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Rob's Season Review Part I

I. Season recap.

2001 was a season of high expectations for Duke, given their 2000 ACC
championship and remarkable recruiting class. They answered the expectations
with the best record in school history (30-4), the program's third regular
season title, their second consecutive ACC tournament championship, and
their fourth consecutive trip to the Sweet Sixteen. Duke also received the
first #1 NCAA tournament seed in school history, but fell short of the Final
Four. Individually, Georgia Schweitzer closed out one of the greatest
careers ever at Duke with her second consecutive ACC player of the year
trophy and a place on the Kodak All-America team. Alana Beard surpassed
all expectations by being named consensus national freshman of the year.

In 2000, Duke lost in the third round to LSU, but there was little
disappointment felt because there was a sense that this was as far as that
team was going to go. Without Peppi Browne and against a formidable field,
Duke had achieved as much as they were realistically going to get. That
was not the feeling after the loss to SMS. The way Duke got out-toughed
in the second half and humiliated by scoring machine Jackie Stiles left a
bad taste in everyone's mouth, and it was especially hard to take for the
senior Schweitzer. Yet at the same time, it would be ridiculous to say
that 2001 was a disappointing season for Duke. The way they toughed out
a brutal ACC schedule and beat all non-conference opponents was remarkable.
Still, the grim expression on Beard's face at the end of her last game said
"This isn't going to happen to me again."

The year began with most of the hype centering around Duke's remarkable
freshmen. The fact that most of the key contributor's on 2000's ACC champs
certainly didn't hurt matters, especially with Naismith Award nominee
Schweitzer and defensive ace Rochelle Parent back as the senior leaders.
Coach Goestenkors often said that they were the best leaders she's ever
had as a coach, and they were quite often the difference in close games.
She was a bit worried about the fact that while she had a number of post
players, none of them had really separated themselves from the pack. And
none had the strength or willingness to do the dirty work like
overachieving Lauren Rice had in 2000. Iciss Tillis would be her
starter, even if she did show a troubling tendency to drift towards the
perimeter too much for even Coach G's liking.

Coach G ran a 5-out motion offense, which meant that no one ever planted
themselves in the paint. Instead, the coach was interested in versatile
players who could pass, dribble, shoot, screen and post up. The offense
was predicated upon creating matchup problems whenever possible, so it
was not surprising to see the tall, long-armed guards posting up their
smaller opponents and their post players spotting up for threes. Because of
the constant motion, players often looked for other players to cut to the
basket, scoring or drawing fouls. The system requires players who have
good floor vision, are unselfish, and don't mind contact. Screening
is also an absolutely essential skill, particularly the ability to screen
on improvised plays. Coach G will often use certain set plays, particularly
if she's trying to emphasize getting the ball to the post or inbounding
the ball under the opponent's basket.

Coach G tested her young team early on, starting with the Women's Sports
Foundation classic in New Mexico. After crushing an undermanned UCLA team,
Duke avenged their 2000 tourney loss at the hands of LSU by beating this
year's edition. It was a defensive struggle all the way, with Beard
scoring more than a third of Duke's total points. After unveiling their
2000 ACC championship banner before an easy win against William & Mary,
the Devils went on a tough road trip. Before a huge crowd at top 10 Penn
State, the Devils used a balanced effort to nip Penn State by 1. With Duke
leading most of the game, the Nittany Lions mounted a comeback with a late
three pointer. Freshman Rometra Craig missed a late free throw, but got the
rebound and dribbled out the clock to seal the win.

Duke was playing great defense early on with their swarming presses,
but the quality of play was frequently sloppy. A good example was the
road game against Boston College, a solid team that would have a tough
season. Duke had 17 steals but also turned it over 20 times, as the game was
very close at the half. The Devils got their act together and shut the
Eagles down in the second half, as Beard not only had 18 points but 5
steals and 3 blocks as well. Tillis also had a very strong game, scoring
in double figures and picking up multiple boards and assists. The Devils
headed home for their own Duke Classic, where they thumped a bad Duquesne
team and a good Toledo team that would make the NCAA's. Duke's defensive
pressure was good for picking up 10-12 easy points a game, but the offense
was still a work in progress.

There was a sense surrounding that team that no matter how sloppy they
were, their opponents stood no chance against them. That seemed clear
against an average Charlotte team that outhustled Duke but was still
beaten by 20 points. It seemed a little less clear on the road against
George Mason, a team Duke had beaten by 50 a year before. The much-improved
Patriots actually tied Duke up at the half before Beard, Schweitzer and
Tillis rescued the team. And that feeling of invincibility was absolutely
shattered when the team visited Littlejohn to play Clemson and were
whipped by 20 points. Duke learned the hard way in that game that defense
was more than just pressuring the ball as the Tigers stunned Duke with
their fast break. It was the first time since early in the year that
Duke had fewer than 10 steals, and showed the whole team that they needed
to get tougher.

In between exams and Christmas, Duke travelled to Cancun to play a couple
of mediocre teams in a holiday tournament. Duke shot poorly and continued
their sloppy play, and only the focus of seniors Schweitzer and Parent
prevented some embarrassing upsets. Duke would need to grow up in a hurry
if they wanted to beat top 5 team Iowa State. There was some concern
about the home crowd because it was right before New Year's, but the team ran
a clever promotion where ticketholders for the men's game earlier
in the day would get in free. The result was a huge, raucous crowd that
was rewarded by an overwhelming Duke victory. With a season-low 11 turnovers
and a brilliant performance by Beard, Duke took an early lead and held
off several Cyclone charges. The true star of the game was Parent, who
shackled Iowa State All-America center Angie Welle on defense. Schweitzer
was superb in all facets of the game as well, and Tillis showed that she
saved her best performances for the biggest games. This exhillarating
contest would provide a lot of momentum going into the ACC season.

Duke evened their ACC record with a routine win over Wake Forest and
a balanced performance over greatly improved Florida State. Tillis was
the star of the latter game, hitting several threes in a row to break open
a close game. But the precision and passion seen in the Iowa State game
wasn't there, as Duke had back-to-back games with over 20 turnovers. Worse,
the offense started to steadily devolve into let's-all-watch-Alana. With
Schweitzer ailing, Beard was absolutely dominant against Georgia Tech
and Maryland. She dropped 29 on Tech in one of Duke's worst defensive
performances of the year. 6-1 Jaime Kruppa of Tech outmaneuvered every
defender Duke threw at her for 30 points as Tech overcame several deficits
to stay in the game. But Georgia & Alana combined for 53 points and
prevented Tech from getting a final shot off. Against Maryland, Alana
scored a career-high 33 points, the ninth highest single game total in
Duke history. She simply could not be stopped, as her pull-up jumper was
on every single time. Still, the team wasn't playing with any energy.

Alana then got hurt against NC State, a game Duke toughed out thanks
to excellent defense and rebounding. The leading scorer was Parent,
who stepped up by driving to the basket when everyone else on the team
was being locked up by State's relentless defense. Still, the team faced the
daunting task of three road games and a home rematch against Clemson
without the services of Beard. Considering how much she had meant to the
team, both offensively and defensively, Duke's ACC fate looked cloudy.

The first game was a thriller against Virginia, the team that had won
the 2000 regular season title and Duke's longtime nemesis. The Hoos had
a big early lead thanks to a flurry of threes, but Schweitzer kept Duke
within striking distance. But it was great defense on LaRue, a strong
effort from Tillis and 25 points from a suddenly-active Sheana Mosch
that allowed Duke to steal this one away from Virginia. Sheana was just
getting warmed up, dropping 29 on UNC, many of them in overtime. This was
one of the most exciting games of the year as the two teams exchanged
runs throughout the game. Rometra Craig tied her career high with 17,
including some crucial late three pointers. UNC's LaQuanda Barksdale hit
a late three to send the game into overtime, but Parent was able to take
a charge and foul out UNC's Coretta Brown, and Mosch went crazy in
transition. Duke returned to Cameron to play a near-perfect game against
Clemson, crushing them by an absurd 50 points as Mosch had 30. It was
an astonishing stretch for Sheana, who had captured the attention of the
nation with her fearless play. She was scoring on cuts, pull-up jumpers,
free throws and even some threes, stepping up when her team needed her.

Duke finished a long stretch with a fairly tough win over Wake on the
road as Mosch once again played well, along with Tillis, who had a double-
double. But with Beard's return came a shocking loss to Florida State,
a team Duke hadn't lost to in years. Even more surprising was the fact
that it came in Cameron. The loss wasn't Alana's fault, as she put up
solid numbers all the way. Rather, it was poor defense, especially on
the perimeter, that led to the loss. Duke actually overcame a double
digit deficit to take a 10 point lead in the second half, but they relaxed
and gave FSU the opportunity to seize control. The worst part was Duke
sending FSU to the foul line as a result of not boxing out. To say
the least, Coach G was not pleased, despite the obvious rust factor of
Duke being off for nearly a week.

The Devils came out with a defensive vengeance in their next game, holding
the talented Tech team to just 54 points. No team would pass 70 points
the rest of the year against Duke until SMS beat them in the NCAA's. Tillis
was superb in this game, aggressively going after rebounds and scoring
17 points, but it would be her last great game for a while. Duke got a
routine win against Maryland, holding them to 54 points as well in a game
that featured more of Alana's brilliance. Duke was in complete control
of the ACC at this point after Clemson had collapsed and no one else
consistent enough to put together a string of wins.

Duke's offense was absolutely shut down by NC State in front of a huge
Reynolds crowd. No one other than Schweitzer showed up to play offensively,
as Mosch & Beard were completely out of synch. Worse was the play of Tillis,
who was abused by her opponents and produced little herself. When Parent
fouled out, Duke's awful post defense was exposed as the Pack scored
again and again on short jumpers. Coach G was so upset that she was
moved to replace Tillis with Michele Matyasovsky in the lineup. Despite
the fact that Michele hadn't played very well herself, Coach G thought
the offense would move a little better with her in there, and she was

Michele had a solid 9-point, 5-rebound game against Virginia in her
first start, but it was Mosch's bounce back 19-point, 6 rebound performace
that won the game for Duke. And of course, the ever-steady Schweitzer,
who played well in game after game. Georgia gave Duke whatever it
needed, be it a scorer, rebounder or playmaker--and sometimes all three.
With the league regular-season title secured, Duke was now setting its
sights on getting a #1 seed. That goal was still intact if Duke won the
rest of its games, including the ACC tournament. First came an emotional
Senior Day game against a fired-up UNC team. The Heels used hot outside
shooting to hold on to the lead for much of the game, but aggressive
defense and some clutch shooting down the stretch by Matyasovsky and
Mosch saved the day for Duke. Mosch in particular hit 2 crucial three
pointers that brought Duke back from a late deficit. The huge crowd
roared its approval at the outcome, and members of the men's basketball
team stormed the court to celebrate.

Next up was the ACC Tournament, an event that was almost over before
it began. Duke played the #9 seed, Wake Forest, and barely escaped
with their lives. The Deacs had double digit leads in both halves
before Schweitzer single-handedly rescued the team. She also sparkled
the next day against FSU, blistering the nets 25 points after scoring 27
vs. Wake. Parent hounded FSU star Brooke Wyckoff into a bad game and
dominated the boards. Duke won the ACC title in an extremely ugly
contest against NC State where both teams played tight defense. Beard,
Mosch and Matyasovsky carried the day offensively for Duke, while Parent
earned first team All-Tournament honors. Schweitzer was the MVP and was
gearing up for another Final Four run.

As the #1 seed in the West, Duke would get to play two games at home
and then travel to Spokane. Duke had no problem with UW-Milwaukee in the
first round but faced a good Arkansas squad in the second. Once again, the
defense would prove to be crucial, as Duke shut down the Razorbacks in
the second half en route to a 20 point victory. Craig was big off the bench,
combining for 31 points in the two games. Duke was expected to have a
good shot at the Final Four considering that tourney heavyweights UConn
and Notre Dame were in different regions and Tennessee had been upset. The
only problem with this notion was Jackie Stiles, the NCAA's all-time leading
scorer. Many basketball observers had never actually seen her play because
of SMS's relative obscurity. They beat Rutgers on their home court to
advance to the Sweet Sixteen, a team that was considered to be one of the
best defensive squads in the country.

Duke led for almost the entire first half as Beard looked unstoppable.
The Devils had a 32-20 lead as their speed and transition game were burning
SMS again and again. But some turnovers and bad shots, combined with SMS'
Tara Mitchem stepping up in a big way, let the Bears cut the lead to 6
at the half. Stiles had a bunch of points, but she wasn't out of control.
But in the second half, she made the whole Duke team look silly as she scored
on threes, short pull-up jumpers and drives. Beard couldn't stop her
because she was so strong in addition to being surprisingly quick. Stiles
had problems with Beard as well, but Beard's foul trouble caught up with
her first. And when Stiles drew Parent's fourth foul on a block/charge
call, that limited Duke's effectiveness on defense. Beard and Tillis
were able to keep Duke close as the lead changed hands more than a dozen
times. But SMS took over with about six minutes left and Duke only scored
2 points in the last couple of minutes. Duke's 0-11 shooting from three
tells the story of the second half, although Beard and Tillis combining
for 21 second half points kept the Devils in it. Stiles was magnificent
with 41 points, but SMS' defenders were the real stars as they suffocated
Duke's perimeter game and blockaded their fast break in the second half.

Schweitzer's career came to a tearful end as her goal of winning a national
title fell short. But this in no way overshadows her excellent career
at Duke and her amazing development over four years. Every season, she
improved her game in some fashion, be it getting stronger, improving her
ballhandling or working on her leaping ability. She was a role model in
every sense of the term, a true student-athlete. As for Duke, if the
season ended in disappointment, it was for one reason: the team rarely played
a game where everyone was playing well and in synch. We got hints of how
good the team could be against Iowa State and Clemson in Cameron, but the
team's youth really got the best of them in many games. It's a credit to
the team's talent and Coach G's ability to motivate that Duke won so many
games, because the 2001 team lacked the well-oiled precision that some of
Coach G's lesser teams possessed. Still, it was quite a ride, and it will be
fun to see how this team's young players grow in the next couple of
Incidentally, although the Duke women's team receives very little
student support, Duke still led the ACC in attendance at 4626 per game--
more than a thousand more than the nearest competitor. The ACC tournament
broke attendance records once again as Duke raised its Greensboro Coliseum
record to 6-0. Duke had 6 of its biggest crowds ever in Cameron this
year, thanks mostly to the support of University employees, alumni, and
other local fans. On the rare occasions that the students do come out in
force, they combine with the other fans to make Cameron an awfully
imposing place. The big home wins against Iowa State and Clemson saw the
team feed off the crowd's emotion in not letting up, and the constant
support was a big factor in the home win over UNC. Even a strong road
contingent of Duke fans was a factor in the UNC win on the road. For
a long time, Duke's biggest all-time crowd was 5000. Now, I'm hoping that
Duke can average that many fans next year. Having big-time games in
Cameron will definitely help.

2000-2001 Blue Devils

Date Opponent Result Site

11/10/00 UCLA W 80-52 N*
11/11/00 LSU W 56-45 N*
11/18/00 William & Mary W 81-46 H
11/20/00 Penn State W 88-87 A
11/22/00 Boston College W 67-49 A
11/25/00 Duquesne W 97-66 H**
11/26/00 Toledo W 71-41 H**
11/29/00 Charlotte W 78-59 H
12/3/00 George Mason W 88-68 A
12/9/00 Clemson L 75-93 A
12/17/00 Arkansas State W 69-45 N***
12/19/00 Oral Roberts W 62-51 N***
12/30/00 Iowa State W 81-63 H
1/2/01 Wake Forest W 81-56 H
1/8/01 FSU W 73-60 A
1/11/01 Georgia Tech W 86-83 H
1/14/01 Maryland W 75-64 A
1/18/01 NC State W 62-59 H
1/22/01 Virginia W 71-68 A
1/25/01 UNC W 92-85 (OT) A
1/28/01 Clemson W 92-42 H
2/1/01 Wake Forest W 66-58 A
2/8/01 FSU L 69-71 H
2/12/01 Georgia Tech W 74-54 A
2/15/01 Maryland W 75-54 H
2/18/01 NC State L 55-69 A
2/22/01 Virginia W 76-53 H
2/26/01 UNC W 72-67 H
3/2/01 Wake Forest W 75-68 (OT) N****
3/4/01 FSU W 72-56 N****
3/5/01 NC State W 57-45 N****
3/17/01 UW-Milwaukee W 96-63 H*****
3/19/01 Arkansas W 75-54 H*****
3/24/01 SMS L 71-81 N******

* Women's Sports Foundation Classic (Albuquerque)
** Duke Classic
*** Fun in the Sun Shootout (Cancun)
**** ACC Tournament (Greensboro)
***** NCAA 1st & 2nd Round (Durham)
****** NCAA Regional (Spokane)

Rob Clough