It’s about midway through the ACC women’s basketball schedule, so it is a great time to take a look back at the preseason rankings and which players the media thought would rule the conference. Were they right or were they wrong?
Here is what the current standings look like:
Four ACC teams are currently ranked in the AP top 25: Duke (5), Maryland (7), North Carolina (16), and Florida State (19). The Blue Devils were the last of the undefeateds in both men’s and women’s basketball to fall.
Duke and Maryland battle for the top spot on Big Monday on ESPN2.
Georgia Tech has been the biggest disappointment. They lost six straight ACC games before winning their last two.
UNC and FSU may be the two biggest surprises, though the Seminoles should not be a huge surprise because of their veteran roster. The Tarheels were the league’s biggest disappointment last season, but they have gelled together this season and have one of the country’s best defenses (though they did not show it in a loss Sunday at home to Duke).
FSU has one bad loss in the conference, to Wake Forest, in the midst of a two-game skid. They are prone to horrible first halves and then have to fight their way back. The Seminoles usually only play 7-8 girls and have one of (if not the) shortest bench in the ACC.
As much as UNC and FSU have surprised everyone because of their rankings now and how they were perceived in the preseason, Maryland is my biggest surprise. The Terps lost their starting point guard (Brene Moseley) and back up big (Essence Townsend) before their season started. They then lost starting guard Laurin Mincy during the season. Freshman Tierney Pfirman was also injured and is expected to miss a month. However, the Terps keep on winning.
The coaches and media selected a preseason All-ACC team. How are those players doing right now?
Alyssa Thomas, Maryland: She is the reigning Player of the Year and was the preseason favorite for this award. She is third in the ACC in scoring at 16.3 points per game and first in rebounding at 10.4 rebounds per game. She is also second in assists at 5.5 per game.
Tianna Hawkins, Maryland: She leads the conference in scoring at 19.4 PPG while shooting 59% from the field. She is second to Thomas in rebounding at 10 RPG, but first in offensive boards at 4.4 per game.
Laurin Mincy, Maryland: tore her ACL in a win over Nebraska in November and is out for the year.
Elizabeth Williams, Duke: She missed some games early in the season due to the stress fracture that she suffered last season. She is averaging 14.8 PPG and 6.9 RPG. She hauls in 3.7 offensive boards a game, which is third in the conference. Williams shoots over 53% from the field and blocks three shots a game (which is first in the ACC).
Chelsea Gray, Duke: She is first in the conference in assists at 5.8 per game. She is also first in steals per game at 3.8. Gray is averaging 12.9 PPG and is shooting 84.2% from the free throw line.
Tyaunna Marshall, GT: She is second in the conference in scoring at 16.9 PPG and fifth in rebounds at 8.7. Marshall is second in the ACC with four offensive boards a game and also averages 2.4 steals per game.
Natasha Howard, FSU: She is averaging 13.4 PPG and 7.6 RPG. She hauls in 3.5 offensive boards a game and shoots over 53% from the field.
Marissa Kastanek, NC State: She is averaging 13.6 PPG and is shooting 40.5% from the outside.
Stefanie Yderstrom, Miami: She is averaging 12.2 PPG and is shooting 38.9% from the outside. She is also shooting 87.3% from the free throw line.
There are two players that I feel could earn first-team honors at the end of the season. Leonor Rodriguez of FSU is averaging 15.9 PPG and shoots 49.4% from the field, including 40.5% from the outside. She also shoots 79.3% from the free throw line. Despite some of the struggles for Wake Forest, Lakevia Boykin is having a great season. She is averaging 15.3 PPG in 36 minutes. She is shooting 45% from three point land.
The ACC also puts together a Newcomer List for the incoming freshmen.
Right now, UNC’s Xylina McDaniel is leading the way for Freshman of the Year. She is averaging 12.6 PPG, 7.3 RPG, and 2.4 steals per game, which is tops among freshmen.
Uju Ugoka of Virginia Tech is averaging 12.8 PPG and 8.8 RPG, but has only played in 11 games.
Alexis Jones of Duke is having a solid season. She is averaging 8.1 PPG, 3.9 RPG, and 3.4 APG. She is also shooting 45% from the field.
Malina Howard of Maryland doesn’t get a ton of minutes for the Terps, unless one of their two big starters gets into foul trouble. She is averaging 6.7 PPG and 4.4 RPG. She also shoots a little over 49% from the field.
Jonquel Jones of Clemson transferred after a few games.
The ACC season is once again an exciting one and it looks like the conference title will come down to Duke and Maryland. They meet up on Monday and then again on February 24th (I’ll be there).