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Duke Battles Texas Tomorrow!

In a potential future Final Four matchup, Duke will play #3 Texas tomorrow in the Tip-Off Classic. Game time is at 2:30pm.
Among other things, Coach G will return to Purdue's Mackey Arena for the
game, the first time she's coached there since taking over the Duke
program in the fall of 1992. Goestenkors made her reputation as a
recruiter under then-coach Lin Dunn (who has been seen at recent Duke
games) and was an important part of Purdue's rise as a program.

Here's what I said about Texas in my schedule analysis:
"2003 Recap: 29-6 (NCAA Final Four), RPI #8, Final Ranking #5/#7 (AP/USA
Today), Preseason Ranking #6

The Scoop: The young but talented Texas squad that Duke beat in the NCAA's
in 2002 matured into a balanced, tough team that had UConn on the ropes in
the Final Four before eventually falling. The 2004 edition will be even
stronger, thanks to few graduation losses and an impressive freshman
class. The Longhorns actually started last season with a few bumps, losing
several games to solid but unranked opponents like BYU, New Mexico, LSU
and Ohio State. It should be noted that all four of those games were on
the road and in tough venues. Over 11,000 screaming Lobos fans showed up
for the big New Mexico upset. Let it never be said that Hall of Fame coach
Jody Conradt has shied away from challenging her team. Conradt passed the
career 800 win mark in 2003 , trailing only her old friend Pat Summitt.

The Longhorns also had their share of big wins, starting with a
heart-stopping, buzzer-beating affair against Tennessee. Frosh Nina
Norman, not known for her shooting, got a desperation shot to fall. Texas
didn't lose much after the Ohio State game, bowing only to Kansas State in
Big XII play. That included three wins over a rugged Texas Tech squad and
two over Oklahoma. Texas was even more impressive in the NCAA tournament,
dispatching excellent clubs like Arkansas, Minnesota and LSU by double

Texas loses only one starter and one role player. The starter is Tai
Dillard, a handy utility player who specialized in defense, rebounding and
slashing to the basket. The role player is Alisha Sare, a three point
specialist. Returning will be the All-America duo of 6-1 post Stacy
Stephens and 6-2 wing Heather Schreiber. Stephens has always been a bit
undersized to play center, but her physical strength and relentlessly
aggressive play have more than made up for it. It also helps that she has
meat hooks for hands and is nearly impossible to move out of the post. The
only way to neutralize her is to body her up with tall, agile and physical
shot-blockers. She averaged 14.4 ppg, 9.1 rpg, shot 50% from the field and
blocked 35 shots. Schreiber is a rangy wing who can kill you with her
long-range shooting and inside off the dribble. Despite her thin frame,
she's not afraid to go after rebounds, getting 8.2 a game to match her
14.3 ppg. Schreiber shot an impressive 43% from the three point line and
50% overall. The other key player is Stanford transfer Jamie Carey, who
was forbidden to play there after a series of concussions, but was cleared
by Texas. She was the missing piece for this team, leading the team in
assists and threes made (shooting an impressive 42%). Her leadership,
toughness and court vision proved to be the perfect complement for Stevens
and Schreiber.

Texas also brings back fourth leading scorer Kala Bowers, a solid but
unspectacular player who scored 9 ppg. Norman will back up Carey and you
may occasionally see the two of them on the court at the same time to give
Carey some more looks from three. The biggest change for the Longhorns
will be the arrival of two high school All-America post players, 6-5 Kalee
Carey and 6-3 Tiffany Jackson. Both will allow Stephens to play power
forward instead of center. Jackson is an athletic scorer and rebounder who
has known nothing but success in Texas; she was down to Duke and Texas for
her final college decision. Carey also comes from a successful program and
will get plenty of minutes off the bench.

Texas was one of the best defensive teams in the country last year,
holding opponents to just 37% from the floor, including 28% from three.
They will lose some of that edge with Dillard gone but will add a new
dimension with Jackson and Carey inside. The Longhorns are a legitimate
national title contender and will be a formidable season opener. Duke will
need to rely on its superior speed and hope that its new frontline is up
to the challenge. Texas' one big flaw is a slight lack of size at most
positions; if Duke can exploit this, they have an excellent shot at
winning. Duke must be careful to keep its offense varied and concentrate
on getting the ball inside as much as possible, and avoid relying on Alana
Beard too much."

There's not much else to add here, other than that handy Texas forward
Annissa Hastings is out for the year with an injury. On Duke's injury
front, Alison Bales is being noted as a game-time decision but it seems
unlikely that she'll play. There are several games-within-games to watch
here: Texas high school rivals Lindsey Harding and Nina Norman (who
received far more pub than Harding) squaring off; the inside battles of
Hunter, Tillis & Bass vs Stephens, Jackson & Kalee Carey; and which team
will be able to run more effectively. Duke's injuries and limitations
during practice put them at a severe disadvantage in this regard, and so
they must be careful to be extra wary in transition. Kudos to both
programs for having the courage to schedule such a difficult game so early
in the season.