Hoyas pull off biggest tourney upset
If you have observed the various Thanksgiving hoops tournaments over the years, you know one thing for sure about them: You can never really tell if they mean anything.
Usually, the events are in distracting warm-weather places, and it's early in the season, so weird things can happen that don't necessarily translate into any deeper meaning. Or sometimes they end up foreshadowing things that do occur later in the season. Most of the time in regard to upsets, I think it's the former.
But it's going to be intriguing to see which is the case in regard to the most surprising upset of the holiday weekend: Georgetown's 69-58 victory over Tennessee on Saturday at the Paradise Jam in the Virgin Islands.
This would have been pretty noteworthy on its own, even with Georgetown ranked No. 12 and Tennessee No. 4. The programs had never met before, but these are the types of games Tennessee doesn't usually lose.
That seemed especially the case considering what happened in the previous games in the Reef Division of the Paradise Jam. On Friday, Missouri had upset Georgetown 54-45, while Tennessee had cruised 66-42 over Georgia Tech.
On Thursday, Tennessee had almost doubled up Missouri, 82-44, while Georgetown beat Georgia Tech 67-58.
Following Tennessee's dismantling of Missouri, a friend from high school who knew I covered women's basketball sent me a note on Facebook about how far Missouri, which is our alma mater, would have to go to compete with Tennessee.
And I wrote back that Missouri was so far from Tennessee as to be utterly incomparable when it comes to women's hoops programs. So how odd is it that Missouri would then actually beat a team that would then beat Tennessee?
Very odd, and even more so considering that after an early 2-2 tie, the Hoyas led the rest of the way against Tennessee, which struggled throughout, especially in regard to 29 turnovers. Georgetown's Sugar Rodgers scored 28 points and dictated the pace of the game.
The turnovers and the inability to slow the Hoyas' perimeter threats of Rodgers and Monica McNutt (13 points) -- those two players combined for nine 3-pointers -- have to be worrisome to Tennessee coach Pat Summitt.
So does the fact that Tennessee didn't play with the purpose that Summitt expects should be automatic by now. Those kinds of lapses happen to even really good teams, but they really shouldn't be happening to Tennessee now.
This is a group that has been through some disappointments in the past two seasons, especially in 2008-09 when there were a lot of young players. So you'd expect this would be a team especially wary of the very mistake Summitt said she thinks her players made: not being prepared for a challenge.
None of this is to take away from Georgetown's victory, though. The Hoyas beat Notre Dame last season when the Irish were ranked fourth in the country, and coach Terri Williams-Flournoy has been building her program to win games like this. Rodgers is clearly a special talent, and only a sophomore.
For women's basketball, this is great stuff. For Tennessee, though, it's a genuine concern. Do the Lady Vols really have the leadership that many figured would be there by now?
Tennessee's Shekinna Stricklen injured her back with just more than a minute left. Summitt said she thought Stricklen would be OK, but it just gave Tennessee another thing to be concerned about in leaving "Paradise."
TCU, which was in the Island Division of the Paradise Jam, lost all three of its games in the Virgin Islands: to West Virginia, Iowa State and Virginia. The Frogs, ranked No. 25 in the coaches' poll, will fall out of the rankings. But TCU has a tradition of playing difficult nonconference records and benefiting from that, even if it doesn't win the games.
No. 11 West Virginia moved to 6-0 with its three victories in the Paradise Jam Island Division. The Mountaineers topped TCU, Virginia and No. 17 Iowa State.
The 64-53 victory over the Cyclones was a triumph in game plan for West Virginia, which was focused on stopping Iowa State's traditional bread-and-butter: the 3-pointer.
The Cyclones had hit 14 3s in their victory over TCU, but made just two against West Virginia.
Iowa State coach Bill Fennelly wasn't upset about the trip, however, saying it was a very good experience for his young squad to face such good defensive teams this early.
Good journey for Heels
North Carolina is 7-0 after three victories at Hawaii's tournament, but so far the No. 15 Tar Heels' schedule has been a snoozer. That will change at least for Thursday as they get a visit from No. 21 Iowa. The Hawkeyes are also 7-0 after winning two games in the Caribbean Challenge in Mexico.
That was the event impacted by Purdue's having to cancel its participation after Boilermakers player Drew Mingo came down with meningitis.
The great news out of West Lafayette, Ind., on Sunday was that Mingo was released from the hospital. No one else with Purdue has contracted the sickness.
Purdue is back in action Thursday against visiting Maryland, which happens to be the program that Mingo transferred from after playing two seasons for the Terps.
Stanford senior Kayla Pedersen had her kind of game Sunday: 19 points, 12 rebounds, five assists, three steals. Smaller Texas was able to do all right on the boards versus bigger Stanford (a 31-29 Cardinal edge), but coach Tara VanDerveer's squad offensively dominated a 93-78 victory against the No. 19 Longhorns.
VanDerveer is two wins from reaching the career mark of 800 victories, not that she's paying the slightest bit of attention to such milestones. Stanford takes a break now for final exams; the No. 2 Cardinal won't be in action again until Dec. 12 against Fresno State.