by Rob Clough
Duke's 81-46 victory over William & Mary can be summed up in one word:
attack. Duke attacked them offensively, getting into transition as quickly
as possible. Duke attacked them defensively, racking up 23 steals. And if
this unrelenting assault was not always precise or effective, Duke was at
least keeping up the pressure. Coach G used this game to take a long look
at her bench, and it was useful in that it forced Duke to deal with a team
that was mostly playing zone. One gets the sense that if this team could
play with a little more precision, it could be truly lethal. But with 23
turnovers of their own (and 6 in the first five minutes), Duke still has a
long way to go in order to become a true national title contender.
Any way you slice it, holding a team to 46 points is an accomplishment.
A fun fact you'll see reported is that Duke's frosh outscored the entire
William & Mary team 48-46. Another fun fact is that Duke's bench scored 45
points, oh-so-close to that team total of W&M. Duke was led in scoring by
two frosh, Alana Beard with 14 and Rometra Craig with 19. Beard made a lot
of mistakes but still posted an eye-popping stat line. Craig showed that she
can be a legitimate perimeter threat, play nasty defense and drive to the
basket. Missy West continued her strong senior season with 13 points and
a team-high 6 steals. The ever-reliable Rochelle Parent and Olga Gvozdenovic
led the team with 6 boards apiece. Duke as a team blocked 9 shots, fully
taking advantage of their size.
Duke zipped out to a 5-0 lead thanks to a couple of Schweitzer jumpers,
but the Tribe fought back (aided by 4 consecutive Duke turnovers) to take
a 6-5 lead. That lasted all of 21 seconds as Tillis took a pass from Georgia
and hit a three. After Beard missed a three, Parent rebounded and passed it to
Georgia, who swung it out to West, who sank a deep three. Beard then drove
and got fouled, missing the freebie, but Duke had a 14-6 lead. Craig entered
the game at that point and proceeded to score 12 points over the next five
minutes. She knocked down a three on her first shot, then immediately forced
a turnover on the next play, although she fumbled the ball out of bounds while
driving to the basket. She then hit a 12' baseline jumper, another three,
zoomed by the Tribe on a drive, and scored on a 2-on-1 break that she started
with a steal. It was a 12-0 run for Duke that pushed the score up to 33-11.
Coach G started substituing heavily after this point, bringing in deeper
reserves like Vicki Krapohl, Lello Gebisa and LaNedra Brown. Predictably,
William and Mary was able to take advantage of this, and cut the lead down
to 17 at the half. Duke only had 2 field goals in the last five minutes of
the half, a Beard jumper and a West three that stopped a 4-0 W&M run. Duke
gave up 2 threes in the last minute, something that couldn't have made Coach
G very happy going into the half.
Duke started the second half as poorly as they did the first, with a couple
of missed threes, a turnover and getting outrebounded 3-0. Duke may have
been feeling the loss of Schweitzer a bit, since she hurt her right shoulder
in the first half and didn't play at all in the second. But the trio of West,
Beard and Tillis teamed up for an 11-0 run that essentially removed any doubt
as to who would win the game. 4 points came off thefts by Beard and West,
breaking away for layups. Beard also found Tillis for an easy score after
a drive, and West nailed a three. Duke was up 52-26 and Cameron was rocking,
but the Tribe had a 5-2 mini-run. That glimmer of hope was snuffed out
by Beard and Craig, who really increased their defensive intensity even more
in the second half. Beard passed to Mosch, who sank a 15' jumper, and Tillis
then got a steal, ran the court, passed to Craig on the 2-on-1 break, then
received the ball back. It was a beautifully executed play, but sometimes
it's the ugly ones that win games. That was demonstrated on the next
sequence, when Tillis stole the ball and passed it to Craig for a three. She
missed, but Mosch got a rebound and gave it to Beard. She missed, got her
own rebound, and missed again. But Matyasovsky got the board, and gave it
back to Beard, who missed again. The ball flew around, and Parent dove to
the floor to get it (up 29 points, mind you), and tossed it to Mosch while
still lying on the floor. Craig finally drove in for a short jumper, a
shot that was all the sweeter for Duke's effort on the play.
Coach G once again used her bench extensively, and once again it hurt Duke
a bit, as W&M managed to shave a couple of points off the lead in the next
five minutes. But Duke cranked it up once again in the last few minutes,
going on a 9-0 run that featured a spectacular Gebisa hook on a Beard feed
and Beard scoring 5 straight points on drives and a free throw. The Tribe
finished strong and several Duke players struggled at the line, but the bench
accounted for an amazing 16 rebounds in the second half, no doubt impressing
Coach G with their efforts. All in all, this game accomplished what a good
tune-up game should: seeing what's been learned in practice, finding out
who's going to work hard, and identifying areas that need work. More than
anything, this team simply needs to get older and get more game experience.
1. Decision-making & ball-handling. Duke was trying to push it upcourt so
often that players frequently wouldn't make sure that their pass was heading
in the right direction. Other times, a player would come up with a steal
and take their eyes off the ball, only to see it fall out of their hands.
The enthusiasm is commendable, but the team needs to be a bit more careful if
their defensive pressure is going to actually yield something.
2. Foul shooting. I am mystified as to Craig's problems at the foul line,
because she's proved that she's a good shooter. Beard also missed a couple,
as did Krapohl. Hopefully, this was just nerves.
3. Perimeter defense. Duke was concentrating on stopping W&M inside and left
them open too many times. W&M did a good job at setting high picks, but Duke
simply didn't rotate over quickly enough.
1. Interior defense. Really stellar, and W&M did have a bit of height inside
with a 6-3 center and a 6-3 reserve who played quite a bit. The Tribe got
nothing easy inside, going 6-17 in the first half and 3-18 in the second.
Nine blocks contributed to their futility, and you know things are going
against you when 5-3 Krapohl blocks your shot!
2. Shot selection. Duke really mixed it up well by using the drive effectively
and rotating over for open threes. This european "penetrate-and-pitch"
strategy caught W&M out of position on many occasions and showed how unselfish
the team is. This is especially true of Beard, a player expected to score
in bunches who also found time to dish out 6 assists.
3. Aggressiveness. It wasn't always pretty, but Duke attacked the passing
lanes and came up with many breakaway steals. The Devils also went after
rebounds with passion, forcing jump balls. Even up by 30 with just a few
minutes left, Duke stuck to their game plan and continued to go after the
** Tillis: With the Tribe playing an aggressive zone, it meant that Iciss
wasn't going to get many touches. She did make the most out of them, scoring
on 4 out of 5 attempts. In the second half, Tillis rebounded a Beard miss
with one hand, and then went up with the same hand for a spectacular reverse
layup. She had 2 spectacular blocks, both into the hands of Duke players.
She also got tougher on the boards, boxing out well. Her main problems came
when she tried to force too many passes after getting steals or rebounds.
I was happy to see her control her urge to jack up threes, with her one
attempt a very good one. I would like to see her post up a bit more, but
other defenses have collapsed on her fairly consistently.
** Parent: Rochelle didn't play much and was mostly content to sit back and
rebound. She led the team with 4 offensive rebounds, the most impressive
of which was the one where she dove to the ground to get it. She will need
to play some big minutes against Penn State.
** Beard: Alana had somewhat of an off game, missing 8 shots and turning the
ball over 5 times. Of course, this meant that she "only" scored 14, racked
up a team-leading 6 assists, pilfered 5 steals and threw in 2 blocks and 3
boards for good measure. Yikes! One of her blocks came as a W&M player was
set up 12' away from the basket, preparing to shoot. Beard came zooming up
behind her and slapped it out of the bewildered Tribe player's hands! Her
long-range jumper wasn't falling, so she turned to her slashing ability to
score her points. She did manage to nail a 10' pull-up jumper, however.
Like Tillis, her mind was sometimes ahead of where her body was supposed to
be, so she often started speed dribbling before she had complete control of
the ball, let herself get trapped on the sideline once and just plain lost
the ball for no good reason. But she's the ultimate "next play" player: when
she made a mistake, she simply made up for it on the next play. The best
way to describe her is relentless, someone who plays hard in every minute of
** Mosch: Like Parent, Sheana seemed content to distribute the ball and disrupt
the passing lanes, though she did have two excellent moves on offense. Her
baseline jumper was very smooth and her speed-dribble drive to the basket
went by in a blur. She generally played smart basketball in her usual cool
style and was very unselfish, finding Craig and Krapohl for threes. Also
impressive was her ability to rebound on the defensive end, her hands quickly
darting into the post and picking up the carom.
** Schweitzer: Georgia played very well in the early going, and then hurt her
shoulder late in the first half. She did not play at all in the second half,
and it's not clear at this point how serious the injury is. She was walking
around and even holding a kid after the game, but it's difficult to know how
much pain she was in due to her superhuman tolerance. I sense that if the
doctors will allow it, she'll play on Monday. She scored Duke's first 5 points
and then dished to Tillis and West for threes.
** West: Scorched the nets by hitting 2 threes in the first half, but then
struggled a bit in the second. She still wound up in double figures while
playing a bit at point guard and aggressively going after steals. She found
Craig for a three in the first half, and then used the drive in the second
half when her threes weren't falling. Missy was really overplaying the
passing lanes and it paid off with a career-high 6 steals, including one that
led to a runout. More than that, however, she stepped up her leadership
when Georgia went out, encouraging her teammates and providing an example of
toughness and hustle for others to emulate. I am truly amazed at how good
** Matyasovsky: Michele only wound up playing five minutes. I'm not sure if
that's due to fear of reinjury, an injury sustained during the game, or just
a desire on Coach G's part to give more playing time to her developing
frontcourt since the game was a blowout. Michele missed three shots but
was strong on the boards and blocked 2 shots. It's nice to see her honing
her talents as a forward, especially on defense.
** Craig: Scratch what I said earlier in the year about Craig needing to
forget about her outside shot. She not only hit 3 threes, but also sank a
couple of mid-range jumpers as well. I am amazed at how much smoother and
more confident she looks after just a couple of weeks. Her defensive
intensity is as high as ever, as she really went after the ballhandlers for
W&M. (Their point guard turned the ball over an amazing 12 times.) The
form on her jumper looks very polished and she didn't force a single shot.
Rometra really took over the game a couple of times, scoring 12 points in
short order in the first half with 2 steals, and then scoring 7 of Duke's
12 points in a second half stretch. While she's not as quick as Beard, she
is much stronger, and that will allow her to take some bumps on the way
to the basket. Now if only she could improve that foul shooting...
** Gvozdenovic: This was by far Olga's strongest performance on the boards
and on defense this year. She cut down on silly fouls and was hustling all
over the place to get rebounds. Considering that Duke needs to improve its
post play more than anything, her contributions were greatly welcome. They
were particularly striking since Duke wasn't running any plays for her because
of W&M's zone, and so Olga had to work hard to make an impact.
** Krapohl: With Georgia sitting out the entire second half, this gave Vicki
a chance to strut her stuff, and a 6 point, 4 assist, 3 steal and 0 turnover
game was easily her strongest performance of the year. Vicki has looked
overwhelmed at times this year trying to keep up with a faster and bigger
game, but she looked reasonably confident on offense and scrappy on defense.
Her stuffing Tribe guard Sobota with a block may well have been the most
unusual play of the game, but she was attacking the entire time. Her points
came entirely on threes, and she found Brown and Beard on drives and Craig
for 2 jumpers. If Schweitzer misses any more game time, Vicki will have to
be ready to step up. I'm still not sure if she's ready to do that against
a quality opponent, but we'll find out on Monday.
** Gebisa: Lello had a superb block and a fantastic hook shot for her only
basket. She seemed a step slow on the boards at times, watching one loose
ball bounce away from her and into the hands of a W&M player. Her hands are
still not very good as she dropped a couple of sure rebounds out of bounds.
Still, she used her height well in this game. I hope to see her continue to
get some additional game time whenever possible.
** Brown: Nedra looked very lithe and strong out there. She's the one player
whose lack of playing time I don't quite understand, especially considering
the experience she gained last year. She rebounded a miss and got fouled,
getting 2 free throws. She rebounded in another miss and had a great drive
to the basket in the second and wound up with 4 boards overall. She did turn
the ball over a couple of times towards the end of each half, and both were
careless errors. Nedra has the potential to be a fine hustle player if she
cuts down on her errors, and her size combined with her athleticism could
make her very effective if she becomes more polished.
** White: Crystal is very strong and athletic. She's also shown that she
can really block out on the defensive end, ripping down 3 boards in just
8 minutes. What she hasn't shown is any touch at all. Her true value to the
team will be down the road, but it's good to see her playing hard and staying
within her role. I think Coach G is fascinated by her potential as a dominant
defensive post player and will seek to mold her in this role.
Cameron Craziness: 3500 people showed up, many of them students from one of
Duke's periodic "dorm storms." Not too bad for a weak opponent early in the
year. I'm hopeful that the season average can be raised to 4000, with packed
houses for Duke's top ACC foes. Lunatic of the game award goes to a band
member wearing a kilt who jumped around during one free throw attempt like
his hair was on fire, causing a miss. Duke's "free throw defense" was
especially effective, with the rim gremlins forcing out 6 of 7 Tribe attempts.
Before the game, Duke unveiled its 2000 ACC Championship banner, kept in
the same row as the men's ACC banners. Peppi Browne was there, not only
to take part in the ceremony as part of that team, but also to cheer on her
sister Rashelle, a junior on William & Mary's squad. She had a cute sign
that said "I Love My Sister!" with a picture of Rashelle as a child. The
younger Browne naturally wore #10, just like her big sister. It was an odd
sight to witness Peppi's mother wearing a William & Mary sweater, but so it
goes. Other Duke players were present for homecoming, including all-time
assist leader Hilary Howard; Coach G's first star recruit Kira Orr, the #4
scorer in program history; ultra-tough guard Jen Scanlon, the #5 scorer; and
three point specialist Kris Meiman.
The only hitch with the banner is that the black cloth covering it clung to
the edge of the bottom pole, staying there for the duration of the game!
Next Game: Monday, November 19th at #11 Penn State. The Lady Lions are 2-0
after having defeated top 15 Old Dominion as well as Villanova. Their best
player is Lisa Shepherd, a tough forward averaging close to 20 points a game.
Their center, Brandi Barnes, is averaging 13 rebounds a game and will be a
real challenge for Tillis. They have a tremendous shooter named Jen Mazzante
who must be covered tightly, a real issue considering Duke's shaky perimeter
defense tonight. And their frosh point guard, Ashley Luke, has played very
well so far. This is the first of two big road games for Duke this week,
with #22 Boston College to follow in Duke's difficult early schedule.