The "Starting Five" for NCAA Women's Basketball, as identified by Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Truman, Johnson, Reagan and Nixon, for the week commencing December 11:

Illinois State, Connecticut, Brown, Northern Illinois, Tennessee: the Ivies and the mid-majors outnumber representatives of the usual suspects.

At Northern Illinois, Courtney Woods is out injured for the season.  Last season, she credited Mikayla Voigt for giving up her shot when Ms Woods had a better shot.  It's all a matter of finding the open player.

That was spliced together from video of a game in Carbondale. The Directional States of Illinois held a "Compass Challenge" in which Northern, Eastern, Western, and Southern played each of the other three.  Southern Illinois hosted the first two games, then Eastern Illinois came to Northern Illinois for the third.  Southern made a few more shots down the stretch than Northern did: that was not the case for the Western playing Northern game.

It's going to be an interesting season, again, for the women's game in the Mid-American Conference.  "Northern Illinois is 2-2. There is certainly talent on this roster, but I just can’t justify this particular team getting 8 votes, at least not yet. Mikayla Voigt, Janae Poisson, and Courtney Woods and company could compete for a MAC title this year, but I think these votes are a little premature."  Particularly with two of those three players out injured, but count these kids out not.

Elsewhere in the conference, two of the putative favorites, and a few other teams off to a good start have a chance for securing quality wins before the new year, and the conference play, begins.

Northern Illinois?  The individual achievements are good, but the Hustle Belt pundit isn't impressed.  "They are capable scorers, but their run and fun style leads to some defensive problems. The Huskies are relatively deep with some talented players I expect to see more of later in the season. I expect them to be around .500 in league play, which considering the depth of this league is pretty impressive, really."

I wonder if that "run and fun" was a typo, or perhaps an attempt to be witty.  I haven't gotten to that Eastern Illinois game yet.  The current coach in Charleston is Matt Bollant, and he's beginning to implement the Wisconsin-Green Bay system.  It's the same system Carol Hammerle and Kathi Bennett used, which means it either is scary to juniors and seniors who came in with it, or that they know how to master it, or perhaps Eastern are still learning.  That noted, Eastern began the game hitting their perimeter shots and milking the shot clock and being generally annoying on defense, and had as much as a ten-point lead.  Not that the Northern Illinois players got rattled.  "The Huskies outscored the Panthers 30-13 in the third quarter to erase a three-point halftime deficit."

And so it went.

Yup, net change of 29 points from that early deficit.  In the middle of that third quarter, doesn't a 24-2 run sound like fun?
"I was just trying to have fun," [point guard Myia] Starks said. "I thought in the beginning of the game we were a little tense. I was like 'it's basketball. It's supposed to be fun.' I just went out there and played how I usually played. The coaches put us in good spots with the offense, and we got good looks."
Maybe it's just in fun. Note the remarks of a DeKalb Daily Chronicle pundit, on the latest bowl game disaster.  "Flaws or no, it is a successful program."  Perhaps by Mid-American standards (and head football coach Rod Carey just got a contract extension, so there it is.)  The basketball conference might be a tougher test.

That noted, Chicago State will be the guest Friday, and spectators who want to see a game can get in for free with a donation of a new, unwrapped toy.  Then Brown and Ms Steeves will be in come 31 December.

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