The first season of the Joanne Boyle era at Virginia has sure had its ups and downs.
The ups clearly start with the huge upset overtime victory against #3 Tennessee back on November 20th. That win vaulted the young program into the top 25 and into the spotlight.
Unfortunately, that stay in the top 25 would be short-lived. A trip to Hawaii led to two losses - first to ranked Texas, then to Joanne Boyle's previous team California.
Thankfully, the basketball season is a long one and the Cavaliers have plenty of time to get their groove back. And that's exactly what happened over the first week of December.
It began with a 65-49 win over the Indiana Hoosiers in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. The win helped the ACC split the Challenge for 2011, with each conference winning 6 games. It was Virginia's fourth win in the Challenge. Their only loss came last year at #6 Ohio State.
The Cavaliers followed that up with a road trip to Richmond and a 69-56 win over the Spiders. Richmond, like California, was a previous head coaching stop for Joanne Boyle.
Last night, the Liberty Flames came to town as the final pre-exam break opponent. Virginia dispatched them with ease, 64-38. Three Cavaliers scored in double figures - Seniors Chelsea Shine (10) and Ariana Moorer (10) and Junior China Crosby (12).
The Wahoos (8-2) now have an 11 day "break" before their next game. I put that word in quotes because the large span between games is intended to allow the student athletes to concentrate on the student part of their lives during exam week. It's not like they're going on vacation.
The next four games are the final non-conference tests before the grueling ACC slate begins. First up are Radford (December 18th) and in-state rival James Madison on December 20th. After that, the Cavaliers host Wagner, Elon and UMass in the Marriott Cavalier Classic on December 28th and 29th.
ACC play begins at Duke - Joanne Boyle's alma mater - on January 2nd.