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Courtesy: CAA/Rafael Suanes

2011-12 CAA Women's Basketball Final Report

Courtesy: CAA
          Release: 05/25/2012
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*Complete Report with Team Notes & Stats Located in PDF*

CAA 4-1-1:

        • Delaware received the league's automatic bid to the NCAA tournament and earned a 3-seed in the Des Moines Regional. Five other teams earned a spot in the WNIT - Drexel, Hofstra, James Madison, UNCW and VCU.

        • The six teams went 9-6 in postseason.

        • CAA squads improved to 86-60 in non-conference play. The CAA finished the early season non-conference slate with the fourth best NC strength of schedule.

        • With Delaware's win over Drexel in the Championship, the Blue Hens winning streak increased to 21. The Blue Hens jumped to 22, the fourth longest CAA mark in CAA history, before the streak was snapped with a loss to Kansas on Mar. 20.

        • Nationally-ranked Delaware was the top see of the Virginia 529 CAA Women's Basketball Championship and finished the season 18-0 in conference play-- the first team to score a perfect record since Old Dominion in 2001-02.  

        • Delaware standout Elena Delle Donne was named Capital One National Academic All-American of the Year on Feb. 23.

        • Delle Donne earned AP All-America First Team honors, while VCU's Courtney Hurt and Hofstra's Shante Evans received honorable mention.

        • UD's Elena Delle Donne (28.1 ppg) and VCU's Courtney Hurt (13.1 rpg) led the nation in scoring and rebounding, respectively. Full listing on page 15 of this report.

        • Delaware, which finished the non-conference portion of its schedule at No. 1, finished the season ranked at No. 8 in the final RPI rankings report compiled by Collegiate Basketball News. The CAA is ranked seventh among the conferences with six teams in the Top 95.

CAA AT NO. 7 IN RPI RANKING - SIX CAA SQUADS IN TOP 100, INCLUDING DELAWARE AT NO. 8: The CAA completed the 2011-12 season ranked seventh among the nation's 32 Division I conferences in women's basketball according to the RPI report compiled by Collegiate Basketball News. Delaware, which finished the non-conference season ranked at No. 1, ended up at No. 8 in the team RPI ranking, as the first of six CAA teams in the Top 100. James Madison (29) is the only other CAA schools that are listed in the Top 50. Drexel (65), Hofstra (76), UNCW (82) and VCU (95) round out the CAA teams in the Top 100.

CAA IN THE TOP 25: The Delaware Blue Hens completed the 2011-12 season ranked #7 in the postseason AP Poll and #14 in the final ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll. The Blue Hens were ranked in the AP Top 25 Poll for 16 straight weeks, including five in the Top 10 and at least receiving votes from the start of the season. The Blue Hens received the highest ranking for a CAA women's basketball squad since Old Dominion was 10th on Feb. 18, 2008. For the third time in her tenure as head coach, Tina Martin's squad is receiving notice in the Associated Press Top 25 poll. Delaware received notice in the AP Top 25 polls during the 2006-07 and 2009-10 campaigns. It's Delaware's first appearance in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll ever in school history. Hofstra earned a pair of votes in the AP Top 25 poll for the first time this season on Jan. 16, while James Madison received nods in the ESPN/USA Today Poll earlier in the season.

AP ALL-AMERICAN HONORS: Delaware's Elena Delle Donne earned AP All-America First Team honors for the 2011-12 season, while Hofstra's Shante Evans and VCU's Courtney Hurt received honorable mention. Delle Donne is Delaware's initial first team All-American, after being named to the third team two seasons ago. The honorable mention honors marks the second straight season that both Hurt and Evans received the accolade. Delle Donne also earned All-America honors from the USBWA and Wooden Award committees.

CAA POST STRONG NUMBERS IN STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE: The 12 CAA teams helped the league to it's best RPI ranking (7) since 1998, when the league earned a RPI ranking of six in 1997 and 1998. Drexel finished with the best strength of schedule ranking at 36, while Delaware (62), Northeastern (63), James Madison (67), Hofstra (76), VCU (81), Old Dominion (85), UNCW (88) all ranked among the top 100.  Eleven of the 12 schools posted a strength of schedule in the top 128, while all 12 were ranked in the top 176.

CAA IN THE POSTSEASON: For third straight year at least six teams advanced to the postseason and it is the seventh consecutive season more than three have earned a postseason invitation. It's also the 12th consecutive season the CAA will have a representative in the WNIT, as the CAA is just one of three conferences to see five teams in the postseason tournament. The Pac-12 and Atlantic 10 also saw five conference teams advance to the postseason event.

DELAWARE TO THE NCAA: The Delaware Blue Hens earned a three-seed in the NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament Des Moines Regional. The Blue Hens made history when they defeated Arkansas-Little Rock in Little Rock Arkansas on March 17 with a 73-42 win. The Blue Hens fell in the second round to #11 Kansas, 70-64. Delaware's NCAA tournament appearance was the Blue Hens' third overall trip and first since 2007. The Blue Hens earned the league's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament with a 59-43 victory over third-seeded Drexel in the CAA Championship game. Delaware completed their season with an impressive 31-2 overall mark. Delaware became the first CAA team to win 30 games in a season since Old Dominion went 31-5 in 2008 when the Lady Monarchs advanced to the NCAA Sweet 16. The ODU 1996-97 squad also finished with 30+ wins at 34-2 and advanced to the NCAA Championship game. 

DREXEL, HOFSTRA, JAMES MADISON, UNCW & VCU IN THE WNIT: James Madison, which earned the league's automatic bid to the WNIT and made its seventh straight postseason appearance, earned victories over Davidson, Wake Forest, South Florida, Virginia and Syracuse. JMU fell to the 2012 WNIT Champions Oklahoma State in the title game. VCU has won back-to-back WNIT victories over Bowling Green and St. Joseph's, but fell to Toledo to close out the 2011-12 season.  VCU had its fifth straight postseason appearance. The Rams have gone 5-4 in the WNIT postseason tournament in program history. Drexel, which made its third straight WNIT appearance and fourth straight postseason berth, finished the season with a 19-14 overall record.  Hofstra, which previously earned trips to the WNIT in 2005-06, 2006-07 and 2009-10 and earned at least one game in each of its three previous trips, fell to Harvard in the first round. UNCW, which made its second straight postseason appearance, fell to Appalachian State in the first round.

CAA POSTSEASON AWARDS:

2012 CAA PLAYER OF THE YEAR:                                      Elena Delle Donne • Delaware

Delle Donne earned the second CAA Player of the Year honor of her career. The junior forward/guard led the nation in scoring with 28.1 points per game and finished third in the league in rebounding with 10.3 per game. Delle Donne the Blue Hens' all-time leading scorer and was the CAA's fastest player to score 2,000 career points in just 75 outings. She scored 30 or more points 15 times and topped the 40-point mark four times. Delle Donne ranked eighth in the nation in free throw shooting, making nearly 90 percent from the line, and also leads the CAA in blocked shots (2.6 bpg). 

2012 CAA COACH OF THE YEAR:                                                   Tina Martin • Delaware

Martin guided Delaware to a 32-2 overall record and a perfect 18-0 conference mark in her 16th season at the helm of the Blue Hens. She helped the team achieve their best season in school history, which includes earning a top-10 national-ranking and a pair of NCAA appearances. Delaware's 32 wins is a school record for victories in a season.

2012 CAA ROOKIE OF THE YEAR:                             Ashley Betz-White • Old Dominion

Betz-White is the only player who started all 32 contests for the Lady Monarchs.  She finished the season ninth overall in the league dishing out 3.4 assists per outing. Betz-White led the rookie class in scoring with 8.1 points per game. Betz-White is Old Dominion's first CAA Rookie of the Year recipient since 1999-2000 and their fifth overall.

2012 CAA DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR:             Nikki Newman • James Madison

Newman, a junior guard/forward, contributed a team-high 7.8 rebounds per game for JMU. She ranked seventh in the CAA in rebounding and was also eighth in the league in blocked shots with 1.4 per game. She helped the Dukes rank among the CAA's best in several defensive categories during the 2011-12 season. Newman is the first James Madison player to earn Defensive Player of the Year honors.

2012 CAA DEAN EHLERS RECIPIENT:                                   Candice Bellocchio • Hofstra

Bellocchio is the recipient of the Dean Ehlers Leadership award, which is presented annually to the women's basketball student-athlete who "embodies the highest standards of leadership, integrity, and sportsmanship in conjunction with her academic athletic achievement." Bellocchio, a senior guard, started all 31 games and led the league with 6.2 assists per game during 2011-12. She was fourth on the team in scoring, averaging 9.1 points per game.

*complete awards list on page 9

DELLE DONNE NAMED CAPITAL ONE NATIONAL ACADEMIC ALL-AMERICAN OF THE YEAR: Delle Donne was named to the Capital One Academic All-American first team on Feb. 23 and went a step higher by being selected as the Academic All-American of the Year for NCAA Division I women's basketball. The award is selected by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) by a vote of its members. An early childhood major with a 3.60 cumulative GPA, Delle Donne was one of 15 NCAA Division I women's players recognized on the Academic All-American team and was selected as the top student-athlete from among that prestigious group. Delle Donne, who was named to the CoSIDA District 2 All-Academic first team earlier this year and to the second team last season, becomes just the second Delaware women's basketball player to earn a spot on the Academic All-American team - joining Lori Howard who was a third team Academic All-American in 1980. Delle Donne, a Dean's List student and a soon-to-be three-time member of the CAA Academic Honor Roll, is the first UD student-athlete in any sport to be named the Academic All-American of the Year.

TWO CAA WBB TEAMS RANKED IN COLLEGEINSIDER.COM MID-MAJOR POLL: Delaware completed the season ranked No. 1 in the CollegeInsider.com Final edition of the mid-major poll, while James Madison completed the season ranked #9 and Hofstra received votes. The women's Mid-Major Top 25 is comprised of teams from the following conferences: America East, Atlantic Sun, Big Sky, Big South, Big West, CAA, Great West, Horizon, Independents, Ivy, Metro Atlantic, Mid-American, Mid-Eastern, Missouri Valley, Northeast, Ohio Valley, Patriot, Southern, Southland, Southwestern, Summit, Sun Belt, West Coast Conferences.

2012 VIRGINIA 529 CAA WOMEN'S BASKETBALL CHAMPIONSHIP: The 2012 Virginia 529 CAA Women's Basketball Championship returned to The Show Place Arena in Upper Marlboro, Md., for the second straight season. The teams played in front of 8,100 fans during the 2012 four-day event (2011 - 7,727). 


TV EXPOSURE: The CAA saw a record-best of a 43 games on television last season, including three televised games during the CAA championship. All 12 teams will made at least one television appearance during the 2011-12 season. The CAA women's basketball television package has aired over 20 games for the last four seasons. The CAA also enjoyed a record amount of exposure through new media efforts.

CAA, NBC SPORTS GROUP REACH FIVE-YEAR AGREEMENTS FOR NATIONAL BASKETBALL AND FOOTBALL RIGHTS: The CAA has reached five-year agreements with the NBC Sports Group that will provide the most extensive and comprehensive exposure of the conference in its history with coverage on NBC Sports Network and across the group's regional sports networks. The agreements, which begin with the 2012-13 season and runs through 2016-17, will provide national television coverage of CAA men's basketball and football games on the NBC Sports Network, regional television coverage of CAA men's and women's basketball and football through the Comcast SportsNet regional networks and coverage of a variety of other CAA sports through NBCSports.com. The CAA is the first collegiate athletic conference to sign a broadcast agreement with the NBC Sports Network, which launched on January 2, 2012. The Comcast SportsNet regional networks, which have partnered with the CAA for the past 28 years, will regionally televise 39 additional men's and women's basketball games, including the quarterfinals of the CAA Men's Basketball Championship and the semifinals and finals of the CAA Women's Basketball Championship.

VCU'S HURT SELECTED BY INDIANA FEVER IN 2012 WNBA DRAFT: Senior forward Courtney Hurt became the third Ram selected in the WNBA Draft as she was chosen by Indiana in the third round. VCU, which has had a WNBA draft pick in three of the previous five seasons, ranks second all-time in CAA history with the selections of Krystal Vaughn (2008), Quanitra Hollingsworth (2009) and Hurt.  The Rams are also one of two non-BCS programs in the nation to have at least three draft picks since 2008. Hurt becomes the 13th CAA player selected in the WNBA draft since 1998 and the first CAA player to be selected since Drexel's Gabriela Marginean, who was selected in the third round by the Minnesota Lynx in 2010. 

UNCW HIRES ADELL HARRIS AS WBB HEAD COACH: Former Wake Forest standout and current Tusculum College head coach Adell Harris has been named the 10th coach in UNCW's women's basketball history. Harris, 31, takes over the Seahawk program after a successful three-year stint as head coach of the Pioneers, guiding the NCAA Division II school to a 61-30 overall record, back-to-back Food Lion South Atlantic Conference Tournament championships (2010 & 2011) and three straight appearances to the NCAA Tournament. Harris replaces Cynthia Cooper-Dyke who resigned to take a head coaching position at Texas State University. Cooper-Dyke posted a 44-22 overall record, including a school-record 24 victories in 2010-11, and back-to-back trips to the postseason.

VCU'S CUNNINGHAM RESIGNS, HIRED AS ASSOCIATE HEAD COACH AT NOTRE DAME: Beth Cunningham, the Rams' all-time winningest coach with 167 career victories, stepped down after 11 seasons at VCU, the final nine of which were spent as the program's head coach. Cunningham  guided VCU to a school record five-straight postseason appearances, including the program's first-ever trip to the NCAA Tournament with an at-large selection in 2009, as well as a pair of third round WNIT showings.  Under her guidance, the Rams have averaged better than 22 wins per year since 2007 with three-straight 20-win campaigns from 2007-10.  She also led VCU to back-to-back 26-win seasons (both school records) including an undefeated home ledger in 2008-09. Under Cunningham's tutelage, eight players have gone on to play professionally, including a WNBA Draft selection in three of the previous five seasons.  She has also coached three All-Americans.  Cunningham returns to her alma mater & 2012 NCAA national runner-up Notre Dame as Associate Head Coach under Head Coach Muffett McGraw.

CAA ALL-TIME RECORD BOOK WATCH: Some impressive movement in the CAA All-Time Record Book. VCU's Courtney Hurt finished at #2 in the CAA All-Time Record Book in rebounds with 1,243 career boards. She is also ranked in the record book for points with 2,092 (6th), field goals made with 770 (5th) as well as field goals attempted with 1,706 (4th) and free throws made with 503 (6th). Delaware's Elena Delle Donne is ranked in the top 10 career lists with 2,258 career points (3rd), 586 made career free throws (2nd), 204 blocked shots (5th), field goals made (759, 6th) and also jumped in the top 10 for field goals attempted (1,586, 7th). William & Mary's Taysha Pye put her name in the books this past season with 477 career free throws made (7th) and finished 7th in the free throws attempted category with 686.  Drexel's Kamile Nacickaite jumped into the top 10 in field goals attempted with 1,475 (9th) and is ranked tied for 8th with 240 three-point field goals made, while Hofstra's Candice Bellocchio finished her career in the top 10 career list for assists with 628 (6th). The complete watch list is located on pages 16 and 17 of this report.

NOTE WORTHY INDIVIDUAL STATS: UD's Elena Delle Donne (1st, 28.1 ppg), VCU's Courtney Hurt (9th, 22.2 ppg) and George Mason's Taleia Moton (12th, 20.7 ppg) ranked among the Top 12 leading scorers in the nation. Hurt was the nation's leading rebounder, for the second straight season, pulling down 12.8 rpg. Hurt has recorded 58 career double-doubles which is the longest active career mark in Division I Women's Basketball. Hofstra's Shante Evans follows Hurt with 50 (in three years) ranked tied for third, Old Dominion's Tia Lewis has tallied 40 career double-doubles which ranks 8th and Delle Donne is tied for 12th with 36 career double-doubles. Delle Donne (50) is among the current leaders for consecutive games scoring 10+ points ranking fourth, as Baylor's Brittney Griner leads all active DI WBB players with 80straight games scoring 10+ points per game.

DELAWARE, OLD DOMINION SELECTED TO HOST 2013 NCAA WOMEN'S BASKETBALL POSTSEASON ROUNDS:  The NCAA Division I Women's Basketball Committee has announced the selections of the first and second-round as well as regional sites for the 2013 NCAA Division I Women's Basketball Championship. Delaware, located in Newark, Del., received a first and second-round games in 2013. Old Dominion, located in Norfolk, Va., was selected as a host for a Regional Site. ODU has hosted the NCAA tournament 22 total times, including five Regionals - most recently in 2004. Dates for the events will be determined in June 2012.

NATIONAL HONORS: On Jan. 10, Delaware's Elena Delle Donne was selected as the U.S. Basketball Writers Association Women's National Player of the Week after helping the No. 20 ranked Blue Hens to a 2-0 week. Delle Donne was nearly unstoppable in a record-setting week as the Hens defeated Towson and George Mason. The 6-5 junior exploded for 37 points and became the school's all-time career scoring leader as the Blue Hens downed Towson. She broke the previous UD scoring record held by Cindy Johnson, who scored 1,675 points in 1997-01. Delle Donne set the record in just her 63rd career game while Johnson needed 113 games to reach the scoring mark. Johnson was on hand at the game to help celebrate the milestone. In Delaware's showdown with George Mason on Sunday, Delle Donne recorded her fourth double-double of the season by scoring a season high-tying 40 points (arena record for the Patriot Center) to go with 15 rebounds to help keep the Hens perfect in CAA play.

SETTING RECORDS:

  • Courtney Hurt reached the 2,000th career point plateau during the CAA Championship in VCU's game against Drexel on March 9.
  • George Mason's Taleia Moton earned her 1,000th career point on March 9 in Mason's outing against James Madison. She finished her career with 1,007 career points.
  • Delaware's Elena Delle Donne reached her 2,000th career point while notching a season-high 42 points against Hofstra on Feb. 16.
  • James Madison's freshman Crystal Ross blocked six shots in the win over ODU (Feb. 1), tying the school freshman record and third-highest single-game blocks total in school history.
  • William & Mary's Janine Aldridge set a school record with nine tree-pointers in the contest against Northestern on Jan. 29. During the same game, she became the Tribe's all-time leader in three-pointers made in a career and now has 204.
  • On Jan. 29, Northeastern's Jamie Conroy dished out a school-record 16 assists.
  • On Jan. 26, VCU's Courtney Hurt became the program's all-time leading scorer snapping a 22-year old school record en route to 1,755 career points. Hurt moved in front of Kelly Hoover (1985-89) on the WBB Rams' all-time scoring list with a free throw at the 10:03 mark in the second half against Drexel.
  • On Jan. 5, Junior All-American Elena Delle Donne exploded for 37 points to became the schools all-time career scoring leader (1,685) against Towson. She passed Cindy Johnson (1,675, 1997-01). Delle Donne set the record in just her 63rd career game while Johnson needed 113 games to reach the scoring mark.
  • In the upset of #11/12 Penn State, Elena Delle Donne scored 25 of her game-high 40 points in the second half as Delaware recovered from an eight-point deficit midway through the second half with a big final flurry. Her 40 points set a Bob Carpenter Center record and was the third highest total in school history, trailing only her school-record 54-point performance at James Madison on Feb. 18, 2010 and her 41-point explosion against Yale on Nov. 20, 2010. Her 40 point performance ties the CAA all-time 10th best single game mark. She tied her season-best 40 points against George Mason on Jan. 8th.
  • On Jan. 26, Delle Donne scored a season-high 41 points against Hofstra, which ties the CAA all-time 6th single game mark.
  • Joining Delle Donne on the CAA all-time list, is VCU's Courtney Hurt as she poured in a school-record 40 points against UMKC (N. 19).

HIGH-FLYING: The 100-97 win by Hofstra over William & Mary on January 8 was certainly one for the ages.  It easily broke Hofstra's program record for combined points in a game as the previous mark was 176 points (Hofstra 91, Delaware 85 on 2/12/06) for an overtime game and 175 (Hofstra 91, William & Mary 84 on 3/2/11) for a regulation game.  It is also the highest scoring regulation final in CAA Women's Basketball history and the second-highest combined score in CAA Women's Basketball history, only eclipsed by the 218 combined points between Richmond (114) and James Madison (104) in an overtime contest on January 9, 2000. The combined total points also shattered the previous Kaplan Arena mark set back on March 3, 1981 in the VAIAW D-II Quarterfinals when William & Mary defeated Hampton, 96-82.

DELLE DONNE SELECTED TO USBWA MIDSEASON PLAYER OF THE YEAR WATCH LIST: The U.S. Basketball Writers Association has selected 20 outstanding players for its first Midseason Watch List for the Women's National Player of the Year. Members of the association's board of directors chose the players to be included on the list as contenders for the trophy, which will be presented to the national player of the year in Denver at the USBWA's Women's College Basketball Awards Breakfast on April 3. Five National Players of the Week from this season are featured as well: Brittney Griner from Baylor, Elena Delle Donne from Delaware, Nneka Ogwumike from Stanford, Sugar Rodgers from Georgetown, and A'dia Mathies from Kentucky. Last season's women's winner as the National Freshman of the Year, Odyssey Sims of Baylor is also among the players to watch down the stretch.

THREE CAA PLAYERS NAMED TO NAISMITH WATCH LIST: The CAA is well represented on the 2011-12 Naismith Women's Basketball Player of the Year early-season watch list with Delaware's Elena Delle Donne, Hofstra's Shante Evans and VCU's Courtney Hurt making the line-up. In late February, the Atlanta Tipoff Club's Board of Selectors will compile a mid-season team of the top 30 players in the nation. Then in March, the Naismith Trophy voting academy will vote to narrow the list to the four finalists.

WOODEN AWARD: Delaware's Elena Delle Donne and Hofstra's Shante Evans were selected to the John R. Wooden Award Midseason Top 20 and Delle Donne advanced to the Top 15.  

UPSET CITY-NEWARK, DEL.: Delaware women's basketball squad pulled off the biggest upset in school history on Nov. 17 as the Blue Hens brought down No. 11/12 ranked Penn State with an 80-71 victory. Backed by another brilliant performance from All-American Elena Delle Donne (40 pts/12 rbs), the Blue Hens made history by defeating their highest ranked opponent in school history. Delaware had knocked off a Top 25 team just two other times in school history in 28 previous tries, including an 86-70 win over No. 20 Kentucky during the 2006-07 season and a 77-67 victory over then No. 22 James Madison at the BCC on Feb. 22, 2007.

OLD DOMINION WELCOMES KAREN BAREFOOT AS HEAD COACH: Former Lady Monarch assistant coach Karen Barefoot, who last season led Elon to its first ever Division I postseason appearance, was named Old Dominion's new head women's basketball coach on June 8, 2011. Barefoot became just the sixth head coach in Lady Monarch basketball history and first new hire since 1987. Barefoot, the school's first Native American head coaching hire, takes over a program that has reached postseason play in 19 of its last 20 years and has won 929 games, the third most all-time in women's basketball history. Barefoot, who hails from Newport News, Va., has a career head coaching record of 209-144, resulting in 11 winning seasons. Aside from Elon, Barefoot has also held the head coaching position at Division II Lenoir Rhyne College and at the Apprentice School.

REPRESENTING THE USA IN WOMEN'S HOOPS: CAA women's basketball standouts Elena Delle Donne of Delaware and Shante Evans of Hofstra were invited to participate in a pair of USA Basketball events. Delle Donne was selected for the 2011 USA World University Games Team and led her team to a gold medal in China in August 2011. VCU's Courtney Hurt also received an invite to the team trials with Delle Donne. The Delaware stand-out and All-American led the USA team averaging 15.7 points and 8.5 rebounds for the Red, White and Blue during six games. Evans was selected as a member of the USA Basketball Women's Pan American Games Team. She averaged 6.8 points and 7.8 rebounds per game during her four outings with the Pan American Games Team which went 2-2. 

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