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Duke Whips UNC-G, Coach G Sets Record

Duke 90, UNC-Greensboro 58. December 16, 2001. Cameron Indoor Stadium.

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Gail Goestenkors earned her Duke-record 214th career victory at the
expense of UNC-Greensboro, but it wasn't an entirely smooth ride. For
the game, Duke shot a solid 56% from the floor and an amazing 53% from
three. There were two primary problems, however: Duke turned the ball
over way too much and too many times in a row, and the Devils did a poor
job in blocking out the Spartans. On the other hand, Duke's pressure
defense did a great job in forcing turnovers (including a couple of
wicked traps the team sprung) and when the team took its time on offense,
they had no trouble scoring. When Duke threw into coverage or simply
tossed the ball out of bounds, that gave UNC-G the confidence to strike
back. The key lesson here is that Duke can't afford to fool around
and lose their focus, because a better team than UNC-G would have made
Duke pay.

Duke looked good in the early going as the two teams traded punches.
Sheana Mosch started out hot, hitting 2 free throws after getting fouled on
a drive, scoring in transition on an Alana Beard pass and sinking an 18'
jumper. The Spartans scored on a three point play when Mosch got out of
position after Duke tried to trap. The Devils turned up their intensity
and went on a 9-0 run, fueled by Beard's crazy play. She started it off
by posting up for a basket, and then sank a three off a Vicki Krapohl
pass. Beard then went after the UNC-G ballhandlers and came up with
back-to-back steals. The first led to a Mosch basket and the second was
taken in by Alana herself. The score was 17-6 and Duke was in control.

UNC-G recovered somewhat after a timeout, but Duke kept up the pressure
on offense, outscoring them 7-4 over the next couple of minutes. Beard
was once again the key, as Gingrich found her for another three. Alana
then found Iciss Tillis on a cut and sank a couple of free throws. She
had scored 12 points in about six minutes of play. The last thing she
did before she went to the bench for a rest was throw a pass downcourt
to Tillis who used a typically absurd move to juke her defender and get
the layup. Duke's bench played pretty well without Beard, with Gingrich
nailing a three on a Mosch feed and Sheana driving and sinking a floater.
When Wynter Whitley got fouled and hit 2 free throws, Duke had a 33-15
lead and twelve minutes were left in the half.

Duke started to get a bit sloppy, turning it over 3 times in the next
few minutes as the Spartans went on a 5-0 run. The Devils recovered
when they got the ball to Tillis, who posted up and hit a short jumper.
Krapohl then hit Whitley inside once again, where she got the basket and
the foul. Wynter then followed up by hitting a 10' jumper on a Tillis
pass, and Duke had its biggest lead at 39-20 with about seven minutes
left. Then things got ugly.

Over the next five minutes, Duke turned the ball over 7 times. UNC-G
went on an 11-0 run and actually started to pressure Duke in the backcourt
a bit. Beard turned the ball over 4 times as she overthrew players, threw
the ball out of bounds, and had her teammates go to the wrong place on
the floor as she passed. Duke was also missing easy layups, a few after
steals. Finally, Tillis hit Beard for a tough 15' baseline jumper, and
Duke ended the run. But their overall play didn't improve. They were
trying to take the last shot of the half but instead Whitley shot a three
with a full 8 seconds left on the clock. The Spartans took a halfcourt
fling and came very close to hitting and narrowing the lead further. As
it was, they had cut a 19-point lead to just 41-33 at the half. They
were very much still in the game at this point.

Duke's job was to take them out of the game. After a no doubt fiery
halftime speech from Coach G, Duke came out and took control of the game
again with an 11-0 run. It started when Tillis got a steal but missed a
layup. Mosch went up and up to tip the ball in, an excellent hustle
play. After a Spartan offensive foul, Duke carefully worked the ball
around until Beard found Mosch in the lane for a turnaround jumper.
Greensboro's third turnover of the half led to 2 Whitley foul shots.
Beard then stole the ball on 2 consecutive possessions, feeding Krapohl
for a big three and later letting Iciss spot up in a defensive soft spot
for a 17' jumper. The score was 52-33, matching Duke's biggest lead,
and just three and half minutes had gone by.

But faster than you can say "7-0 run", UNC-G got right back into it, thanks
to turnovers from Beard and Krapohl. Coach G subbed in Krista, who
immediately proved to be a difference-maker. First she found Tillis open
for a 14' jumper. Then she passed to Matyasovsky on the break after Currie
stole the ball. Gingrich then picked the Spartan ballhandler clean and
dished ahead to Matyasovsky, who passed to Currie to complete the play. The
Devils were up by a familiar 18 points with thirteen minutes to go. When
NC-G responded by hitting a three under pressure, it was clear that Duke
needed to put them away now or else they'd hang around forever.

Well, Duke did that with an 18-0 run that featured an unlikely weapon:
the three pointer. Beard dished to Gingrich and Currie for back-to-back
threes and the Spartans started missing everything. Currie hit a couple
of free throws after grabbing and offensive rebound and then passed to Beard
for her third three of the game. At this point, Greensboro's zone was in
tatters and Duke took advantage by driving right at them. Duke continued
applying defensive pressure, as Matyasovsky got a steal and passed it to
Whitley for a score while Beard got one of her classic clean pickpockets and
layups. With about eight minutes left, Duke now led 76-43. The rest of
the game was pretty much a formality, though the Spartans fought hard til
the end. Most of Duke's points came from the foul line, though Currie
did hit a pretty floater and Krapohl hit another three.

A few other notes related to the game. I stayed in Cameron between
the men's and women's games and sat down in the upper deck at around 6:00pm,
two hours before the game started. Who was the first player out there
for Duke? Alana Beard. What was she doing? Shooting jumpers. And who
came out right after her? Mo Currie. It's obvious that Duke is trying to
mold itself into a good shooting team, and it's slowly starting to happen.
The three pointer will not be one of their primary weapons this year, but
they're proving that they can make teams pay for zoning them. Both Gingrich
and Krapohl are really starting to warm up from three after bad starts,
while Beard is looking frighteningly accurate from out there when left
alone. All of this will set up what Duke does best, which is use dribble
penetration to either attack the basket or set up short jumpers.

In the first half, it looked like Coach G was sticking to a straight
man-to-man defense, but the Spartans were able to get any entry pass they
wanted inside to their decent post players. Gail countered by using a
weird hybrid defense in the second half that looked like a matchup zone
that switched to being a triangle and two after some possessions. She's
always loved switching up her defenses and it's clear that she baffled
the Spartans with that move and freed up her players to apply more ball
pressure. That move, along with her motivating her players to attack at
both ends, shows you why she became Duke's winningest coach in under ten
years. With the way she's going, she may get 500 career victories before
she turns 50 years old.

** Negatives:

1. Blocking out. Some of the bounces were a bit odd, but Tillis and
Whitley in particular have to shut other teams down on the boards. Duke
allowed 17 offensive boards and got outrebounded overall, 34-33.

2. Valuing the ball. As Coach G noted, it's one thing to have the
occasional turnover. It's quite another to throw it away 3 or 4 times
in a row. This gives your opponent free opportunities to score and builds
their confidence. Worse, it destroys your own offensive rhythm, with
the result being that everyone tries to "fix" things as individuals rather
than get back to team concepts.

** Positives:

1. Pressure defense. It's what won the game for Duke in the final
analysis. Forcing the Spartans into rushed shots and cutting off their
passing lanes made them unable to generate much offense--they were
just 20% from the floor in the second half.

2. Ball movement. When Duke wasn't turning the ball over, they were
passing rather well. 25 of Duke's 32 field goals came on assists. Four
different players had at least 3 assists.

3. Foul shooting. Duke shot well overall, but their 86% from the line
was just exceptional. Whitley in particular was 6-7, which is superb for
a post player.


** Whitley: A very solid game overall. I'd like to see her rebound more
and play more physically at both ends. Her skills and strength are
undeniable, though. She was able to post up twice for baskets while
at the same time hitting a short jumper and finishing a basket in transition.
To use an old hoops cliche', she "played within herself", not trying to
do too much but rather maximizing her usual skills. She didn't try to
dribble the ball too much or make ridiculous passes, and so ended up being
the only Duke player without any turnovers. I'm sensing that Wynter's role
is to be solid but not necessarily spectacular, concentrating on defense.

** Tillis: Iciss was slightly erratic at times, but that's part of the
package. Interestingly, with all of the threes that were flying in this
game for Duke, she turned out to be the only player without a single attempt!
Instead, she concentrated on hitting the short jumper (sinking 4 in the
second half), posting up and cutting. She also used her incredible quickness
to snag 4 steals, 3 in the second half. Of course, she threw away a couple
of them after picking them up, and also blew a couple of easy finishes.
Iciss did a pretty nice job passing out of the post, finding Beard and
Whitley for jumpers. Getting 6 rebounds was a good showing, but she's
capable of getting double figures in rebounds in every game.

** Beard: Alana doesn't half-step in any area, flirting with a quintuple-
double: 21 points, 8 rebounds, 9 assists, 7 steals and 6 turnovers. Alana
must now recognize that when she's playing well, so does the team--but the
converse is also true. When your best player is turning the ball over
constantly, the rest of the squad gets itchy. On the other hand, when Alana
got under control, she simply decimated UNC-G. Having Krapohl start at
point hasn't really meant that Beard has had the ball in her hands less
than usual, it's simply meant that there's another ballhandler and passer
to help out when Beard is trapped or wants to cut or shoot. Alana has
looked more comfortable with the ball in general, despite her turnover
problems in this game. But the most impressive thing about her showing
here was her shooting. And while the form on her threes was great, the
shot that was most important was her 15' baseline jumper late in the
first half. That stopped Duke's scoring drought and helped everyone relax
a bit. Defensively, it's hard to stop ranting about what she does out
there. She's a one-woman press at times and can step into the blocking
lanes. Her 2 blocks make her even more imposing. One small problem with
the game: it seemed like someone stepped on her hand during a scrum, since
she was rubbing it rather gingerly after the game.

** Mosch: A pretty good effort overall for Sheana, who drove and shot
aggressively. She has yet to regain her often dominant form of last year,
the unstoppable scorer who rampaged through the ACC for five games. But
the truth is that she has many more responsiblities this year and it's
taking her time to master them. The most important is leadership, and
making sure everyone's doing what they're supposed to at both ends of
the court. Late in the game, one could see Sheana imploring her teammates
to talk more on defense. One nice thing that she did was come out strong
in both halves. She scored 6 of Duke's first 8 points in the game, and
then Duke's first 4 points in the second half. And she was efficient
as well: 6-11 from the floor. 16 points, 4 rebounds and 4 assists is a
fine showing, but at some point Duke will need her to score 25 or more
points in a game.

** Krapohl: Vicki's 2 turnovers are still 2 too many for her considering
her role, but she did a nice job on defense and in distributing the ball.
Her three early in the second half really pushed Duke's run into high
gear. One can see that she's becoming more confident and comfortable
in each game. I like her as a starter; I prefer to see Gingrich studying
the flow of the game and then coming in to make an impact as a sub. Vicki
seems to gain more confidence as a starter and has a good grasp of her
role. The fact that she's now 10-19 from the three point line makes her
very valuable as a potential zone buster.

** Currie: Mo was a virtual no-show in the first half, picking up 2 fouls
and a turnover and nothing else. She came to life in the second half,
reasserting herself as one of Duke's most dangerous offensive weapons.
A transition basket seven minutes into the half got her started, and hitting
her first career three (after 12 misses) really seemed to boost her
spirits. She went to the offensive boards and got fouled, and then found
Beard for a three. Mo drove and hit one of her trademark floaters.
Overall, Mo was much more active at both ends of the court, and really
made a splash on defense. But she's a frosh, and sometimes will play like

** Gingrich: Krista was extremely impressive throughout the game and
even moreso considering that she's nursing an injured leg. In fact, I
would call this one of her best games at Duke. 6 points and 3 assists
seem like modest numbers, but it was the way she acted as a leader and
keyed big scoring runs that were important. The biggest came with
fifteen minutes left in the game when UNC-G was making one last push.
She had 2 assists and a steal, and then knocked them out with a three.
Her transition defense was also terrific, blocking an easy layup out
of bounds. That was a pure hustle play and she set a great example for
her younger teammates. Throw in 3 rebounds and you have a very satisfying
bench performance, the kind that can tip closer ballgames your way.

** Matyasovsky: This was not one of Michele's best games overall, though
she did have her moments. She's usually in pretty good defensive position,
but she wasn't always in the right place in this game. She was a bit
careless with the ball and only had one of her classic cuts. Worst of
all, she fouled out in just 16 minutes of play. Mattie did have one nice
steal and a couple of boards, but she's capable of much more.

** Cameron Craziness: As usual, a lot of people showed up at the last
second to make the crowd a decent one at about 2000. The best thing about
the game was that Dr. Clyde Young, a Duke alumnus, was there with his
trumpet as the "Duke Pep Band"--a one man band at that. He belted out
the Duke fight songs and played the national anthem, as well as several
Christmas tunes. The crowd loved it and it definitely was fun.

** Next Game: Thursday, December 20th vs Liberty in Cameron. This team
wins the Big South virtually every year, and have thus far played UCLA,
Virginia and VCU. They won't be afraid of Duke and should be a decent
challenge before Duke plays Tennessee next week.