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Saturday, July 20, 2019

Up and Down the ACC: Mixed Results for League’s Top Contenders

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Photo Caption: North Carolina State’s sophomore center Kody Burke led the Wolfpack to a 66-59 victory over No. 20/17 Vanderbilt. Burke, who is averaging a team third-best 10.6 points and 5.2 rebounds per game, put up a career and game-high 21 points on efficient 54-percent (7-13) field-goal shooting and was a perfect six-for-six for the charity stripe. She iced the cake with four rebounds and a blocked shot.

Photo Credit: Courtesy NC State Athletics

By Rob Clough

As the ACC non-conference schedule starts to wind down, a number of programs continue to search for a signature win or at least to avoid tallying another loss.  For the teams considered to be contenders, it was
a week with mixed returns.

North Carolina State got drilled at home, 58-72, by the Richmond Spiders, a team that they should have been able to take care of.  It didn’t help that no one beyond veterans Bonae Holston, who notched a season-high 21 points, then made it a double-double by grabbing 10 boards, and Marissa Kastanek, who registered 17 points in the loss, bothered to show up. Between the two of them, that duo scored nearly two-thirds of the Wolfpack’s 58 points.  Meanwhile, the Pack’s defense seemed to go missing in action, particularly in the first half, as the Spiders shot over 50 percent from the field against State for the game as a whole (55.6 percent for the opening period), to a mediocre 31.8 percent from the floor for the Wolfpack (and make that a dreadful 24.3 percent for the Pack’s second half).

On the other hand, North Carolina State bounced back with a stirring, 66-59, victory over nationally ranked Vanderbilt (then No. 20/18 in the two major polls), as sophomore forward Kody Burke dominated the Commodores inside.  NC State held previously undefeated Vandy down early, taking a 12-point lead at the half, and then managed to make the free throws they needed to hold on down the stretch.  When NC State gets a big game out of Burke as well as significant contributions from its veteran players, they are a team that can challenge anyone else in the ACC—especially at home.

Let’s take a look at the week’s results for the rest of the league, before noting the coming week’s best games.

Parsing The Week’s Results

Two other “Big Four” programs didn’t fare as well this week.  North Carolina plummeted from No. 18/16 a week ago to No. 23/22 in the national rankings after getting pounded, 79-48, by South Carolina in a game played in neutral territory in Myrtle Beach, SC.  This is prime recruiting territory for the Heels and they’ve traditionally done well in their annual showdown with the Gamecocks in Myrtle Beach, but their hospital ward of a team wasn’t even competitive with Dawn Staley’s bunch.  For a team that averaged over 85 points per game against creampuffs in this preconference span, this game was a hard dose of reality.  With more than a third of their roster sidelined by injury, the Heels are just hoping they can get back key missing pieces like 6-6 center Walteia Rolle (possibly back, possibly redshirting, after delivering a daughter in November), leading rebounder Laura Broomfield (rehabbing a stress reaction in her left foot) and junior guard Tierra Ruffin-Pratt (out all fall after undergoing offseason shoulder surgery) after the holiday break and before conference play gets under way. 

This past week, Wake Forest followed up the previous week’s 57-70 thrashing by Delaware, by blow a 21-point lead in the second half and somehow losing, 53-65, to Howard, a mediocre MEAC squad, in overtime. After they went up by 21, Wake didn’t score again for nearly nine minutes.  They righted the ship and pushed their lead to 52-42 with five minutes left, but once again coasted, failing to score again in regulation. This may be the worst loss of Mike Petersen’s Wake career, and he’s had some bad ones.

Given that most ACC programs were in exams this week, there weren’t many other games.  No. 7 Miami crushed Louisiana Monroe (103-39). The Hurricanes currently own the top-scoring offense in the nation.

Georgia Tech whipped Georgia State (85-50); the Yellow Jackets head to the Bahamas this week for a holiday tournament against two less than formidable foes, SIU-Edwardsville and Central Arkansas.

Virginia continues to pick up votes in the AP polling. Last week, the Cavaliers easily dispatched Radford (92-43).

As always, the real excitement was with the league’s three worst teams: Boston College, Clemson and Virginia Tech.  Though five Eagles players posted double-digit scores, Boston College lost to crosstown rival Boston University (62-70) for the first time in 21 years. The kicker is that BU even managed to outrebound them, 32-29. The Terriers are actually fairly decent this year (they beat Marist and have lost to West Virginia, UMass and Harvard), but this game was played on the Eagles’ home court in Chesnut Hill. The loss left the Eagles well in the red, at 3-6 for the season to date.

Boston College did bounce back five days later to defeat Holy Cross, 67-58, after trailing for much of the game, behind 17 points apiece from sophomore forward/center Katie Zenevitch, who just missed a double-double with nine rebounds, and sophomore Tiffany Ruffin, who also dished out four assists and grabbed two steals. The Eagles finished the week at 4-6 on the season.

The good news for Virginia Tech is that they held UCF to just 41 points. The bad news is that they only managed to score 32 points of their own.  Yes, that’s right, in two halves of play, in which the Hokies shot just 22 percent (13-of-57) from the field. 

Finally, Clemson had no problem with North Carolina Central, winning by double digits (68-48). Nikki Dixon had another brilliant game with 18 points (including a career-high four three-balls, all in the first half of play), plus four rebounds, five steals and three blocks. Dixon has now scored in double figures in every game of the season. It’s safe to say that her spot on the All-ACC rookie team is pretty much etched in stone at this point, along with that of Duke frosh Elizabeth Williams. In this game, Dixon also had plenty of help from fellow freshman Kelly Gramlich who led the Tigers with a game-high 20 points. The future looks brighter for Clemson.

Trending Up: North Carolina State

After a baffling loss to Richmond, the Wolfpack Women righted their ship with the big win over nationally ranked Vanderbilt. This was Kody Burke’s coming-out party and could signal the beginning of a true Big Three for this team.


Trending Down: North Carolina


The loss to interstate rival South Carolina was disspiriting, to say the least.  This is only the second time this season the Tar Heels have gone up against a top-50 opponent, and the result was another humiliating loss.  The Heels are a skeleton crew right now, with Broomfield sitting out this game, and they just didn’t have the depth or experience to cope with a highly aggressive South Carolina squad.  UNC needs to get players back before league play starts or they run the risk of a terrible season.

Current Standings

ACC Women’s Basketball Standings
(As of December 22, 2011)
Rank School Conf. Pct. Overall Pct.
1 Maryland 0-0 .000 11-0 1.000
2 Virginia 0-0 .000 10-2 .833
3 Miami 0-0 .000 9-2 .818
4 (tie) Duke 0-0 .000 8-2 .800
4 (tie) North Carolina 0-0 .000 8-2 .800
6 Georgia Tech 0-0 .000 9-3 .750
7 Wake Forest 0-0 .000 8-3 .727
8 NC State 0-0 .000 7-3 .700
9 Florida State 0-0 .000 6-6 .500
10 Clemson 0-0 .000 4-6 .400
11 (tie) Boston College 0-0 .000 4-7 .364
11 (tie) Virginia Tech 0-0 .000 3-8 .273
Source: TheACC.com

Full CourtSurprise Player of the Week: Katie Zenevitch, Boston College

Zenevitch, the successor to Carolyn Swords at the center spot scored 17 points and grabbed 9 rebounds as BC came from behind to beat rival Holy Cross.  The more comfortable she becomes, the better chance there is
that Boston College might avoid the ACC’s basement.


Full Court Surprise Rookie of the Week: Kelly Gramlich, Clemson

Gramlich proved herself to be quite the sharpshooter, dropping 20 points on North Carolina Central, thanks to hitting six three-pointers.  More surprisingly, the 5-10 freshman guard also grabbed four rebounds and blocked a shot.  Not bad for a lightly-regarded recruit.

Photo Caption: Clemson’s freshman guard Katie Gramlich out of L.C. Anderson High School, Austin, Tex., tied the all-time school record for three-pointers per game last with six, four of them in the first half, to lead the Tigers to a 68-48 win over North Carolina Central. Her performance earned her both the league’s Freshman of the Week and Full Court’s “Surprise ACC Rookie of the Week” honors.
Photo Credit: Courtesy Clemson Athletics Media Relations/Dawson Powers, IPTAY Media

Five ACC Games To Watch, 12/20 - 12/27/2011

1. James Madison @ Virginia, 12/20/2011.  JMU may well be the best program in the state of Virginia at the moment.  They’re currently 7-1 and in the process of reinventing themselves in the post-Dawn Evans era. While Tarik Hislop is their leading scorer, former Boston College players Jasmine Gill and Lauren Whitehurst are major contributors for this team.  For the Hoos, this is a chance to reclaim their place as the Commonwealth’s best team.

2. Miami @ Georgetown, 12/21/2011.  While the Hoyas have struggled a
bit this year, this is still a chance for Miami to pick up a coveted road win against a highly-regarded program. This game will feature one of the nation’s most aggressive defenses against the country’s most prolific offense. If Georgetown presses for 40 minutes like they usually do, the ‘Canes could score well over 100 points in this game.  Miami’s depth at every position will make this a tough strategy for Georgetown to implement.

3. Florida State @ Vanderbilt, 12/22/2011.  It’s Florida State’s quickness and frontcourt vs Vandy’s shooting and guard play.  It’s also a chance for the Seminoles to prove that their ship has been righted after making a major lineup change; a win on the road against a top-25 foe is just what they need to do so.  To get there, they will have to come up with good play from their guards and a way to shut down Vandy’s sharpshooting.

4. Hampton @ Boston College, 12/22/2011.  Hampton famously took Kentucky to overtime in last year’s NCAA tournament.  Their only loss so far has been on the road at Florida—one of five road games the Lady Pirates have already played.  This is a team poised to win 25-30 games this season, and they’re a clear favorite over the young Eagles.  For Boston College,success will depend on taking care of the ball (Hampton loves to
press) and making sure Katie Zenevitch is a legitimate scoring presence in the post.  That will open things up for Kerri Shields and Kristen Doherty.

5. Wake Forest @ SMU, 12/21/2011.  After their humiliating collapse at home against Howard, Wake needs any kind of win.  A win on the road would be even better.  SMU is a fairly mediocre team, but who knows
which Wake team will show up?

Originally published Thu, December 22, 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
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.