense and physical play will win them a lot of games, but this isn’t a team with a very high ceiling.

Looking at the top of the league, No. 9-ranked Miami won the Great Alaska Shootout by beating Alaska-Anchorage (72-55) and then South Florida (92-77).  Though both wins were by double figures, neither was especially impressive.  The Hurricanes are still working out the best way to utilize their depth, and that’s resulted in some disjointed lineups.

No. 6/7 Maryland continued its winning ways, easily dispatching St. Joseph’s (94-71), then thrashing Florida International (84-52) and Cal-State Bakersfield (114-83) to capture FIU’s holiday tournament.  None of these wins was especially impressive, but the young Terps played well, especially the sophomores.

No. 14/13 North Carolina is also undefeated, but continued to play a “confidence-building” early-season schedule with uninspiring wins over Presbyterian (61-38) and Kennesaw State (76-62).  The Heels, already down a couple of players with Tierra Ruffin-Pratt recovering from surgery and Waltiea Rolle recovering from giving birth, dressed only eight players for the latter game.  Sophomore guard Latifah Coleman tore her ACL against Presbyterian and is out for the year.  Fellow soph guard Shannon Smith has been having hamstring issues.  Frosh wing Whitney Adams has a separated shoulder and only managed to play three minutes against Presbyterian and two against Kennesaw State.  Laura Broomfield, the ACC’s leading rebounder, sat out the Kennesaw game with a boot on her injured left foot.  Coach Sylvia Hatchell predicted both Broomfield and Smith will be back in time for UNC’s first real contest of the season, this week’s match-up with Penn State, but it remains to be seen whether this skeleton crew can win against real teams.

That ends the happy news portion of this column.  We now return to disappointment and woe.  Florida State (RV/-), a team many thought was a legitimate contender for the ACC title, fell to 3-4 on the season after back-to-back home losses to No. 10/11 Louisville (76-85) and an unranked but spunky Nebraska squad (63-66).  Losing to the Cardinals is perhaps understandable; FSU’s guards were no match for them.  But the three-point loss to Nebraska (now 6-0, bouncing back after a horrible season last year) is inexcusable, given that the Seminoles had a 13-point lead minutes into the second half.  The Seminoles then underwent a seven-minute drought in which they scored but a single point, allowing Nebraska slowly to catch up.  The ‘Noles still led by three with just over two minutes remaining, thanks to a lay-up by Alexa Deluzio, who finished with 13 points and four assists but an equal number of turnovers. But Nebraska immediately responded with a game-tying trey by Brandi Jeffrey. Both teams went silent on offense for the next minute-and-a-half until the Huskers took the lead for good on a lay-up by Emily Cady with 39 seconds on the clock. The remainder of the game played out on the foul line.

Last week, I mentioned that Seminoles coach Sue Semrau was looking for a bench. Now she seems to be looking for a starting point guard.  She benched Tay’ler Mingo after several uninspired performances and gave Deluzio the reins, bringing shooter Leonor Rodriguez in as a starter.  That hasn’t worked out very well, either.  Center Cierra Bravard is still unstoppable, but the other pieces on the team are solid but not of star quality.  The gap between Miami, Duke, Maryland and the rest of the league seems to be getting

Last week’s darlings, the Virginia Cavaliers, promptly regressed back to the mean after a forgettable visit to Hawai’i.  Coach Joanne Boyle’s squad was pummeled by her mentor Gail Goestenkors’ Texas team (53-79).  After a 60-43 win over hosting Hawai’i, the Hoos were also beaten by Boyle’s most recent former team, California, albeit by a somewhat closer score of 50-59. Unfortunately, the final box doesn’t tell the whole unhappy story. Virginia was down by as many as 15 points before rallying to within three, but they couldn’t quite pull off the comeback.

Chelsea Shine and Arianna Moorer have been solid for Virginia, but soph guard Ataira Franklin has yet to really get it going this season. That knee injury certainly set her back in terms of timing. I’m tempted to give the Hoos a bit of a mulligan thanks to the travel they endured and the emotional nature of these games for Boyle, especially since they did manage to beat Hawai’i, but this team can’t afford any more slip-ups in preconference play if they want to be taken seriously come tournament time.

In other league action, North Carolina State defeated Jacksonville (80-42), but lost, 67-74, at Creighton in the Marissa Kastanek homecoming game.  The Wolfpack women’s defense once again proved to be problematic as the Blue Jays shot 12-for-28 from three to beat State.

Wake Forest also thumped Jacksonville (83-54), and also routed Mercer (90-44) in an easy week. Enigmatic center Sandra Garcia came off the bench to score 20 points in just 24 minutes against the Dolphins.

Boston College easily dispatched Bryant (68-42) in their only game last week as center Katie Zenevitch continued her recent solid play with 12 points. 

Visiting the nether reaches of the ACC, Clemson managed to lose to North Carolina A&T in Greensboro by 10 points (66-76). Nikki Dixon continues to be a bright spot, putting up 14 points for the Tigers in the loss.

Finally, Virginia Tech took a pounding last week with losses to William and Mary at home (59-78), and to St. Mary’s (47-60) and Minnesota (64-65) at the St. Mary’s holiday tournament in Moraga, California. Despite the losses, the Hokies are showing improvement, falling by only a single point to the Golden Gophers.  Monet Tellier had 31 points against William & Mary, but the Hokies simply don’t have a lot of firepower or depth.

Trending Up: Maryland

The Terps’ frontcourt is looking great, even with Lynetta Kizer coming off the bench.  And frosh guard Brene “Bones” Moseley could be the shooter and ballhandler the team really needed this year.

Trending Down: Florida State

That’s two weeks in a row on our “Trending Down” list for the ‘Noles, but things have gone from bad to worse in Tallahassee.

Current Standings

ACC Women’s Basketball Standings
(As of November 28)
Rank School Conf. Pct. Overall Pct.
1 Maryland 0-0 .000 7-0 1.000
2 North Carolina 0-0 .000 5-0 1.000
3 Miami 0-0 .000 5-1 .833
4 (tie) Duke 0-0 .000 4-1 .800
4 (tie) NC State 0-0 .000 4-1 .800
4 (tie) Wake Forest 0-0 .000 4-1 .800
7 Virginia 0-0 .000 5-2 .714
8 Georgia Tech 0-0 .000 4-2 .667
9 Clemson 0-0 .000 3-2 .600
10 Boston College 0-0 .000 2-2 .500
11 Florida State 0-0 .000 3-4 .429
12 Virginia Tech 0-0 .000 2-4 .333
Source: TheACC.com

Surprise Player of the Week: Sasha Goodlett, Georgia Tech

Goodlett, the Jackets’ 6-5 senior center, nearly managed to carry Tech to an upset victory over Green Bay with a game-high 20 points, plus five rebounds, three steals and three assists in a game so close it took extra minutes to decide. (Goodlett got plenty of help from sophomore guard Tyaunna Marshall, who deserves honorable mention in this category, after logging 19 points and five steals in the loss.) Goodlett is skilled and surprisingly nimble and despite her bulk but isn’t always aggressive enough on the offensive end.  The Jackets desperately need her to score in double digits in every single game.

Miami All-American guard Shenise Johnson picked up the official ACC player of the week award after falling just shy of a triple double (11 points, nine rebounds, nine assists) in the ‘Canes’ win over USF and taking home MVP honors in the Great Alaska Shootout last week. We tip our hat to Johnson as well, but the purpose of our “Surprise Player” awards is to honor players whose achievements might otherwise be overlooked.

Surprise Rookie of the Week: Erica Donovan, North Carolina State

Though teammate and fellow frosh Krystal Barrett is scoring more points, Donovan, a 5-11 guard out of John Jay High School, Northside, Texas, is quietly helping out with scoring and rebounding.  She had four rebounds in just 12 minutes on the floor in the loss to Creighton and 13 points, six rebounds and two blocks in the Wolfpack’s win over Jacksonville.

Duke’s Elizabeth Williams took the official ACC Freshman of the Week award after posting a team-high 16 points, 13 rebounds and seven blocks in a heartbreaking loss to Notre Dame. Williams has been nothing less than sensational, but here again, her achievements have been no “surprise” for a rookie who came into the league as a the Morgan Wooten (McDonald’s All-American) National Player of the Year and a U19 Women’s World Championship gold medalist.

Five ACC Games To Watch, 11/28 - 12/4/2011

1. North Carolina @ Penn State, 11/30/2011.  It’s time once again for the ACC-Big Ten challenge, an event the ACC has won in each of the Challenge’s three years of existence.  This will be a rare early-season test for the Heels, who tend to schedule a notoriously soft preconference schedule.  The Heels are short-handed and will have to hope that their senior trio of Chay Shegog, She’la White and Laura Broomfield don’t get into foul trouble. It’s not at all clear that the Heels have anyone who can stop Penn State’s Maggie Lucas, so they will need to try to speed up the game as much as possible in order to get the Lady Lions out of a comfortable rhythm.

2. North Carolina State @ Northwestern, 11/30/2011.  The most interesting contests for the ACC in this year’s Big Ten-ACC Challenge seem to be road games.  For the Wolfpack women, it’s another chance to pick up a quality out-of-conference road win, but it won’t be easy. The Wildcats will be a tough match-up, considering their size and balance.  Northwestern already has a great win under its belt thanks to knocking off then-ranked LSU. The Pack need to stay even on the boards and defend the rim if they’re going to have a shot at winning.

3. Florida State @ Ohio State, 11/30/2011.  If FSU is going to pull itself out of its funk, now would be a good time.  Beating No. 17/18 Ohio State in Columbus would take some of the sting out of the ‘Noles’ early-season struggles.  This will be a tall order, given the dominance of Buckeye point guard Samantha Prahalis and the struggles the Seminoles have had at that position.  Alexa Deluzio needs to have a huge night for Florida State.

4. Miami @ Michigan State, 12/1/2011.  Simply put, Miami needs to take care of business in this game if they’re to be taken seriously as a national power.  Michigan State is a middling team this year (losses to Villanova and Florida Gulf Coast) but they are still tough at home.  The ‘Canes need to run them right off their home floor.  It’s time for coach Katie Meier to nail down a real rotation of 8-9 players and stick with it—and it may also be time to make some changes in the starting lineup. It’s not evident that Sylvia Bullock is really starting material, even if she was forced into that role last season.

5. Georgia Tech @ Georgia, 12/4/2011.  This annual intrastate rivalry game has been quite competitive in recent seasons, after years of Bulldog domination.  This game will be a duel between super sophs Ty Marshall of Georgia Tech and Khaalida Miller of Georgia.  Expect Tech to pull out a close win; it’s certainly a win they need pretty badly for their
postseason resumé.

Check back next week for more of Full Court’s “Up and Down the ACC.”

Originally published Wed, November 30, 2011

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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
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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.