December 6, 2022 

The Weekly Fast Break: Hoos excited about Virginia?

NET rankings and big time performances

We warned you – things move fast in the world of women’s college basketball. One day the hardwood floor under your feet is as solid as can be, and the next day it feels like a spongy sport-court with no stability. It is week two of The Weekly Fast Break and the pace of play has picked up across the country, from Virginia to Murray State.

We have lots of movement in the national polls, the first round of NET (NCAA Evaluation Tool) rankings are out and there were great games and performances every night of the week. Before some of you reach for a paper bag to help regulate your breathing at the sight of the NET rankings, please remember – this is only the first one. They will update daily and just as shooting percentages fluctuate, so will these numbers. And let us not forget, in the world of women’s college basketball, NET rankings are just one of fourteen criteria used to select the NCAA Tournament field.

Our motto here is playing time is earned, so match up, be in help-side defense and in honor of legendary head coach C. Vivian Stringer, please step in and take a charge this week!


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TIP-OFF

Nothing But NET: No, this is not the buzzer-beating jumper from Maryland’s Diamond Miller that beat Notre Dame last Thursday. This is the first round of NET rankings for the 2022-23 season. The “NCAA Evaluation Tool” (NET) is put out daily for the rest of the season starting Monday, Dec. 5. For women’s basketball, NET rankings serve as a sorting tool used to measure a team’s quality and helps evaluate team resumes for selection and seeding in the NCAA tournament. In the most basic of terms, a team’s NET ranking is determined by who you played, where you played, how efficiently you played and the results.

What stands out in day one of the NET watch? LSU is in at No. 5 with Utah at No. 6, the second Pac-12 team the top ten (Stanford is No. 2.). The Big East is well represented, as it should be, with Creighton, Villanova, and Marquette in the top 25. There are also two mid-major teams in the top 25 – Gonzaga and Middle Tennessee State. But friends, please remember this is just DAY ONE of the rankings. We have a long road ahead to Selection Sunday and too many games to count between now and then.

Trending North in South Bend: After a 74-72 loss at home to #20 Maryland in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, #5 Notre Dame had no time to sulk with the next test arriving promptly in South Bend. Head coach Niele Ivey’s squad faced the challenge of #6 UCONN head on and finished with a resounding win Sunday in the Jimmy V Classic, 74-60. It was the first win for Notre Dame over UCONN on their home court since 2013. Five Irish players scored at least 10 points, including a team high 21 from sophomore point guard Olivia Miles. The Huskies were dealt a blow when sophomore Azzi Fudd went down with an injury; she played only 13 minutes in the game. This win surely will continue to boost the confidence of a talented Notre Dame team.

Head Coach Kellie Harper and the Tennessee Lady Vols have hit a rough patch to start the 2022-23 season. (photo via Tennessee Athletics)

Rocky Times in Knoxville: Tennessee was ranked No. 5 in the AP preseason poll but has hit a path full of potholes to start the season. On paper, head coach Kellie Harper’s roster was built for a run to the Final Four, with veteran returners and a host of big-time transfers that would help immediately. The Lady Vols are currently 4-5, not ranked, and reeling after a 59-56 loss at home to #7 Virginia Tech in the Jimmy V Classic. Tennessee was without leading scorer Rickea Jackson who did not play due to a coach’s decision. Harper stated after the loss to the media “that’ll be indefinite.” On top of that, two key transfers – Jasmine Franklin and Jillian Hollingshead – are in concussion protocol. Can the grit and determination that is synonymous with Lady Vol basketball get them through this rough patch? We will wait and see. 

Undefeated ‘Hoos: After an unspeakable tragedy took the lives of three University of Virginia football players last month, the UVA campus and athletic department was devastated by the loss. Yet sports have a way of bringing some sense of normalcy and small amounts joy to our communities. First-year head coach Amaka Agugua-Hamilton has her team sitting at 10-0 for the first time since 1991. Senior forward Camryn Taylor leads the Cavaliers in scoring at 13.3 points/game. UVA has two non-conference games left before things heat up in ACC play. They have found the joy in winning in Charlotteville, thanks to a program reset led by Coach Mox.

A note that should brighten the spirits of the UVA family – as of Dec. 6, Virginia is the only school in the nation with both undefeated women’s and men’s basketball teams. Sometimes we just need the smallest of things to bring light to the darkness.

Poll Watch: The top two spots remain the same, but Ohio State moves to #3 in this week’s AP poll, their best ranking since 2009. Virginia Tech moves up 2 spots to #7, the best ranking in program history as they sit at 8-0 on the year. Michigan continues their assent in the polls, up three spots to #14 and Arkansas is back in the Top 25 at #21. The Big 12 Conference saw Texas drop out by #23 Oklahoma and #24 Kansas State jump back in. For the first time since 2016, Louisville is not ranked this week after the Cardinals dropped two games. 

Two words that go together well – history and Stanford’s Tara VanDerveer. The head coach has had a team in the AP Top 25 for 619 weeks in a row (Stanford and Ohio State), surpassing the record set by the late Pat Summit of Tennessee at 618 weeks.

Jacy Sheldon and Ohio State are up to #3 in this week’s AP poll. (Photo via Ohio State Athletics)

STAR POWER

The 2022 ACC/Big Ten Challenge took place last week with the ACC coming out on top, winning eight of the 14 matchups. The ACC was also 5-2 on the road, including #20 Maryland’s win at #5 Notre Dame, Wake Forest at Minnesota (63-59), #3 Ohio State at Louisville (96-77) and #8 NC State at #16 Iowa (94-81). 

This is the last year for these two leagues to compete in a structured format as the new ACC/SEC Challenge has been announced for women’s and men’s basketball in conjunction with ESPN. It will begin with the 2023-24 season.

In the world of basketball, numbers and video do not lie, so a triple-double stat line will always land a player in our star watch. Iowa superstar guard Caitlin Clark recorded her seventh career triple-double in the Hawkeye’s 102-71 win over Wisconsin. Clark set the Big Ten record for career marks (women’s or men’s) with her 22 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists performance in the game. She was named this week’s Big Ten Player of the Week.

After a tough loss at then #9 Virginia Tech, Nebraska needed a bounce-back win. They got it with a 90-67 Big Ten road victory at #20 Maryland. Junior guard Jaz Shelley* was lights out for the Cornhuskers, going 6-10 from three-point range and finishing with 29 points on the day. Shelley played all 40 minutes in Nebraska’s first win ever over Maryland in program history.

#4 Indiana is still without Grace Berger in the lineup so when the time comes, someone else must step up. The Hoosiers got a season-high 24 points from guard Sydney Parrish* to help them handily beat #8 North Carolina on Dec. 1, 87-63. Parrish was 4-7 from three-point range and had one turnover in 36 minutes on the floor. She followed that up to play 39 minutes and finish with a double-double (12 points and 10 rebounds) in Indiana’s 65-61 win over Illinois on Dec. 4.

*FUN FACT: Both Shelley & Parrish are transfers from the University of Oregon to Big Ten schools. 

Senior guard Lauren Park-Lane of Seaton Hall was named the Big East Player of the Week after leading her team to a 2-0 start in conference play. Park-Lane had 24 points and 6 assists in the Pirates win over Xavier and then she topped that with 31 points and 7 assists in the win over then #24 Marquette. She currently is third in the nation in Big East in scoring (21.6) and assists (5.9).

Murray State’s Katelyn Young, a 6’1 junior forward, was named the Missouri Valley Player of the Week. Young averaged 21.5 points, 11 rebounds and five assists over two wins for the Racers last week. She had back-to-back double-doubles, including a career high 31 points, along with 10 rebounds in her team’s win over UT Martin. She followed that up with a 12-point, 10-rebound performance in Murray State’s 77-59 win over Southern Indiana on Dec. 3.

FILM SESSION

It took a buzzer-beater for #20 Maryland to knock of #6 Notre Dame in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge giving us a great display of offensive and defensive execution in the fourth quarter. The Irish got back in the game with their half-court sets against Maryland’s man-to-man defense, built upon movement with and without the ball for open mid-range jumpers and layups. The Irish ran their out-of-bounds sets to perfection for big baskets late by sophomore Sonia Citron.


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For the Terrapins, it started with their full court pressure that helped control the tempo and created problems for Notre Dame. It forced the ball out of Olivia Miles’ hands at times, forcing others to have to see through the double-teams. Maryland’s half-court offense was key down the stretch, attacking Notre Dame off penetration and utilizing their speed and size in one-on-one matchups. Senior guards Diamond Miller and Abby Meyers both hit big shots under 2 minutes to go for their team to steal a signature win on the road.

FULL COURT PRESS

The calendar has flipped to December which means we are still in the thick of non-conference games, but the conference battles have also begun. Players are also managing the daily grind of the “student” part of student-athlete as college finals loom this month. The balance is unique and difficult, but completely worth it. Here are some games of interest, including some inter-state matchups, that will continue to tell us more about teams across the country (check your local listings for game times and broadcasts):

Dec. 6 – Loyola Marymount at Oklahoma St. 

               Drake at South Dakota

Dec. 7 – #10 Iowa State at #16 Iowa

               Columbia at Stony Brook

               Kentucky at Minnesota

Dec. 8 – Princeton at #6 UCONN

               Kansas at #12 Arizona (WATCH ON PLAYBACK WITH US!)

Dec. 9 – Missouri State at TCU

Dec. 10 – #15 Utah at BYU

                 St. Joseph at #25 Villanova

                 South Dakota St vs. #24 Kansas State (neutral court in KC, MO)

                 DePaul at Northwestern

Dec. 11 – (RV) Louisville at Kentucky

                 Illinois State at Purdue

                 #6 UCONN at #20 Maryland

                 Oregon St. at #17 Oregon

Written by Missy Heidrick

I am a former shooting guard at Kansas State and spent almost 20 years working in Higher Education and Division 1 athletics. I am currently a basketball analyst for television and radio, contributing correspondent at The Next, WBB Naismith Award board of selectors member and run my own consulting business. I am a proud mother of two and wife to a patient husband who is almost as big of a sports junkie as I am!

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