FanHouse Terrific 12: Freshman Salute
The FanHouse Terrific 12 makes its final appearance for the calendar year 2010 with anticipation of two games of seemingly seismic importance, as well as of the beginning of conference play next week.
Just wondering: If Top-five teams face off and Connecticut's not involved, does ESPN care? To wit, Xavier's one-point loss to Duke last week was a blip on the radar on the All-Huskies, all-the-time channel, and this week's Musketeers meeting with Stanford is likely to be ignored ahead of the Cardinal's showdown with UConn on Dec. 30.
Terrific 12 Teams of the Week:
1. Connecticut: If the Huskies don't lose at Stanford, the streak may roll all the way to the NCAA tournament.
2. Baylor: Transfer forward Destiny Williams' addition gives Lady Bears even more depth.
3. Duke: Next week's meeting with Kentucky could have NCAA tournament seeding implications.
4. Xavier: Who's more attractive to WNBA scouts, Amber Harris or Ta'Shia Phillips?
5. Texas A&M: Aggies return to action after clubbing Rutgers at Maggie Dixon Classic Dec. 19.
6. Tennessee: Lady Vols open SEC play on the road against LSU.
7. West Virginia: Mountaineers have won last five games by average of 25 points.
8. UCLA: Bruins haven't played a ranked opponent since mid-November win over Notre Dame.
9. Stanford: Kayla Pedersen had a career-high 20 rebounds in win over San Francisco.
10. Kentucky: Wildcats have played just one game within 10 points all season.
11. North Carolina: Tar Heels looking to get to ACC play unbeaten for second time in three years.
12. Michigan State: Spartans blasted Iona, Dartmouth and Vermont by an average of 41 points each.
Terrific 12 Games of the Week:
Florida at Florida State, Dec. 28: Can Seminoles rebound after getting blasted by UConn in record-setting game?
LSU at UCLA, Dec. 28: Bruins get challenge against SEC foe before going into Pac-10 play.
Xavier at Stanford, Dec. 28: Musketeers need big road win to have a shot at a No.1 seed come March.
St. John's at Maryland, Dec. 29: Assuming Red Storm get past Liberty in tournament opener, this could be solid matchup between teams with conference title aspirations.
Vanderbilt vs. Delaware, Dec. 29: Commodores travel to Blacksburg, Va. to meet Elena Delle Donne, nation's leading scorer.
Gonzaga vs. Notre Dame, Dec. 29: Seattle tournament game matches two of nation's most underrated point guards, Gonzaga's Courtney Vandersloot vs. Skylar Diggins of the Irish.
Connecticut at Stanford, Dec. 30: Cardinal front line provides supreme challenge for young Huskies' interior.
Iowa at Penn State, Dec. 30: Big Ten season opener may reveal if Lady Lions are for real.
Rutgers at Tennessee, Dec. 30: Meeting pitting two members of the 800-win club, Rutgers' Stringer and Tennessee's Summitt.
Temple at Duke, Dec. 30: Owls may give Blue Devils a tough defensive struggle as tune-up before Duke hosts Kentucky next week.
Oklahoma at TCU, Jan. 2: After losses to Iowa State, West Virginia, and Texas A&M, Horned Frogs could really use a win over a ranked opponent.
Dayton at Boston College, Jan. 3: Flyers can build resume for second straight NCAA tournament at-large bid with win over Eagles.
Terrific 12 Freshmen of the Year:
In the absence of very many games during Christmas week, and, thus, very many terrific performances, let's pick out the 12 first-year players likely to make a difference the rest of the season:
Meighan Simmons, Tennessee: Simmons had 23 points and seven rebounds in the Lady Vols' overtime win over Stanford, and has played with aplomb all season as quarterback of the Tennessee offense.
Bria Hartley, Connecticut (pictured above): The New York native served notice in the Huskies' season-opening win over Baylor that she could run the offense. Her 21-points against Florida State shows she can score too.
Chiney Ogwumike, Stanford: Has already assimilated herself into a talented Cardinal lineup, as the fourth leading scorer and third leading rebounding while shooting a sizzling 63 percent from the field.
Alyssa Thomas, Maryland: Leads all ACC freshmen in scoring at 12.4 points a game and is already drawing comparisons with former Terps great Marissa Coleman.
Chelsea Gray, Duke: Gray's 46 percent rate from three-point range gives the Blue Devils a reliable perimeter threat, and a solid complement to Jasmine Thomas.
Odyssey Sims, Baylor: With 49 points in wins over Tennessee and Syracuse, the 5-foot-9 guard has been Big 12 Freshman of the Week twice.
Jordan Hooper, Nebraska: Hooper leads conference freshmen in rebounding and is second among Big 12 frosh in scoring, setting herself up as a worthy successor to Kelsey Griffith.
Courtney Moses, Purdue: The Sweetser, Ind., native not only distributes the ball well, but is a tenacious defender, and has already been named Big Ten Freshman of the Week three times.
Aaryn Ellenberg, Oklahoma: Ellenberg has at least one three-pointer in each of her first 11 games -- a Sooner first -- and is averaging 16 points per contest.
Heather Butler, Tennessee-Martin: The Skyhawk guard is the nation's leading freshman scorer at 19.5 points per game and hit seven three-pointers on the way to 37 points in a win over Murray State.
Maggie Lucas, Penn State: The Narbath, Pa. guard is living up to her McDonald's High School All-America billing, in leading Penn State in scoring, while shooting 44 percent from three-point range and a sizzling 91 percent from the free throw line.
Kamilah Jackson, Hawaii: The nation's leading freshman rebounder, Jackson, a 5-foot-11 Oakland native is averaging 10.6 boards a game, as well as 12.4 points a game.