March 28, 2014

The road to Nashville continues in Maples

Here is how the teams that will play in the Stanford Regional match up statistically:

Stanford Penn State South Carolina North Carolina
Points per game 77.3 75.7 71.2 80.1
Scoring margin +17.6 +9.2 +11.2 +14.3
Field goal % 0.471 0.421 0.471 0.448
3-pointers per game 6.5 3.6 3.6 6.0
3-point % 0.367 0.317 0.368 0.321
Free throw % 0.694 0.775 0.712 0.669
Rebounds per game 43.2 44.3 40.8 42.6
Rebounding margin +8.4 +7.5 +8.2 +3.9
Assists per game 18.0 13.1 13.6 15.5
Turnovers per game 12.4 16.2 16.2 17.1
Assist/turnover ratio 1.45 0.81 0.84 0.91
Steals per game 5.8 8.5 5.0 11.4
Blocks per game 3.7 4.7 8.3 4.8
Win-loss record 31-3 24-7 29-4 26-9
RPI 3 13 6 21
Schedule strength 11 13 23 16

  Penn State Lady Lions

The Lady Lions earned an at-large bid to the tourney with a first-place tie with Michigan State in the Big Ten. They advanced to the Sweet Sixteen with wins over Wichita State (62-56) in the first round and Florida (83-61) in the second round.

The Lady Lions found an unexpectedly tough opponent in their first round game. Wichita State built up an eleven-point lead midway through the first half. Penn State overcame the deficit and held on to the lead for most of the second half, but Wichita stayed close and was just two points behind with a minute left to play.

The Lady Lions controlled their second round game from the opening tip. They started the game with a pressure defense that rattled the Florida Gators and forced them into 20 total turnovers. Led by 22 points apiece from Maggie Lucas and Dara Taylor, the Lady Lions shot a sizzling 52% in the second half and led by as many as 28 points.

The Lady Lions are coached by Coquese Washington, now in her seventh year. She has taken the Lady Lions to the big dance for four consecutive seasons. They're looking to reach the Elite Eight for the first time since 2004.

Stanford and Penn State have played each other twice — in the dim past. The most recent meeting was at a Thanksgiving tournament in Hawaii in 2001. Stanford, with double-digit scoring from Lindsey Yamasaki, Nicole Powell, Cori Enghusen, Enjoli Izidor and Kelley Suminski, won 90-68.

Senior guard Maggie Lucas has led the Lady Lions to their four straight NCAA tournament appearances and three regular-season Big Ten titles. She is a two-time Big Ten player of the year and holds the team and conference record for 3-pointers made. She averages 21.5 points per game. She takes 39% of her shots from beyond the arc and makes 36.5% of them.

Tara says, "You can't leave her open, but she's got more than 3-point shooting to her game."

Lucas draws more fouls than any other Lady Lion and makes 95% of her free throws for an average of six points per game.

But the Lady Lions aren't a one-woman team. Lucas is joined in the starting five by three other seniors — point guard Dara Taylor (11.7 points, 4.9 assists, 2.7 steals per game), forward Ariel Edwards (15.5 points, 5.8 rebounds per game) and forward Talia East (8.1 points, 7.5 rebounds, 1.4 blocks per game).

Here are stories about Penn State's upcoming game against Stanford:

Lady Lions Meet Stanford in NCAA Regional Semifinal Sunday from Penn State Athletics

Lady Lions shift focus to Sweet 16, Stanford by Walt Moody (Centre Daily)

Penn State Lady Lions meet Stanford in NCAA Regional Basketball Semifinal Sunday from BOXSCORE

Here are Penn State's statistics, roster and game notes.

  South Carolina Gamecocks

The Gamecocks earned an at-large bid to the tourney with a first place finish in the Southeastern Conference (SEC). They advanced to the Sweet Sixteen with wins over Cal State Northridge (73-58) in the first round and Oregon State (78-69) in the second round.

The Gamecocks slogged through their first-round victory, letting Big West champion Cal State Northridge hang around for longer than anyone anticipated.

Last season, the Gamecocks were upset by the 12th-seeded Kansas Jayhawks in the second round. They were determined not to let that happen again. They replaced their first-round sluggishness with an aggressive, harassing defense that overwhelmed the Oregon State Beavers.

The Gamecocks are coached by Dawn Staley, who took the helm five years ago. She has brought a struggling team to its first SEC regular-season championship and first NCAA Tournament No. 1 seed. This is the Gamecocks' third appearance in the tourney under her guidance. They advanced to the Sweet Sixteen as a No. 5 seed two years ago, where they lost to Stanford 76-60.

The Gamecocks and the Cardinal have played each other in the regular season four times in the past seven years. The Cardinal won all those games.

The Gamecocks are a balanced team. Their four top scorers are also the top rebounders — sophomore guard Tiffany Mitchell (15.6 ppg, 5.6 rpg), junior forward Aleighsa Welch (13.8 ppg, 7.6 rpg), freshman center Alaina Coates (12.0 ppg, 8.3 rpg), junior center Elem Ibiam (9.7 ppg, 6.2 rpg). Should we meet in the Elite Eight, the latter two will be a challenge for Chiney — they're both 6'4".

The Gamecocks don't shoot a lot from beyond the arc. Their 3-pointers account for only 21% of their field goal attempts and 16% of their scoring.

The Gamecocks' strong defense has led their opponents to commit an average of 22 fouls per game. They've made 26% of their total points at the free throw line. In the first two rounds of the tourney, CS Northridge and Oregon State committed a total of 59 fouls. 40% of the Gamecocks' points came from free throws.

Here's an interview with Coach Staley about South Carolina's upcoming game against North Carolina:

Gamecocks get set to face North Carolina on Sunday from South Carolina Athletics

Here are South Carolina's statistics and roster.

  North Carolina Tar Heels

The Tar Heels earned an at-large bid to the tourney with a sixth place finish in the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) behind Notre Dame, Duke, Maryland, NC State and Syracuse (of those, only Notre Dame and Maryland have advanced to the Sweet Sixteen). The Tar Heels advanced to the Sweet Sixteen with wins over UT Martin (60-58) in the first round and Michigan State (62-53) in the second round.

The Tar Heels narrowly escaped elimination in the first round. UT Martin's brilliant game plan left the Tar Heels 18 points down with 11 minutes left to play. Then Diamond DeShields drew a flagrant foul with an elbow to the throat. She made the free throws, and she and her teammates decided they didn't want their season to end yet. They went on a 15-0 run in the next six minutes and took the lead with 3.5 minutes to go. The Skyhawks fought back to a tie with a minute to go. Then the Tar Heels pulled out the victory with a 3-pointer from Xylina McDaniel.

The Tar Heels were in it to win it all the way in the second round against Michigan State and scored a dominating win. Michigan State coach Suzy Merchant said, "I think UT Martin poked the beehive there, and we got a swarming bunch of bees coming at us early."

North Carolina's 28-year head coach, Sylvia Hatchell, has been battling leukemia since last fall, and associate head coach Andrew Calder, also in his 28th year at UNC, has led the team this season.

UNC has advanced to at least the regional semifinal game in 13 of its last 18 NCAA Tournament appearances, most recently in 2011. It's played in the NCAA Tournament as a No. 1 seed five times in school history and four seasons in a row from 2005-08.

UNC and Stanford have played each other twice, most recently in the Sweet Sixteen three years ago. It was a very tough game that Stanford won 72-65.

The Tar Heels are a high-scoring offensive team led by a quartet of underclassmen who account for 67% of the points and 57% of the rebounds — freshman guard Diamond DeShields (17.0 ppg, 5.3 rpg), freshman guard Allisha Gray (14.2 ppg, 5.4 rpg), sophomore forward Xylina McDaniel (11.9 ppg, 5.8 rpg) and freshman forward Stephanie Mavunga (10.9 ppg, 8.4 rpg).

DeShields, Gray and McDaniel are all good perimeter shooters. Combined, they take 32% of their shots from beyond the arc and make 36% of them.

DeShields stands out from the rest as much for her personality as for her sharp-shooting. Graham Hays describes her as college basketball's biggest entertainer, although not its best player — not yet.

Here are stories about North Carolina's upcoming game against South Carolina:

UNC women’s basketball team will face South Carolina in California by Grace Raynor (Daily Tarheel)

Stopping UNC rookie DeShields a tough task by Aaron Beard (Associated Press)

Here are North Carolina's statistics and roster.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Marian, thank you. These team updates are always most helpful in thinking about upcoming games. It looks like we're in for a terrific day of basketball on Sunday.