Women’s College Basketball Recap: Week 1
Power Rankings, Game of the Week and more!
by Christian Mordi / @mordi_thecomeup
This is the week many college basketball players have worked all offseason for. They’ll be putting new moves to the test and showcasing their growth as a player. For coaches, it’s much of the same—either you’re defending the crown or chasing greatness.
This season, a number of teams look well-equipped for the journey. In possibly the deepest pool of talent in a decade or so in women’s college basketball, there is no clear-cut runaway team. This will be the beginning of many sleepless nights, as coaches make preparations for a grueling regular season.
Here is this week’s top teams, key players to watch out for, and the must-see game of the week.
POWER RANKINGS: TOP 10
The defending champs return all their starters, including National Player of the Year Britney Griner. Teams may focus their energy on the 6-8 center, but the team’s X-factor is wing Odyssey Sims. A coach’s dream is to bring back all their players, but the key will be to see how much improvement they have made as a whole, as rivals attempt to inch closer. This team will be tested early in the season with a tough foe in one of the SEC favorites, Kentucky.
Games this week: November 9 vs Lamar, November 13 vs Kentucky
Geno set the bar, but Baylor jumped over it last year, proving UConn isn’t the only place where 40-0 dreams can come to life. Coach Auriemma responds by hitting the recruiting trails hard and bringing in a monster class led by smooth shooting forward Breanna Stewart. Let’s not overlook the fact that the Lady Huskies themselves made the Final Four and returned players as well. The players may be excited for November, but Geno lives for March. He will make it his job to have his team playing its best basketball entering Madness.
Games this week: November 11 vs Charleston
The Blue Devils may be a young team, but they have a lot of talent across the board. Coach McCallie keeps the ball rolling, as she builds this team to make a push this year to the Final Four. Chelsea Gray and Haley Peters will lead the way as All-American Elizabeth Williams recovers from injury.
Games this week: N/A
The Wildcats are one of the most intriguing teams this season. Yes, they may not shoot the ball too well, but they live at the rack and their pressure defense from last year is still giving coaches from the SEC nightmares. All-American A’dia Mathies will lead the way, weaving her team toward the mountaintop.
Games this week: November 10 vs Delaware State, November 13 @ Baylor
5. Penn State
The Lions are on the hunt this year for a deep Tournament run. Coach Washington has done a great job of bringing in players who play her system, and they have made strides each year. The question will be if the often weak Big Ten will stunt her team’s growth. Good news is, they have a nice non-conference schedule to prepare her team for play against the college giants in March.
Games this week: November 11 vs Howard, November 14 @ Texas A&M
The Cardinal suffered a huge loss in the departure of Nneka Ogwumike to greener pastures in the WNBA, as the No. 1 pick. Joslyn Tinkle is the team’s only senior so it will be a huge load on her shoulders to lead her team on and off the floor. It will interesting to see how Nneka’s younger sister, Chiney, steps into a new role on the team this year.
Games this week: November 9 vs Fresno State, November 11 @ Santa Clara
This team will have many eyes on them this year after the departure of Pat Summitt. Coach Summitt may have left the house but the cupboards are not empty, as team is loaded with young talent. Look for UT to take a step forward under new coach Holly Warwick.
Games this week: November 9 @ Chattanooga, November 11 @ Georgia Tech
The Terps are a team to be taken very seriously this year. Led by All-American Alyssa Thomas (who reminds me a lot with her build of former Maryland star Marissa Coleman), these turtles do bite, so watch out. Look for former New Jersey star Laurin Mincy to take her game to another level this year, with full recovery and explosion from a knee injury in high school.
Games this week: November 9 vs Mount St. Mary’s, November 11 @ L-MD
9. Notre Dame
The Irish have proven to have a lot of fight in them while led by senior guard Skylar Diggins. This team will constantly test the discipline of team’s backcourts and won’t falter under pressure, which makes them a favorite for a deep run in March.
Games this week: November 9 @ Ohio State
This team has plenty of things to like, including the gritty play of Tiffany Clarke, who will look to improve on the 7 rebounds per game mark she pulled down last year. In need of a bucket? Look no further than New Jersey native Christina Foggie who dropped 17.7 per game last year as a sophomore. Look to see the Commodores step into the limelight of the college elite this year.
Games this week: November 10 vs McNeese State, November 12 @ Lipscomb
Player To Watch Out For: Lindsey Moore, Nebraska, Guard
If you are ever passing through Lincoln, make sure you stop and catch a game by Moore, she is worth the price of admission. The crafty guard has been a key factor in keeping the Cornhuskers a top-20 team over the past four years. The Washington native was top 10 in steals, points and assists in the Big Ten last year, proving she is one of the most complete point guards in the nation. Listed on the Wade Watch list to start the season, Moore will be a closely watched this year by fans and WNBA scouts alike.
Dark Horse Team: St. John’s
Slowly but surely this team has become a new force in the Big East. St. John’s will be battle-tested against the likes of Notre Dame, Delaware, Duke and UConn throughout the season, but will be a terror for teams to play in March.
Game of the Week: No. 7 Notre Dame vs No. 19 Ohio State
Many will be interested to see star player Skylar Diggins hit the floor, and Ohio State plans on raining on the parade of those who think this game will be a walk in the park. Many say that the Big Ten in women’s college basketball is one of the weaker power conferences, so here is the Lady Buckeyes’ chance to take respect from many on a big stage early in the season.