November 25, 2010
#4 (USA Today)
While everyone's getting fat and happy today, the Lady Vols are in the Virgin Islands for Paradise Jam. While there's nothing inherently special about the Paradise Jam tournament, it does present the opportunity for some great early-season tournament experience. It's less a full-blown tournament and more an excuse for some round-robin play, although the regions are very much have-and-have-not. Tennessee is in the same bracket as Missouri - who, while I don't like to make snap judgments, is unranked with a loss already - Georgia Tech (who yes, have a women's basketball team - I know, I'm as surprised as you are), and #12 Georgetown. The other side of the bracket is a bit more balanced (#10/11 West Virginia, #19/17 Iowa St., #21/25 TCU, and the Virginia team Tennessee's already beaten), but the Lady Vols are the best team in the tournament and should play like it.
Expected starters are below:
Missouri comfortably beat Tiger High and lost to Eastern Illinois - who, yes, also have a women's basketball program. That program isn't getting any votes in any poll, so while I'd like to give Missouri some credit and talk them up as a legitimate threat, it's going to be a bit difficult. Clearly the offense goes through RaeShara Brown with an inside-outside combo using Christine Flores on the interior. They rebound reasonably well given their competition so far.
That's about where the fun ends, though, as Brown has to put up a ton of shots to get to that 16.5 points-per-game average. She does shoot a lot of free throws, which makes me think she's a fan of the out-of-control-drive-and-bailout-call method of offense. Nobody can shoot well from beyond the arc (Otote thinks she's a good shooter, but you have to do better than 3-13 on the season unless you're Wayne Chism) and the Lady Tigers (Tigresses?) only go about seven deep - and that's with Brown getting in a ton of foul trouble. This game shouldn't be much of an issue.
Still, it's good practice to at least act like your
prey opponent is dangerous. I'd expect Glory Johnson to get the start again, but less for her offensive prowess and more for her defensive acumen. If she can handle Flores defensively, that'll free up Cain to wreak havoc without being in foul trouble. Both Johnson and Cain need to watch out and not pick up blocking fouls from a out-of-control Brown getting a bailout call or two; it may fall to Stricklen to contain Brown. Simmons should do well enough on Bekah Mills, who isn't super-dangerous.
Offensively, working through Cain should be an effective option. I'm not sold that Missouri has the defensive chops to handle three offensive guards like Bjorklund / Simmons / Stricklen, and while I was at least attempting to talk up Arizona State, this one's not going to be a problem.
Stop by, listen for a half, and then get back to your family before they were even aware you left. Besides, they're all tryptophan'd out anyway. Nobody's going to know.