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Duke Beats Maryland; Alana Goes Wild

Duke 90, Maryland 71. January 2, 2002. Cameron Indoor Stadium





Guards: Vicki Krapohl, Sheana Mosch

Forwards: Alana Beard, Wynter Whitley

Center: Iciss Tillis

Neither rain nor snow nor sleet could keep this reporter from viewing
one of the very finest games in Alana Beard's career. In a solid win
over a good Maryland squad, Alana put up 35 points, 11 rebounds, 8
assists and 3 steals. This came on 15-22 shooting, and it was all within
the flow of the offense (or on offensive rebounds). While Duke was
typically relentless on the break, what pleased me the most about the
team's performance was its halfcourt flow. Maryland doesn't zone very
much, nor do they double-team much either, so Duke was free to work the
ball in and out and lob it over overcommitted defenders. There must be
something about that red Terp jersey, because Alana is averaging over 30
ppg against them in her career. Her game was just remarkably efficient--
when she had the ball, she created an assist; when she didn't have the
ball, she was either getting a rebound or cutting for an easy score.
Alana put up 25 points in the deciding first half alone, but this game
was far from a one-woman show.

Maryland is a solid, experienced and deep club that doesn't have any
true superstars. Their game is built on efficiency on offense and
defense, rarely using fast breaks to score. They like a nice, slow game
where they're free to work the ball around and then penetrate gaps. What
they aren't, however, is a good rebounding club. In fact, they're the
worst in the ACC, with a negative margin. This was great news for Duke,
who's been stomped on the boards in the last few games. Maryland's three
post players combined for 6 rebounds in the game, while Beard had 7
**offensive** rebounds alone. The Devils as a team had an impressive 19
offensive rebounds, which is even more impressive when you consider that
Duke still managed to shoot 52%. Duke also kept their turnovers down to
a manageable 15, allowing Maryland just one true open-court opportunity.

The two big stars of the game were Duke's Big Two, Beard and Iciss
Tillis. That was certainly true at the game's beginning. Beard drove
and dished to Tillis, who nailed a 5' jumper. Then Tillis found Beard
slipping behind a defender and she threw a perfect high post-low post
pass that Alana simply tossed in. Duke ran that play or variations on it
four times for Alana in the first five or six minutes before Maryland coach
Chris Weller found a way to deal with it. On the next possession, Tillis
flashed out into the passing lane and picked off a pass, running in for a
layup. Duke was up 6-0 just like that.

Mosch then found Beard on another cut, but Maryland scored 5 in a row
(including a three from Marche Stricklan) that cut the lead to 8-7.
Alana proceeded to score 9 points in a row for Duke to keep the Devils
ahead at 17-12 with fourteen minutes left in the half. Most of the
scores came when Alana was moving crisply without the ball: on a short
drive after a Krapohl pass, on a feed from Michele Matyasovsky for a
high-low three point play, and a cut after a Tillis pass. Beard then
stole the next pass and dished to Monique Currie for an easy score.
Tillis then found Beard yet again for a high-low, and the Devils took a
21-12 lead with thirteen minutes left.

After the Terps cut the lead to 5, Beard drove and passed to Tillis,
who hit a beautiful turnaround jumper on the baseline. Maryland hit
another three to pull to with 23-19. Alana then stuck back a miss and
hit Tillis in stride with a transition pass after Krista Gingrich came
up with a steal. That was part of a 13-0 run that gave Duke a 36-19
lead and a working margin for the rest of the game. Gingrich nailed a
three, and then hit another one on a Beard pass. Maryland committed a
foul on a different player as Krista was hitting the shot, so Duke got
the ball back. Currie then found her wide open yet again, and Gingrich
buried the three. Maryland would creep closer than the 36-19 margin at
that time, but the best they could do was cut it to 10.

Beard finally rested after her jaw-dropping performance, and Duke's
offense went a little stagnant. Currie broke through the blahs by
driving hard to the basket and getting fouled. Currie hit 3 foul shots
in less than a minute, and was replaced by Beard with five minutes to go
in the half. Alana immediately went to work once again, sinking a 13'
jumper on a Krapohl feed. After a 5-0 Terp run, Beard dished to Tillis
for a three to break a small scoring drought. Duke then poured it on
down the stretch, something they haven't been doing to end halves
lately. Beard rebounded and stuck back a miss and then hit a 10' jumper
off the dribble. On the next play, Mosch stole the ball and had an easy
runout. After Maryland scored on an awkward Vicki Brick layup, Duke held
the ball for the final possession. Mosch drove and found Beard flashing
towards the basket for another cut. Duke stole the ball with 1.4 seconds
left in the half (as Gingrich alertly called a time-out), but Alana's
halfcourt heave didn't drop. Still, that was about the only thing that
didn't fall for her. She had 25 points, 6 assists, 4 rebounds, 2 steals
and only 1 turnover in the half. Tillis was up there as well with 11
points, 6 boards, 3 assists and 4 steals.

Maryland was much more aware of Beard in the second half and played the
game a bit more to their liking. They prevented Duke from going on any
extended scoring runs, but couldn't muster a significant run of their
own. The half was mostly about Duke playing keep away and looking for
the best shot available. The Devils were aggressively trying to score,
however, not just run out the clock, as their 90 points prove. Maryland
had only been giving up a bit over 50 points a game, so this was a
significant figure.

Beard was the playmaker early on, trying to get Mosch and Whitley into
the flow of the offense. Alana found both of them on backdoor cuts early
on, but Maryland finally stopped spreading out their defense as much.
After Maryland scored to cut the lead to 20, Alana hit a tough 15' jumper
with the shot clock running down and a player in her face. It just
showed supreme confidence in her game to take that kind of shot. Beard
then reextended Duke's lead to 22 with yet another offensive rebound.
The Terps simply didn't have anyone big enough and quick enough to block
her out.

Duke was on the verge of blowing the Terps out, but they managed to
slow the Devils down over the next six minutes. They went on a 13-6 run
built on a couple of Duke turnovers and efficiency on offense. Duke was
looking for the best shot so faithfully that the Devils were caught
lifting their pivot foot a few times. Iciss did this a couple of times,
and Mattie was guilty of it as well. But Duke was able to break up the
run just enough to prevent the Terps from really gaining momentum.
Gingrich drove and led Currie for an easy layup; this halted five
straight points from the Terps. Beard hit a tough turnaround jumper
after posting up her opponent and Currie got a steal and runout on the
next possession. This put Duke up 68-47. Maryland scored 6 straight
points to make it a 15 point game, with nearly ten minutes left.

But Currie drove and dished to Matyasovsky, who hit her only shot of
the game, a baseline jumper. It really came at a crucial time because it
felt like the Terps were ready to make a big move. Duke went up by 18
when Currie got a stickback basket. The Terps wouldn't go away and
started double-teaming Beard in the post, leaving Whitley open in the
high post. This was a good move, because Wynter was reluctant to shoot.
She turned it over once trying to drive in closer and then missed a
three. Maryland cut it to 14 with over five minutes left and still had a
chance. But Vicki Krapohl had an offensive rebound bounce to her beyond
the three point line, and she simply spotted up and let one fly. She
nailed the shot and essentially killed off the rally.

Vicki hit Wynter for a 15' jumper on the next possession and Maryland
had to stop using that strategy. A 6-2 Duke run ensued, with Tillis and
Beard both abusing the Terps with rebound baskets and Alana sinking a
couple of free throws. Duke led by 15-19 points for the last couple of
minutes before a last-second three led to the final score of 90-74. This
was a solid win that featured career scoring highs by both Beard and
Tillis, great play from the bench (24 points, 8 rebounds, 6 assists, 3
steals, 2 blocks and 5 turnovers), and the Devils taking advantage of
their opponent's weaknesses again and again. Basketball is all about
matchups and taking what the opponent gives you, and the Devils presented
a number of matchup problems for the Terps, especially with Tillis
drawing away the somewhat slow post players away from the basket. The
Terps also seemed willing to take their chances with Duke's passing from
the post to cutters, despite the fact that it's Duke's most reliable form
of halfcourt offense. Maryland is not an elite team, but they are a
solid club that was quite capable of beating Duke. While Duke's
non-conference losses were unpleasant, they're at least taking care of
business so far in the ACC.

** Negatives:

1. Cutting off penetration. About the only way Maryland was able to
consistently score was to have Brick or Wimbush drive and dish to
Strickland or Dee Dee Warley for short jumpers. Brick also managed to
drive past Krapohl a couple of times.

2. Avoiding good shots. While I'm glad that no one on the team is a
ballhog, players like Whitley and Matyasovsky turned down good shots and
then turned the ball over as a result. Every player on the team should feel
comfortable enough to take an open jumper.

** Positives:

1. Ball pressure. Duke used its halfcourt trap to good effect a few times,
forcing a Maryland player to simply throw the ball out of bounds on one
occasion. Duke did a great job in the passing lanes and collapsed on
players in the post aggressively.

2. Rebounding. Holding Maryland to just 6 offensive rebounds while
gathering in 19 for themselves was the key to the game. Duke scored 12
points on stickbacks alone.

3. Unselfishness. 7 of 8 players had an assist, and 4 of 8 had at least
3 assists. Duke's offensive rhythm was steady the whole night, with very
few extended scoreless periods. This is because Duke eliminated missing
easy layups and tons of careless turnovers.

Player by Player:

** Tillis: Another superb outing for Iciss, who has really emerged as
one of Duke's most consistent performers. I'll start with the negatives:
Iciss lifted her pivot foot a couple of times trying to drive to the
basket, and also threw the ball away a few times. One turnover occurred
when she was trying to feed the post, and this is a forgivable sin,
considering how much damage she did from the high post. She had three early
assists to Beard from the high post, simply lobbing the ball in softly and
on the mark. It was really a different look for Duke, since most
opponents disrupt Duke's attempts to go backdoor. Her versatility at
both ends of the court, combined with her aggressiveness and generally
smart play, truly made her the Walking Matchup Problem. In the first
half alone, she scored on a short jumper, a three, a finish on a 2-on-1
break, a steal and breakaway, and a turnaround jumper on the baseline.
The other development in her game is that her hands have gotten
stronger. While she could always catch the ball well, she's now going up
to snag rebounds one-handed and grab them with authority. Her next
opponent will be Wake Forest, a team that has a lot of size but not much
quickness. We'll see how well Iciss adjusts her game. As an aside,
Tillis has a chance to be one of the great shotblockers in school
history. She already is tied for ninth with 53 and will likely zip up to
fifth in the next ten games or so.

** Whitley: Kind of a flaky game for Wynter. With Maryland's three guard
attack, she didn't really have anyone to defend and looked a bit lost out
there at times. She did finish a backdoor play from Beard and hit a long
jumper to stop Maryland from isolating her at the top of the key. The one
thing she really needs to work on is learning how to post up and score
a bit quicker. Right now, she sometimes tends to back in, dribble a
couple of times and then try to go up--it simply gives the opponent too
much time to react. Developing a short hook shot and using it regularly
might not be a bad idea for her.

** Beard: Perhaps the best way to sum up her performance is to note that
she was responsible for 23 of Duke's 37 field goals: 15 on scores and 8
on assists. While most of her baskets came on cuts or offensive rebounds,
she also nailed a couple of difficult jumpers, including that big one with the
shot clock winding down. Alana took what the defense was giving her,
and worked flawlessly with her teammates. She even cut down on her
turnovers, a recent flaw. Beard was just too much for Maryland's guards
to contend with without face-guarding her. Beard actually just missed tying
Sue Harnett and Ali Day's single-game scoring record of 37--she blew a
layup late in the game and came out shortly thereafter. Speaking of
records, Alana is already doing a number on the record book as a
sophomore. Her 166 steals are sixth all-time at Duke, just 5 behind
Georgia Schweitzer. Alana passed for her 205th assist, and will join
the top ten all-time when she has 252. And she'll likely crack 1000 career
points in another 10-12 games or so.

** Mosch: Despite the fact that she was only 2-9 from the floor, I
wasn't unhappy with Sheana's play. She took good shots (including a
couple of threes) and moved well without the ball. Mosch also forced a
steal and breakaway and did a pretty good job on defense. She also ran
the floor aggressively and didn't make mistakes. Sheana drove and dished
to Beard for an easy bucket at the end of the first half and found her on
a cut early in the game. The reality is that not every player will score
20 points in every game, and that players will have to take turns.
Sheana will break out and have a big game at some point.

** Krapohl: A fine game for Vicki. She did a good job harrassing her
counterpart Vicki, Brick. She dished twice to Beard for baskets and also
found Whitley for a jumper. But her best play came when she passed to
Whitley on the right block. Wynter turned and fired up a baseline jumper
that was so off course that it simply sailed over the basket. Krapohl
saw it all the way and sprinted behind the basket to grab the rebound
before anyone else could react, and restarted the offense. Best of all,
Vicki had no turnovers.

** Currie: As always, Mo isn't shy about shooting. When Beard goes out,
she steps up her game, usually by attacking the rim. Mo drew two fouls
in a minute simply by taking it strong to the hoop. She's very tough to
stop in transition because she's so strong and quick. It's really hard
to classify her position at times, because she rebounds and powers up
like a post player but handles and runs like a guard. Interestingly, all
four of her rebounds were offensive. She stepped into the passing lanes
for 2 steals but also patrolled the lane with 2 blocks. Duke's strength
has always been its versatility, and Mo is proving to be an extreme
example of this notion. She scored on a rebound basket, a steal and
runout, a lead-in basket, a drive and in transition. Combine that with 3
assists and you have a complete game.

** Matyasovsky: Michele obviously didn't have quite the impact here as
she did against Georgia Tech. Still, she sank a crucial jumper that let
Duke relax a bit, and also found Gingrich for the first of her 3 threes.
Michele also pulled down a couple of offensive boards. She was active
and moved well throughout the game.

** Gingrich: Krista helped break the game wide open with 3 straight
threes. Duke hadn't made any threes in the first ten minutes of the game
and the Terps were using some limited zone. Krista shot them right
out of it. She hit all three in less than a minute--shades of
Dunleavy! Duke was wisely going to her when she was open and sizzling,
with Currie and Beard both spotting her. This is what she can really add
to the team. She was able to go for 14 minutes of action, which would
probably be an ideal amount of time in every game. Hopefully, her
injuries can be kept under control.

** Cameron Craziness: Only 800 brave and lucky souls were at that game
because Durham has been hit with about 14 inches of snow, which started
at around gametime. The crowd was very appreciative of Alana's remarkable
performance and gave her a standing ovation when she checked out of the
game at the end.

** Next Game: Hosting Wake Forest on Sunday, January 6th--assuming the
game isn't postponed due to weather.
by Rob Clough