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Rob On Duke-Clemson!

Duke 92, Clemson 42. January 28th, 2001. Cameron Indoor Stadium.

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Q: What happens when two very good teams play each other, but one team
plays near-perfect basketball and the other hits season nadirs in
execution and effort?
A: A world of pain.

After a grueling five game stretch where Duke had to play 3.5 games
without star frosh Alana Beard, Duke emerged with a 5-0 record and a
renewed sense of confidence. And no player shone brighter than Sheana
Mosch, who averaged 28 ppg in the last three games and had as close to a
perfect game as is imaginable against Clemson. The fact that Duke did
this to a team that humiliated them in Littlejohn by outshooting, outworking
and outrunning Duke made it all the sweeter. While Duke this year has had
some difficulties in adjusting to roles and gaining play-to-play
consistency, the one thing that has never been a question has been winning.
Everyone on this team hates to lose, especially senior leaders Georgia
Schweitzer and Rochelle Parent. But the younger players were also
embarrassed by their showing in Clemson, and to a woman stepped up in every
phase of the game. Even better, they did it at home in front of one the
largest crowds in Duke history (again!) and on TV.

This was truly a game where all of the stars aligned correctly, and every
player was competing with a lot of energy and focus. More than that, it
was a sign that this team is finally starting to live up to its potential
in terms of efficiency and depth. In past games, Duke's starting five would
play well, but the bench would have trouble maintaining a lead, sapping the
team of its momentum. Coach G knew that this team had to rely on its bench
to compensate for its lack of strength, but also made some hard decisions
as to who would be in the rotation and who would be out. Right now, it's
clear that the starting five, plus Craig (now a part-time starter),
Matyasovsky and West are the top 8. Add to that Crystal White, who has
come in at the end of the half to help stem any late foul trouble for
Parent or Tillis, and has made a number of positive contributions. Throw
in Krista Gingrich when she's healthy (hopefully next week), and you've
got a solid ten-player rotation. Coach G never did go to the all-out
pressing and trapping defense that she had been promising, but it was
clear that some other things needed to be taken care of before Duke could
add something new. I also imagine that Duke will probably wait til Beard
comes back to add these plays, for both depth and personnel reasons.
Duke has a week off between the Wake Forest and Florida State games, and
I suspect that she'll be implementing a number of new things in practice
that week.

On to the game itself. Sheana came out looking for her shot, nailing a
15' jumper on her first possession. Schweitzer got a steal from Clemson
star Chrissy Floyd and immediately started a break that Mosch finished.
Batth put up a weak shot that Tillis sent right back, and then later Parent
got in the lane and picked off a Clemson pass. Mosch drove and fired it
back to Tillis for a three. Duke was up 7-0 with just a couple of minutes
gone by.

Floyd drove and cut the lead to 5. She had torched Duke with her
quickness and penetration in their earlier meeting, so Duke really keyed on
her the whole game. Right after that, Duke ran it right down Clemson's
throats, with Georgia findin Sheana in transition. Duke slowly started
to stretch out its lead, with Tillis getting a rebound basket and scoring
in transition, and Craig finding Mosch on a cut. With four minutes gone
by, Duke was leading by a 15-5 margin and Clemson was holding on for dear

Duke and Clemson then traded baskets for a bit, with Parent finding Mosch
for another transition bucket and Tillis driving and then using a gorgeous
turnaround move for a jumper. Rochelle stole the ball from the oddly
lethargic Batth and started the break. Clemson finally got back in time to
stop it, but Georgia drove and dished to Tillis, who sank a 12' jumper in
the lane. After a Clemson free throw, Duke started the run that would tame
the Tigers, a 15-0 pummelling over about a five minute period.

It started with a Mosch runner in the lane. After another Clemson miss,
Mosch dished to Schweitzer and something new happened: a player other than
Mosch or Tillis scored for Duke! Yes, Sheana and Iciss scored Duke's first
23 points. Sheana was outscoring Clemson by herself, 12-10. Mosch dished
to Schweitzer for back-to-back threes, and then another Batth turnover gave
Duke a shot at another. Missy West missed, but Mosch got the offensive
board and then sank only her third three of the year from the corner on a
pass from Georgia. Clemson Coach Jim Davis called a timeout, but it
didn't help. West missed a jumper but Duke again attacked the offensive
boards, and Parent got a putback. Clemson point Krystal Scott tried to
bring the ball up, but Rometra Craig picked her clean and ran it back for
a layup.

Clemson finally ended their drought, but Duke came back and scored 6 more
right away. When the score stood at 42-14 with five minutes to go in the
half, Duke went on a 9-0 run to send a message that Clemson was not going
to be allowed in this game at all. It started with a Matyasovsky rebound
basket, and then Michele hit a three after another offensive rebound.
Duke started going to their bench, bringing in Crystal and Vicki Krapohl,
and White responded with a couple of free throws. Sheana picked Maggie
Slosser's pocket for another easy layup, and scored an a cut from a
Matyasovsky pass as the half neared its conclusion. Sheana had a
mind-boggling 21 points at the half, along with 7 rebounds, 4 assists and
3 steals. Iciss had 11 points and 3 boards. Sheana had outscored the
Tigers for the half, 21-19. Duke had 14 assists on 21 field goals and
outrebounded the Tigers 23-7. About the only negative was Duke's 9
turnovers, which quite frankly were the only thing stopping them from
making the margin even more absurd. The beauty of the half was that
everything flowed naturally from the offense; Sheana wasn't forcing shots
or ballhogging. Her teammates just naturally looked at her to finish
breaks because of her quickness and ability to finish. And she was moving
beautifully without the ball, winding up in scoring position without even
trying hard. Meanwhile, Parent had completely destroyed Erin Batth in every
way imaginable. Batth couldn't post up, couldn't pass and couldn't shoot.
With Parent fronting her most of the game, she didn't even see the ball, and
when she did, Tillis was right behind her to alter the shot. Schweitzer
was directing traffic to the tune of 6 assists and Craig was harrassing Floyd
and Scott. Everyone was excelling in their role.

After Davis kept his team in the lockerroom for most of halftime, they
came out with a bit of fire, outscoring Duke 5-2 in the first few minutes.
But Sheana hit a jumper and some foul shots, and then sparked a 9-0 run
that had Duke up 71-26 with twelve minutes left. There were no more
questions after that. That run was the Iciss, Ro and Ro show, where Tillis
hit a three, Parent had 2 steals, 2 rebounds and 2 assists; Craig hit a
jumper and then drove right past the Tigers for a layup, and Iciss hit a
15' jumper.

By this point, Duke was slowly working in its bench, inserting the feisty
Krapohl into the game at about the nine minute mark. After struggling
earlier in the year, Vicki really tapped into the energy of the game and
delivered a flawless 5 assist game. Her first two were to Mosch, on a
drive and a three. The latter gave Sheana a career high 30 on 12-12
shooting, shattering Tye Hall's former 9-9 mark. Coach G yanked her at
the eight minute mark to a thunderous ovation. After Clemson scored 5
straight to "cut" the lead to 78-37, Krapohl sank a three to the
excitement of all. In the last five minutes, Coach G got curtain calls
for Schweitzer after she hit a three and cleared out the bench.

The deep reserves acquitted themselves quite well, outscoring Clemson
8-2 to account for the amazing final 50 point spread. It was Clemson's
worst loss in over 20 years, and Davis could only laugh about it afterwards.
Duke held Floyd, the #4 scorer in the league, 10 points under her average.
They held Batth, the #9 scorer in the league, 11 points under her average
and 8 rebounds under her 4th leading numbers. They kept Floyd, the most
lethal foul shooter in the league, off the line altogether. The rest of
the Tiger bench did little to help as they shot 35% for the game and
27% from three. Meanwhile, Duke shot 57%, 48% from three and outrebounded
Clemson 41-22. The Devils had an amazing 17 steals and forced 26 turnovers

** Negatives:

1. Turnovers. This is about it, folks. Duke was sometimes forced to the
sidelines and didn't make the right decisions.

** Positives:

1. Ball movement. It was so beautiful to watch it almost hurt. A totally
unselfish display of basketball, where four different players had at least
4 assists. Very little one-on-one action and not much dribbling. Duke
used their screens and skip passes to perfection.

2. Attacking the passing lanes. The true key to the game. Clemson likes
to run and strike quickly. By disrupting the flow of their offense, they
never got in synch and thus were rarely a threat to score in any of their

3. Post defense. We can end any debate right now: Ro is the best defensive
player in the ACC, period. Batth, another one of the best in the league,
was absolutely flummoxed. Gail actually used a variety of schemes on
Clemson. Duke loves to switch defenses based on whether or not they score
and whether or not the other team screens. You'll often see Duke immediately
switch after every screen to confuse the offense. Sometimes this results
in mismatches, but it also often results in steals and mistakes by the
other team.


** Tillis: Iciss was absolutely incandescent in the first seven minutes,
scoring on putbacks, jumpers, drives and in transition. She used her
superior quickness to surprise the Clemson defense and is really beginning
to develop a better shot selection. She was playing with supreme
confidence that started when she rejected Batth early on. Iciss has a skill
level and sense of grace that makes her potentially the deadliest player
on the team, and that includes Beard. She's becoming more and more
consistent, but must learn to deal with contact better and take better care
of the ball. Other than that, her potential is unlimited.

** Parent: Duke's finest defender and quite possibly its smartest player
(though Georgia could argue that) continues to play a crucial role. Her
scoring remains nearly irrelevant, especially when the team is up big and
everyone's in the flow of things, but her rebounding (especially offensive,
where she had 4), defense (5 steals) and understanding of the offense
makes her a perfect complement to the more offensively minded starters.
She had passes to Tillis and Mosch in transition (often after steals),
and dishes to Craig and Tillis for jumpers. Best of all, Ro stayed out
of foul trouble, not picking up her first (and only) foul until well into
the second half.

** Craig: Rometra continues to do well, having inherited Beard's role
in harassing the ballhandler. Her clean pick of Scott in the first half
was demoralizing to say the least. While she missed both of her threes,
she did hit a 15' jumper in the second half, while also using her quickness
for a drive. Better still, she showed that her free throw percentage is
on the rise by easily sinking both of her attempts. Best of all, she's
really stepped up her rebounding. The coaches think she can be a great
offensive rebounder and I certainly agree, since her quickness allows her
to get a lot of balls that other players can't. She had 5 boards, 2
offensive, a very solid showing. Other than a few freshman turnovers,
she once again had a very good game.

** Mosch: The scariest thing about her game is that it didn't even look
like she was trying hard. Everything simply flowed right to her, and she
had complete confidence in every shot. Clemson forward Marci Glenney
was looking at Sheana's statline after the game and was astonished to
see that she had 11 rebounds to go along with her 30 points, 6 assists
and 5 steals. She scored on cuts, threes, runners, layups and even
an alley-oop. Sheana simply looked three times quicker than anyone else
on the court. All she has to do is stay aggressive and take the shots
that come to her, because Georgia will try to do everything she can to
get her shots, and I imagine Alana will too when she gets back. An
interesting wrinkle in this game was seeing Sheana play point for a bit.
Developing more ballhandlers is very important for this team, and Sheana
certainly has the skills to do it.

** Schweitzer: A nice, relaxing day for Georgia, one where she didn't have
to put the team on her back. She celebrated by getting 8 assists, a number
of them in transition. Duke simply creamed Clemson early on because the
Tigers weren't ready for Duke's running game. By the time they adjusted,
it was much too late. Georgia also sat back and sank a few threes and
played solid defense on Floyd. But it was her setting the tempo for Duke
that allowed the Devils to jump on the Tigers right away. Duke had a solid
gameplan and executed it well.

** Matyasovsky: Mattie had a good game, other than turning it over a couple
of times. She had a rebound basket, a three and a turnaround jumper,
showing off her offensive range. Further demonstrating her versatility,
she had an assist, a block and a steal. A solid but unspectacular game
for Duke's steadiest bench player.

** West: Missy finally broke out of her slump a little bit, hitting a three
late in the game and sinking a 15' jumper on the run earlier on. It's clear
that she's struggling a bit, but hopefully the extended minutes tonight
worked a bit of that out. She's getting open looks, but just not sinking
them at this point.

** White: Crystal continues to play well in limited minutes. While she
missed 2 close-in shots, she looked good at the foul line, sinking 3 of 4.
She also had 3 strong boards, but looked a bit clumsy with the ball at
times, turning it over twice. Still, I look at her and see a future
defensive star who can also score in the low post and rebound like crazy.
She may not get there until her junior year, but her development this year
has been very promising.

** Krapohl: Vicki hasn't played in quite a while, but has clearly grown up
a lot in practice since then. Of course, playing against Schweitzer, Beard
and Mosch every day can do that for you. She looked much more comfortable
and confident out there, flawlessly directing the offense, playing pesky D
and sinking an open three. She keyed the reserves' strong performance.

** Brown: Nedra continues to make a big splash out there. She's seen
part-time action in some recent games, and filled up the stat sheet in
just seven minutes. In addition to scoring on a cut and getting a free throw,
she pullled down 3 boards, blocked a shot, got a steal and almost got an
eye-popping assist to Gebisa. As always, I hope that she somehow can get
more playing time.

** Gvozdenovic: Olga looked good in her limited minutes, sinking a long
jumper and grabbing a board. It's just very tough to break into the
rotation as it stands right now, though.

** Gebisa: No notable action.

** Cameron Craziness: A huge, enthusiastic crowd that included all the
regulars, an OK showing by the students (which could be better still) and
lots of kids. 6,194 is the fourth biggest crowd ever, and this comes after
the bigger crowd against Iowa State. This kind of crowd, especially for
a TV game, helps recruiting immensely, showing potential future players
that Duke excels under pressure and has a lot of support at home from a
variety of people. The team fed off the crowd's energy (with the "Sheana's
winning" cheer being applicable until deep in the second half) and played
with fire and focus. After the game, as the team went to the locker room,
you could see them jumping with joy after having accomplished so thorough
a win in front of such a big, boisterous group. Georgia was just leaping
up and down with glee, waving to the fans. Sheana came out shortly
thereafter for a TV interview, and the fans of course were chanting her
name over and over again. She looked a bit sheepish and jokingly told us
to shut up. Rochelle Parent had her own personal four-woman cheering
section next to me, with the four spelling out "GO RO" and #4 on the
back. Of course, the great thing is that Ro came out and took pictures
with the group. The best image of all was Sheana waiting for the TV
folks to get to her and being tapped on the shoulder by Duke president
Nan Keohane, who congratulated her and shook her hand. Quite a scene.

** Next Game: Thursday, February 1 at 7:00pm vs Wake Forest. Duke beat the
Deacs without much trouble early in the year, but since that time they've
run off a string of impressive road wins and took Virginia to double overtime
in Charlottesville. This is a much more athletic and much more confident
team than last year's squad, and one that has steadily improved this year.
The NCAA tournament or at least the WNIT is a realistic goal, and a win
over Duke would certainly make that dream much closer to a reality. Duke
cannot coast against this team, because their size and depth make them
particularly dangerous. Duke must deny the passing lanes hard and hit
their open shots, and beware of frontcourt foul trouble.