Duke's Beard lives up to billing
Updated: Monday December 04, 2000 9:31 AM
By Mike Ogle, Special to CNNSI.com
Alana Beard, the preseason pick as Atlantic Coast Conference rookie of the year is living up to her advance billing in the young 2000-01 season. The 5-foot-11 freshman from Frierson, La., has been doing it all for No. 3 Duke, and she captured her second rookie of the week honor in as many weeks.
Beard, Miss Basketball in Louisiana as a high school senior, leads the Blue Devils (8-0) in scoring (14.6 points per game), steals (4.3 per game) and assists (3.9 per game). She is tied with 1999 ACC player of the year Georgia Schwietzer for most minutes played on a deep Duke team at 24.5 a contest. Beard also averages 4.0 rebounds, shoots 51.2 percent from the field and has blocked seven shots against some stiff competition.
Schweitzer appears to have her work cut out for her if she wants to repeat as the conference's top player or even the best on her team. Last year Schweitzer scored 15.6 points, grabbed 4.0 rebounds and dished out 3.3 assists per game. This season her overall numbers are down to 10.5 points, 2.8 rebounds and 3.4 assists.
But everything seems to be right where the Blue Devils want it. They're undefeated and ranked third behind Connecticut and Tennessee.
Virginia travels rocky road
No. 20 Virginia (4-3) already has some catching up to do.
Ranked 15th in the preseason, the Cavaliers have dropped three out of four contests away from familiar University Hall. They hold a 297-55 (.844) advantage at U-Hall in Charlottesville, Va., but have struggled away from home so far this season.
Virginia dropped two games in the preseason Women's NIT in West Lafayette, Ind., to tough opponents Louisiana Tech and Texas. The 56-55 loss to the Longhorns came in double overtime. On Thursday, the Wahoos dropped a 57-56 heartbreaker to Virginia Tech, in Blacksburg, Va.
Virginia has scored 100 points or more twice in U-Hall this season. The Cavaliers opened the year with a 100-61 thumping of Mount St. Mary's and later thrashed Saint Francis 116-63. The Cavaliers will face a tougher challenge from Old Dominion on Sunday, Dec. 3, when Old Dominion comes to town at 2 p.m.
Still, Virginia has the personnel to turn it around. The team boasts both ACC players of the week thus far in Telisha Quarles and Schuye LaRue. LaRue, a sophomore, picked up the award last week after recording two double-doubles. In the two games, she averaged 20.5 points and 11.5 boards while shooting 55 percent from the field.
Conference season approaches
The conference season kicks off Wednesday, Dec. 6, when Georgia Tech travels to No. 22 North Carolina State.
The Wolfpack (4-1) is learning to live without departed all-ACC center Summer Erb, who averaged 16.0 points, and 8.5 rebounds last season. Sophomore Carisse Moody is helping to pick up the slack with 14.0 points and 7.2 rebounds per game.
For the Yellow Jackets, Milli Martinez (16.7), Niesha Butler (15.0), Tamika Boatner (14.0), and Nina Barlin (13.7) are all averaging double figures. Tech (3-0) is dropping 83.7 points on its opponents so far.
Last season, the two teams won on each others' home floors, and the Yellow Jackets took a first-round ACC Tournament win from the Wolfpack for a 2-1 advantage on the season.
But before Georgia Tech gets to Raleigh, it has to take its undefeated record to No. 16 Mississippi State on Saturday.
Mike Ogle is a reporter for The Daily Tar Heel, the student paper that serves the University of North Carolina.