The Ladies are the host team tonight in the Ally Tipoff at Charlotte Coliseum at 8 PM. The game will be televised on ESPN2. The #8 Hokies play the #3 Iowa Hawkeyes led by Caitlin Clark. The Hawkeyes lost the championship game to LSU last year 102-85 after the Hokies lost to LSU in the semifinal 79-72. We lost by 7; they lost by 17. By the infallible transitive property of basketball scoring, we would have beaten them by 10 last year.
Both teams have made some changes. They lost Monika Czinano and McKenna Warnock who contributed 28 points and 12.4 rebounds per game. And also lost Shateah Wettering, who did not play much, to the portal. They added Kylie Feuerbach a 6' redshirt Jr who was out last year with an injury and 2 freshmen.
The Hokies lost TSoule and Keyana Traylor, who contributed 21.9 points and 9.0 rebounds per game. We added Carleigh Wenzel, who redshirted last year and Matilda Ekh, 6' Jr from Michigan State; Rose Micheaux, 6'2 Jr from Minnesota and Olivia Summiel, 6'2 Grad Student from Wake Forest.
They lost more production than we did; and I think our additions will contribute more than theirs. Although, it's always hard to estimate how much bench players from last year will improve as starters this year. It's also tricky to guess how much, or if, freshmen will contribute. We have 5 freshmen and a RS sophomore who have not played a college game until this year. They have 2 freshmen.
Here is the Iowa roster for this year:
For comparison, here is our roster this year:
If the High Point game is any indicator, Matilda Ekh and Rose Micheaux are going to bring the scoring and rebounding that we lost with TSoule and Traylor. It's hard to say whether the Ekh and Micheaux match the competitiveness and energy Soule and Traylor brought to the team.
Their three returning starters, Clark, Martin and Marshall, averaged 41.9 points and 12.8 rebounds per game. Our three returning starters, Kitley, Amoore and King, averaged 42.8 points and 17.3 rebounds per game. Bear in mind that Iowa scored 87.3 ppg and we scored 72.4 ppg last year.
We will have the tallest, by 3", and the shortest, by 3", starters in the game. Kitley's 3" advantage is important; Amoore's 3" difference may not be as significant as she is adept at getting her shot off against taller defenders.
I think Caitlin Clark will probably be hard to stop; but I don't think Iowa has enough support for her that they can stay with the Hokies. That being said, if Amoore, King or Ekh has an off night, we could be in trouble. And there's always a concern that fouls may play a factor. King will probably guard Clark most of the night and that could affect her energy on offense and may lead to fouls causing her to sit.
This game is too early in the season to have a real feel for how either of these teams are going to play. Iowa has a slight advantage in that their players have been in their system for a while. The Hokies have to merge the transfers into the team chemistry. Coach Brooks was happy with their progress after the High Point game; but Iowa is a much tougher challenge. So far it sounds like the transfers are more like TSoule and Traylor than Owusu. If they buy into Brooks' system and the team concept, this could be a very good year for VT Women's BBall.