Friday, February 03, 2006

What's Going On?

Marvin Gaye sung it, the Virginia women's basketball team is living it.

Just a few weeks ago, the Cavaliers laid the smackdown to interstate rival Virginia Tech, 78-59. This time the roles reversed at U-Hall and the lady Cavaliers lost 65-54. The loss takes Virginia to 13-7 overall, 2-5 in the ACC. Virginia got out of the gate slowly and had to play catch up all game long. This has been an unfortunate trend for the women's team this year and it resulted in a common end, a loss. Tech took an 11-4 lead early and every time Virginia would fight back, the Hokies responded. When the Cavaliers closed the gap to 26-23 at the break, the Hokies scored 4 straight points out of the box. They took a ten point lead 52-42 with 2:17 and Virginia could never get closer than 6.

"We're mired in a slump right now," head coach Debbie Ryan said. "We can't stop digging."

It's hard to point to the exact problem of this team, in reality, it's probably a whole lot of minor things. This game was a lot about poor defense and unbalanced scoring. I mentioned last time that Virginia needed a star, well I doubt Sharnee Zoll read my column but she took it to heart. Zoll scored 17 points shirking her usual pass first, shoot second mentality. The problem is she only had two assists and NO ONE else scored in double figures. Stars make their team better and Zoll did not do that. Playing the point guard is the hardest of all positions because you're the coach on the floor. It's hard to balance shooting and passing, Zoll still needs to find that balance as Virginia continues to play in the ACC.

Defense is also big, especially when you get down early. Carrie Mason of the Hokies had a big game, 24 points on 7-13 shooting, 4-5 from behind the arc. Dawn Chriss has a big game as well with 17 points on 6-14 shooting. As a team the Hokies shot 45.5% from the field, 12% better than their counterparts. They also outrebounded the Cavaliers 34-33. All of that means a loss for Virginia and a point for the Hokies in the Commonwealth Challenge. Virginia Tech is now 15-5 on the season, but also 2-5 in the ACC. This win was critical for their team but also for their school as the Hokies trail 9-4 in the Commonwealth Challenge.

Next up for Virginia is Maryland, a team that beat the Cavaliers at U-Hall in overtime 84-74 earlier this season. The fact is it's really really really time to worry if you're a Cavalier. You're already 2-5 in the ACC and this was the easy part. These next three games are all against teams in the top 6, at Maryland, at Duke and at home against the undefeated first-ranked Tar Heels.

Good luck Debbie Ryan and crew, you're gonna need it.


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