Nov. 7, 2012
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. - The Virginia women's basketball team opens the 2012-13 season on Friday, Nov. 9 at 7 p.m., hosting James Madison.
The first 3,000 fans in attendance will receive a free commemorative rally towel, sponsored by UVa Health Systems. The towels are part of the festivities surrounding the halftime honors for former Cavalier Monica Wright and former Cavalier head coach Debbie Ryan.
Wright, Virginia's all-time leading scorer, will have her number 22 retired during a halftime ceremony, becoming the first Virginia player to have both her jersey and number retired. Her jersey was retired in ceremonies following her final regular season home game in 2010. The numbers of players honored with jersey retirement remain active, but Wright's No. 22 will now be retired. Wright's No. 22 will be the fifth women's basketball number retired by the program, joining Donna Holt (11), Dawn Staley (24), Cathy Grimes (25) and Wendy Palmer (31).
Wright finished her career at Virginia by averaging 23.7 points and 6.4 rebounds per game en route to first team All-America honors from the Associated Press, WBCA and U.S. Basketball Writers Association. She was selected the Atlantic Coast Conference Player of the Year, ACC Defensive Player of the Year and WBCA National Defensive Player of the Year. Wright is UVa's all-time leading scorer with 2,540 points - a total that ranks third in ACC history. She was drafted by the Minnesota Lynx with the second overall pick in the 2010 WNBA Draft and went on to win a WNBA Championship with the Lynx in 2011.
Also at halftime on the Nov. 9 game, Hall of Fame coach Debbie Ryan will be honored with a new banner at John Paul Jones Arena to recognize her accomplishments. Ryan, Wright's coach at UVa, will be honored with a banner in the east end of John Paul Jones Arena that will be displayed alongside those that pay tribute to Virginia's players whose number is retired. A new graphic in the Virginia Basketball Hall of Fame, located at the east end of the arena, will also recognize Ryan's coaching accomplishments.
Ryan was the head coach at UVa from 1978-2011 and her Virginia teams compiled an overall record of 739-324, participated in the NCAA Tournament 24 times and made three-consecutive Final Four appearances. Her teams reached the NCAA Tournament Sweet Sixteen 12 times, won three Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament titles and 11 ACC regular season championships. Ryan was honored as the Naismith Coach of the Year in 1991 and earned ACC Coach of the Year honors seven times.
The Cavaliers begin the 2012-13 campaign facing the team that ended Virginia's 2011-12 season . Virginia fell to the Dukes, 68-59, in the 2012 WNIT quarterfinals. Virginia holds a 14-7 all-time advantage over the Dukes, but JMU has won three of the last four meetings. UVa won the last regular-season meeting between the two with a 59-53 victory at JPJA last season.
The Cavaliers have won their last seven season openers and their last 12 home openers
Virginia went 12-2 last season against regular-season non-conference opponents. UVa has won their last 22 regular-season non-conference home games. The last time the Cavaliers lost on their home court to a non-conference foe was Dec. 6, 2009 when JMU won 75-73
Cavalier head coach Joanne Boyle is beginning her second season with the Cavaliers after leading the team to a 25-win season in her initial campaign, the most by a Cavalier team since the team went 25-9 in 2000. Boyle has won 20 or more games in eight of her 10 seasons as a head coach and has won 25 or more games three times. The Cavaliers have won 20 games in four of the last five seasons and 24 times in program history.
Boyle's teams have been known for their defense. In her first year with Virginia, the Cavaliers led the ACC by holding opponents' scoring to 54.1 points per game. The 54.1 ppg was the lowest opponent scoring average since 1975-76 when UVa allowed 46.2 ppg. The team also held a record-setting 26 opponents to under 60 points. The year before Boyle arrived, the team was allowing 64.5 ppg, a reduction of over 10 points per game. Boyle had a similar impact when she took over at California, with the Bears allowing 60.1 ppg in her first season (2005-06) after averaging 71.3 points allowed the year before.
Senior point guard China Crosby will make her return to game competition in Friday's opener. Crosby played 12 games last season before suffering a season-ending knee injury in the regular-season game against James Madison.
Junior guard Ataira Franklin, who was named to both the Blue Ribbon Panel Preseason All-ACC team and the Coaches' Preseason All-ACC team, will anchor the Cavaliers' offense. Franklin was second on the team last year with a 12.4 ppg average. She led the squad with 53 three-pointers last year and has knocked down 96 treys in her Cavalier career.
Two sophomores will be making their Virginia debuts. Sarah Imovbioh sat out last season after being ruled ineligible to compete and practice by the NCAA during her first year at UVa. Sarah Beth Barnette sat out last season after transferring from Kentucky. Freshman guard Faith Randolph, the No. 26 prospect according to ESPNHoopGurlz, should also make her Cavalier debut. Freshman guard Jaryn Garner has also returned to action after being hampered by a stress fracture.
Virginia will play at Penn on Monday, Nov. 12, at 7 p.m. at the Palestra. It will be the first time Virginia has played at Penn. The teams have three previous meetings, all in Charlottesville, with UVa leading the series, 3-0