Virginia Wesleyan men jump to No. 9 nationally
BLOOMINGTON, Minn. -- A 2-0 week, including an impressive 79-57 thumping of Hampton Roads rival Christopher Newport University, has helped elevate Virginia Wesleyan College's men's basketball Marlins to the No. 9 spot in this week's Top 25 national poll released by D3hoops.com.
The Marlins, 6-0 through November for the first time in the 11-year leadership of head coach David Macedo, will have that undefeated start challenged on Wednesday, Dec. 1, when they travel to Ashland, Va., to face the No. 7 Yellow Jackets (4-1) of Randolph-Macon College at 7 p.m. It is also the Old Dominion Athletic Conference opener for both teams.
VWC and R-MC are just two of three ODAC teams ranked among the nation's elite, however. Eastern Mennonite University, now 5-0, is currently ranked No. 3. The nation's top spot is currently owned by the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point (3-0).
Wednesday's game at Randolph-Macon will mark the 65th in a series between the schools that began in 1975. R-MC holds a 35-29 edge in victories, but VWC has won 12 of the last 15 meetings, including a 72-69 win last year in Ashland. The Jackets retaliated with a 64-62 win in Virginia Beach later in the season.
R-MC jumped out to a 4-0 start this season and was ranked as high as No. 2 nationally, but fell 60-45 to Indiana's Wabash College in the Pete Thorn Tournament championship game at Wabash. It was the lowest scoring output of the season for the Jackets, who are currently averaging 69 points per game, while holding foes to 51.4.
The Jackets are led by senior Danny Jones (Herndon, Va./Herndon), a 6-foot-6 forward, who is averaging 15.2 points per game, shooting 69% from the field. Eric Pugh (Silver Spring, Md./James Blake), a senior guard, adds another 12.2 points each outing and Brandon Braxton (Cape Charles, Va./Northampton), a 6-9 senior forward, contributes with 10.8 points per outing.
Virginia Wesleyan will answer with a balanced offense of its own, led by sophomore Chris Teasley (Newport News, Va./Menchville), who averges 15.3 points per game. Sophomore Chris Astorga (Suffolk, Va./Virginia Beach Cape Henry) averages 13.8 points each outing, rookie DJ Woodmore (Virginia Beach/Tallwood) contributes with 13.3 points each game and junior Donald Vaughn (Woodbridge, Va./Dumfries Potomac) adds 10.5 points per contest. VWC averages 78.5 points each game and surrenders 64.3.
While the teams show similar figures in most statistical areas, three-point shooting favors Virginia Wesleyan. The Marlins have connected for 58 so far this season, while R-MC has hit 30. Pugh has put through nine triples for the Jackets and Calvin Croskey (Manassas, Va./Osbourn Park) has hit six. Teasley tops the out-side effort for VWC with 15 triples made, followed by junior Ed Roberts (Chesapeake, Va./Deep Creek)and Woodmore with 13 each. Astorga has nailed eight.
Wednesday's game is the first of two meetings between the Jackets and Marlins. They will collide again on Wednesday, Feb. 9, in Virginia Beach at 7 p.m.