Elena Delle Donne lifts Delaware
Delaware has never been a women's basketball power, certainly never an elite team.
But there Delaware is, in the "Others receiving votes" list at the end of this week's AP Women's Basketball Poll, and again in Tuesday's ESPN/USA Today coaches' poll.
Delaware notched a big win over the weekend, beating 11th-ranked Penn State, and then followed up Tuesday night with a 64-56 win over Villanova on the road.
When you have a player on the floor like Elena Delle Donne, all things are possible. Delle Donne was recruited by Geno Auriemma but left Connecticut within a few days of arriving in Storrs because she wanted to be closer to home and family and felt burned out on basketball.
After playing volleyball for a year at Delaware, she returned to hoops. Apparently, she feels renewed. Through the first three games of the season, she is averaging 31.6 points and 9.0 rebounds.
Had she stayed at UConn, she might be considered the best player in the country.
As it stands, the 6-foot-5 forward certainly might be the most complete player. With all due respect to Baylor's Brittney Griner and the things she can do as a gifted 6-8 player in the paint, Delle Donne's game has dimensions that stretch from guard to center.
And the job she is doing in lifting a program that has never seen this kind of attention or success -- her hometown program, no less -- just adds to what is becoming an impressive legacy and a pretty darn good story.
Five on the marquee
1. Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, Connecticut. The freshman, wearing Maya Moore's No. 23, lived up to that standard Monday night against Stanford, scoring 25 points in the Huskies' 68-58 win. She had 19 of those points in the first half.
2. Kelsey Bone, Texas A&M. The sophomore center, who transferred to Gary Blair's program from South Carolina after the 2009-10 season, is leading the Aggies in scoring at 15.5 points per game, doing a great job of filing the gap left by Danielle Adams.
3. Tennessee. The Lady Vols will be regrouping following last Sunday's overtime loss at Virginia. And they will be regrouping in perhaps the most difficult way, hosting top-ranked Baylor on Sunday at Thompson-Boling Arena.
4. Maryland. The Terps' resurgence continues. Maryland pushed its record to 5-0 with a win over St. Joseph on Tuesday thanks to a career-high 25 points from Lynetta Kizer, back on the floor for only the second game since ending a suspension for violating team rules.
5. Odyssey Sims, Baylor. The Bears are not just the Brittney Griner show. Sims, the sophomore point guard, put up 13 points and 13 assists to go with seven steals in Baylor's 109-59 win over Yale on Tuesday night.
Five names you should know (but probably don't)
1. Kevi Luper, Oral Roberts. Luper, a junior guard, was the nation's Division I scoring leader last year, and she's proving she can light up the scoreboard once again. Luper came up with 24 points in ORU's win over Houston on Monday to push her team to a 5-0 mark for the first time since 1982-83.
2. Princeton. This Ivy League team has moved to a 4-0 record after consecutive wins over Villanova and mid-major power Marist, two teams that came into the games receiving votes in the national polls.
3. Jordan Hooper, Nebraska. As the Huskers make the move into the Big Ten, Hooper is making her move as one of the top new players in the conference. Hooper posted back-to-back 20-point games -- back-to-back double-doubles, in fact -- in wins over Mississippi Valley State and USC.
4. Natalie Day, Portland. Day is shining brightly out on the West Coast. She scored 19 points as the Pilots defeated host team Hawaii in the Rainbow Wahine Classic last week, put up 18 points against No. 18 DePaul and then hit the game-winning free throws against San Diego State.
5. Ali Gibson, Oregon State. The Beavers' freshman guard scored 21 points to help Oregon State to a win over Eastern Washington and its first 5-0 start since the 2000-01 season. Remember that about a year and a half ago, there were just two players -- two -- left on the roster after coach LaVonda Wagner was fired and replaced with Scott Rueck.