by Christian Mordi / @mordi_thecomeup
Representatives from the Catholic 7 held a meeting this past Wednesday in New York to discuss potential future commissioners as well as its television deal. The Big East Catholic schools (which consist of DePaul Georgetown, Marquette, Providence, St. John’s, Villanova and Seton Hall) will add five additional teams to a newly formed league.
On one side, it’s great that these teams have stuck together and look to keep the core of Big East basketball intact. On another side it shows how a good thing like the Big East Conference is being torn apart by money. The Big East has already lost Syracuse to the ACC, and what it they don’t bring the brightest shining star of the conference, UConn for the ride?
Often these choices are driven by football programs and revenue, but the trickle down effect on other sports is an afterthought to the all mighty dollar. We risk losing the rivalries of Syracuse-UConn, Seton Hall-Rutgers, Georgetown-Villanova and more. Around 10 years ago the power house football programs Virginia Tech, Miami and rising program Boston College bailed for the ACC. Looking at how the programs turned out now, I wonder if they would make the same choice today.
1. Baylor (Last Week, 1)
Baylor continued their dominance within the conference posting their 27th consecutive win against Big 12 teams. The Jayhawks implemented a new offensive scheme and tried to pull Griner away from the rim, but Brittney was still relentless on the offensive end with 22 points at halftime. Baylor won 82-60, but Kansas was much closer in the second half with a 36-30 point differential. Maybe Kansas is better served to sticking to their roots and praying for an off day by Baylor. The Lady Bears next game is against West Virginia and 24th-ranked Iowa State.
2. Duke (Last Week, 2)
The Blue Devils remain perfect as they were 3-0 last week, pulling them to 16-0 on the season. Chelsea Gray was spoon-feeding her teammates easy baskets against Clemson, with a school record 15 assists on the night. With Liz Williams looking like her old self on the floor now that she is full recovered from the injury, look for Duke to feature her heavy in their mid-season battle against No. 3 UConn.
3. Notre Dame (Last Week, 3)
The Fighting Irish exploded on offense against a very capable Rutgers defense, beating them 71-46. Notre Dame jumped on them from the gates and was up 37-17 at half. The No. 2-ranked Irish took that momentum and carried it over against Georgetown, beating them 79-64. Notre Dame held the nation’s leading scorer Sugar Rodgers to a season low 14 in the game.
4. Connecticut (Last Week, 4)
UConn continued their dominance against Louisville beating for the 12th straight time on Tuesday, 72-58. Bria Hartley was steady for the Huskies with 16 in the contest. UConn was able to get back Hartley from a sprained ankle suffered against Marquette, but freshman star Breanna Stewart didn’t play due to a hurt ankle in practice. “I think she’s come along a lot faster than we initially thought when she first got hurt,” UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. “She looks good. If it was an emergency, she could have played tonight. I’m expecting her to be fully ready on Saturday.” The Huskies will need all hands on deck to beat undefeated Duke.
5. Kentucky (Last Week, 5)
Great players know how to carry their teams when their number is called. Such was the case for reigning SEC Player of the Year A’dia Mathies against Texas A&M. With her team down six at half, the senior wing had 11 of her team-high 23 points in the second half to lead Kentucky to victory, 65-63. Kentucky will look to continue to ride the hot streak against Mississippi State and Auburn this week.
6. Tennessee (Last Week, 7)
Tennessee is a very young team, and they are still finding ways to win the close games. If you’re a spectator, it was an exciting game,” Lady Vols coach Holly Warlick said. “For the coaches, it was a little gut-wrenching.” Meighan Simmons scored 27 points, Bashaara Graves added 17 points and 15 rebounds in the overtime victory.
7. Stanford (Last Week, 6)
Despite holding the Golden Bears to under 30 percent from the floor, the Cardinal lost by double digits, 67-55. Chiney Ogwumike was steady as always with 18 points and 9 rebounds, but only one other teammate broke double figures for Stanford. A big difference in the game was the fact that California was able to over come the low shooting percentage by increasing the tempo of the game on the offensive side, putting up 10 more shots than Stanford. The Cardinal will have to find a way to create more easy baskets for players outside of Ogwumike to continue to beat elite teams.
8. California (Last Week, 9)
California snapped the 81-game conference winning streak of Stanford in an away victory at Maples Pavilion, 67-55. The Golden Bears may have shot the ball poorly at 29 percent, but they protected the ball with only 5 turnovers in the game. Gennifer Brandon was a beast in the post with 7 offensive rebounds, 12 total in the contest. This was exactly the type of big victory California needed to quiet the naysayers who may have thought they weren’t a top-10 team.
9. North Carolina (Last Week, 10)
North Carolina took home the bragging rights this time against in-state rival North Carolina State in a tough away game victory, 70-66. The Tar Heels kept the ball rolling against Georgia Tech, beating them 79-58. North Carolina scored 22 unanswered points while on their way to a 41-17 halftime lead. The Tar Heels are currently 5-0 in conference play.
10. Penn State (Last Week, 9)
Penn State continues to dominate in conference play with their recent victory against a talented Nebraska team, 80-58. Alex Bentley had 19 points and 5 steals in the contest. Maggie “Machine Gun” Lucas also added 19 in the game. “If we want to continue to be a team to be reckoned with in this conference, it’s going to be on the defensive end, not the offensive end,” coach Coquese Washington said. “We want to dictate games at the defensive end of the floor.”
PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
Meighan Simmons, guard, Tennessee
Simmons has really come into her own in the past couple of games for the Lady Vols this season. In a tough away game in Florida, Meighan put the team on her back with 27 points with 4for9 shooting from downtown.
Liz Williams, center, Duke
Elizabeth has been working herself back to top form from a stress fracture in her right leg last season. We are beginning to see glimpses of that same greatness that made her an All-American as a freshman last year. Against Virginia Tech, Williams was dominant with 20 points, 8 rebounds and 3 blocks in limited time in a 58-26 victory.
GAME OF THE WEEK: Duke vs Connecticut
Outside of the early season victory against Cal, Duke hasn’t faced any other ranked opponents. They may be 16-0, but they are not battle tested. UConn on the other hand, may have the hardest schedule in the nation so far, having played Purdue, Penn State, Stanford, Maryland and Notre Dame thus far. They have won all of those contests outside of Notre Dame. They are deep, explosive and poised. Plus this game will be in Storrs. Duke will have to distribute a steady dose of Williams and Gray must keep the turnovers down for Duke to have a chance to win this one.