The wait is over for fans of ACC women’s basketball.
Yes, the action starts today, with two Triangle teams hitting the court.
No. 12 UNC (29-7 last season), which is picked fourth in the conference, will host Air Force (4-26) at 4:30 p.m. at Carmichael Arena.
Then at 6 N.C. State (17-17), picked ninth, will take on St. Bonaventure (10-19) at Reynolds Coliseum.
Conference favorite and defending champion No. 2 Duke (33-3) will open Sunday at 6 p.m. at No. 9 California (32-4) in a game to be shown on ESPNU.
The Blue Devils return five seniors, all members of the No. 1 recruiting class of four years ago including forward Haley Peters and guards Chelsea Gray and Tricia Liston. Also back are junior center Elizabeth Williams, the ACC rookie of the year two seasons ago, and sophomore guard Alexis Jones who was MVP of the ACC Tournament. Joanne P. McCallie’s club also has the nation’s No. 2 recruiting class led by forwards Oderah Chidom and Kendall McCravey-Cooper.
So even with the addition of a Final Four team to the mix, the Blue Devils still command plenty of respect in the conference.
ACC media day was on Wednesday and Duke was picked to finish first by both the conference’s Blue Ribbon Panel and the coaches, followed by Notre Dame, Maryland and UNC in the top four. N.C. State, under new head coach Wes Moore, was picked 10th.
The Blue Devils, who had the No. 2 recruiting class in the country led by forward Oderah Chidom, placed seniors Chelsea Gray and Tricia Liston along with junior Elizabeth Williams on the preseason all-conference team. Blue Devil freshman Kendall McCravey-Cooper was named to the panel’s newcomer watch list.
UNC, deemed to have the No. 1 recruiting class in the country, will begin the season with Hall of Fame head coach Sylvia Hatchell sidelined as she battles her recently diagnosed leukemia. Her career-long top assistant Andrew Calder will coach the Tar Heels in her absence.
Tar Heel sophomore Xylina McDaniel made the all-conference team, while Diamond DeShields is on both newcomer watch lists.
Home games against Tennessee, archrivals Duke and N.C. State, and Maryland’s final visit to Carmichael Arena as an ACC member highlight the 2013-14 UNC women’s basketball schedule released today.
The schedule opens at home Nov. 8 against Air Force. The Tar Heels will host Nebraska in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, while new members Pittsburgh and Syracuse as well as Clemson, Miami and Virginia Tech will visit for conference games.
The other non-conference home games are against Coastal Carolina, Coppin State, Charleston Southern and High Point.
CAMERON INDOOR STADIUM/DURHAM Duke has been a model of consistency in the top tier of women’s basketball for the last two decades, and in her six-year tenure as head coach Joanne P. McCallie has definitely kept that going.
On Thursday she hosted a handful of area media for a luncheon to discuss the program’s most recent activities and
This season the goal is once again to win the ACC title and advance to the Final Four, she said.
The Blue Devils will try that with a five-member senior class that was ranked the top recruiting class in the country, junior center Elizabeth Williams who was ACC rookie of the year two seasons earlier, sophomore guard Alexis Jones who was MVP of the ACC Tournament in March, and a four-member freshman class that is generally considered the No. 2 class in the country.
In what has the potential to be a No. 1 vs. No. 2 battle, the Blue Devils will host the Huskies on Dec. 17 at 7 p.m. in a game to be shown on ESPN.
The Purdue game is on Dec. 5. The Blue Devils will host several other big-name opponents in Alabama, Vanderbilt and Old Dominion.
“We are really, really excited for our 2013 non-conference schedule,” Duke coach Joanne P. McCallie, whose team went 33-3 and made the NCAA Elite Eight for the fourth straight season in 2013, said in a release from the school. “Without a doubt this is the most difficult schedule that we’ve faced in the six years I’ve been at Duke — relative to the start, middle and finish. …
“It’s a great time to be a part of women’s basketball at Duke. It’s a special time with the expansion of the conference. We are looking forward to trying to take full advantage of those great competitors in every game we play.”
BACKYARD BISTRO/RALEIGH Wes Moore doesn’t want to waste any time as he gets his N.C. State women’s basketball team ready for his first season at the helm.
The Wolfpack’s still-new slogan is “This Is Our State,” and to make that point in women’s basketball they still have a high hill to climb.
Duke is probably going to be ranked No. 2 nationally to start the season, while UNC has a Hall of Fame coach and boasts the nation’s top-rated incoming recruiting class.
The Wolfpack went 17-17 and was knocked out in the second round of the WNIT in Kellie Harper’s final season at the helm, and has made one trip to the NCAA Tournament in the last six seasons.
Athletic director Debbie Yow hired Moore — at 558-169 the eighth winningest active coach in women’s college basketball — to fix that.
Notre Dame will be visiting the Triangle twice and Maryland thrice according to the ACC’s 2013-24 women’s basketball scheduling parameters announced today.
The 2013 Big East champion Irish, Pittsburgh and Syracuse will join the conference for play in the fall.
The ACC boasts four of the nation’s top five freshman recruiting classes, with Duke ranked No. 1, UNC No. 2, Maryland No. 4 and Notre Dame No. 5.
This season will mark Wes Moore's debut as head coach at N.C. State.
Don’t worry. It will end someday. I lived in ACC country for the entire Wooden era.
Blue Devils primed for a run
Duke may very well be preseason No. 2 heading into next season. No more Brittney Griner to worry about, no more Skylar Diggins.
Duke has that No. 1 recruiting class now rising seniors and a No. 2 class coming in as freshmen, and with not one but two national player-of-the-year candidates in rising junior center Elizabeth Williams and rising senior guard Chelsea Gray.
The Blue Devils (33-3 and ACC champions) would seem to have what it takes to go all the way if they can avoid being mesmerized by the UConn jerseys.
During Joanne P. McCallie’s six years at the helm the Blue Devils have finished their season in a very appropriate spot except once, that in her second season when they were a No. 1 seed and famously got sent to Michigan State where she had previously been head coach — and with team leader Abby Waner struggling through a leg injury were upset by the No. 9 seed Spartans in front of a nasty crowd.
(To her credit, McCallie never complained publicly about the assignment.)But let’s take a look at the three Triangle schools and assess the immediate past and future.
CARTER-FINLEY STADIUM/RALEIGH N.C. State held its press conference to introduce Wes Moore as its new head women’s basketball coach on Monday.
He was an assistant coach at State under the late Kay Yow, for whom the Reynolds Coliseum court is named, from 1993-95.
Moore has 558 career wins (with 169 losses) including 29 this season. The former Francis Marion (Division II) and Maryville (Division III) coach is the only one to lead women’s basketball teams to NCAA Tournament berths at all three levels.
He is replacing Kellie Harper (70-64 at State), who was fired after four years at the helm following a 17-17 season. In a coincidence, Harper was a Moore assistant at Chattanooga before becoming head coach at Western Carolina in 2004.
Rather, these are my final four thoughts about the state of ACC and college basketball as the curtain closes on the 2012-13 season of basketball and basketball blogging for Triangle Offense.
1. Talk that the failure of an ACC team to reach the Final Four since 2010 is a sign of a weak conference is a bit overblown, for two reasons. First, the league has had teams in the final eight the past three years. Last year's Carolina team probably would have made it to the Final Four without the Kendall Marshall injury. This year's Duke team probably would have been a No. 1 seed without the Ryan Kelly midseason injury, and hence wouldn't have had to play a team as good as Louisville until reaching the Final Four.
Second, there are other much stronger indicators of the league's relative decline. By the start of conference play in January it was evident the league would be getting a max of five tourney bids—it ended up with four, which was about right. More tellingly, in recent years other schools beside Duke and Carolina have failed to break into the elite and make noise nationally at the same time. N.C. State was supposed to do that this year, but had a season of relative under-achievement and now faces the prospect of having to undergo a complete facelift of its personnel. Miami did break through in the regular season and ACC Tournament, but its woeful performance against Marquette in the Sweet 16 was a major letdown.
Generally speaking, ACC basketball has been in slight decline the last four years or so. But all that its supposed to change next year with conference expansion, leading to our second thought...
2. Is ACC basketball as we have known it simply over? I have heard that opinion expressed by many long-time fans who are not pleased with conference expansion. They may be right. But there is a clear-cut way to preserve local rivalries: creating "pods" or divisions with home-and-home play within each of 4 pods (in a 16 team league) or 3 pods (in a 15 team league). Either way, you could have an 18 game league schedule, plus a tournament that would be truly interesting as a mechanism for determining the league's best team, since the unbalanced conference standings wouldn't tell you. This would allow the Big Four teams to play each other home and away every year, and keep at least part of the Tobacco Road tradition going.