Monday, March 16, 2009

For Marist Women ... Far-away Site, Tough Foe

The Marist women's basketball learned its NCAA situation Monday night, and other than the actual berth, which the Red Foxes qualified for by virtue of winning the recent MAAC tournament, it's probably cause for some disappointment in Poughkeepsie.

A year ago Marist was the No. 7 seeded team in a 16-team bracket after a 31-2 regular season.

This year the Red Foxes enter the tournament with a 29-3 record and got a No. 12 seed.

The rest of the bad news is the opponent and the site.

Marist draws tough Virginia (23-9) of the Atlantic Coast Conference, one of the top conferences for the women's sport.

The playing site for the first-round game is the Galen Center on the campus of the University of Southern California (USC) in Los Angeles.

The game will be played Saturday at approximately 10:30 p.m. eastern time and will be televised on ESPN2.

Yours truly, though, will be the first to admit that his knowledge of women's basketball outside the confines of the MAAC isn't as strong as my knowledge of the men's sport.

But a good friend, who works at the University of Virginia and has seen the women's team there on multiple occassions, offers this brief, succinct scouting report: Big, good, athletic and smart."

Beyond that, all this blogger knows about Virginia is what he reads.

The Cavaliers start a lineup that includes 6-foot-4 sophomore center Kelly Hartiq (1.4 points, 2.7 rebounds), 6-3 senior forward Alisha Mohammed (13.0, 10.1) and 6-1 senior forward Lyndra Littles (20.5, 6.4).

Their guards are 5-11 junior Monica Wright (20.5, 5.5) and 5-10 senior Britnee Millner (3.9, 3.0).

The top front-court sub is 6-2 senior Chelsea Shine (5.7, 5.4), and the top back-court reserve is 5-7 freshman Ariana Morer (7.0, 3.5).

The Caves have 10 players who averaged at least 12.4 minutes of playing time per contest.

They have played eight teams rated in the Top 25 this year, finishing with a 3-5 record at that level.

Their best victory was an 89-81 decision over then No. 8 Maryland at midseason.

Virginia was rated No. 20 nationally, prior to its most-recent game, a loss to No. 8 Duke in the ACC tournament. At one point earlier in the season, Virginia was rated as high as No. 11.

Marist has won its first round game in the NCAA tournament in each of the past two seasons.

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