January 20, 2008

Statistically Turtles And Jackets

Georgia Tech proved a lot Sunday for heading back to Atlanta with a loss on their record.

The Yellow Jackets may have dropped their game against No. 4 Maryland, but after taking the Terps to the brink of disaster that spanned two overtime periods and a GT lead with under 2 minutes remaining, Maryland's 99-95 win was still invigorating for the Buzz.

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January 16, 2008

The Plight Of Abby Waner

"She's right. We are Duke and we should be winning," said Duke junior guard Abby Waner of Maryland's Laura Harper rejoicing with fans in a chant of, "We beat Duke! We beat Duke!" after the Terps defeated the Blue Devils in College Park for the first time since 1998 Monday.

In many ways, that distorted Duke doctrine that says the Blue Devils will forever be masters of anything basketball related is correct.

Year in and year out, we expect Duke basketball - men or women's - to be among the best in the nation. And although they lost the coach (Gail Goestenkors) and both All-Americans from a team that went undefeated in the regular season, here the Dukies are, once again, near the top of the rankings at No. 10.

But this isn't the same Duke team. It's not even close. And one of the biggest reasons the Blue Devils have struggled throughout a season in which they have already lost four times is the fact that their two biggest returning stars, senior Wanisha Smith and the junior preseason All-American candidate Waner, are simply not playing up to potential.

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December 05, 2007

Musical Top 25

The Associated Press and Coaches Polls have been released, meaning another week of musical chairs among the Top 10 and bottom portion of the Top 25.

With all the nation's elite squads beating up on each other in big preseason battles, and all the bottom-Top-25 teams proving they don't belong ranked at all, there has certainly been a lot of turnover in the early season.

As always, I have some bones to pick with the voters. And the Maryland Terrapins should too.

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November 29, 2007

What The Devil?

The year started off so promising for Duke. What happened?

Playing through an injury to Abby Waner, the No. 11 Blue Devils reeled off three wins to start the year, two coming over NCAA Tournament teams in Purdue and Temple.

But just as quickly as they won three straight, two consecutive losses have been added to their record.

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November 22, 2007

Music To My Ears

Happy Thanksgiving from South Florida, where right about now I am so stuffed that I couldn't move any part of my body but my arms, forcing me to write this blog post.

A quick look at the Top 25 scoreboard tonight sees No. 9 Duke doing their thing in paradise at the Paradise Jam in the U.S. Virgin Islands. The Blue Devils defeated No. 22 Purdue 53-41 with a strong defensive effort.

And I was surprised to find that Jasmine Thomas must have taken my words to heart. The Duke freshman, the topic of my Thursday column this week, led the Blue Devils in scoring with 15 points on 6-for-12 shooting and 2-for-4 from long range.

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November 20, 2007

Court Visionaries

Maryland's Visionary
Brenda Frese has pulled another top 10 recruiting class and that comes as very good news for Maryland because after three years with virtually the same lineup, the Terps will look drastically different next year.

Two years ago, when Maryland won its first national title, they did so with junior Shay Doron, sophomores Crystal Langhorne and Laura Harper and freshmen Marissa Coleman and Kristi Toliver leading the charge.

Fast forward to next season. Doron's been out of the picture and now the Terps are losing possible three-time All-American Langhorne and Final Four Most Outstanding Player Laura Harper, not to mention center Jade Perry and guards Sade Wiley-Gatewood and Ashleigh Newman.

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November 18, 2007

What Did We Learn?

Two of the big three matchups featuring ranked teams Sunday are over and from their results one can infer two very specific things.

One, Texas is not a Top 25 basketball team, and two, Maryland is really, really good.

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November 13, 2007

Some Network's Basketball Invitational

If you thought the first weekend of action in the 2007-08 season was good, you ain't seen nothing yet. With the WNIT heating up and the ESPNU Basketball Invitational down in Tampa on Thursday, the action is non-stop.

From Downtown will be heading down to the Sunshine State for the two-game invitational - not a tournament - that features No. 10 Duke at host South Florida in the first matchup and an amazing No. 1 vs. No. 9 neutral site battle between the Lady Vols of Tennessee and Courtney Paris and Oklahoma.

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November 12, 2007

Historical Mascots Never Lie

When No. 14 George Washington travels the short distance to Charlottesville to meet the ACC's Virginia, the young NCAA season could see its second big upset in as many Knights -- err, nights. You'll see where I got confused.

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March 04, 2007

ACC Title Game: End Game

Running Commentary:

With 24.4 seconds to go, it's State's ball down by five.

State's missed a runner, Latta came down with the board, was fouled and then made two fists at the player who fouled her.

No technical was called.

Latta hit her first free throw, 58-52, and timeout was called.

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ACC Title Game: Something Special Brewing

Did you really think N.C. State would go away without a fight?

Ashley Key and Kedijah Whittington have willed their team back into this one and with 8:14 to go and the score 44-41 UNC, it's anybody's game.

Ivory Latta should be nicknamed "the dagger" because she's little but she cuts like a knife and causes a lot of damage.

She hit a monstrous three, long, long three pointer with the score tied at 41, to give the Heels the lead back.

The bounce is back in the 'Pack's step, however, they just need a little rest.

ACC Title Game: Tired Hearts

State is a tired team right now.

North Crarolina just looks more fresh. The Heels came out of halftime with a spring in their step and State looks like they are huffing and puffing every time down the court.

This one isn't out of reach by any means, with Carolina on a 14-4 run to start the half to make the score 38-31.

Latta, playing with three fouls, hit another big three giving her a trifecta on the day to go with 13 points. Erlana Larkins is playing excellent defense on Gillian Goring down low and has scored 15 points to lead all scorers.

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ACC Title Game: Halfway to History

N.C. State finished the half with a buzzer beating pull-up jumper, but let North Carolina get back into this game.

With about three minutes to go in the half, Ivory Latta picked up her third foul and was forced to the bench.

Like boxing, State had the Heels on the ropes.

With Latta riding the pine, however, State began forcing, turning the ball over--they have 12 to the Heels' seven--and Carolina was able to come back and make it close at the half.

For much of the first half State played inspired basketball, as expected, and they were the better team on the floor. The Heels looked sluggish, with only Latta hitting.

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ACC Title Game: Official Drama

Let them fine me.

This is the worst officiated weekend of basketball I've ever seen.

In my estimation, and apparently in the estimation of every fan of every team that's played in Greensboro, they have missed nearly every call.

If they call a travel, it probably wasn't. They don't call obvious travels.

Their vision regarding out of bounds plays is like they're using infrared goggles during the day.

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ACC Title Game: More Latta Drama

This time good news.

After State took a 20-9 lead on a three-point fast-break play, the Heels reinserted Latta into the game.

She just went on a 7-0 run by herself to bring the Heels back 20-16.

Latta has 10 points already on 4-of-6 shooting and two threes.

For State, Keisha Brown is leading the way after not starting yesterday or today. She's got seven points on 3-for-4 shooting. Yesterday's star Ashley Key has five points and three assists already.

ACC Title Game: Latta Drama

Ivory Latta has picked up two early fouls and has looked out of control with the ball.

N.C. State continues to play above their heads, it doesn't seem to matter who shoots the ball. They are hitting 50 percent early on, compared to the Tar Heels' 33 percent.

The score is 13-7 in favor of State. Latta has three and Larkins four for the Heels, who look off so far.

This N.C. State team is special. I implore anyone reading this, turn on the TV, watch this team. Their spirit can brighten any day.

It's like they've captured their raw emotion, sheer intensity and reckless abandon and are putting it all together to equal one hell of a game plan.

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ACC Title Game: What Letdown?

If N.C. State was going to suffer a letdown after their dramatic win yesterday, they haven't shown any signs of it yet today.

After four minutes of action they have five rebounds to Carolina's two, they're 3-for-7 from the field and they look like they want it more. They probably do.

If not for a Latta three pointer to start things off, UNC wouldn't be looking too good.

The score is 9-5 in favor of State after a big Ashley Key 3-pointer.

ACC Title Game: Prediction

Although the entire arena, even the North Carolina radio crew sitting next to and the Duke fans behind me, are rooting for State, I must say I don't expect the Wolfpack to win.

Yes, an ACC championship would be well deserved and fitting, but the fact is, North Carolina is the defending champs, they've been here before and they are the better team.

Duke was the better team, and they lost. But North Carolina is also the fresher team, having only played two games to get here instead of State's three.

This is going to be a close game, played on pure adrenaline and feelings for the N.C. State team and that will keep them in it until the end. But in the end, I see North Carolina taking a lead and turning it into a double-digit win on free throws.

Here's my final score prediction: (I hope I'm wrong) UNC 81, N.C. State 71.

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ACC Title Game: Win or Lose

If N.C. State wins--if N.C. State loses today--doesn't matter. They're winners.

The front page of the Wolfpack media guide has this quote, "It's amazing how much can be accomplished when no one cares who gets the credit." -- Blanton Collier, successor to Bear Bryant at Kentucky and Paul Brown for the Cleveland Browns.

Just read that quote. Think about it. Chew on it for a while. A truer thing has never been said.

The New England Patriots, the New York Yankees, of the days before A-Rod, when Jeter was a kid and Bernie Williams, Tino Martinez and Paul O'Neill were some of the better players on the team, these are examples of some of the greatest teams that never cared about who scored, as long the team won in the end.

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March 03, 2007

MD-UNC: Tar-rific Finish

With a minute to go, after a Latta steal and lay up and the Heels up 71-67, Shay Doron came back in.

Her heart and determination knows no limit. She is the definition of competitor.

But the Heels have Latta, no less intense, no less competitive.

Doron had an open look at a three, but LaToya Pringle came out of Chapel Hill to get a piece of it, a la Hakim Warrick for Syracuse when they won the national championship. With 32.3 remaining, Maryland fouled Latta, who drained both to up the Carolina lead to 73-67.

Kristi Toliver dribbled down court on the ensuing possession and pulled up for a quick three that fell just short of the rim. Alex Miller grabbed the rebound and was fouled and hit both shots.

Maryland is giving it all they have, but that doesn't look to be enough on this day.

After a Langhorne lay in and a Camille Little free throw, Kristi Toliver nailed another big three pointer to bring the Tar Heel lead down to four, 76-72.

Latta hit two more big free throws with just over seven seconds remaining.

An Ashleigh Newman three-point miss later, North Carolina wins and advances to meet the Wolfpack.

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MD-UNC: Another Big Finish?

Don't blink, the Terps are back.

Maryland hasn't played like this, with this much fluidity and heart and togetherness since last year's title run. It may have taken 33 games, but the Terps have finally woke up.

Shay Doron nailed the three pointer of her life and Maryland has the ball with just under three minutes only down by two, 67-65.

I believe I said, before this game started, that by the end of it Shay Doron would get bloody before she'd let her team lose.

Well, she's bloody. After diving for a ball--what else is new--the scrappy guard smashed her nose into the floor. As she was walking off the court with gauze in her nose, she told her team to get in there and do it.

Guess what? Toliver hit a huge jumper on the next posession and the Terps tied it at 67.

MD-UNC: Smells So Good

Ivory Latta and North Carolina can smell a victory.

The championship game and a shot at N.C. State is just over five minutes away for the team from Chapel Hill.

With a 64-55 lead and Maryland in foul trouble, the frustration is starting to show for the Terps.

But, for every big lead, for every big shot that Carolina hits, Maryland doesn't go away.

Marissa Coleman and lately Kristi Toliver are putting Maryland on their backs. Coleman has 18 points for the Terps.

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MD-UNC: Cool as a Curling Iron

Ivory Latta missed an open three pointer. And then spent the next minute screaming at herself at mid court, fists clenched tight in anger.

She is by far the most emotional and intense player I have ever seen.

After speaking with an knowledgeable Tar Heel fan, I come to find she's calmed down a considerable amount since the season began.

Of course, the same fan tried to tell me the earth was flat, Barry Bonds is the most legitimate baseball player in the majors and Michael Jordan is highly overrated. So take what he said with a grain of salt.

OK, he didn't actually say any of that, except for the Latta part. That's all too true.

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MD-UNC: Terps From Deep

One interesting thing to note for Maryland, they failed to hit a three pointer in the first half.

In fact, their first trey didn't come until over three minutes into the second--a long bomb from the top of the key from Marissa Coleman, who has only hit 31 threes for her career.

Now, this is interesting to note because Maryland is the best three-point shooting team in the country. They rank first in three-point percentage with near 38 percent and third nationally in total three pointers made.

They are only 1-for-5 so far today.

With 15 minutes left in the game, North Carolina, on the heels--get it--of Larkins and Latta, their All-American candidates, has a 44-43 lead.

Maryland recently got back into it, being down as much as 10 points in the second half.

MD-UNC: Anti-Climax

After the last game's emotion, this one seems to be lacking.

Sure, these teams want it, but the pace of play has been stop and go. It's been erratic to say the least.

Maryland will make a big play, followed by several turnovers, followed by a huge shot by either Larkins or Latta on the other end.

Add that equation together and you get your halftime score: North Carolina 37, Maryland 30.

The Terps got eight points from Crystal Langhorne and seven from Marissa Coleman but committed 15 turnovers. They haven't hit a single three-pointer and are getting outrebounded 17-16.

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MD-UNC: No Time To Catch A Breath

These teams can run, boy. Let me tell you, if you thought the N.C. State-Duke game was fast, this one is light speed.

The score is 23-17 UNC after Erlana Larkins got a rebound and put back and got fouled. She missed the free throw with 8:36 left in the half.

Larkins is leading the way for the Heels with eight early points and six early rebounds. Leading Maryland is Crystal Langhorne with six points on 3-for-3 shooting, all from close range.

Langhorne has the best moves of any center I've seen all year. Alison Bales plays defense and Courtney Paris just bowls you over, but Langhorne can dribble like a guard in amongst the trees and finish strong.

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MD-UNC: There's Another Game!

I'm an emotional wreck over here.

I've laughed, I've cried, Ashley Key cried although, according to her, "I'm not an emotional person."

More on N.C. State's incredible game later. For now, it's another fast-paced up and down ACC game that pits Maryland against UNC.

The defending champs are down one early, 7-6, as Ivory Latta has a three pointer to lead the Tar Heels. Maryland has three buckets, one by Crystal Langhorne, one by Kristi Toliver and one by Marissa Coleman after five minutes of play.

Our First and Most Special Upset

As coach Kay Yow accepts the Bob Bradley Spirit and Courage Award at center court after the game, you can't help but think how special this game is in every way.

N.C. State might not end up winning the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament, but they don't have to. They've already done everything they need to. They are winners in the eyes of everyone.

What an incredible feeling for coach Kay Yow and her team. The unbeatable Duke can do nothing but watch as State celebrates their hard fought victory.

Duke-NCSU: Block And Key

N.C. State senior guard Ashley Key is having a great game.

She's scored 17 points and was just the recipient of a Shayla Fields pass off a steal for a fast-break 2-on-1 lay up to bring the Pack to within one, at 63-62.

Then, after a Duke offensive foul, Goring got the rebound off a missed shot and put it back to give N.C. State a lead, 64-63,

But just seconds later, Goring assaulted Bales for her fifth foul. She'll be enjoying the rest of the game from the bench.

Bales hit both shots to put Duke back up by one.

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Duke-NCSU: Foul Trouble

Gillian Goring, N.C. State's answer to Alison Bales, has just come back into the game playing with four fouls.

If she were to foul out that would be a huge disadvantage for State. Of course, they have been doing very well in her absence thus far. Making their run with her on the bench.

Duke is up by five right now, with 7:56 to go.

Duke-NCSU: Waner Sucks...Not!

Little Wayne's World reference up there.

Anyway, Abby Waner hit five three pointers in a row before finally missing. Personally, I think she was fouled.

Waner has 15 points and is single-handedly keeping the Blue Devils in this game. Yow's team is playing inspired basketball and right now looks like the better, more complete team.

Ashley Key just hit a jumper and was fouled--she's now got 10 points--but she missed the free throw and the score is all knotted up at 44 with 12:50 to go.

Wait...Waner hit another shot. She's got 17 and Duke has a two point lead again.

Duke-NCSU: Blow For Blow

The second half has started at a frenetic pace, with the lead going back and forth between Duke and N.C. State.

Ashley Key hit a huge three pointer to give State a two point lead and seconds later Duke's Abby Waner answered with her fourth three in a row to put Duke back up by one.

And it's been like that throughout the first five minutes of the second half. The score is 41-40 Duke.

Strap in, hold on tight, it took eight games and two days but we finally have a ballgame here in Greensboro.

Duke-NCSU: We Have A Game

What an end to the half for the Wolfpack.

Aside from two Brittany Mitch free throws, N.C. State scored the final nine points of the half and Duke has missed their last 10 field goal attempts as the halftime score is 34-31 Duke.

A lot of the Wolfpack run came with Gillian Goring on the bench with three fouls and starter Whittington hurt on the sidelines.

That's what happens when Duke doesn't hit a shot for eight minutes to close the half.

An update on Whittington: She went down clutching her already braced knee that was a partially torn ACL injured during the summer. It has completely healed but the scar tissue still gives her problems. Being she's out for pre-second half warmups, I am assuming she's going to be OK.

Continue reading "Duke-NCSU: We Have A Game" »

Duke-NCSU: Scary Moment

N.C. State's Khadijah Whittington went up for a rebound, came down and as she was falling out of bounds managed to pass the ball away for a fast break that ended in a Pack score.

Whittington, though, lay at the other end clutching her already contraption-covered leg. Time was stopped and the trainers came out with Whittington laying on the ground for several minutes. She'd be helped to her feet and helped off the court favoring one leg.

She's being looked at at the end of the bench right now. More word later.

Through this whole ordeal, N.C. State has made quite a remarkable comeback. Duke has missed its last eight shots and the Pack are hitting and the've come all the way back to make the score 32-29 with 1:23 left in the half.

Duke-NCSU: Big and Hard

There isn't another player in the Atlantic Coast Conference, perhaps the country, who can do what Gillian Goring has done thus far today.

And that is successfully post up Alison Bales and score over her on the low block.

Goring is 3-for-6 for six points and if State can continue to get her the ball down low, not only will the create foul problems for Bales, who has one already, but they will be able to bang with the Blue Devils.

That said, Bales has six points on 2-of-3 shooting, three rebounds and at least one block already.

Lindsey Harding, on the other hand, looks great.

After going 3-for-8 and scoring six points all of yesterday, she's already 2-for-4 with eight points today.

Continue reading "Duke-NCSU: Big and Hard" »

Duke-NCSU: Waner Waner Waner

So far, in the ACC Tournament, Duke's Abby Waner is 8-for-8 from long range during the first half.

She's 3-for-3 already today for nine points with over 10 minutes to go in the half.

Duke had a big 14-4 lead but State has barked back, with Ashley Key nailing two big threes and the score is 21-14 Duke.

Duke-NCSU: Ouch

Duke is still Duke.

After a little more than a minute, Harding has a deuce, Waner put up a 27-foot bomb and Wanisha Smith has a lay up in transition and the Devils have a lightning quick 7-0 lead.

Duke-NCSU: Swimming in a Sea of Blue and Red

Wow, I just looked up across the stands and noticed exactly half of the stadium is wearing Duke blue and the other half is wearing N.C. State red.

Now, this is to be expected just a half hour outside of Durham and Raleigh. However, you'd think these people color coordinated. When I say a sea, I mean almost not one person is wearing anything BUT blue and anything BUT red.

Duke mascot update: The tape on its head says, "Yowch! Devils Leave Pack Hurting"

The Plight of Maryland:

I wonder if Maryland is suffering from a case of the Carolina blues?

I mean, Raleigh, Durham Chapel Hill, Greensboro...College Park?

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Hungry To Win

Hungry? Why wait?

Duke has Abby Waner, Alison Bales and Lindsey Harding, but who is their hardest worker?

The first person on the court for shootaround for the Devils on both days so far has been Wanish Smith.

Smith, the only Duke player without a warm up on, was on the floor shooting at least 10 minutes before the next on the court. That wasn't Waner, Bales or Harding either.

Well, OK, it was actually Waner, just not THAT Waner. It was sister Emily.

That being said, if this is any indication of which team wants to advance more, N.C. State's players, at least five of them, were shooting around at least 15 minutes prior to Smith's entrance.

Honoring The Devils

Well, it's official. Duke is real good.

As the Blue Devils get set to play in the conference semifinals against an athleticly inferior N.C. State team, they now boast the ACC's coach and player of the year.

Coach Gail Goestenkors was the hands down choice, garnering 44 votes to Kay Yow's seven.

As for the ACC Player of the Year, well, she's also the ACC's Defensive Player of the Year, and she's Duke's Lindsey Harding.

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March 02, 2007

One Blowout After Another

Blowout 1: No. 4 N.C. State 76; No. 5 Florida State 49

In the most closely seeded game of the tournament thus far, this one sure didn't end up too close.

Down by only two at halftime, FSU actually looked like the better team at times. Whatever coach Kay Yow told her team at halftime, it worked. The Wolfpack responded by almost doubling their output from the first half, outscoring the 'Noles 49-24 in the second frame to make it a lopsided final.

Florida State, at 22-9 (10-4 ACC), may have played their way right out of the Big Dance with this clunker. They actually have a very similar record to the Pack (22-8, 10-4 ACC) but it was obvious that they couldn't hold a candle to Yow's bunch. They'll most likely still make the field of 64, but they'll need a marked improvement if they hope to advance.

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Maryland-GT: Buzz Off

As predicted, we had another blow out, this time to the tune of 75-59.

I still won't say Maryland played great, but they got the job done and they'll meet North Carolina tomorrow in the semifinals.

After attempting to figure out why coach Joseph picked up the technical, the best answer I could get was for arguing with the refs. That much I figured.

On a side note, Georgia Tech junior Chioma Nnamaka left the game with an injury and was later carted off the sidelines with her neck stabilized. I was just told that it was due to dehydration and she'll be fine.

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Maryland-GT: I Can Go Home Happy

In my last post I wrote that I've never seen a technical foul in a women's basketball game.

I have now.

And it wasn't even on Maryland, who has been agitated by the officiating all night. Georgia Tech coach MaChelle Joseph picked up the T. Shay Doron hit both free throws.

Maryland-GT: The Refs

Another positive for Georgia Tech playing rough basketball...the refs don't seem to be calling anything against them. And they don't seem to be calling anything for Maryland.

I won't say they are biased, but LaMont Jordan will. He's been standing--wearing a Shay Doron jersey I might add--and screaming at the ref for the last two minutes. First he berates one ref, than he moves on to the other.

Brenda Frese doesn't seem too happy about the way things are being called either. I've actually never seen a technical foul called in a woman's game, but I'll tell ya, we are damn close to seeing one tonight.

With the score 60-43 with 7:30 remaining, it's safe to say that Maryland is going to pull out a win tonight, but Brenda Frese won't be happy.

Continue reading "Maryland-GT: The Refs" »

Maryland-GT: Just Give Her The Damn Ball

With 13:37 to go in the game, Maryland leads Georgia Tech 50-37.

Leading the way for the Terps is Crystal Langhorne with 18 points and eight boards. She is the most agile big in the country with some of the best low-post moves I've seen. She's unstoppable down low, and if she doesn't hit her shot, she'll get fouled.

What I don't understand, is why Maryland ever makes a trip down the court without giving her the ball. They have great players at every position who can all light up the scoreboard, but none compare to the skills of Langhorne.

Maryland needs to keep better control of the basketball, settle down and get the ball to Langhorne and then they will have what it takes to repeat as national champs.

Continue reading "Maryland-GT: Just Give Her The Damn Ball" »

Maryland-GT: Flying Dog, Ugly Turtle

And I don't mean Testudo.

He asked me to give him a shout out. Jealous of the cheerleader, I suspect.

Maryland has looked ugly all night. They are playing very sloppy basketball, turning it over seven times already and throwing a lot of balls away.

With that said, they are leading at halftime 40-26.

See, I told you, we've got another blowout on our hands folks.

It's so obvious that they are a superior team to Georgia Tech in every way. They just need to start putting it all together. Of course, writers, analysts and even the Terps themselves have been singing that song all season, and as of yet, we still haven't seen the best from the Terps.

If it doesn't come out soon, Maryland will be headed towards a tournament future they don't want. And they don't want anything but a championship.

Continue reading "Maryland-GT: Flying Dog, Ugly Turtle" »

Maryland-GT: Building My Wardrobe

Yes! Finally! I've waited all day, man.

The Georgia Tech cheerleader, named Georgia Kennedy who I can honestly now say is my favorite cheerleader of all time and pronounce my undying love for her, tossed me a shirt at the first time out.

By the way, you don't have to point out the irony that the Georgia Tech cheerleader is named Georgia. She's probably from Georgia, too.

It says Jeep on the front and on the back, "The way to drive to the hoop." Although, somehow, I don't think Jeeps are allowed on a basketball roster.

Maryland is beating Tech 15-8 with 13:12 remaining. Marissa Coleman has nine points already for the Terps.

Maryland-GT: Still Shirt Hunting

To Lara Boyko, CSTV.com's West of the Mississippi columnist: Lara, by all means, start up a collection. With my salary I need all I can get. I'm actually banking on getting a T-shirt so I have something to wear for the rest of the tournament.

Update: Since a Georgia Tech cheerleader almost backflipped into me--and I wouldn't have complained if she did--she promised to toss me a shirt. She has a very trustworthy look to her, so I really think I'll get it this time.

Oh yeah, the game. I'm expecting another blowout. I don't know why, call it a hunch.

I know, I know, Maryland lost to Georgia Tech last time they played.

Continue reading "Maryland-GT: Still Shirt Hunting" »

UNC-VT: It's All Over But The Crying

And there will be crying, by Virginia Tech, who was demolished (there actually isn't an adjective good enough to portray the severity of which UNC handled VT) by the final score of 90-60.

Down as much 40 points, Tech never had a chance.

Camille Little led Carolina with 20 points, five boards and four assists. Ivory Latta had 17 points and hit five three pointers. Interestingly enough, Carolina crushed despite getting just three points and three rebounds from All-American candidate Erlana Larkins.

Update: The Tech cheerleader who lied to me apologized after game and claimed--you never know if you trust cheerleaders, they are such a peppy bunch--that she didn't see where I was sitting. Likely story, I'll remember that next time she begs me to take her on a date.

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UNC-VT: This Just In...

Virginia Tech is still getting spanked. Hard.

Carolina is taking them behing the woodshed. They're beating them mercilessly.

With 9:00 to go in the game and the score 75-35, I think it's safe to say that the Heels will live to play another day.

Leading the way for UNC is Camille Little who has 20 points, followed by Latta with 17, Rashanda McCants with 11 and Jessica Breland with 10.

For Tech, they only have one player in double figures--and with 35 points, I don't think anyone else could--and that is Nare Diawara, a 6-foot-6 senior playing in her last game.

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UNC-VT: The Nail in the Coffin

As far as Jamie Lynn Ward's prediction of the final score goes, she may have gotten one number right.

Ward predicted a 45-34 final. With the score 33-14 still with over seven minutes remaining in the game, I think Carolina just might eclipse the 45 mark. Unless of course they decide to start the second half with just Ivory Latta out on the court. Which they could do and probably still end up winning.

Tech just scored their 16th point, so one more and they'd be ahead of the 34-point prediction. They way the Heels are playing defense so far, that is going to be a tough point to come by.

Latta is pacing the Heels with nine early points on 3-for-3 bombs from deep.

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UNC-VT: Idols Idols Everywhere

North Carolina is the state that brought singers Chris Daughtry, Kellie Pickler, Clay Aiken and others to American Idol fame.

So far this ACC Tournament has seen its fair share of Idols. Boston College starting forward Ayla Brown was a finalist last season, and today, before the UNC-VT game, Jamie Lynn Ward, a contestant on this year's Idol--she was kicked off on the last day of Hollywood week--sang the national anthem.

Ward is a Reidsville, N.C. resident and Tar Heels fan. After she finished singing our nation's anthem, I caught up with her to get a prediction on today's game.

First I asked her if she knew anything about the sport of women's basketball and she promised me that she's a big fan and even follows the Heels.

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UNC-VT: Another Nailbiter?

After two games here in Greensboro, we've had two blowouts. More to come? Yeah, I'd have to assume so.

North Carolina is the two seed and they will meet the seven seed Virginia Tech. Tech is coming off a 60-54 overtime win over Boston College. Neither team looked great and the truth is, Tech stole this one when a Mickel Picco runner tap danced over every inch of the rim before it rolled out at the end of regulation, forcing overtime, giving the Hokies the chance to win the game.

I thought Boston College played better than VT in that game. Either way, if that game was close, I just don't think this one will be.

The Tar Heels have had a week to prepare and really didn't need it. In their last outing they were defeated by Duke and will surely be hungry to make up for their season finale loss.

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Duke-Virginia: Big Shocker

Wahoo!

What a big surprise. Nobody could have expected this. Duke won by 21? How'd that happen?

I think everyone in the building was expecting a better showing from the Cavaliers, who looked so solid in their game yesterday. But, alas, they were playing the No. 1 undefeated Blue Devils and Duke is Duke.

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Duke-Virginia: My Waner's On Fire

At the half the score is Virginia 25, Abby Waner 17. It's anybody's game.

Oh wait, there were other players out there for Duke, although it didn't seem like it.

Waner was unconscious in the first half, even surprising herself--she shook her head in disbelief when she hit her fifth three pointer of the half. She finished the first frame 5-for-5 from deep and 6-for-9 from the floor for 17 points.

She was everything out there for the Devils, also grabbing four rebounds, dishing out two assists, getting a steal and even blocking a shot.

The real halftime score is Duke 38, UVA 25. Duke is doing this with my favorite for Player of the Year, Lindsey Harding struggling, finishing the half with just two points on 1-of-6 shooting.

Wanisha Smith has a career-high eight rebounds already.

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Duke-Virginia: Good to be a Waner

It looks like that with all the reckless abandon that Virginia was planning on playing with, you still have to realize, they ARE playing Duke.

With under eight minutes remaining in the first, Duke isn't even playing that well, but is leading 27-14.

The Waner sisters, All-American candidate Abby and her older sister Emily, are leading the way with for the Lady Devils.

Abby has 11 points on 4-of-7 shooting and three threes and Emily has six coming from two big treys of her own.

Duke-Virginia: It's A Dance Off

When J.J. Jumper, the official ACC Tournament mascot, went out to half court to perform his soulfull dance moves to K.C. and the Sunshine Band's Get Down Tonight, little did he know but the other mascots felt upstaged.

In the middle of his routine, Duke and Virginia's mascot made their way to center court to join J.J. in what can only be described as an impromptu dance off.

Duke's mascot wasn't nearly as good as the other two, but I'd have to give the nod to the Virginia Cavalier who wowed the crowd with his smooth breakdancing skills.

After the stunt, I caught up with J.J. while he was making his through the crowd. When I told him that I thought the Cavalier upstaged him and took home top honors, all he could do was cover his eyes with his fluffy gloved hands and shake his giant green head.

Of course, that's because J.J. isn't allowed to speak.

Duke-Virginia: Hoo Are You?

First off, this the second time that I've noticed that Duke fans yell, "O!" during the national anthem.

Now, being a Baltimore Orioles fan--I know, I am full of self-loathing--I know that Baltimore fans are the creators of yelling "O!" because of the team's nickname being the O's.

Discussing this with the Virginia radio crew, we decided Duke has no reason to yell "O!" because no "O" appears anywhere having to do with anything Duke.

O! well.

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Down Time Gets Good

We're inbetween games here in Greensboro...

After it rained most of the day yesterday and was quite chilly, today is a delightful day. Bright sunshine and a breezy warm spring-like afternoon.

Inside the Coliseum, where all the fans have emptied out and the elementary schools kids have left for the day, I think it is interesting to note that after the first game today, the Coliseum crew of about six people removed the lettering that said "ACC" on the green part of both foul lanes, only to replace them with new letters reading the same thing.

I am not 100 percent sure, but I don't think they went through this process yesterday, but I did get here around this time yesterday, missing the opening game.

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Pack-FSU: Hungry Like The Wolf

Hungry they are...for an ACC Title.

With their extremely convincing 76-49 drubbing of Florida State, the N.C. State Wolfpack will advance to the semifinals of the ACC Tournament to face the winner of the upcoming Duke-Virginia game.

Should the No. 1 undefeated Blue Devils win that one like I think just about every single person in the country expects them to do, N.C. State will have their hands full, but with the courageous bunch playing their best basketball of the season and with the spirit and emotion that comes having Kay Yow as their coach, anything can and will happen.

And with senior 6-foot-7 center Gillian Goring--who finished with 22 points and 19 rebounds--they are the only team who has a player that can match up against the sheer size of Duke's Alison Bales.

If I were a betting man, I'd still take the Dukies.

Pack-FSU: Bitten By The Wolf

With N.C. State up 64-47 with 3:40 to go in the game, I think it's time to say goodnight to the Florida State Seminoles.

They put up a good fight, but down by 17, I just don't think they can come back from this.

Meanwhile, the Wolfpack's Gillian Goring continues her dominating performance going 9-for-14 from the field for 20 points and 18 rebounds.

She is simply dominating any player the Noles can throw at her.

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Pack-FSU: Seminoles Slippin

With 12:51 left in the game, Florida State is letting this one get away from them.

The Wolfpack came out firing to start the second half and are winning 47-34. FSU needs to take better care of the ball, their 10 turnovers have led to eight Pack points.

The Noles still have no answer--and probably never will--for Gillian Goring, who now has 18 points and 14 rebounds for N.C. State.

Riding Dirty At the Half

The CC Academy dancers, about 40 or 50 youngsters ranging from early elementary school to middle school, are perfoming at halftime.

There are three squads based on age. The youngest red team, the middle purple team and the oldest green.

The best dancers are the young red team. Their passion is unparalled. The faces, the panache, the swagger, these little girls can dance. And they mean business.

There was at least one male performer and he might have been the most talented dancer out there.

And for the grand finale, one red team youngster got up while all the dancers were crouching, she looked at her watch, shrugged her shoulders and ran off the court.

At this point I thought she was making a mistake, until the entire green team got up and ran off the court to the music of "I missed the bus." The rest of the dancers strategically followed and the best halftime routine I've seen was over.

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Pack-FSU: Freshening Up At The Half

N.C. State was cruising until the final second of the first half.

That's when FSU sophomore guard Mara Freshour nailed a buzzer-beating three from the top of the key to bring the halftime score to 27-25.

The star of the day thus far is State's Gillian Goring who has 14 points and 12 rebounds on 6-of-9 shooting. Although she's just 2-of-5 from the free throw line.

For FSU, it's a freshman leading the way as 5-foot-11 Alysha Harvin of Dania, Fla., has seven points on 2-of-3 shooting and a three pointer.

Both teams are struggling from the field with the Noles shooting 32 percent and State coming in just better than that at 37.5 percent.

Pack-FSU: Wuf Wuf

Oh, did I spell woof wrong?

No, in fact, N.C. State's mascot's name is Mr. Wuf. Sound that out, it doesn't even sound like woof. I don't get it. It's not like the back of the mascot's jersey doesn't have enough room to include the one extra letter to make it Mr. Woof.

I asked an N.C. State radio guy sitting next to me why the Pack went with the misspelling and he just laughed, shrugged and agreed it was a little off.

Ah well. I guess you could say that whoever came up with the mascot's name was barking mad.

I like that one, you don't have to, but I thought that was funny.

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Pack-FSU: Deflections

Nearly every pass made by both teams has been tipped or deflected thus far.

Poor passing and ball control have been the issue of the day. N.C. State started off very slow and were down 14-8, shooting under 30 percent.

Using good defense, steals and breakaway layups and the solid play of inside force, 6-foot-7 Gillian Goring who is 3-for-6 with six points to lead State, the Pack have stormed back and now are down just 14-12.

If N.C. State continues the way they've played in the past two minutes or so, it will turn out to be a long day for the Seminoles.

I Have A Confession...

I am an alumnus of the University of Florida. Of the defending national champion men's basketball and football Florida's.

Luckily, not too many Florida State fans made the long journey to Greensboro, but the band is here nevertheless and hearing that blasted war chant and seeing the tomahawk chop all afternoon is something that will be painful to the senses.

Now, I know what you are thinking. And yes, I do have a picture of myself, a certain Hurricane alum who I won't call CSTV.com baseball editor Doug Kroll and ex-Florida State quarterback and CSTV.com football analyst Chris Rix with our arms around each other. What of it! It was a good photo op.

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Welcome Back Pack

Welcome back to Greensboro in what looks to be a much more crowded Coliseum.

Today's action sees another four games, but this time the big boys...er, girls are playing. The top four seeds, idol yesterday as they earned first-round byes, are returning to action to meet the winners of yesterday's drama.

In the opener, No. 5 Florida State, who defeated Wake Forest rather handily in the opener, will meet the Wolfpack of N.C. State, the four seed.

The Pack is back after finishing the year on a hot streak. State owns a 3-game winning streak, defeating Miami, Virginia Tech and, yes, then-No. 2 North Carolina as they dedicated Kay Yow Court.

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March 01, 2007

Opening Round Recap

Game 1: No. 5 Florida State 70; No. 12 Wake Forest 53

Although I missed the opening game of the tournament due to travel plans, I have heard the game was a laugher. Wake never really challenged Florida State and as such, the Seminoles have a date with No. 4 N.C. State tomorrow.

Quote of the Game: Wake Forest coach Mike Petersen on how his team played: "I thought that game was very similar to a lot of games that we played. A lot of our effort was good. Our execution was all right. We only turned it over 10 times. We just don't make enough shots at the end of the day. It's a pretty important thing to do in this sport, is to make shots."

Well said, coach, well said.

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GT-Miami: On Second Thought...

Maybe Miami isn't in da house.

I say that for two reasons.

Reason #1: While perusing the stands I noticed that if you put all the Miami fans in the stadium together in a Volkswagen Beetle, you'd still have room for groceries. There are literally like 10 Hurricanes fans here, aside from the cheerleaders, band and the team themselves.

Reason #2: Fans usually don't identify with losers and that is exactly what the 'Canes are doing. Losing. The score at halftime is Georgia Tech 37, Miami 26.

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GT-Miami: Buzz Needs A Date

During an official timeout, the Miami cheerleaders took center court to do their routines. The Georgia Tech mascot Buzz, suavely walked over to the girl standing closest to him and beckoned for her to join him on the Tech side of the court.

The pretty cheerleader said no, of course. Perhaps she perfers humans. Who knows?

The score stands at 24-15 Georgia Tech. Janie Mitchell is pacing GT with eight early points.

Miami failed to score a point during the first four minutes of the game.

GT-Miami: MIA In Da House

They might be the second lowest seed in the conference at 11-18 overall and 2-12 in conference, but Miami has major factor going for it. Miami is warm.

Here in Greensboro, the temperature isn't too bad, but it's raining out and that makes me angry, and a little sad and a little light headed, though I think that is due to the lack of sleep.

The nightcap features those Hurricanes as they battle the 6-seed Georgia Tech.

Tech finished the regular season at 19-10 and 9-5 in conference, including a huge win over Maryland earlier in the year.

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VT-BC: Let's Play Some More

I don't think I even have to see the Miami-Georgia Tech game to know that this Tech-BC game is the best of the night.

With under a minute to go and BC up by three, Tech sank a huge trey to tie up the score.

It was then BC's game to win at the buzzer and with 5.7 seconds remaining, after being forced to call a timeout because they couldn't inbound, BC got the ball in the hands of freshman Mickel Picco who made a fancy move at the top of the key, drove the lane and got off a wide open lay up as time expired.

The ball teased the BC faithful as it gently rolled around the circumferance of the rim and then it....OVERTIME. She missed, and we are headed to extras.

Georgia Tech: Calisthenics Anyone?

Yes, I know you are all wondering, I thought VC and BT were playing. Er...or is that VT and BC, yeah that sounds right.

They are still playing, in fact, it's a solid game with BC ahead 48-47 with 1:35 to play. They just might hit 50 afterall.

So I was on my way to the room where they keep the food to get another cup of coffee so I don't fall asleep as I type this sentence and I along the way I found the Georgia Tech team doing their pre-game stretch.

Well, I was feeling a little tight in certain areas, so I did a few stretches, a few jumping jacks with the team before nearly passing out and completing my original task of getting that cup of coffee.

VT-BC: The Stress Room

Virginia Tech just grabbed a one-point lead at 45-44 with 7:03 remaining. BC was in control for most of the second half but in the last few minutes Tech has gobbled back.

While walking around the concourse at the Greensboro Coliseum, I came to a realization. They really like their Nascar up here.

The media area in the dungeons of the Coliseum has one amazing room. There is an area set up that they call the Stress Room. Feeling stressed? The game not doing it for you? You're part of the Duke media and Florida State is playing Wake Forest? Just hit the stress room.

Complete with numerous arcade games, a Ping-Pong table, foosball and even a big-screen TV set up to play XBOX, the stress room is more like the game room. Is it necessary, you ask?

Are you necessary? I thought so.

VT-BC: What's in a Name?

Dunkenberger? Is that even Inglese?

For those that are completely lost with what I just wrote, let me clarify.

The third contest in this 2007 ACC Tournament pits the Virginia Tech Hokies, coached by Beth Dunkenberger, against the Boston College Eagles, who are led by Cathy Inglese. Make sense? Still no? Well, then I can't help you.

Who would win in a fight? A giant maroon turkey or a very handsome, but also maroon Eagle? You have to take into consideration, of course, that a Hokie is nothing close to a Turkey at all, just a word for the good residents of Blacksburg.

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Clemson-UVA: We Got A Final

Hey, I'm actually here for this one.

The Wahoos of Virginia will be advancing after they came back from a halftime deficit and stole all Clemson's momentum to the tune of a 89-82 victory.

Hell, even the UVA cheerleaders woke up a bit after halftime...A bit, not too much.

And what a game for Virginia's 6-foot-1 center Lyndra Littles. Averaging 16.8 points and 8.9 boards per game during the regular season, Littles went off for 32 points and 10 boards. Her 32 points shattered her previous career high of 28. Guess you could say it came at the right time.

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Clemson-UVA: A New Ballgame

With just under 10 minutes to play in the game, Virginia has surged past Clemson and stormed to the lead, 69-67.

Leading the offensive Cavalier explosion are Lyndra Littles and Monica Wright who have 29 and 22 points, respectively.

Littles is well above the 16.8 ppg she averaged during the regular season, as is Wright, who averaged 14.9 ppg.

With these two youngsters together in Charlottesville for the next three years, we could be seeing a team on the rise in the ACC.

Clemson-UVA: At The Half

One interesting thing to note as the teams head into the locker room for halftime:

Virginia's cheerleaders aren't very active. The Clemson bunch is almost always standing and cheering while UVA just sort of sits there for the most part.

When I investigated the matter I was told that it was because the Virginia cheerleaders are the "pretty" girls, AKA they are too classy to be doing too many stunts.

Maybe they are just playing like the team they are cheering for, largely uninterested. At the half, the score is Clemson 49, Virginia 44, but UVA closed the half on a run to pull to that number.

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Clemson-UVA: It's a Sell Out!

Yeah, as in Clemson's fans sold them out. They forgot to show up.

Virginia has two nice clusters of fans while Auburn's Frank Tolbert can count Clemson's fans on his two hands. (He has an extra finger...you do the math)

I'd also like to take the time to point how confusing the two team's uniforms are. They are essentially the same design with the exact same colors, only alternating in the opposite way with Virginia's being mainly white with some blue and orange trim and Clemson's mostly Orange with some blue and white trim.

I know I'm forgetting something...Oh yeah! There's a game going on right now.

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Green and Purple?

Greetings from the ACC Tournament--finally.

Although I couldn't get from Oklahoma to Greensboro before the opening game ended, I'm told it was a riveting matchup, much closer than the 70-53 score would indicate, as Florida State virtually woman-handled Wake Forest.

The Seminoles will next face four seed N.C. State.

So, Greensboro is a lovely city. So beautiful, in fact, that I'd estimate that just over 30 percent of the stores, restaurants and businesses I passed on the road leading up to Greensboro Coliseum were long past their expiration dates and boarded up.

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February 26, 2007

Duke: It's Elemental

In the wake of Duke's perfect regular season finish, an amusing development:

Ten bucks says when you hear the words "Earth, Wind and Fire", Duke women's basketball is about the last thing to come to mind. Their Sports Information staff is trying to make us think otherwise, with an end-of-season awards promotion blitz that's second only to some of the more creative Heisman campaigns. In the media's mailbox came three player cards titled "You Can't Control the Elements": rock-solid Alison Bales as Earth, speedy Lindsey Harding as Wind and scorching shooter Abby Waner as Fire. Harding is the most viable (and right now, most likely-looking) Player of the Year candidate, while anything more than a postseason flameout should earn Bales and Waner a few
postseason nods.

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February 18, 2007

Duke at Maryland: Up and At 'Em

Harding may have stolen the first-half show, but her teammate Carrem Gay took over before halftime to the tune of 8 points -- too bad she also picked up her fourth foul less than three minutes into the second half and is warming the bench until further notice. Maryland is starting to whittle away at the once-comfortable looking 13-point Duke lead, and the piece of their mounting comeback that Duke has to worry most about is the sudden reappearance of Crysal Langhorne. Held to two points on one shot in the first half, Langhorne has 11 points and is starting to crack the Blue Devils' defense inside. If she can stay dangerous in the face of the double and triple-teams that stifled her in the first half, we may have a game here...

Duke at Maryland: 20, The Harding Way

There's no doubt that these are two of the nation's elite teams. But it's also hard to doubt Duke's particular brilliance this season, and no one exemplifies that more in the first half than one-woman show Lindsey Harding. As if Harding needed to polish her resumeat all anymore, she came out looking flawless, with Duke’s first 11 points. She added another three before she "cooled off" at the 10-minute mark, finishing the first half with 20 points on 9-of-10 shooting.

Duke at Maryland: Viva la Aurelie

In this crazy mixed-up world of ours, it's nice to still know that some traditions, like the Senior Night senior starters still hold true, even at the highest level of the women's game in the biggest regular-season games. Aurelie Noirez, in the 101st game appearance of her 4-year career, grabbed the game's first rebound and scored the game's first two points. She played through the first media timeout, surrending her position to Laura Harper, who promptly scored.

Duke at Maryland: Senior Night

Yes the No. 1 team in the nation, the only undefeated team in women's or men's basketball in Duke is in the building to take on the Terps, but first there is the beginning of a goodbye. Tonight is Senior Night for Shay Doron and Aurelie Noirez, Maryland coach Brenda Frese's very first recruiting class, and saying goodbye will be anything but easy.

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January 25, 2007

Yow-Za

Arguably Monday night's best women's basketball news was not Duke's still-pristine record, but rather the clean bill of health that will allow NC State coach Kay Yow to return to the court with her Wolfpack tonight against Virginia. The 64 year-old Hall of Famer had turned her team over to associate head coach Stephanie Glance as she has undergone treatments for breast cancer.

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