|January 22, 2001. University Hall|
Duke 71, Virginia 68.
Watching the Duke-Virginia game on tape delay, I knew that the Devils
had won. But the thought that kept running through my head as I watched
it was, "How?" The Hoos were scorching Duke from three and absolutely shut
down Duke's inside game for much of the contest. The Devils were missing
easy layups all game long and had their usual problems with turnovers.
But the more I watched, the more I realized that Duke's defense was keeping
them in the game, with Coach G throwing about a zillion different defenses
at UVa to frustrate Schuye LaRue and neutralize some of their shooters.
Duke kept hanging in there, its blown layups neutralized by the absurd
foul shooting problems of Chelsea "0-8" Whitaker, until they put on a final
defensive run and offensive blitz that let them steal a win.
This was a very different Duke team to watch last night. Without Beard
in there, Duke used very little ball pressure or traps, and instead played
hard within a scheme. They started out double-teaming LaRue (the best
player in the ACC, in my opinion) with Parent fronting her and Tillis
stepping in whenever she turned towards the basket. This arrangement worked
out rather nicely, and LaRue was neutralized until the closing moments of
the game. But UVa countered by using crosscourt passes, with screens being
set up to free up jumpshooters. Svetlana Volnaya, Telisha Quarles and
Anna Prillaman really hurt Duke from three with this arrangement. In the
second half, Duke used a triangle and two with Volnaya being one of the
two locked up. With Quarles on the bench in foul trouble and UVa depending
on young guards to move the ball around, the Hoos struggled and Duke
survived some erratic play on offense to win.
Offensively, the team reminded me a bit of last year's squad, except
without the services of adept creator and shooter Krista Gingrich. But
there was a lot of consideration early on to spread the ball around and
let everyone have a chance to score, but also to go to what works. It
was a game where Sheana Mosch came out of her nearly two month-long
shell and where Iciss Tillis grew up. After having trouble scoring because
of LaRue's imposing presence, Duke used its speed at the wings to drive
past UVa and Tillis' remarkable agility and quickness to punish UVa from
the baseline. But while a number of players made contributions and several
had dominant performances, it was Georgia Schweitzer's uncanny ability to
understand how each game is to be won that truly carried the day for Duke.
The game did not start off well for Duke. LaRue started things off with
a three point play, though she wasn't heard from much til the end of the
game. But the Hoos were bombing away from the perimeter, hitting 4 threes
in the first eight minutes of the game. After getting off to an 11-3 lead,
Duke crept back in with a Matyasovsky put-back and a Schweitzer drive.
Georgia was the only player who kept Duke close in the first ten minutes,
scoring 8 straight Duke points. But after Duke pulled to within 14-9,
the Cavs scored 5 in a row to take their biggest lead, 19-9. Schweitzer
calmly hit a jumper and drove in for a layup to keep Duke within striking
distance. Tillis finally got on the board after bricking her first few
shots by sinking 4 consecutive free throws. But the Cavs kept Duke at
arm's length, holding a 24-17 lead with eight minutes to go in the half.
Duke then went on an explosive 9-0 run, led by Mosch. For the first time
all game, she took her opponent off the dribble and just went right by her.
Then, Tillis picked up a loose ball and found Sheana going to the basket.
Tillis then found Schweitzer beyond the arc for Duke's first three of the
game. Lastly, Craig picked up an offensive rebound and drove right to the
hoop for her only points of the game. Virginia responded by tying the score
up and then hitting a three to take the lead back. Georgia rebounded a Cav
miss by starting a beautiful break that ended with Missy West drawing the
defense on the way to the basket and then dishing to Mosch for a short
jumper. After another UVa basket, Mosch founded Georgia for a three that
tied it up at 31. The Hoos were looking disorganized, and savvy senior
West took advantage by hitting Crystal White inside. Duke led once again,
but lost the lead when they weren't quick enough to prevent Virginia from
using crosscourt passes to get open looks for their great shooters. 6
straight points later, and the Hoos once again led by 4.
While Duke did get a nice 2-on-1 break with Mosch finishing a West pass,
the Devils bungled away some other opportunities and in fact left UVa
player Chelsea Whitaker at the line with no time left on the clock. But
the poor-shooting frosh missed both, and definitely started a trend. Georgia
was doing pretty much everything for Duke, scoring 15 and grabbing 6
rebounds. Mosch also had a strong half with 9 points on 4-6 shooting.
While Parent and Tillis had 4 rebounds apiece, no one else on the team
was doing much scoring. Of course, Virginia was having the same problem,
with only Volnaya really breaking out. Talented quickster Telisha
Quarles had a bunch of points, but also 4 fouls--yet another bit of
information that would become important in the second half, when a
Quarles-less Hoo team would struggle to score at times.
The first ten minutes of the half were nip and tuck, with long scoring
droughts for both teams. Virginia had locked up Georgia Schweitzer, but
Duke countered by neutralizing Volnaya, who only scored 5 in the second half.
Duke started the half off with a Mosch steal and runout, signalling the
impact she'd have in the half. Tillis rang in with her first field goals,
a pull-up jumper on the baseline and a drive as Duke sliced through a
quickly-aborted Virginia press. Duke was fouling like crazy and put
the Hoos on the line in one-and-ones six minutes into the half. For most
of the first part of the half, Duke would get within 1 or 2, and then
Virginia would open up a little lead. Mosch was starting to heat up from
the perimeter, so Georgia found her for a 15' jumper, and then Sheana
herself drove and pulled up for another.
After being frustrated on offense the entire game, Parent drove in against
LaRue and managed to get a floater to bounce in off the backboard, drawing
Duke to within 50-48 with ten minutes left. A Mosch drive tied things up
at 50, but UVa came right back. Duke tied it again on an amazing sequence
where Schweitzer blocked a Virginia three into Craig's hands, who then
bouncedit forward to Schweitzer, who converted in transition. But the Hoos went
on a 6-0 run and looked to have Duke on the ropes when Tillis fouled
Whitaker as she was attempting a three. But Whitaker missed all three,
and this commutation of a near-death sentence sparked an 11-0 Duke run.
Tillis scored the first 4, on a couple of free throws and a feed from
Mosch after a Schweitzer rebound. Then West found Matyasovsky lurking
behind a screen, and Mattie popped a three to give Duke a 59-58 lead. The
Hoos were falling apart as Tillis found Mosch on a drive and a Schweitzer
steal led her to hit Mosch on a cut. Duke suddenly led 63-58 with about
four minutes left, but Virginia was not dead yet. LaRue came to life and
started tearing Duke apart, putting the Hoos back on top 66-65 with two
minutes left. But then Duke showed the sort of calm efficiency they were
known for last year, as Tillis drove and sank a short baseline jumper
to put Duke back on top. Duke then came back on the run and Craig passed to
Tillis on the break. Iciss missed the easy layup, but got her own miss
back and put it in. After another Virginia miss, Duke got the rebound
and ran some clock. With time running down on the shot clock, Duke isolated
Mosch who ran to the left side and pulled up from about 5 feet. She nailed
it, putting Duke up 5 with just thirty seconds left. A Virginia basket
brought them within 3 with thirteen seconds left, but Mosch was able
to run a little clock before getting fouled. She missed the front end of a
one-and-one, but grabbed her own miss and ran off a few more seconds.
Parent then missed another front end, but with only a couple of seconds left
in the game, the Hoos could only manage a wild fling by LaRue, which fell
It's instructive to compare this year's stirring win with last year's flop
in Charlottesville. It was clear early on that even if Duke looked awkward
at times on offense, they were there to compete. Everyone looked focused
and ready to win. Simply having Alana on the sideline, knowing that she'll
be back soon, had to be a motivator. And proving that they could win
without her has to boost the confidence of players like Mosch and Tillis.
More importantly, the team executed the defensive gameplan perfectly and
passionately, and managed to stay out of serious foul trouble along the
way. And while Virginia is very talented and LaRue is better than it was
last year, it's clear that they don't have a leader like Renee Robinson.
This results in occasional lacks of focus, the sort that killed them on
Monday night. Luckily for Duke, having Georgia, Missy and Rochelle around
is a huge advantage when things get tight down the stretch and it's time
to decide the game.
1. Finishing. Craig and Tillis had a number of close-in shots that just
wouldn't drop. Tillis eventually righted herself and made some huge
contributions down the stretch.
2. Shooting. The Cavs did a great job of limiting Duke's opportunities
from three, but Duke took many of their jumpers off-balance, and often
3. Decision-making. While Duke didn't have a major meltdown in either half,
the Devils often made bad decisions in the half-court, especially when
trying to nurse a lead. They had a number of chances late in the second
half that they just blew.
1. Rebounding. While Tillis' awesome performance on the boards (11, 4
offensive) stands out, it should be noted that starting guard Schweitzer
nabbed 8 and Parent had 7. Duke had 15 offensive rebounds to Virginia's
8, something that helped them get 14 more field goal attempts than the
2. Post defense. Tillis and Parent were amazing. They held LaRue in
check for most of the game and stayed out of foul trouble.
3. Attacking the basket. While the results weren't always what one would
hope for, Duke's penetration won the game for them. It was the one
area that UVa was leaving open, and players like Mosch, Schweitzer, Craig
and even Tillis took advantage.
** Matyasovsky: Michele struggled for much of the game, with LaRue making
her life difficult. But she sank a huge three with five minutes left
that gave Duke their first lead of the second half. She also rebounded
an early miss that helped Duke get out of an early-game scoring drought.
Her early foul trouble made her a bit tentative and she never did quite
figure out LaRue, but she still came up with plays like breaking Virginia's
press and finding Tillis for an easy basket. Mattie is a great player who's
had a rough couple of games, but I'm confident she'll bounce back.
** Parent: A great job of staying out of foul trouble while still making
LaRue's life miserable. Her defense and rebounding were big keys to Duke's
win, because with Ro in the game, Duke felt they could slow LaRue down
considerably. And they did, as Ro chased her all over the place, cutting off
her drives and getting in her face for jumpers. For all of LaRue's ability,
she is not a power player and so couldn't simply push Ro out of the way. Ro
matched her quickness and her smarts helped her anticipate what she'd do.
Result: LaRue shoots 5-17 on the night. Of course, because LaRue is a great
player, she still did some other things for the team, but didn't run wild.
** Craig: Her first career start didn't yield a whole lot of offense, but
what I like about her is her unshakeable self-confidence. She is very
mature for a frosh and you rarely see her get down on herself after
a mistake. Rometra also did a nice job at taking over Alana's role of
chief harrasser on defense, stepping into the passing lane for some big
thefts. She proved to be a bit erratic with the ball as always, but that's
the price Duke must pay (for now) as Rometra gets more comfortable on the
** Mosch: Wow. Earlier in the year, when Sheana was a bit less shy about
stepping forward, I noted that she was becoming a star. But since that
time, she's let others take over, let others take the big shots, and
abandoned the parts of her game where she excels. In particular, her ability
to penetrate and attack the basket, coupled with her free throw shooting
skills and solid mid-range game, make her a great complement to Schweitzer's
sweet shooting. But she's been in a bit of a funk for a while, and it took
this game to make her realize how great she can be. Her first half was
really very solid, scoring on a cut and driving for some other baskets.
But Virginia was completely shocked by her second-half dominance, as she
proved too quick for anyone to guard. She was hitting 15 footers, she
was scoring in transition, and she hit that crucial last shot that put
the Hoos away. She sparkled in every facet of the game as her defense and
rebounding were both solid, and she also set up Georgia a couple of times
in the first half. Hopefully she can bottle this performance, because Duke
will need her to play at a very high level with Beard out, because Georgia
can't do everything.
** Schweitzer: I'm running out of ways to describe how great she is,
people. She took over the team's offense in the first half when nobody else
could score. She turned into a demonic defender and distributor in the
second half when she was getting a lot of individual attention. Her absurd
blocks on two three point attempts were among the biggest plays of the
game. Georgia started a break on the crucial 11-0 run with a block and
rebound, outletting it as soon as she got the ball. For her impressive
first-half offensive outburst and tenacious second-half defensive stand,
she proved once again that she will do anything it takes to win a game.
Georgia moved past Jen Scanlon and stands just 2 points back of Kira Orr
and fourth place in Duke's all-time scoring list. She may crack the career
top ten in virtually every category by the time she's done. My favorite
may be assists: for such a pure shooter and outstanding scorer, Georgia has
proven to be remarkably unselfish. She's too smart a player to be selfish,
really--for example, she saw that Mosch was playing with a great deal of
confidence, and so found her 3 times in the second half. Georgia has her
latest diary entry up,and it's terrific. She talks about
how she got into playing basketball, and relates her father building a court
for her family next to her house, where she spent many hours alone. I think
this quote from her says it all: "I was never one to imagine hitting the game
winning shot or hearing the roar of the crowd. I just played and I just tried
to do better than the previous day." About the only thing Georgia did wrong
was throw the occasional bad pass--one right out of bounds. But this was
forgiveably in light of her other assets.
** Tillis: While Iciss struggled mightily in the first half (0-7 from the
field) and took some rather questionable shots, she didn't stop trying
and didn't lose her concentration. Rather, she got more and more focused
as the game went on, until at the end she and Mosch were the best players
on the court. Iciss didn't start because she was late for breakfast, a
violation of a team rule. But she certainly did finish. Iciss has been
going through some growing pains as she's adjusted to college life and
becoming a post player. To a large extent, her first few months on the
court have shown her what she can't do. Now it's time for her to learn
what she can do, and do it every game. Iciss didn't simply want to play
well in this game, she wanted to win--you could sense it. More than that,
she learned a simple lesson: if your long jumpers aren't falling, take easier
shots. So she used her ability to put it on the floor to open up some easy
baseline jumpers, and she got into a nice rhythm. She had the basket that
gave Duke the lead for good on one of those simple jumpers, and then attacked
the glass for a putback to give Duke a big 3 point lead. Her positioning
has improved while waiting for rebounds, which she's starting to snatch
away with authority. It'll be fascinating to watch her down the stretch,
and she'll hopefully develop into a potent weapon game after game.
** West: Missy's offensive drought continues, but she made some crucial
passes in the game and didn't do anything stupid with the ball. She found
Mosch twice on breaks, running them to perfection. She alertly spotted White
going to the basket for another assist. Most crucially, she saw Matyasovsky
standing behind a screen and used a crosscourt pass--Virginia's most
effective weapon of the game--to hit her with a pass for a three. One of
these days, she's going to go off in a game and make a big difference
offensively, but she did just fine in this contest.
** White: Crystal had a couple of solid minutes in relief of Mattie and
Iciss. She was led by West for a nice strong layup, got a tough board
and played decent defense. She was left out in the cold a couple of times,
missing an awkward jumper in the lane and throwing the all away once.
Next Game: Thursday the 25th against UNC in Chapel Hill. The ancient, very
heated rivalry renews itself once again. UNC has played pretty well
without top scorer Nikki Teasley and top post player Jackie Higgins.
Coretta Brown has blossomed into becoming a star and a leader as a sophomore
point guard, while LaQuanda Barksdale still leads the ACC in scoring
and rebounding. Flaky but athletic Juana Brown has stabilized her game
a bit and is even becoming a leader of sorts. The Heels have a number
of young big players, led by 6-5 frosh Candace Sutton. They also have
the decent Jennifer Thomas at forward. The Heels aren't very deep but
are athletic and will try to force Duke into turnovers. Duke must counter
with smart and directed passes. Defensively, the Heels aren't a great
shooting team, but instead try to use their athleticism to get to the
basket. Duke will probably sag a bit and concentrate on the hot shooters,
if there are any. UNC is pretty hard to beat at home (they recently
upset NC State there), so while Duke is favored, this will be no cakewalk.