When Georgia State (8-3) hosts Old Dominion (9-3) in Sunday's league opener, the game pits a pair of teams among the national defensive leaders. Both teams prey on mistakes for takeaways and transition baskets with a style that has gotten both schools off to successful starts.
At 2 p.m. Sunday in the Sports Arena, two teams who are members of the same conference, but not eligible for the league tournament, will begin the 18-game conference season. The games will count in the CAA standings, will figure into the CAA Tournament seedings, but both ODU and GSU will be focused on an NCAA at-large postseason tournament bid.
This promises to be an in-your-face kind of defensive pressure game as the host Panthers are No. 6 in the nation in 3-point field goal defense percentage and No. 13 in all field goal defense percentage. ODU is just a fraction behind that torrid effort with a No. 19 3-point defensive ranking and No. 26 overall field goal defensive stop rate.
Both teams are top 75 among the 334 Division I schools in steals, blocked shots and points allowed, but both like to keep things moving at a fast pace.
Tickets are just $5 for Sunday's battle and parking is free in the G Deck Lot. The game is live on WRAS-FM (88.5) with Wade Smith and Kelcey Roegiers-Jensen on the call. Video webstream is available for a fee.
GEORGIA STATE-ODU SERIES HISTORY
Old Dominion won last year’s games, 68-59 and 71-60, to up the series advantage to 13-1 since the Panthers became CAA members for the 2005-06 season.
Georgia State’s win came in Atlanta on Jan. 29, 2009 by a 75-62 margin.
A QUICK LOOK AT OLD DOMINION
Located in Norfolk, Va., Old Dominion is under the guidance of second-year head coach Karen Barefoot, a former ODU assistant. Barefoot has almost equalled last year’s win total (11-21) in her first year at the helm. She replaced legendary Wendy Larry, who abruptly resigned in May of 2011 after 24 years and 559 wins. ODU won 17 straight conference titles and NCAA bids under Coach Larry.
With seven returning letterwinners and three starters leading the way, ODU has jumped out to its xx-xx start with some solid defense.
Much like GSU, ODU is No. 19 in 3-point defense (.240), No. 26 in field goal percentage (.337), No. 39 in scoring (53.4), No. 53 in blocks (4.6) and No. 66 in steals (11.2).
Senior Jackie Cook paces the scoring with her 17.6 average to rank No. 56 in the NCAA, while adding 20 3-point baskets. Sophomore transfer forward Shae Kelley has made a major impact.
ODU is 3-0 on the road this season.
GSU HIGH IN LEAGUE STATISTICS TO START
In the CAA, GSU is No. 1 in five categories: rebounding average (44.7), rebounding advantage (+6.8), blocked shots (5.2), FG defense (32.3) and 3-point FG Defense (22.2). The Panthers are No. 3 in the league in scoring (65.1) and FG percentage (42.0). GSU is No. 5 in steals (10.4), points allowed (55.9) and assists (12.7).
Individually, center Cody Paulk leads the CAA in blocked shots (2.9 per game), while sitting at No. 2 in FG pct. (55.3%), No. 3 in offensive rebounds (3.8), No. 6 in the CAA in rebounding (8.3). Point guard Ashley Watson’s 3.2 assists make her No. 6 in the CAA.2.3). Kendra Long is No. 6 in 3-point baskets made and No. 9 in steals.
SCHOOL RECORD READY TO BE BROKEN
GSU senior center Cody Paulk is No. 10 in the NCAA in blocked shots this year with 32 through 11 games. Her next block will be No. 166 of her career and tie her with Rhian Jones' school record set 17 years ago in 1996. Two more puts Paulk alone at the top.
Paulk moved into No. 10 in CAA history in the last game, passing VCU's 6-foot-5 star Quanitra Hollingsworth, a first round WNBA pick ini 2009. Paulk is less than 10 blocks from moving on up two more places on the CAA all-time list.
GSU junior guard Kendra Long continues to hit the target from long range. With 129 in her career, she needs just two more to tie for second place in GSU school history with Monica Thomas.
Long is still 25 behind Kelcey Roegiers-Jensen's all-time school mark from outside the 3-point line.
10 IS BETTER THAN 5
Coach Baldwin-Tener uses all 10 players on the roster as everyone averages better than 13.5 minutes per game of playing time. Nine of the 10 have already scored 9 or more points in a game this season. All 10 have made multiple assists, all 10 have blocked a shot.
HOME, SWEET, HOME
Coach Baldwin-Tener had seen her team win 8 consecutive home games before a tough loss Sunday to Toledo, 12-1 and No. 20 in the national RPI rankings. GSU led Toledo for more than half the game, but couldn't get the ball in the basket in the closing minutes as Toledo rallied for a 46-43 win to end that 8-game streak.
WHO? LEADS GSU IN SCORING
Not many CAA teams and coaches probably even knew sophomore guard Kayla Nolan existed before the season started. Now they'll have to account for her action in every game.
The aggressive stalwart on both ends of the court is becoming a team leader. Her 11.5 team-leading scoring average is built by scoring consistently (top game is just 15 this season). The 5-foot-9 guard goes tough to the boards, posting a pair of double-figure rebounding games and double-double games this season. Her 6.6 rebound average is second among the starters. Want defense? Just ask Nolan to take someone in man-to-man shutdown style. She has 17 steals, but she has dozens and dozens of denying the ball plays of even getting the ball to the person she is assigned to stop.
A slasher, Nolan has gotten to the free throw line the most for GSU (42 times in the 11 games) and shared 16 assists when defenders sag to stop her drives.
Who? may still be a little anonymous for now. But, Who? should be very well known by the end of her sophomore season.