III. A look at the class of 2005.
** Monique Currie 6-0 G/F Potomac, MD (The Bullis School)
Accolades: Two time Metro Player of the Year
USA Today Super 25
Maryland Player of the Year
Stats: 20 ppg, 9 rpg, 7 apg (jr); 21 ppg, 9 rpg, 3 spg (sr)
A consensus top-5 player, Monique is one of the most decorated high
school players to ever sign with Duke. Her immense physical talents
combined with a unique ability to score will give her an immediate chance
to start, if she's willing to work hard on defense. She may be even
quicker than lightning-fast Beard and Craig, with a better first step. Mo
is also very strong, getting to the foul line on a consistent basis. In
the WBCA All-Star game, Currie led all scorers with 25 points, thanks to
her ability to get out on the break and hit free throws. Simply put, no
one could stop her from getting to the basket. She also demonstrated a very
fine shooting stroke, going 1-2 from three. More than anything else,
this ability might vault her into a starter's role, because Duke will be
desperate for shooters next year.
Currie attended The Bullis School, the school where Coach G's first major
recruit, Kira Orr, also played. Orr is an assistant athletic director
and assistant basketball coach, and Currie has said that Orr's effusive
descriptions of Duke impressed her a great deal. Monique ended her year on
a positive note as she scored 41 points and grabbed 10 boards to win her
second consecutive Independent Schools League AA championship. She ended
up scoring 9 of her team's last 12 points. Currie ended up breaking Orr's
own scoring record by the end of the year.
Currie has the potential to be a cross between Georgia Schweitzer and
Alana Beard. She has Georgia's height and ability to post up and Alana's
quickness, scoring ability and first step. Of course, one never knows
how a player will adjust to a new team but I'm pretty sure Currie will
be a frontrunner for ACC rookie of the year. Monique likes to compete
and she loves to win, and she generally raises her level of performance
to meet the opponent. I think she'll fit in nicely.
** Wynter Whitley 6-2 F Atlanta, GA (Holy Innocents)
Accolades: Georgia Class AA Player of the Year
Georgia Dandy Dozen
USA Today Super 25
Stats: 24 ppg, 10 rpg (jr)
Wynter is a strong and versatile post player who can hit the boards,
score inside and step out for threes. A consensus top-5 player, she'll
have a chance at immediate playing time and a possible starting role. Again,
it all comes down to defense and rebounding. If she can step in and
show that she's willing to do the dirty work inside and demonstrate her
polished offensive game, then this will gain her favor with Coach G. She
chose Duke because of its motion game that places a premium on versatility.
While you'll see Wynter popping out to take threes and sometimes drive
to the basket, expect to see her operate in the most a lot as well. There's
a chance that she might wind up as a starting wing alongside Tillis
and Matyasovsky in the post.
Wynter played well in the first half of the WBCA All-Star game,
aggressively going to the boards for putbacks. But she was
0-for-the-second-half, missing tip-ins and threes alike. She didn't seem
quite as quick or aggressive as some of the other players, and I think
playing in a smaller division with lesser athletes means that it make
take her a while to adjust to the level of competition in the ACC. This
will be especially true for a player trying to work in the post. There
won't be any pressure on her to produce big numbers right away, so she'll
be able to develop at her own pace. I suspect we'll see big things from
her sooner rather than later. Again, the question that must be answered
for her is: can she play Duke-level defense? This year's frosh class
got so much playing time because the answer for them was "yes." We'll
see if the class of 2005 can answer the question as affirmatively.
IV. Preliminary season preview.
We'll begin with my projected starting lineup:
Next up is my guess at the extended rotation:
Frankly, I've had a difficult time even projecting a starting lineup,
because I would guess that the only player assured of a starting job next
year will be Alana Beard. I also have her pencilled into starting at
point next year, which isn't her best position but is Duke's best option
right now. Everything else is up for grabs, and I'd say that the starters
will be those who help the offense flow better and play strong defense.
Without Parent next year, the team will need someone to step up as a post
stopper. I'm not sure Tillis has the temperament to be that kind of player,
which is why she might not start. If White or Whitley display a consistent
commitment to defense, they may wind up with the starting role. I see
Matyasovsky continuing to start both because of the strong way she finished
out the year and the way she moves without the ball. The offense just
seems to flow more smoothly when she's out there, and Coach G has described
her as her best motion player. She will need to work on some low-post
scoring moves, her defense and overall strength.
The most intriguing battle for the starting job will be in the backcourt.
I see Duke running a three-guard offense, with Mosch, Craig and Currie
battling for two slots. Currie will be a starter if she can play some
defense; her scoring ability is just too great to leave on the bench. Mosch
will have to improve her defense to fend off Craig's challenge, while
Rometra will need to show that she can be a consistent scorer. Regardless,
all three will play a lot.
The two players who will have to work the hardest are Krapohl and Gingrich.
Vicki hasn't demonstrated the strength and quickness needed to compete
at point guard, and her decision-making has also been a bit suspect at
times. Of course, she's a very young player who could make a number of
improvements. She's already demonstrated that she can shoot quite
proficiently and that she can be quite the pest on defense. The team
needs shooting and ballhandling more than anything else, so the opportunity
is there if she can improve. Krista is a different case. The team needs
leadership and experience, and as the lone senior, she could provide that.
She's also one of the team's better shooters and a good floor general. The
question is, will she be ready to step up into that role, and does she have
the fire to compete against the other very talented guards for minutes?
Coach G values leadership, and if Krista can prove herself in that role
(especially if she learns to play hurt), she might even steal away a starting
job. If she doesn't, Coach G won't hesitate to go seven or eight deep
and stop right there.
This team will be extremely quick and athletic at all positions. Opponents
will have to give Beard & Currie a lot of room because of their blinding
first steps. Duke's break will be devastating since they have finishers
at every position. What Duke doesn't have a lot of are pure shooters.
While Tillis, Craig, Mosch and Matyasovsky can all hit the three, they
haven't demonstrated that they can do it consistently. Beard hits one
every now and then but she throws up more airballs than successful threes.
Gingrich and Krapohl can both shoot but their other limitations might
mean they won't get the chance. Currie can definitely hit from outside
but one never knows how a freshman will do. Essentially, if the above
named players significantly improve their shooting, then I predict Duke
will go to the Final Four. If they don't, then Duke will have a lot of
problems as teams go to zones, box-and-ones and triangle-and-twos.
Duke's other big problem is a problem with bigness. There's height on
the team but not much strength. White has awesome potential and looks to
be on the brink of a breakout year, especially if she improves her
strength and hands. Tillis has unlimited potential if she's willing to
get stronger and do some dirty work in the post. If Whitley is ready to
play defense, she could step right into the rotation and be a factor. Duke's
motion offense means that size isn't as big a deal as it might be for
some teams, and White's ability to post-up gives Duke a more traditional
center when needed. It's on defense that the lack of strength will be
a problem, especially with so many good post players in the ACC. Someone
will need to take responsibility for post defense, and hopefully it will
be several players who step up.
Duke will be travelling to Australia this summer, and this trip couldn't
have come at a better time. With so many young players, having the
opportunity for extra practices will play a crucial part in establishing
leadership roles and developing chemistry. The seniors and the incoming
freshmen will not make this trip, so it'll be just 8 players down under.
This means that Gingrich and Krapohl will get lots of playing time by
necessity, and we'll get to see if they're ready to fight for playing
time. I imagine the starters will be Tillis, Matyasovsky, Craig, Beard
and Mosch; with Beard taking over point guard duties. We'll see if Alana
is ready to run the team full time, if Iciss can build on her solid last
game performance, if Sheana is ready to be a scorer along with Alana.
Other stories to follow include Rometra's progress as a shooter,
Michele's all-around development, and Crystal evolving into a regular
part of the lineup. I suspect someone on the team will be keeping an
on-line diary, so stay tuned for developments. The Australians have some
of the best basketball players in the world, so this tour will be an
immense challenge for Duke. Teams that get a chance to play overseas
almost always enhance their chances in the next season. FSU made it to
the NCAA's after touring Europe last summer, and Coretta Brown of UNC
became a star in her team's tour of Australia.
And speaking of quick development, Coach G is putting together a great
schedule for next year. Already on the docket are games against Tennessee
(on TV, of course) and Purdue (in Cameron, for the Women's Sports Foundation
tournament). Duke will also travel to Iowa State in another likely
top ten battle. In the ACC, NC State will be Duke's most formidable
competitor, although a revived UNC, up-and-coming FSU, always-dangerous
Clemson and the rest of the league will be a challenge. There will be
much more on the schedule when that's released later this summer.
Lastly, with only ten scholarship players on the roster for next year,
I suspect Coach G will look for a couple of walk-ons. There are two
intriguing choices already on campus: Leigh Anne Hardin, a starter on a
two time Indiana state championship team; and Jamie Krzyzewski, former
point guard for Durham Academy and daughter of you-know-who. Hardin is
better known as a star golfer for Duke, but she was the starting guard for
her team and played pretty well. I'm not sure she'd be able to play
both sports but you never know. And I don't know if Jamie K has the skills
to contribute to a top-ten program, even as a walk-on, but it'd sure be
interesting to see her try.