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2001-2002 Women's Schedule Analysis

Rob Clough is as passionate a fan as we know of. Look at his breakdown of the women's schedule. It's pretty amazing.

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11/11 Texas Tech 1:00PM ESPN

2001 Recap: 25-7 (NCAA Third Round), #8 RPI, #12 Final Poll
2002 Preseason Ranking: #5

The Scoop: Texas Tech has long been a women's basketball power and they
will be poised for a Final Four run in 2002. They return their two best
players, including All-America candidate Plenette Pierson, a 6-2 center.
She's the team's leading scorer (15 ppg), rebounder (7.4) and shotblocker
(42). Pierson will be an excellent test for Duke's young post corps.
She's the kind of player that Rochelle Parent would have drawn last year,
and so it will be important for Duke to take special care to stop her
down low. The Lady Raiders will also return second-leading scorer and
playmaking guard Jia Perkins along with top three point shooter Amber
Tarr. Texas Tech is not a great shooting team overall, but they will use
their size, depth and quickness against Duke. It should be an extremely
competitive game.

11/16 Elon 7:00PM

2001 Recap: 15-14, #214 RPI

The Scoop: Elon is one of the better teams in a weak league, the Big South.
They played perennial league champ to the wire in the Big South tourney
finals, falling by just 5 points. Unfortunately, their best player,
Loretta Lawson, was lost to graduation after averaging 12.1 ppg and leading
the team in three pointers. The good news is that the Phoenix were
extremely deep last year and will likely lean on their depth this year.
Elon doesn't really have the athletes or size to seriously challenge Duke,
and averaging nearly 20 turnovers a game last year won't help much either.
Returning point guard Jayme Chikos and post ganger Anestha Blakeney will
lead the team. Note that this is the one game that Elon men's coach Mark
Simons (aka, Coach G's husband) will root against the Phoenix, if he knows
what's good for him! :-)

11/18 @ Toledo 2:00PM

2001 Recap: 25-6, # 48 RPI

The Scoop: The 2001 MAC Champions lose their best player in Kahli Carter,
but still return plenty of firepower. The Rockets played some very solid
defense against Duke in the finals of the Duke Classic last season, but
ultimately had trouble dealing with Duke's pressure. Carter averaged 17.5
ppg, 8.8 rpg and had 68 steals--by far her team's most valuabe player.
But Risinger was the team's best long-range sniper with 145 threes and
11.9 ppg, Melantha Herron averaged 11.2 ppg and had 25 blocks, while Tia
Davis retuns at point guard. MAC teams are extremely treacherous on the
road, so this is a game where Duke must be very careful.

11/24 South Carolina 2:00PM

2001 Recap: 11-17, #115 RPI

The Scoop: USC played a brutal schedule with a very young team, and they
certainly took their lumps as a result. A number of their losses were by
10 or fewer points against their rough SEC schedule and nonconference games
against the likes of UNC, NC State, Clemson and Purdue. The good news is
that USC returns their entire team, starting with Tennessee transfer
Teresa Geter. Duke fans will recall that her outside shooting, unusual
for a post player, helped sink the Devils in a 1999 encounter. Geter led
the team with 11.6 ppg, 6.5 rpg 2 spg and 2 bpg. She also hit 48% of her
threes, though most of the outside shooting was left to Shaunzinski Gortman
and Tatyana Troina, who both averaged around 11 ppg. The (ahem) Lady
Gamecocks had a fairly deep rotation but might have trouble getting any
scoring off the bench. Stopping Geter and limiting looks from the perimeter
will be the big keys here. They'll make an interesting first-round
matchup in the Duke Classic for the Devils.

11/25 Missouri 2:00PM Duke Classic

2001 Recap: 22-10 (NCAA Third Round), #42 RPI

The Scoop: Missouri stunned the basketball world when they upset heavily
favored Georgia in Athens to make it to the Sweet Sixteen, thanks mostly
to the talents of Amanda Lassiter. But the Tigers lost not their leading
scorer (at 19 ppg, as well as getting 2 bpg and 6.2 rpg), but their second
and third leading scorers as well. That would be Marlena Williams at 13.1
ppg and Tracy Franklin at 9.3 ppg (and a 40% average from three). The team
will rebuild around leading rebounder Evan Unrau (7.2 rpg) and point
guard Kerensa Barr (148 assists). The Tigers had a pretty tight rotation
last year, so it will be up to the younger players to step up. Missouri
will likely defeat Davidson in the Duke Classic, and so will likely face
Duke in the finals.

11/25 Davidson 2:00PM Duke Classic

2001 Recap: 8-19, #261 RPI

The Scoop: While it's unlikely that Davidson will meet Duke, I'll give a
quick summary just in case. There weren't many highlights for the Wildcats
in 2001, but they do return all of their top players. The best is Jenna
Magette, the team's leader in points, threes, assists and steals. She was
the only member of the team to average in double-digits, at 14.9 ppg.
Davidson has some size but was an awful ballhandling team that had problems
shooting.

11/29 @ Charlotte TBA

2001 Recap: 10-18, #174 RPI

The Scoop: The best thing about Charlotte this year is their new heard
coach, former Duke great Katie Meier. Meier also took on Nicole Erickson
as an assistant, to introduce her players to someone who played at the
highest level and who achieved success. The 49'ers will have a tough road,
especially without leading scorer and three point shooter Tonya Phifer,
who averaged around 16 ppg. They return everyone else and will likely focus
the team around post players Tonika Smith and Adrienne Jordan, who missed
part of the year with an injury. Even playing at home, the 49'ers will
have trouble dealing with Duke's defense.

12/2 Louisiana Tech 3:30PM ESPN2 (Lake Buena Vista, FL)

2001 Recap: 31-5 (NCAA 4th round), #9 RPI, #6 Final Poll
2002 Preseason Ranking: #7

The Scoop: This game will likely be one of the most entertaining of the
year, as Duke faces one of the superpowers of women's basketball. The
Lady Techsters have long relied on athleticism, quickness, and an all-out,
helter-skelter brand of basketball. Only UConn stopped them from getting
to the Final Four last year, and I consider them one of the favorites to
get there this year, especially since they return their top 7 players. The
standout is 6-3 center Ayana Walker, who averaged 16 ppg, 8.5 rpg and
nearly 3 bpg last year. But she's also ably supported by strong shooter
Brooke Lassiter (40% from three), who also led the team in assists; and
Takeisha Lewis, another potent post player who led the team with 9 rpg.
Tech has size, speed and a lot of confidence. The two teams will play on
a neutral court as part of a TV doubleheader. Defending Walker in the
post will be an immense challenge for Duke. Tech's biggest weakness is
their sloppy play; if Duke is focused and takes care of the ball, they could
get a lot of easy baskets. This is one that you shouldn't miss, folks.

12/6 @ Virginia 7:30PM
1/20 Virginia 1:00PM ESPN2

2001 Recap: 18-14 (NCAA 1st round), #34 RPI
2002 Preseason Ranking: #25 (Pre-LaRue leaving)

The Scoop: The Cavs have traditionally been Duke's biggest nemesis, but
Duke has actually owned the series in the last four years. Virginia
could be in for a rebuilding year with the graduation of Svetlana Volnaya
and the shocking departure of soph Schuye LaRue. LaRue was the most
talented (if flaky) player in the league last year, and she led the Hoos
in scoring (18.1), rebounding (11.8), blocks (40), steals (78) and most
ominously, assists (89). That speaks to Virginia's biggest flaw last year,
which was point guard play. Coach Debbie Ryan (gamely coaching after
cancer therapy) plugged in several young players to fill that gap, but
no one could provide steady play or leadership. As a result, the team
drifted a bit on the court, often losing big leads or playing out of their
roles. LaRue was the worst in this regard; when she stayed under the
basket, she was an unstoppable scorer, but when she thought she was a
guard she played right into the strategy of other teams. The only proven
player returning for Virginia is the lightning-quick Telisha Quarles, a
player with a good jumper (35% from three) and a better first step. The
Hoos also get talented Purdue transfer Cherisse Graham in January, who
is expected to stabilize things at the point. Beyond that, there are a
host of young players and a lot of questions. Keep an eye on Bethany
LeSueur, a player expected to make a quick impact.

12/8 @ Georgetown TBA

2001 Recap: 17-15 (WNIT 2nd round), RPI #88

The Scoop: The Hoyas were a run-of-the-mill team last year with just a
couple of standout players. One of them, former NC State player Katie
Smrcka-Duffy, graduated in 2001 after leading the team in scoring (17.2)
and steals. But the Hoyas return 6-2 forward Rebekkah Brunson, who led
the team in rebounding (9.2) and blocks, and who also put up 14.8 points
a night. Point guard and assist leader Lesley Walker also returns, as
well as the fabulously-named Zsuzsanna Horvath at the other forward spot.
Georgetown will provide a challenge as a road game with their inside play,
but they must find someone to replace Smrcka-Duffy's scoring.

12/16 UNC Greensboro 8:00PM

2001 Recap: 22-8, #71 RPI

The Scoop: UNC-G played Duke very tough in the opening round of the WNIT a
couple of years ago, and they did it with defense. Their squad last year
held opponents to 38% from the floor, led by dimunitive point guard
ChoRhonda Gwaltney. The team has no dominating scorers, but rather relies
on balance. Look for most of their offense to come from forwards
Brianne Dodgen (12.8 ppg, 6 rpg) and Jessica Williams (10 ppg) and guard
Samika Foster (10 ppg). The team will start four seniors who have
experienced some success and will be a solid mid-major matchup for Duke.

12/20 Liberty 7:00PM

2001 Recap: 18-12 (NCAA 1st round), RPI #146

The Scoop: Liberty has long been the best team in the Big South, which
means that they have the coaching and skill level to hang with big
conference teams, but not the athleticism. They do return all of their
important players, led by 6-2 center Michelle Fricke. She led the team
in scoring (14.2) and rebounding, and even took 87 three-pointers (hitting
only 22% of them). The entire team's offense was built around her, but
players like Rachel Young chipped in with 8 ppg, hitting a team best 31%
of her threes. The Flames had 10 players who got ten or more minutes of
playing time, a tactic that limited some stats but that helped wear down
opponents. Fricke will give Duke a different kind of post player to test
themselves against, one more versatile than the more traditional post-up
players the Devils will see for much of the year. And while they will be
able to slow things down to their liking for ahwile, look for their
ballhandling problems to play a major role in this game.

12/27 Tennessee 12:00 or 2:30 PM FSNS Atlanta (ACC-SEC Shootout)

2001 Recap: 31-3 (NCAA 3rd Round), #1 RPI, #3 Final Poll
2002 Preseason Ranking: #3

The Scoop: The 800 pound gorilla of women's college basketball is the
ultimate target for women's programs everywhere. After staying in the
top three all year (despite the loss of All-America Tamika Catchings),
the Lady Vols were stunned in the third round of the NCAA's, prompting
a press conference excoriation from head coach Pat Summitt. While
Tennessee lost their leading scorer (15.2) and rebounder (8.8) in Catchings
and a strong, versatile slasher in Semeka Randall, they return a talented
group of players who barely batted an eyelash when Catchings went down
with an injury midway through the year. Their inside game is still very
powerful, with versatile scorer Gwen Jackson (11.5 ppg, 6.2 rpg) and tough
rebounder and shotblocking specialist Michelle Snow (45 blocks, 6.8 rpg,
11.1 ppg), best known for her two dunks last year. But the true anchor
of the team is point guard Kara Lawson (a former Duke target), who
averaged 11.4 ppg (shooting 42% from three) and dished out 110 assists.
The Lady Vols also get two of the best freshmen in the country in point
Loree Moore (MVP of the WBCA All-Star game, who will likely have Lawson
shift to off-guard) and Shyra Ely, a forward who is ranked as the top
recruit in the country. Tennessee plays a relentless brand of basketball,
using full-court pressure and very physical play. They love to run fast
breaks and use their superior athleticism to intimidate less talented teams.
But they can play in the halfcourt as well, though their problems there
spelled doom for them in the NCAA's. They also sometimes take too many
risks and can be pressured into mistakes of their own. Without Catchings,
they didn't have a player who could take over in tight ballgames and
get crucial baskets. Summitt's big challenge this year is to find out
who that player will be. By the time Duke plays them, she should have a
pretty good idea, which means that the Devils will have to be at their
very best in this neutral-site, made-for-TV game.

12/30 @ Georgia Tech 2:00PM
1/31 Georgia Tech 7:00PM

2001 Recap: 14-14, #83 RPI

The Scoop: The Jackets were one of the big disappointments of 2001. They
returned all their players and got back 2000 rookie of the year Niesha
Butler and seemed poise to get an NCAA bid. But the team never came
together, especially on defense, and Tech just fell apart. Butler was
the team's leading scorer at 15 ppg, but wasn't quite the dominant presence
that everyone expected. Part of the team's problem was that no one could
shoot threes, with Butler leading the way at a measly 32%. While the
team had a solid 8-woman rotation, the parts never fit quite right, and
the team still lacked reliable inside scoring in addition to outside
shooting. Jaime Kruppa was a reliable if undersized center who had some
nice moves, but her lack of quickness limited her against some teams.
The Jackets could make a push this year since they only lose Kruppa and
will likely insert Sonja Mallory (9 ppg, 6.6 rpg, 41 blocks) in her place,
who is an upgrade in size and strength but not skills. The most intriguing
player on the team is Milli Martinez, one of the best rebounding guards
(7 rpg!) I've ever seen, who can also shoot (31% threes) and pass (68
assists). If the Jackets work together better, they can make the NCAA's.
They just have to learn how to get tough when it counts. I can't let this
preview go by without mentioning a true All-Name candidate in frosh
Nefertiti Walker, who headlines a Tech roster filled with interesting
handles.

1/2 Maryland 7:00PM
2/3 @ Maryland 12:00N

2001 Recap: 17-12 (NCAA 1st round), #36 RPI
2002 Preseason Ranking: #43

The Scoop: The Terps will be the sleeper team in the conference this year.
They return everyone from a team that made it back to the NCAA's and get
back Vicki Brick, the whirlwind point guard who redshirted because of
injury. The Terps still lack size and outside shooting, but possess
excellent athleticism. The two biggest threats are senior guard Marche
Strickland (14 ppg, 42 steals) and senior forward DeeDee Warley (13.8 ppg,
6.4 rpg). Those two have pretty much been starters for most of their career,
and the experience has paid off for the team. Where the Terps need more
production is at the center spot. Their two-headed tandem of Jamecca Harrell
and Rosita Melbourne both get around 7 points and 5 rebounds apiece, and
the result was that Maryland got outrebounded for the year. As a team,
the Terps shot only 34% from three point range, with only Terri Daniels
shooting over 40%. Other than that, the Terps play great defense and can
run with anyone. And with Brick back, look for on-ball pressure to
dramatically improve. Maryland doesn't match up all that well with Duke,
but the Devils will have to watch their turnovers or they could really
struggle.

1/6 Wake Forest 2:00PM
2/7 @ Wake Forest 7:00PM

2001 Recap:

The Scoop: Wake has slowly been upgrading their skill level and athleticism
over the last few years and remains one of the bigger teams in the league.
But they still have a long way to go to catch up to the teams at the top.
The bad news is that they lose three of their top four players: guard Kristen
Shaffer (10.4 ppg), one of the few players who shot over 30% from three;
forward Brenda Mock Kirkpatrick (10.4 ppg and a team-leading 6.2 rpg); and
forward Olivia Dardy (9.6 ppg, 5.1 rpg), a player who tormented Duke in her
last collegiate game in the ACC tournament. Losing nearly half of their
scoring is a bad sign for a team that struggled to score at all. They also
lost a third of their rebounding, another problem for a team that was
outboarded on the year. The good news is that Wake's younger players
brought a level of athleticism that had not been seen in the program for
a while. The best of these players is Eafton Hill, a forward who averaged
11.2 ppg and 6 rpg while also leading the team in blocks. But guards Tonia
& Bianca Brown proved to be heady, tough players who stepped up in tough
situations down the stretch. Throw in the return of double-digit scorer
Janae Whiteside (recovering from an injury), and you've got a nucleus that's
ready to compete. Wake is slowly getting better, but the rest of the
conference is not standing still. They still have a ways to go to really
make a move in the standings, but they are not an easy out.

1/10 @ Clemson 7:00PM
2/10 Clemson 1:00PM FSN

2001 Recap: 21-10 (NCAA 2nd Round), #19 RPI, #19 Final Poll
2002 Preseason Ranking: #39

The Scoop: Every year, people tend to dismiss Clemson because they
rarely have high-level talent. But every year, Clemson manages to stay
in the upper division of the league on the strength of their defense, depth,
and coaching. But the Tigers took a significant hit to their frontcourt
when Erin Batth graduated. She was one of the best defensive players in
the league and averaged 12 ppg and 8.7 rpg. Her toughness gave Clemson's
defense its identity. The Tigers also lost underrated Nuria Forns (8 ppg,
5 rpg, 37% from three) from a lineup that used an unusually small number
of players for a Jim Davis team. Clemson only used 7 players and never
really found anyone who could help Batth in the post. The Tigers bring in
a 5-woman recruiting class, but the team will focus on leading scorer
Chrissy Floyd. Floyd averaged 17 ppg and led the team with 58 steals. While
not a great three point shooter (35%), she hit enough of them to open up her
short-range game. Point guard Krystal Scott added 9.8 ppg but needs to
improve her shooting. The most versatile Tiger is Marci Glenney, who can
score (9.6 ppg), rebound, and pass. She also needs to improve her long-range
shooting (26%). Clemson has morphed from being a bruising halfcourt team
to a squad that likes to run as much as possible. They crushed Duke simply
by outhustling them in Littlejohn last year, but got the same medicine in
Durham when Duke turned up their intensity. The Tigers need a lot of help
from their freshman and sophomore classes to compete for top honors in the
league. Don't underestimate Davis' ability to get the most from his players.

1/13 @ NC State 6:00PM FSN
2/18 NC State 7:00PM FSN

2001 Recap: 22-11 (NCAA 3rd round), #13 RPI, #18 Final Poll
2002 Preseason Ranking: #15

The Scoop: The biggest threat to Duke's ACC supremacy lies in Raleigh, where
the deep and huge Wolfpack will try to finish in first place for the first
team in a decade. The Pack return breakout frosh Terah James and Kaayla
Chones after they were out all year with injuries, and only lose big-time
perimeter scorer Tynesha Lewis. NCSU will have the most dominant inside
game in the league, when you consider lithe forward Carisse Moody (14.9 ppg,
7.1 rpg), the returning Chones, solid Adeola Olanrewaju (5.3 ppg, 4.9 rpg)
and highly-touted 6-3 frosh Kelly Greathouse. Chones, if she's fully
recovered, will help the Pack's ability to score, and James will settle
down the ballhandling and passing deficiencies that plagued the Pack last
year. The Pack lack height at the center position, though the 6-3 Chones
can definitely post up. What NC State will need the most is someone to
step up at off-guard. Losing Lewis' 13.5 ppg and 102 assists weakens them
on the perimeter. This means that Amy Simpson (7.9 ppg and 31% from three,
best on the squad) must improve her numbers. And Ivy Gardner (8.1 ppg)
has to continue to expand her offensive skills. NC State's calling card is
defense, as they held their opponents to just 39% from the floor and 28%
from three. They generated a lot of their offense from the foul line (692
attempts) and they love to play a physical game. The Wolfpack have longed
played a style very different from Duke's, and the result has been a series
of classic, physical and very intense confrontations. NC State's depth and
their ability to score inside will give Duke their biggest conference
challenges.

1/24 North Carolina 7:00PM
2/24 @ North Carolina 4:00PM ESPN2

2001 Recap: 15-14, #61 RPI
2002 Preseason Ranking: #30

The Scoop: UNC is the most unpredictable team in the ACC because of one
player: Nikki Teasley. An incredible talent, she's been dealing with
personal woes, sitting out last year entirely. She's back to lead an
extremely young team with some talent, but she'll miss the dominant numbers
of LaQuanda Barksdale (19 ppg, 11.5 rpg) and the athleticism of Juana Brown
(13.8 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 3 apt). In fact, the Heels return only 6 players from
last year's squad, adding 5 frosh and Teasley. Of that group, the only
consistent performers were Teasley's replacement, Coretta Brown (15.9 ppg,
6.2 apg, 4.8 rpg, 49 steals) and the occasionally dominant frosh center
Candace Sutton (9.8 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 40 blocks). The good news for the Heels
is that help is on the way. Frosh wing Nikki Bell was rated by many
services as one of the top players in the country, while forward Kenya
McBee and guard Leah Metcalf also come in with strong credentials. The
Heels will also be bolstered by the addition of Finnish forward Jenni
Laaksonen. But everyone knows that Teasley will make this group go, and
it'll be up to everyone else to simply get out of her way and get ready for
some whipcrack passes. But Brown proved she was no slouch either, becoming
one of the team's leaders as a frosh. The Heels will be able to put
together a great starting five, but their depth is their biggest weakness,
as it was last year. UNC lost a lot of close games when key personnel
fouled out or got tired. If their frosh live up to their billing, then that
might not be a problem any longer, especially with another great class
coming in next year. I expect UNC to bounce back after their disappointing
season last year, if only because Teasley, Brown and Sutton will be three
of the best players in the league. The matchup everyone is waiting for:
Alana Beard vs Nikki Teasley. This has the potential to be a very memorable
two (or three) game series between those two superstars.

1/27 @ Florida State 2:00PM
2/21 Florida State 7:00PM

2001 Recap: 19-12 (NCAA 2nd Round), #47 RPI

The Scoop: FSU had their best season in quite some time, but lose the
services of Brooke Wyckoff and Levys Torres, both of whom made it to the
WNBA. Wyckoff was one of the best players in school history, averaging
14.6 ppg, 6.6 rpg and 33% shooting from three. Torres was the team's
best post player, scoring 10.8 ppg and grabbing 10 rpg. But the 'noles
have been able to capitalize on their burgeoning success and Florida's
great resources as a hoops hotbed to get a solid recruiting class, led
by 6-2 forward Genesis Choice. She will need to be able to step in
immediately for Wyckoff and provide some scoring. FSU does return the
team's leading scorer in April Traylor (15.1 ppg, 3.8 apg), a mad bomber
who also gets to the foul line. Center Katelyn Vujas also returns, scoring
at an 11 ppg clip and also grabbing 6 rebounds a contest. Of particular
interest is the potential impact of Tennessee transfer Tasheika Morris,
a forward who could also help pick up some of Wyckoff's slack. A lot
of people are picking FSU to be way down, and losing two big stars off a team
that had a good year certainly adds some validity to that view. But I
think the experience of making the NCAA's, along with some experienced
players who can score and a few new impact players, will continue to make
FSU a tough matchup.

All preseason rankings by
Womenscollegehoops.com

by Rob Clough