Once again, we steer the ship of Swish Appeal directly into the hurricane by printing our list of the Top 100 Programs in Division I Women's Basketball for the third straight year. We will be presenting the list in segments, the same as we did for the years 2010 and 2011.
Today: Programs #71-100
Tuesday: Programs #41-70
Wednesday: Programs #26-40
Thursday: Programs #11-25
Friday: Programs #1-10
No body reads nothing nohow
A friend of mine suggested after last year that the list part of the various segments be printed first, and any discussion of the various issues in women's college basketball - or coming up with a universal definition of what the best program is in women's basketball - be submitted at the very end. "Clearly, people just want to know where their team is on the list; they don't care about any of the other stuff."
However, we strive for consistency, so the list will have to come at the end of each article. There is nothing preventing people from scrolling to the bottom anyway.
What this list is
Note that we are trying to come up with the 100 best programs in Division I. This is not the same thing as the 100 best teams in Division I for the 2012-13 season. The confusion comes from the fact that one of our metrics to measure a good program is what it accomplishes on the basketball court. Therefore, there will be some overlap and the top of the list will be dominated by schools that produce winning basketball programs.
But if wins alone aren't enough to determine a program's greatness, then what is? Below are some of the things we've considered as well as some of the things we've excluded from consideration in making the call.
Wins and quality of competition. If your program has a losing record every year, how good can the program really be? Either the coach can't teach basketball - which might be the sign of an institutional problem - or the program can't compete with other programs for good players. Even twenty wins might not mean a lot if you can't beat highly ranked teams.
Attendance. A good program should be one supported by a nicely-sized fan base. And there's no better measure of that by the number of warm bodies in seats. Yes, you have to be accurate about that number but there's not much of a reason to lie - and if you look at the numbers supplied by the schools at the bottom, clearly no one is lying about the 197 per home game attendance at Chicago State, at least I hope not.
Recruiting. This has to be one of the hardest ones to measure. Does your school draw name recruits, and by a name recruit I mean those recruits being the ones perceived to have the most talent? If a consensus #1 picks Louisville, that means a lot to Louisville; if someone unranked chooses the Bryant Bulldogs, it might only be noticed in Rhode Island.
Hitting benchmarks. Among the current benchmarks are:
- Postseason play: Did the program make the postseason and how far did it go?
- Win totals: A cheap and flashy way to get prestige. 20 wins is expected. Thirty wins is great. A losing season? Not so great.
- Conference titles and tournament victories: What kind of respect do you get in the conference you play in?
- All-Americans: Recruiting measures the kind of players that went there; this measures what those players became.
- WNBA high draft picks: Are your players so good that someone would pay them to play?
Faraway glory. We really don't care about all the titles you won in the 1980s. Different era, different time frame, probably different coaches and a different environment for women's basketball.
Coaching records and longevity. In some cases, it's hard to get one's hands on the data, and there are other cases where coaches hang on long past their "expired by" date for reasons having little to do with their present-day ability.
Academics: a university's academic reputation is something that really can't be controlled by the athletic department, the coach, or the players.
The Top 100 list is always a work in progress. I did not change how the metrics worked between last year's list and this year's, but there is no guarantee that these metrics will always be the ones we use. The entire method could be scrapped and replaced in 2013.
This leaves the debate wide open to what constitutes a great program, which is as it should be.
#71: Toledo: Home attendance for Rockets is 3700 per game, putting many major programs to shame. Fans will miss Courtney Ingersoll, who hit 96 3-pointers last year with 44.2 percent accuracy. Program makes it to quarterfinals of WNIT in 2012; won the whole thing in 2011. Recruit G Cat Wells suspended indefinitely in September, released in October.
#72: North Carolina State: Kellie Harper brought NC State to the second round of the WNIT and got the Wolfpack above .500. This year will be a recruiting test as NC State loses five seniors, but only Bonae Holston was an impact player - what kind of team can Harper build now given the chance?
#73: Minnesota: Winning the Women's Basketball Invitational - one step below the WNIT - might give the Gophers hope for the coming season. Run in WBI finally got Minnesota above .500, Whalen is a great player, but she graduated eight years ago. Attendance has dropped over each of last four years.
#74: Richmond: Great 23-9 record, but lead scorer Abby Oliver - who hit 106 out of 113 free throws in her senior year - graduates. Fourth straight WNIT visit for the Spiders.
#75: Creighton: After four straight WNIT appearances the Blue Jays finally win the conference tourney and head to the big dance, beaten in the first round only on a last second shot by St. John's. Creighton only loses one starter to graduation.
#76: Missouri State: Missouri State takes the MVC regular season title but loss to Creighton in semis sends them to WNIT where they lose to eventual champ Oklahoma State. Casey Garrison graduates; was second all-time scorer in Lady Bears history next to Jackie Stiles back when it was still SW Missouri State.
#77: Utah: Utes finish at .500 (16-16) after making it to second round of WNIT. Four starters are back next season, including twin towers 6-4 Michelle Plouffe and 6-3 Taryn Wicijowski.
#78: Arizona: Third losing season in last four years under head coach Niya Butts, 2003-05 last time program put together two winning seasons in a row. Three players transfer off team in off-season, but after winning season in 2010-11 Butts is extended by Arizona Board of Regents to 2014.
#79: Washington: Nice first season by Kevin McGuff - 20-14 and a visit to the WNIT. Unfortunately, recruit F Katie Collier tears an ACL and will be out this season. This means that Collier and Chantel Osafor will come in during 2013-14, G/F Kristi Kingma will be back after ACL tear last season.
#80: Old Dominion: Last season's 11-21 has to be a disappointment, this season is last one in Colonial before departing for Conference USA. C/F Tia Lewis graduates, taking 16.3 ppg/8.9 rpg with her. Only two seniors on 2012-13 roster.
#81: Charlotte: 16-14 might not sound like much, but new head coach Cara Consuegra was one of three finalists for Division I Rookie Coach of the Year. No time to rest; 49ers move up to Conference USA in 2013-14. Charlottewbb.com website opens.
#82: Liberty: Fifth-straight 20-win season for Flames, who won regular season title and tourney title in Big South; will face Texas A&M and Baylor this year. Liberty is working on a new dome roofed basketball practice facility for men's and women's basketball which should be done by December 2012.
#83: Duquesne: It was a year of fours last season - attendance in four digits, fourth straight 20 win season, fourth straight WNIT appearance. Team returns virtually intact, only two seniors graduate. Fifth time's the charm for an NCAA bid?
#84: San Diego State: Back to the NCAA tournament last year for the Aztecs, Mountain West tournament champions. Head coach Beth Burns will be around until 2017. 6-4 center Cierra Warran joins the club, her second transfer in her college career, will redshirt. (Year 1: North Carolina, Year 2: Louisville).
#85: Villanova: After a 12-19 season, Nova improves to 19-15 with a WNIT visit. Last time team averaged over 1000 spectators was 2005-06 season. Last NCAA appearance was 2004, but Harry Perretta coached his 1000th game in February. At 34 seasons with Villanova, he'll tie Pat Summitt's record of 37 seasons in 2015.
#86: Hartford: Head coach Jennifer Rizotti to be inducted as a player in Women's BB HOF - will induction as coach follow? Hawks go to eighth straight postseason but lose in first round of WNIT. St. John's, Marist, Vanderbilt and Connecticut all coming to visit this year.
#87: Drexel: Drexel goes to finals of CAA tournament, and then to WNIT for third straight year. (Win over Fairfield in WNIT was Drexel's first ever WBB postseason victory.) 6-4 Jamila Thompson out of England joins team after two years at Daytona State.
#88: Hampton: Hampton goes to the NCAAs for its third straight year - Lady Pirates sail into tournament with perimeter defense (holding teams to 21.3 percent 3-point shooting). Were 2-2 for season vs. power conferences with road wins against Pittsburgh and Boston College.
#89: Chattanooga: After 17-14 year, Lady Mocs return to typical 20+ win season that is a hallmark under head coach Wes Moore but lose by one point to Memphis in WNIT opener. Two season drought in SoCon championships, team changing its approach with tougher summer workouts.
#90: Tulane: Green Wave finish at 23-11, enough for CUSA title game appearance and WNIT visit. Beth Dunkenberger - formerly head coach at Virginia Tech - promoted to assistant coach after one year as head of basketball operations. Freshmen were impressive last season.
#91: Pittsburgh: Last time the Panthers won a Big East game? One-and-one half years ago - March 14, 2011 against South Florida in the Big East Tournament. Next chance: January 5, 2013 at Seton Hall. Last year's squad youngest in Division I.
#92: Oregon State: 20-win season and second round WNIT appearance in second year for Scott Rueck. After former coach LaVonda Wagner dismissed two years ago, Rueck put together a team with spit and bailing wire. Rebuild is very impressive.
#93: Northwestern: Two players leave Wildcats - sisters Morgan and Tailor Jones. Morgan scored 13.9 ppg as a freshman and will be going to Florida State; her transfer makes it tougher for next year. Just 14 wins this year might not impress, but first four years of Joe McKeown at NW produce winningest senior class in 15 years.
#94: Virginia Commonwealth: F Courtney Hurt's final year had her averaging 22.3 points per game - she can make any program look good. When she left, so did head coach Beth Cunningham, to take up an assistant coaching job with the Irish, leaving Marlene Stollings (from Winthrop) to figure things out for Atlantic 10 move.
#95: Louisiana Tech: Lady Techsters hope for better finish than 17-15 in final year in WAC conference; move to Conference USA in 2013-14. It will be tough - three leading scorers, all seniors, lost to graduation. Teresa Weatherspoon in charge of a young team; only one senior left on roster.
#96: Harvard: Third WNIT appearance in four years ends in second round for Crimson. G Shilpa Tummala - whose parents are from India, not Indiana - is a top-rank recruit for Harvard and is expected to be Ivy League Freshmen of the year.
#97: Boston College: Four years was enough for Boston College and Sylvia Crawley, who resigned at the end of 2011-12 for health reasons. (Her record was 7-23 after most of her offense graduated.) Erik Johnson, former head coach at Denver, takes over. He brings Yvonne Hawkins - both were assistants at BC when Carolyn Swords was recruited.
#98: Providence: Phil Seymore leaves after an 88-120 record over seven years. Dragging Providence up will be a tough challenge for new head coach Susan Robinson Fruchtl. She'll still have G Lexi Sells to help, but PG Chanel Green and G Jephany Brown decommitted after Seymore left.
#99: UTEP: UTEP won the Conference USA regular season championship, the tournament, and made it to the second round of the NCAA. Twenty-nine wins is most wins ever by any UTEP basketball team. Foreign pipeline was supposed to Vita Zilinskaite, Miss Basketball Lithuania, coming to El Paso - but Zilinskaite was playing for Vilnius University this month.
#100: Pepperdine: 14-15 last year for the Waves but things might be looking up - F Kelsey Brockway committed to Pepperdine in 2011, Top 100 player will join this season. Hoping to get back to form that took them to two WNIT appearances in 2010 and 2011.