January 31, 2023
The Weekly Fast Break: Watching for the in-season stumbles
Indiana is hot and triple-doubles are setting stat sheets on fire
Have you ever found yourself out for a walk in your neighborhood, minding your own business, and then a crack in the sidewalk jumps out and trips you? Do you quickly look around to see if someone might have seen your gracefully stumble with or without a tumble to the ground? Then you and many women’s basketball teams have something in common – getting tripped up. It is not fun, can sting at times, and can stay with you for a few days, like a sore toe you cannot seem to shake.
This time of year, we see teams get tripped up and the reasons for their losses or poor performances are never easily defined. For some, it is overlooking a lesser conference opponent to then have them hand you a disappointing loss – at home. For others, it is a string of lackadaisical practices, per the coaching staff, that equates into a road loss from poor preparation. Then there is the snowball effect of letting one close defeat turn into another and possibly another. No matter the reason, there are not that many weeks left in the regular season to let yourself stumble and tumble.
So here at The Weekly Fast Break, we encourage everyone to bounce back up, dust yourselves off and if your neighbor asks if you are alright, shout “ABSOLUTELY!” and keep walking. One game cannot define a team or your playing time, but watch for the cracks – your season may depend on it.
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Hot Shot Hoosiers: It is difficult to find a team that is playing much better right now than #4 Indiana. The Hoosiers have won eight straight games, with their one and only loss of the season coming on Dec. 29 at Michigan State. Head coach Teri Moren’s team is a picture of balance and consistency each game – multiple players in double-figures, winning the battle on the boards, keeping their turnovers low (12.6/game for the season) and defending at a high level. Senior Mackenzie Holmes leads the Hoosiers at 22 points/game and is shooting an astounding 68% from the field. Keep in mind that Indiana played without All-Big Ten performer Grace Berger for eight games earlier this year and did not miss a beat. This past weekend, the 6’ Berger became the first player in Indiana women’s or men’s basketball history to reach 1,600+ points, 600+ rebounds and 500+ assists in their career. And if you were wondering – the fans are also noticing in Bloomington, with 10,455 of them attending Indiana’s win over then #2 Ohio State on Jan. 27.
Mackenzie Holmes was named Big Ten Co-Player of the Week and freshman guard Yarden Garzon was named Big Ten Freshman of the Week on Jan. 30.
Streaking Heels: Two important ACC road wins for #11 North Carolina over the weekend moved the Tar Heels up four spots in the AP Top 25 poll and put them in elite company within their program’s history. After starting conference play 0-3, UNC has now won seven straight ACC games for the first time since 2009. In their seven straight wins, no opponent has scored over 60 points on the Tar Heels’ defense, as they are holding teams to 35% from the field and under 30% from three-point range. Their offense has been kick-started by a trio of juniors averaging double figures – Deja Kelly, Kennedy Todd-Williams, and Alyssa Ustby. Courtney Banghart’s squad has a rematch with Virginia on Feb. 2 at home (they won in Charlottesville, 70-59) and then hits the road to Louisville on Feb. 5, which will be the only game between the two schools this season.
Stanford Excellence: There are two things that are simply part of the history of Stanford women’s basketball – head coach Tara VanDerveer and winning. Over the past weekend, another milestone was reached as the 2022-23 season became the 38th career 20-win season for the Hall of Fame coach. The last time The Cardinal had less than 20 wins on the year was 2000-01. Stanford is 21-2 this season, 9-1 in Pac-12 play and continues to get better each game, another example of VanDeveer’s coaching magic. Their next four conference games are on the road, starting with a trip to Pullman, WA to face Washington State on Feb. 3.
Poll Watch: Some teams stumbled, some tumbled over, and others stood the test this week. #1 South Carolina continues to stay at the top, but two teams have the distinction of falling the farthest and rising the most. #10 Ohio State fell eight spots after three straight losses and #12 Iowa State is up six spots as the Cyclones have rattled off four straight wins, including Saturday over #20 Oklahoma. #15 NC State continues to rebound, up five spots after knocking off #9 Notre Dame 69-65. South Florida enters this week’s poll at #25, extending their streak of being ranked at least one week every season since 2015. Colorado and Illinois drop out of the Top 25 and only three teams found their ranking unchanged – #5 UConn, #16 Duke and #17 Gonzaga.
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If there is one thing you can count on here at The Weekly Fast Break it is that we love triple-doubles. Not matter how the numbers shake out, we are always here to shine the spotlight on players who bring their best, impact a game and fill a stat sheet with big-time numbers. Stanford center Cameron Brink posted her first career triple-double on Sunday in the Cardinal’s 62-54 win over Oregon. The 6’4 junior center had 16 points, 11 rebounds and 10 blocks, becoming only the second Pac-12 player in history to record a triple-double with blocks.
History was also set at Columbia over the weekend as senior Kaitlyn Davis finished the Lions 79-50 win over Dartmouth with the program’s first triple-double in its 39-year history. The 6’ guard from Norwalk, CT had 19 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists in 28 minutes of work. Columbia head coach Megan Griffith has nicknamed Davis “the unicorn” because she has done things her coach has never seen. We also see the magic in a history-making triple-double accomplishment.
For those that do not know, we have a fondness for three-point shooters here at The Weekly Fast Break. We have been watching intently as Oklahoma’s Taylor Robertson inched closer and closer to the Division I women’s basketball career three-point record. Saturday, on her first attempt on the road at Iowa State, the super senior guard set the new mark, which was held by Ohio State’s Kelsey Mitchell (497). Even though Robertson is using her extra year of eligibility this season, she broke Mitchell’s record in one fewer career game, 138 to 139. The McPherson, KS product hit five more from deep, but the Sooners came up short in Ames, losing 86-78. Robertson’s record now is at 503 and rising – keep shooting, kid!
For the second straight week, the Big 12 Freshman of the Week has been awarded to Darianna Littlepage-Buggs of Baylor and it is easy to see why. The 6’1 guard/forward posted her eighth double-double of the season, the most among Big 12 rookies, with 16 points and 10 rebounds in the Bears’ 79-59 win over Texas Tech on Saturday. Her eight double-doubles are also tied for third most in the conference overall. Littlepage-Buggs has earned Big 12 Freshman of the Week honors now three out of the last four weeks. (R/V) Baylor and Littlepage-Buggs are back in action on Feb. 2 when they host Kansas.
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Coaches will tell you that the first year of taking over a program is going to have its ups and downs with multiple stumbles and tumbles. It is an even bigger task when you play in the ACC, one of the best women’s basketball conferences in the nation. Wake Forest head coach Megan Gebbia has a history of winning, coming to Winston-Salem after being at American University, where she is the all-time wins leader. Wake currently is 13-9 overall and 4-7 in the ACC. They are riding the ‘up’ slope this week after beating two conference opponents to move to 10-1 on their home court.
On Jan. 26, Louisville came to town and the tale of the game tape was 3-point shooting and 3-point defense. Wake went 9-for-18 from behind the arc with the Cardinals shooting a miserable 1-for-8 from deep. The Demon Deacons dominated the second half, 43-23, to give them their first victory over Louisville in program history.
Trying to ride the wave of success as to not stumble three days later can be difficult but Wake did it with their defense yet again, beating Miami on Sunday, 55-52. The Hurricanes shot just nine percent (1-for-11) from three-point range and turned it over 14 times against the Demon Deacons defense. Three players for Wake finished in double-figures, including sophomore Elise Williams, whose 13 points was her ninth straight game with 10 or more points. Next up for Wake is a trip to #23 Florida State, but if the defense continues to thrive, Gebbia and her team will be in every game the rest of the way.
FULL COURT PRESS
The calendar flips to February this week which means we inch closer and closer to the third part of the college basketball season – the post-season. But before that we have so many intriguing games still to be played that will define conference champions and much more. Conference byes continue to be sprinkled throughout so some days and nights may seem slower than others. Regardless, there is no time to rest – preparation and effort can help ensure you will not be tripped up this week (check your local listings for game times and broadcasts):
Feb. 1 – #24 Texas at West Virginia
Drake at Northern Iowa
DePaul at Creighton
Toledo at Central Michigan
#12 Iowa State at Kansas State
Kansas at (R/V) Baylor
Feb. 2 – Virginia at #11 UNC
(R/V) Illinois at # Michigan
Eastern Illinois at Lindenwood
#9 Notre Dame at Boston College
#21 Middle Tennessee St. at UTEP
Sacramento State at Eastern Washington
Feb. 3 – Penn at Columbia
Drexel at Northeastern
Delaware at Towson
# 7 Utah at Oregon State
(R/V) Colorado at (R/V) Oregon
#22 Arizona at #14 UCLA (WATCH WITH US FOR FREE ON PLAYBACK!)
Feb. 4 – Miami (OH) at Bowling Green
Loyola-Maryland at Boston University
South Dakota State at North Dakota State
FGCU at North Florida
West Virginia at #20 Oklahoma
Princeton at Columbia
(R/V) Baylor at #12 Iowa State
Rhode Island at Davidson
Feb. 5 – #1 South Carolina at #5 UConn (WATCH WITH US FOR FREE ON PLAYBACK!)
#16 Duke at #9 Notre Dame
# 4 Indiana at (R/V) Purdue
#2 Stanford at Washington
(R/V) Colorado at Oregon State
Murray State at Illinois State
#10 Ohio State at #8 Maryland
Belmont at Bradley
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!