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Duke Wears Down St Joseph's (Duke Classic, Part 2)

Duke 82, St Joseph's 48. December 8, 2002. Cameron Indoor Stadium.



Well, Duke reclaimed its own Classic championship after last year's
fiasco with South Carolina in the title game, but Coach G wasn't exactly
all smiles after a sloppy effort on offense. St Joe's never led and never
even really threatened Duke, but their sticky zone defense made Duke act
impatiently, especially in terms of bad passing decisions. The Devils had
21 turnovers against a team that used just seven players and who almost
exclusively played zone the entire game. Of course, there was one factor
St Joe's couldn't account for: Alana Beard. She simply went to work on
the offensive end in the second half after concentrating on defense and
rebounding in the first half. Simply put, she was a nightmare for the
Hawks at both ends of the court.

The good news in this game was Duke's relentlessness on defense,
holding leading scorer Stephanie Graff to just 11 points on 9 shots. The
Devils did a fine job defending the perimeter, limiting St Joe's to 4-19
shooting from three. At the same time, the Devils shut down 6-2 Graff and
6-5 center Irina Krasnoshick. Forcing 12 turnovers certainly helped, as
the Hawks couldn't even get the ball into the post on many key
possessions. More good news on the defensive end was the fact that Duke
only put St Joe's on the line 7 times and had a total of just 10 team
fouls. The Devils also dominated the boards, 39-20, though they did give
up 13 second chance points. When SJU got the ball back, they capitalized
on their opportunities. Duke led in every other category, however. Their
bench outscored St. Joseph's, 21-2. Duke ran for 24 fast break points to
just 5 for SJU. The Devils had 29 points off turnovers compared to just
11 for SJU, despite having a number of opportunities to cash in. Lastly,
the Devils had a 52-24 edge in points in the paint, a reflection of both
Beard's abilities off the dribble and Bass' low-post dominance.

Beard got things off to a quick start with a steal and layup off
bewildered SJU guard Erin Brady. Then she fed Whitley for a score inside
and drove for another basket of her own. Back-to-back missed threes for
the Hawks led to Tillis passing into Mistie Bass on the low block, and
Bass simply spun for an easy hook shot. Less than five minutes into the
game, the Devils led 9-2 and everything seemed to be proceeding smoothly.
But Duke could only score 5 points in the next five minutes. Four of the
points came from a Beard stickback and a fast break basket. What

happened? Duke missed 3 shots and committed 3 turnovers, while St Joe's
slowly crawled back into the game at 14-9. Crafty guard Amra Medmedic
finally hit a three against Duke's defense.

Duke responded with their first sustained run of the game at 9-0. It
was sparked by Jess Foley, who drove in for a layup. Beard picked Brady
again for another layup and Duke got the ball back again on a Brady
turnover under pressure. Bass reversed the ball to Vicki Krapohl for a
three, a basket that seemed to deflate St Joe's a bit. Then came an ugly
series of plays, featuring 3 Duke turnovers and 4 St. Joseph's turnovers.
Finally, Tillis and Bass played a two-woman game, passing the ball back
and forth until Bass had the right position in the paint and could score
easily. A Duke turnover helped SJU break their scoring drought, but Duke
came back with another Bass post-up. With five minutes left in the half,
Duke led 25-11.

After big Krasnoshiok scored inside, Tillis responded by draining a
three on a Beard three. At a time when Duke should have really started to
pull away, Brady got her act together and drew a three point play from
Brooke Smith, who was out of position. Brooke redeemed herself by scoring
on a nifty Tillis drive & dish. A SJU three brought them with 30-19, as
close as they had been in awhile. Duke went back to work with a couple of
Wynter Whitley foul shots and Beard's third steal & runout of the half.
She then blocked a shot that led to Tillis finding Bass inside to make
it 36-20. Still, SJU managed to slip by Duke's pressure for a last basket
to make it 36-22 at the half. Duke had shot pretty well (15-31) and
snagged 21 rebounds, but bad decision making was costing them.

Once again, Duke had some breakdowns at both ends of the court to begin
the second half, a problem that's been nagging at the team in recent
games. Beard began the half by bailing her team out of a bad possession
by nailing a 15' jumper at the shot clock. Brady quickly answered with an
open jumper of her own. After a Bass free throw, SJU scored on a
stickback and on a runout after a Whitley turnover. The Hawks were
suddenly within 11 at 39-28 and in danger of making this a game. Before
Coach G could even call a timeout, Beard took over and drove through and
over several players for a tough layup. Coach G called time and blasted
her team in very much the same way she did against Howard. Other than
Beard, the team was playing with very little energy, especially on

The nice thing about being an experienced team is that they will respond
to such direct challenges. Tillis stole the ball from Brady, drove and
pulled up from 10' for a jumper. She then snagged a rebound and went
coast-to-coast for a layup. Iciss continued her strong play by finding a
cutting Sheana Mosch for a basket and the foul. SJU had their chances but
only scored 2 points on single foul shots in a four minute time span.
Harding came in off the bench for a burst of speed, and found Beard for a
turnaround jumper in the post and then nailed her cutting for another
three point play. In less than four minutes, Duke more than doubled its
lead to 53-30. SJU finally got its first layup in five minutes to make it
53-32. Interestingly, Coach G went to her freshmen here in an effort to
wear down the Hawks. But instead of just buying time until Beard & Tillis
came back in, they dominated the action.

The fifth player in with the frosh was Mosch, who came alive offensively
for the first time in a while. The run actually began with Jess Foley
throwing it in to Bass, who scored on a turnaround in the post. A
suddenly very active Brooke Smith pressured the passing lanes and got a
steal, and threw it ahead to Harding. The speedster had the (almost)
equally swift Mosch in transition, and hit her in stride for the layup.
Foley then came up with a steal of her own and the same play
resulted--Harding to Mosch on the fast break. With nine minutes to go,
Duke had pushed its lead up to 61-32. A Smith turnover led to an easy
Hawk basket, but she made up for it right away by scoring on an aggressive
cut on a Foley feed. The youngsters finished up their run with Foley
dishing to Mosch on a drive and then a Foley three on a Harding pass.
They turned a 23 point lead into a 32 point blowout.

Graff and Mehmedic fought back, scoring 8 points in about a minute, but
Beard came back in to remind them who was running things. She simply went
one-on-one three straight times, and emerged with 8 more points. Alana
drew 2 three point plays and converted the free throw on both. Her moves
were simply head-shaking--she was often driving against 2 players who were
desperately trying to collapse on her, but she always managed to find just
enough wriggle room to score. St Joe's simply didn't have the horses to
keep up with a determined Alana Beard who had decided to take over. She
left the game with about four minutes left and Duke up 76-43. The rest of
the game was mop-up--Harding had a steal and layup, while Bass went to the
foul line for the final margin.

The good news for Duke in the half was that they were astonishingly
efficient from the field--17-25, for 68%. They were even better at the
line, converting 11-12. The bad news was their 12 turnovers, a couple of
which led directly to St Joseph's scores. The defense was also not quite
as tenacious, allowing St Joe's to shoot 46% from the field. All-in-all,
it was an uneven effort. Duke's big second-half run was very impressive,
helping to make up for their slow start. The defense overall was solid,
holding the Hawks to 4-19 three point shooting. Duke keyed in on their
three big guns, holding Graff, Krasnoshiok and Mehmedic to 30 points on
12-28 shooting. Duke's biggest problem was its decision making, totalling
a sloppy 21 for the game--their worst performance in this area in some
time. It should be noted that the frosh had 11 of them. The best stories
from the game were Bass' continued dominance in the low post (even against
bigger foes) and a slight resurgence on offense from Mosch.

** Negatives:

1. Valuing the ball. Duke simply did a bad job in making decisions at
times. Brooke Smith in particular made some passes either without having
a clear target in mind or simply throwing them short. Harding threw too
many passes into coverage.

2. Focus. There were times when Duke had a chance to put the game
away much earlier, but either made mental mistakes or were a step slow.
Part of this was the game's pace--St Joe's didn't want to play fast, and
Duke found themselves lulled into playing slower at both ends. Along the
same lines, Duke didn't always attack the zone patiently, making bad
passes into sealed-off lanes or taking bad shots. When Duke recovered and
played to their strengths, they blew the game open.

** Positives:

1. Rebounding. Duke nearly doubled up St Joe's (39-20) and corralled an
impressive 14 offensive boards. Beard and Tillis teamed up for 17
rebounds. Bass did a great job at the offensive end, grabbing 5 o-boards
and converting a number of them. Getting Duke more shots was a big
advantage in this game. Harding & Foley also combined for 10 rebounds,
tracking down long rebounds. St Joe's had some size but it was Duke's
speed that cancelled that out here.

2. Ball pressure. Duke did force 23 turnovers, and Beard led the charge
with 3 steals of her own. SJU didn't get a lot of easy looks at the
basket, either. Duke's younger players are doing a much better job at
reading screens and switching to cover open shooters.

3. Fast break. Duke's most potent weapon was on display here, with
Harding in particular doing a nice job at leading the break. Transition
baskets also tend to fire up the crowd and get them into the game.


** Bass: Mistie continues to impress as a starter. Playing against much
bigger foes, she managed to adjust and post double-figures once again. As
long as she's patient on offense and passes the ball back out in order to
get it back in a better position, she should be able to score every time.
Her defense and hustle continue to improve from game to game as her
forcing a held ball demonstrated. I'd like to see her get more defensive
rebounds and block out a bit better. Overall, she's starting to emerge
as the best candidate for the team's consistent third scorer, adding a new
dimension to the team. She's not going to finish layups in transition or
pop out for threes like Tillis will, but she has an excellent mastery of
the offensive weapons she does possess. Mistie offers few surprises, but
what she does is difficult to stop.

** Whitley: With Matyasovsky missing a game due to a pinched nerve in her
shoulder, Wynter got the nod. She was solid early in the half with a
strong postup basket, but a couple of turnovers sent her to the bench,
including a 3 second call. In the second half, she got wiped out by Mosch
going for a rebound and limped off the court. Wynter did not return but
the injury did not seem to be a major one--a strained muscle or deep
bruise, it seemed. She walked on to the court after the game to accept
the team award.

** Tillis: With Whitley starting, Iciss was playing at wing, a position
she certainly enjoyed. This will take a period of adjustment, however,
especially with Duke trying to set up Bass in the post. Iciss will have
to hunt her shot more actively and go stronger to the hoop. Her only
first half hoop was a three after a couple of misses closer to the hoop.
She did contribute with several first-half rebounds (with several of those
one-hand snatchings of the ball--her hand strength has really increased)
and 3 assists. The most impressive was a dish to Smith off a drive.
Iciss really dominated at the start of the second half with 6 quick
points, 2 rebounds and an assist. That righted Duke's slow start and
energized them offensively. Tillis had a pretty good game overall, but
she really needs to demand the ball a bit more and drive to the basket.
She doesn't need to go all the way to the hoop--simply pulling up from 5
or 10 feet would ensure an easy shot for her. Iciss has stepped up on the
boards, which is quite welcome for a team missing Currie's contributions
there. I'm still waiting for Iciss to have a truly spectacular game
against a good opponent this year. This was the first game all year
where she didn't score in double figures, a testatment to her greater

** Beard: The MVP selection of the 2002 Duke Classic was a
no-brainer--Alana was by far the best player out there. She continues to
have problems with her long-range shot (missing several long jumpers and
a three right before the end of the first half), but her mid-range and
post-up games are just fine, thanks. Her long arms and excellent footwork
allow her to switch from face-up to post-up player in an instant. Her
turnaround jumper is close to indefensible. Beard ripped down 7 rebounds
in the first half alone and drove SJU's guards nuts. Playing less than
ten minutes in the second half, she scored 17 points on 7-7 shooting,
mostly on dominant drives to the hoop and getting fouled 3 times. The
fact that the bench played so well in her absence made her all the more
devastating when she checked back into the lineup. A fresh Beard against
a tired SJU team was simply no contest. If her long jumper rounds back
into form and she can cut down on turnovers just a bit, there will be no
weaknesses remaining. What's clear is that she will do exactly what is
required to help Duke win, be it take a lot of shots or set up her
teammates. As an aside, Alana is now working her way up the ACC all-time
steal list. She just passed Tracy "Blowfly" Reid for 21st place with
steal #248. Alana will likely join the top 20 in another 4 games or so.

** Krapohl: A typically solid game for Vicki. She hit a three on a pass
from Bass to extend a Duke run and had a nice 4:1 assist/turnover ratio in
this game, finding Bass down low and Beard in transition. Throw in some
decent defense and you've got the model of roleplayer perfection.

** Harding: Lindsey continues to get all the minutes she can handle, and
she's spending that time trying to set up her teammates. Harding is
superb in transition and also does a nice job of setting up Beard in the
right spots. However, Lindsey is a frosh and sometimes makes bad
decisions with the ball. She's stopped making mad dashes for the basket
with someone in front of her, but still makes her share of bad passes.
Offensively, she's limited mostly to drives--she has yet to hit a three
this season. Harding's shooting woes is the main factor that's preventing
her from starting. While a better defender than Krapohl and certainly
more creative, she can't match Krapohl's incredible facility behind the
three point stripe. Still, she's doing a fine job at disrupting other
teams, and her offense will come in time. Lindsey actually forced a
5-second call, a rarity in women's basketball.

** Mosch: Sheana came off the bench once again and did not play well in
the first half. She bricked a couple of short jumpers and wasn't much of
a factor on defense. The second half was a different story. When the
chips are down for a player, they should go to their strengths. In
Sheana's case, that would be running the floor and cutting to the basket.
Result: 2 transition baskets and 2 baskets off cuts. Harding and Mosch
are an unbelievably fast backcourt, and they certainly made St Joe's look
like they were running in quicksand. She also picked it up on the
defensive end, forcing a jump ball. Duke really needs more scoring from
its other perimeter players, so hopefully Sheana can continue to improve
from game to game.

** Foley: A really solid game for Jess, who reminds me more of Georgia
Schweitzer with each passing game. While she was only 1-4 from three, the
shots were good ones and came in the flow of the offense. Her other hoop
came on a drive, showing off her nice handle and decent quickness. What
was impressive about her showing here was her defense and playmaking. She
chased down her 5 rebounds on long misses and found 3 different players
for scores. Jess is only player about 13 minutes a game, but I think
she's ready for more. Her mistake-free play of late and her potential as
a long-range shooter make her a good player to have on the floor.

** Smith: Brooke is starting to relax and simply make plays, but she
turned the ball over way too often against SJU. She also picked up some
silly fouls. Despite those problems, she had a couple of nice steals and
moved really well without the ball. She also plays the passing lanes as
well as anyone on the team and can really block shots. Her biggest
problem so far had been confidence, but I think she may be ready to
overcome that. Getting minutes at significant points during this game
certainly helped with that.

** Cameron Craziness: This was another solid crowd, considering the
wackiness in Durham the past few days. Mistie Bass's father Chubby
Checker was in attendance, resplendently dressed in a suit. The Duke
band, given more space to work with, has come up with new and consistently
weirder free throw distractions. My favorite is them holding up one
member and rocking them forward back and forth in the air, as though they
were threatening to throw them onto the court.