After one month, there have been 40 teams that have made it into the top 25 rankings of the Associated Press, USA Today/ESPN or Full Court Press. Fifteen of those teams have been ranked every week in all three rankings. An additional thirteen teams have been in all three rankings at least once during the season.
This week we will take a look at the 12 teams that have been ranked, but not in all three ratings. Next week the focus will be on the teams that have been ranked by everyone but not every week, and in the final week of the year the 15 teams that everyone agrees on will be put under the spotlight.
But first, here is this weeks Top 25. These are the same 25 squads as last week, but there was some reshuffling due to upsets of Xavier (by Michigan State), Texas A&M (by TCU), Dayton (by Toledo) and Pittsburgh (by Penn State).
If the Monarchs were any good, theyd still be around which means Mondays dispersal draft isnt going to rock the WNBAs world.
Yes, Nicole Powell is a very good player, and shell add value to any roster (even as trade bait, should she go to Minnesota). Rebekkah Brunson, prior to her knee problems, was an elite athlete, and despite her decline would help any team in the league.
After that, though, its banged-up vet DeMya Walker, the uncertainty of Courtney Paris, and well, not much else, so teams are not going to solve all their problems on Monday, or more likely, any of them.
Of course, with free agency and the draft still to come, theres plenty of time to maneuver, so the rosters will be far from set. Still, some pieces of the 2010 puzzle will fall into place, so heres a look at what might happen when the Monarch players change jerseys.
Hartford is a good team, one that has beaten both Louisville and Temple. Temple is nationally ranked; Louisville was at the time.
But the Hawks did not look that good in this game. The reason: The Husky defense appears to be just that good.
I know these teams are better than they look against us, but they can't look that good the way we're playing defense, Coach Auriemma said after the game. Our defense has worked really hard. They've worked really hard in practice. They work really hard in games.
Hartford Coach Jen Rizzotti, who knows something about UConn's approach, agreed. They make you feel like there's eight guys out there defending you, she said. And no matter what you do and what option you choose, there's some long arm in the way of the pass you want to make. It is phenomenal, and I know it's something they pride themselves on, and it's what separates them from everyone else in the country. . . .Defense isn't about being an All American, she added. Defense is all about desire and position and heart. Hartford scored its first field goal at 12:55.
She looked like she was ready for a game of pick-up basketball. Sitting in her white Georgia State sweats, with her long and curly brown hair free falling down to her shoulders, her ebony skin glistening in the light and her welcoming smile ever present, Georgia State Womens assistant basketball coach and recruiting coordinator Bridgette Gordon sat back and reminisced about her own days inside the perimeter of the basketball court.
Bridgette Gordon already stood 5 feet, 11 inches and was a stellar all-around athlete by the time she entered sixth-grade in sunny DeLand, Florida.
I was a better softball player than basketball player, said Gordon, who also excelled at volleyball and track. However, when Gordon reached high school she realized that not much attention was paid to those sports, so she decided to mainly focus on basketball.
I decided knowing that basketball would take me further and help me get a free education so I put all my energy toward basketball, said Gordon.
It was a decision that would change her life, taking her to countries she never imagined she would see, finding her photo on a Wheaties box, and ultimately landing her in the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame.
With negotiations with Bay Area investors to move the Sacramento Monarchs to the Bay Area apparently haven broken down, the WNBA will conduct dispersal draft for those Monarchs' players who are not free agents. The draft will take place Monday, Dec. 14, WNBA President Donna Orender announced Monday. Orender also announced the league will seek to add a team to the Bay Area for the 2011 season.
A number of potential investors have come forward and expressed interest in relocating the Monarchs to the Bay Area, a market that we continue to see as desirable, said Orender. Ultimately, we made the judgment that we would not be able to complete a transaction in time for a successful new-market launch in 2010. We will therefore focus our energy on adding a team in the Bay Area for the 2011 campaign.
If, in fact, there are investors prepared to step in but not ready to bring a team on board for 2010, the league would have the Maloofs to thank for a last-minute departure of one of their eight cornerstone franchises that caught everybody, including Sacramento's own head coach and general manager John Whisenant, by surprise. (See Monarchs May Move to the Bay Area as Maloofs Withdraw.) The Maloofs waited two months after the close of the regular season to make the announcement that they were discontinuing their ownership of the team.
In its release announcing the dispersal draft, the league continues to claim "a third consecutive season of increased attendance" for its 13th season in 2009, despite reports from fans and media "nose counters" indicating that announced attendance in many arenas appeared to be overstated by as much as 20 percent. The league has yet to respond to Full Court's request for a request for an interview with Orender about how those attendance figures are calculated.
In any event, the WNBA will play the 2010 season with 12 teams. Monarchs season ticket holders will be notified in the near future of a procedure for refunds, the league stated.
The demise of the Monarchs makes it more likely that the new team in Tulsa will be sited in the Western Conference in order to bring the total teams in each conference to six.
Current Monarchs players, with the exception of unrestricted free agents Kara Lawson, Hamchetou Maiga-Ba and Ticha Penicheiro, are eligible to be selected in the Dispersal Draft. The order of selection will be based on the inverse order of 2009 regular-season finish, giving the New York Liberty the first pick in the Monarch's dispersal draft.
Less than one month into the 2009-10 women's college basketball season, there are only 17 undefeated DI teams remaining. Eight of those teams are from two conferences, the Big East and the SEC. Most of the unbeaten are in Full Court's Top 25, but a few are not. Here are those teams, and why they arent rated:
Syracuse is 8-0, but they have played one of the five easiest schedules of all Division I schools. Their best win is over Butler.
Indiana State (7-0) beat Kansas State to open the season but since then, other than a win over South Carolina Upstate, the combined record of their other five victims is 8-29.
Kentucky is 8-0 including their most recent victory at Cincinnati, their best win of the season.
St. Bonaventure was the closest call based on their 61-43 win over Marist. But the Bonnies schedule before Marist was nearly as bad as that of Syracuse. So here is an idea; Since both the Bonnies and the Orange are in upstate New York, only 136 miles apart, why dont they play each other?
Here's how the Top 25 sorts itself out as we embark on month two of the season:
There's been a lot of hype lately about things that aren't likely to happen on the women's professional basketball scene. First, the Monarchs folded, and the league began a hurried pursuit of an investor willing to relocate the team in the Bay Area. While that still theoretically could happen, the clock's ticking down on the time to nail down next summer's schedule, and a meeting of the league's Board of Governors came and went without an announcement.
Then we learned that convicted felon Marion Jones is working out with the coaching staff of the San Antonio Silver Stars with an eye to relaunching the sports career she lost when busted for taking designer steroids and lying about it. Quite apart from the issue of appearances in a league that has thus far managed to steer clear of cheating scandals, the fact that Jones is considering beginning her WNBA career at an age when many others are thinking about wrapping theirs up wasn't lost on many, Visions of Nancy Lieberman's publicity stunt with the Detroit Shock springs to mind.
Finally, NBA commissioner David Stern stretched credulity to its outer limits by attesting that there would be a woman playing in the WNBA within the next 10 years. Really? And is that, or should it be, the standard by which we measure the quality of women's athletics?
If you haven't been watching the scores, you might think this contest involved just another bad team. And you would be wrong. In the past week, the Catamounts beat both Boston College and NC State.mNow, neither is a Top-25 team, but they are solid ACC clubs, and Vermont entered their game against the Huskies 4-0. But with the way UConn is playing, even good teams look pretty bad. Except for Courtney Pilypaitis, Vermont looked bad.
The University of Vermont is universally called UVM (when initials are used), and I always assumed that it came from the letters in the word VerMont. Wrong. UVM stands for Univesitatis Viridis Montis (University of the Green Mountains). I didn't know that until reading the game notes, even though I have lived in New England for more than 30 years, and, more importantly, my daughter attends medical school there.
The Catamount women have four Vermonters on the roster, but they also have six players from Ontario, Canada, including three starters -- leading scorers Courtney Pilypaitis and May Kotsopoulos, and freshman Kendra Seto. Pilypaitis and Kotsopoulos have both averaged over 20 points per game in four games, and have hit all but two of the team's 21 three-pointers.
Courtney Pilypaitis would be a welcome addition to any team in the country, and would start on almost all of them. She is relentless, defends the point, creates her own shot, and scores most of the points. Sofia Iwobi is the team's leading rebounder at 5'9 (6.5 rebounds per game). She hails from Maharishi School (really) in Fairfield, Iowa.
Those with a decent memory will remember that Vermont pushed UConn hard in the NCAA tournament last season, even though they eventually lost 104-65. Tina Charles had 32 in that contest, but Pilypaitis had 24 for Vermont. Four of the Catamount starters are now seniors who played in that game. In March the team shot 46.4 percent from the field, far above the average UConn allowed its opponents last season. Unfortunately, for Vermont fans, the Huskies shot 63 percent, boosted by Charles's 13-for-14 from the field.
Now Vermont is back for more, agreeing to play again at Gampel Pavilion, where the Huskies have won 32 straight games, and 97 of their last 99. Playing lots of good teams is, obviously, a way to improve your club, and the schedule Coach Sharon Dawley has arranged for the Catamounts will more than get them ready for the America East Conference. They have already been picked to finish first (and gain the automatic, and likely the only, bid) in the Conference.
This time out, Vermont shot just 31 percent, UConn 59 percent. The final margin was the same, though the scores were lower for both teams.
The Big Ten has just begun conference play, but the season's early games have already provided a strong glimpse into the likely outcome of the season. The very top and very bottom of the league seem clear. Ohio State is clearly the best team in the Big 10. Wisconsin seems just as clearly to be the leagues worst team. The Buckeyes have lived up to all the preseason hype, and despite their recent debacle at Duke, deserve their ranking as Full Court's No. Seven team in the nation. Both Jantel Lavender and Samantha Prahalis are improved over last season and are again leading the team. Freshman Taylor Hill has stepped in for Shavelle Little, who was suspended for three games for an NCAA violation over the summer. Hill has contributed immediately. Right now, there doesnt appear to be any team in the Big Ten capable of challenging Ohio State for the conference championship.
The Big 12 has turned into a major player over the years. In fact, the season before last, 11 out of the conference's 12 teams played in a post-season tournament. Eight of those teams made it to the NCAA Womens Tournament and, even more amazing, those eight teams went 8-0 in their first-round games. Last season nine of 12 played in a post-season tournament, six in WNCAA and of those six, Oklahoma made it to the Final Four.
The Big 12 South, consisting of the schools from Texas and Oklahoma, has been stronger than the North, comprised of the schools from Colorado, Kansas, Iowa and Nebraska, over the past few years. Teams play division rivals twice and teams from the other division once.
This season, the spotlight will be on Baylor because they have a player who can do things like no other female has done before on the womens side. You can almost hear it already, Look, up in the sky, its a bird, its a plane, no its Brittney Griner throwing down a massive tomahawk dunk." Will Griner rewrite the record books? Will she lead Baylor to multiple championships? Will she file a lawsuit to play in the NBA if the WNBA folds? Who knows, but the kid is something special. I watched her develop for four years and she didnt settle on just being a Youtube.com dunking sensation; she continued to work on her game and her work ethic will go a long way toward Baylors success.
Still, this is a season that could belong to anyone with many teams capable of pulling off upsets. This may be the conferences strongest year and who knows, all of the Big 12 teams may get invites to a post-season tournament.
Here's a rundown on each squad, in order of predicted finish: