Virginia's 68-48 loss to Georgia Tech causes concern for fans


The Virginia women's basketball team fell to 0-3 in the ACC tonight, losing to Georgia Tech 68-48 in Atlanta. Sophomore China Crosby led the Cavaliers with 12 points, but at the end of the day, 22 turnovers weren't going to cut it against a Georgia Tech squad that's won 12 consecutive games.

Georgia Tech's 3-0 ACC start is just the second time in school history that the Jackets have been perfect through three games -- the last time came in the 1992-93 season.

So Georgia Tech is good, but a number of fans have expressed an increasing concern over why this talented squad regular cracks the top 25, yet fails to put together a tournament run.

Last season, Virginia was ranked in the top 25 from the start to the finish of the season, every week, with as high as a No. 12 ranking. Still, the Cavaliers bowed out of the first rounds of both the ACC (against NC State) and NCAA (as a No. 5 seed, against Green Bay) tournaments.

The season prior, again Virginia stayed in the top 25 all season, as high as No. 11, but lost in the second rounds of both the ACC and NCAA Tournaments, against No. 8 Duke and No. 13 California, respectively. There's at least reason there to expect losses against the more highly-ranked teams.

So far this season, Virginia has not been ranked, but due to aggressive scheduling, has lost to No. 4 Tennessee, No. 17 Iowa State, No. 10 West Virginia and No. 6 Ohio State, all on the road. The Cavaliers' lone ranked win was against No. 21 TCU, also on the road.

In today's win-or-die mentality with respect to the college coaching carousel, many fans are beginning to wonder whether head coach Debbie Ryan has coached past her prime at this point.

Ryan has coached her entire career at Virginia -- a whopping 33 years -- during which time she's amassed a 720-308 record. Only six other active coaches have broken the 700-win mark -- Patt Summitt (Tennessee), C. Vivian Stringer (Rutgers), Sylvia Hatchell (North Carolina), Tara VanDerveer (Stanford), Robin Selvig (Montana) and Andy Landers (Georgia).

She's recorded 23 20+ win seasons, and two 30+ win seasons, along with 24 NCAA tournament appearances. She also had three Final Four berths from 1990-92. She also had 20 consecutive NCAA Tournament Appearances from 1984-2003, and one trip to the Championship Game.

In July of 2008, Ryan was inducted into the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame as a member of the 10th anniversary class.

The fan base, of course, is a fickle thing. Students and fans oftentimes don't care about the early 90s - it's, "What have you done for me lately?"

The answer, of course, is that no one would even blink at Virginia were it not for the consistency and success Coach Ryan's instilled upon this program. After all, it does mean something to be a six-time head coach with USA Basketball, including most recently the co-coach of USA Basketball Women's Select Team along with former Cavalier Dawn Staley, now at South Carolina.

What are your thoughts -- is she past her prime, or is the best still ahead?

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