NCAA
Graham Hays, espnW.com 1091d

Green Bay takes over top spot

Women's College Basketball, Dayton Flyers, George Washington Colonials, Green Bay Phoenix, James Madison Dukes, Western Kentucky Lady Toppers

A rough start to the season on the opposite coast dislodges a prohibitive preseason No. 1 and throws the race wide open. Connecticut losing to Stanford? Come on, look what you're reading. We're talking about Dayton losing a couple of games in the state of Washington and opening the door for some of the Flyers' peers to turn early upset wins into prime rankings real estate.

Let's get to the new top 10.

1. Green Bay (3-1)

What happened: Mid-majors don't have the luxury of being choosy with their schedules. Hence the reason Green Bay opened the season with three road games against major conference opponents in a span of five days, followed three days later by a none-too-easy home opener. Green Bay routed Marquette by 28 points on the road, lost in overtime at Vanderbilt, bounced back 48 hours later to win at Purdue and wrapped up the stretch with an 84-52 win against Duquesne.

What to know: In the great tradition of former point guards like Marist's Alisa Kresge and Princeton's Lauren Polansky who could change games without hitting shots, meet Megan Lukan. The redshirt senior leads the team in assists, shares the lead in steals and is second -- at 5 feet, 7 inches -- in offensive rebounds. More than the numbers, and like Kresge and Polansky, she is the pulse of a team with plenty of people who can take care of the points.

What's next: Nov. 28 vs. Georgia Tech, Nov. 29 vs. Arizona State or Villanova, Nov. 30 vs. TBD, Dec. 6 vs. Western Michigan

2. James Madison (4-0)

What happened: Down 12 points at halftime in its opening game against a ranked UCLA team, James Madison forced overtime with 47 second-half points and scored 16 points in those extra minutes to earn a 91-87 win at home. The reigning Colonial Athletic Association champion also routed St. Bonaventure (76-43) and Pittsburgh (80-64) at home, although the Dukes at least had to hang on for a 69-65 win at American in their first road game.

What to know: The missed shot might be one of James Madison's best weapons with Lauren Okafor around. The 6-foot-3 redshirt senior is averaging 7.3 offensive rebounds per game this season, part of an overall 16.3 rebounds per game. In fact, she has five fewer offensive rebounds on her own than James Madison's opponents.

What's next: Nov. 28 vs. Maryland, Nov. 29 vs. Houston, Dec. 3 vs. Richmond, Dec. 7 at Davidson

3. Western Kentucky (3-2)

What happened: The record speaks volumes, or more precisely, its volume speaks. Western Kentucky has been busy. And it looked the part of a team playing its fifth game in 11 days in Tuesday's 89-67 loss at Louisville. That came two days after a loss at Mississippi State in the WNIT final (a game the Lady Toppers traveled to and from by bus, 700 miles round trip, just in case the schedule wasn't tough enough). But before all of that, they won at Colorado and at home against Albany.

What to know: Louisville pushed Western Kentucky out of Tuesday's game well before halftime, so you can argue that Chastity Gooch's 20-point, 10-rebound effort came with little on the line. But that might be missing the point for someone who played all 40 minutes and played hard the whole way. In addition to the 20-10 line at the Yum! Center, she put up 30 points and 11 rebounds at Colorado. She can play a little bit.

What's next: Nov. 28 vs. Tulane, Nov. 29 vs. Hofstra or Northern Iowa, Dec. 1 vs. Alabama A&M, Dec. 4 vs. Ole Miss, Dec. 6 vs. Alabama State

4. Gonzaga (3-0)

What happened: Three games and three wins by double-digit margins. New coach, same as the old coach. The most impressive of Gonzaga's opening wins was its 75-65 result against Dayton, the lone mid-major team ranked in the preseason. Subsequent wins against Idaho State and Montana State were less revealing.

What to know: The Bulldogs have had three different leading scorers this season, and none of them were leading returning scorer Sunny Greinacher (although she's second overall in scoring thus far). Haiden Palmer attempted nearly 200 more field goals than any other player a season ago. Greinacher and Lindsay Sherbert seem good bets to take the most shots this season, but it will be worth tracking how balanced the distribution remains as the competition improves.

What's next: Nov. 28 vs. American, Nov. 29 vs. Iowa

5. Florida Gulf Coast (3-1)

What happened: It was one opportunity seized and another missed for Florida Gulf Coast. An 88-75 season-opening home win against fellow mid-major contender George Washington was impressive, even if the Colonials were without Jonquel Jones. But a game at Auburn in which Florida Gulf Coast led with four minutes to play, only to lose 72-69, has to feel like one that got away. The Eagles also routed Florida International and NAIA Ave Maria.

What to know: If Florida Gulf Coast laments the result at Auburn, it won't have any such reservations about the performance Stephanie Haas turned in on the road. Haas scored a career-best 30 points, shooting 10-of-16. No Florida Gulf Coast player scored 30 points in a game a season ago, yet Haas did it for a team that is deep but needs to replace Sarah Hansen (who scored 30 two seasons ago against another SEC opponent, LSU).

What's next: Nov. 27 vs. Wichita State, Nov. 28 vs. Clemson, Nov. 29 vs. Ohio State, Dec. 6 vs. Southern Miss

6. Princeton (4-0)

What happened: A perfect start and a visit from the first lady? Not a bad way to get a season underway. Princeton earned its most attention from a visit by Michelle Obama, whose niece, Leslie Robinson, is a freshman for the Tigers. But more important here, they swept opening-weekend visits to Pitt and Duquesne in the Steel City, then beat Drexel and American.

What to know: Between Dartmouth's Fanni Szabo, Penn's Sydney Stipanovich and Harvard's Temi Fagbenle, the Ivy League could have one of the nation's most interesting player-of-the-year races. But Blake Dietrick is going to make it a one-woman show if she keeps up her Fat Lever impersonation (she's an Ivy Leaguer; she can look it up). Through four games, she is averaging 13.3 points, 7.8 rebounds and 5.0 assists and shooting 46 percent from the 3-point line.

What's next: Nov. 27 vs. Wake Forest, Nov. 28 vs. Montana, Nov. 29 vs. Charlotte, Dec. 6 vs. Georgetown, Dec. 9 at Michigan

7. George Washington (3-2)

What happened: The losses have been the story so far, which is what happens when the wins are against Grambling State, Bowie State and American (although American seems to have trouble with a bevy of teams on this list). Yet if the loss to Florida Gulf Coast was a downer, the competitive 75-65 setback against Maryland has to be a positive.

What to know: First and foremost, Lauren Chase is on pace to match the 200 assists George Washington lost with the departure of Danni Jackson. That Chase is also on pace to double Jackson's turnovers is something the Colonials can presumably live with for the time being. She had a tough line in the opening loss against FGCU but totaled seven assists and three turnovers against Maryland. The senior sat out last season because of a third concussion.

What's next: Nov. 28 vs. NC State, Nov. 29 vs. Purdue or Texas Tech, Dec. 6 vs. Fresno State, Dec. 9 vs. Georgetown

8. Albany (2-1)

What happened: Albany went to Penn State and won. That's what happened. After cruising to a season-opening win against St. Francis, the Great Danes beat a team from the ACC, Big East, Big Ten, Pac-12 or SEC for the first time (North Carolina is still thankful it didn't earn that distinction in a first-round NCAA tournament scare two years ago). The subsequent WNIT semifinal at Western Kentucky was tied inside of five minutes to play, but Albany fell 63-54.

What to know: Have we mentioned Shereesha Richards? Well, we're going to mention her again. She hit 19 of 28 shots and totaled 22 rebounds in the games against Penn State and Western Kentucky. Given the attention she draws from opponents, that's more than enough production to offset a few more turnovers than might be ideal.

What's next: Nov. 26 at Canisius, Dec. 2 vs. Hofstra, Dec. 6 at Colgate

9. UALR (3-0)

What happened: UALR opened the season with a 70-54 win at LSU, which was No. 26 in AP voting at the time. The Trojans are no strangers to being a thorn in the side of big programs, but that was still their first win against a team from a power conference since beating Georgia Tech in the first round of the 2010 NCAA tournament. Relatively comfortable wins followed at home against Missouri State and at Rice.

What to know: UALR's opponents have assists on 17 of 47 field goals, or 36 percent. Something around 55 percent is normal. Stifling defenses, like Connecticut, South Carolina or West Virginia a season ago, might edge closer to 50 percent or below. Three games is a small sample size, but UALR was at 45 percent last season. Not many teams have individuals who can single-handedly break down a defense, but UALR almost demands that opponents try.

What's next: Nov. 26 vs. Oral Roberts, Nov. 29 at Memphis, Dec. 6 vs. Tulane

10. Dayton (1-3)

What happened: Dayton was competitive enough against a better schedule than those taken on by most mid-major teams to maintain a place in the top 10, but it hasn't been pretty. A 76-60 loss at Washington State was surprisingly uncompetitive. The loss at Gonzaga was a collapse in which the Flyers squandered an 11-point lead after halftime. And Dayton led almost the entire second half against Iowa this past weekend, only to lose 90-83. The lone win came in a rout against UT Martin, an NCAA tournament team a season ago but a rebuilding effort this time around.

What to know: Flyers they might be, but they aren't very good at landing the ball where they want right now. Take out the UT Martin game and they had 35 assists and 65 turnovers in the other three games. Dayton likes to push the pace to a level other teams can't handle, but right now, Jim Jabir's team seems to be flustering itself.

What's next: Nov. 26 vs. Providence, Dec. 3 at Wright State, Dec. 7 vs. Purdue

Next five: Middle Tennessee, Wichita State, Cal State Northridge, Pacific, Eastern Washington

Previous rankings: Nov. 12

^ Back to Top ^