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Duke Sobers Up #5 Purdue

Duke 93, Purdue 63. November 23, 2003. RBC Center.

The early question of Duke's huge victory over Purdue was "Can the
Devils win this game with only X players available?" The team was already
down to just 8 scholarship players with Caitlin Howe, Wynter Whitley &
Alison Bales all nursing various injuries. Then superfrosh Brittany
Hunter went down with a knee injury. As it turns out, it's just a
partially torn meniscus which will require 2-4 weeks of rehab. In a
strange way, it's almost a blessing disguise, because Hunter had been
struggling with plantar fasciitis and bursitis, and the break in play will
give her a chance to recover. With Duke down to seven players, Alana
Beard picked up her third and fourth fouls early in the second half. One
would have expected Purdue to mount a big comeback at that point, but Duke
instead got huge contributions from its sophomore class that put them in
complete control. By the time Beard reentered the game, it was only to
apply the coup de grace to a stunned Purdue club. Considering that Duke's
sophomores were a virtual no-show against Texas last week, their emergence
is a factor that cannot be overstated. Duke dominated a very good team
without their best player, and this could help shed their reputation as a
one-woman show.

Purdue whipped the former #5 team in the country in Kansas State last
weekend. They used excellent shooting and an aggressive running game to
counter KSU's superior size. The problem for the Boilers against Duke was
that they simply didn't match up very well with the Devils. With no true
post presence to rebound and block shots, they were vulnerable to Duke's
size and power. As a team, they were slower than Duke at virtually every
position, with the exception of senior star Shereka Wright. Defensively,
their plan was to pack it in with a quasi-matchup zone to neutralize
Duke's superior height. It was far from a passive zone, as Purdue elected
to trap in the corners whenever Duke brought the ball there (and they did
this far too many times). They hoped to force quick shots from Duke off
the dribble and start their break with long rebounds, or force turnovers
from sloppy crosscourt passes. Offensively, they wanted Wright to create
for others off the dribble, passing out to their legion of sharpshooters.
This plan worked well until Duke started penetrating gaps in the zone and
located open shooters, and Vicki Krapohl & Jess Foley started knocking
down treys. When Purdue came out of their zone (which got lazier and
lazier as the game progressed), that played right into Duke's hands as the
Devils pounded the ball inside. Duke played with tremendous discipline on
defense, closing out on shooters on virtually every possession. The help
defense, both out on the perimeter and in the post, was by far the best
I've seen from Duke this year.

Purdue looked half-asleep in the early minutes. Duke, who employed a
five-pass rule on each possession in the second half of their game against
Elon in order to instill more discipline and patience in their half-court
game, was smart and aggressive in the early going. Beard scored on a hard
drive to the basket, Currie hit a 5' jumper, and Tillis hit a couple of
foul shots. The nadir for Purdue was a wide-open inbounds basket from
Lindsey Harding to Brittany Hunter. Duke's strategy was to pound it in
down low against a smaller Boilermaker squad and take them off the dribble
whenever possible in order to get to the foul line. In taking an early
13-4 lead, they worked this to perfection, getting 5 points from the foul

With Bass and Hunter missing a few easy shots and Purdue given the
opportunity to run, the Boilers went on a 13-2 run to take a 17-15 lead on
an Erika Valek three. Currie and Foley both threw a couple of lazy passes
that fueled Purdue's break. Just when it looked like Duke was going to
fold, they suddenly heated up from the perimeter, as Krapohl and Foley
hit back-to-back threes. Duke retook the lead at 21-19 on Foley's first
trey of the year with under nine minutes to go. Beard then stepped up
with a tip-in basket and dish to Lindsey Harding on a cut. Duke's lead
swelled to 28-19 with six minutes left, but the Boilers cut it to 5.
Foley and Krapohl once again came up big for Duke as Jess scored on a
drive and a three from Harding, while Krapohl hit a three late in the half
on a relocation pass from Bass. That gave Duke a 36-27 lead and control
of the game.

Duke's defense wasn't giving up much in the halfcourt, doing a good job
of closing out Purdue's shooters and absolutely shutting them down inside.
Duke's players also took three charges in the first half, wiping out
several potential Purdue scores. Shockingly, Foley & Krapohl had half of
Duke's 36 first half points as they combined for 4-7 shooting from long
range. Just as important for Duke was getting to the foul line and
converting: they were 10-11 in the first half and got Wright in early
foul trouble. Not surprisingly, Duke held a significant rebounding edge.
This helped Duke to their 36-27 halftime lead, despite the fact that they
shot just 35% to Purdue's 48%.

Purdue got a stop on Duke's first possession of the second half and then
cut the lead to 36-29. A Currie spin move and a rare three from Beard
(left wide open) pushed the lead back up to 12 again and forced Purdue to
switch to man-to-man defense. After Beard picked up her fourth foul, the
Boilers briefly rallied and pulled within 41-33. Going into a man defense
against the bigger Duke team proved to be a fatal mistake, as the Devils
blew Purdue out of the building using a basic halfcourt offense. The main
beneficiary turned out to be Mistie Bass, one of Duke's sophomores that
didn't play well against Texas. On four separate occasions, Monique
Currie drove from the wing, bounced it into Bass at a perfect angle, and
then watched as Bass took it up strong to score. That helped turn a 44-37
lead into a 51-37 bulge, and Duke never looked back. Bass also had a
couple of three point plays (one off an offensive rebound) that helped
break Purdue's back. A couple of broken-play layups by Tillis, along with
a couple of threes, turned the game into a blowout. One of those looked
like a sure turnover by Currie as her pass was deflected, but it took a
funny bounce and Iciss was all over it for a layup. By the time Beard
reentered the game (with about six minutes to go), Duke had a 72-48 lead.

Alana went to work right away, scoring on a perfect pass from Tillis and
then outrunning Wright in transition for a three point play. The Boilers
did manage to score 13 points in the last seven minutes of the game, but
Duke countered with 20 points of their own. Wright and Katie Gearlds had
some late garbage points, but Wright in particular was never really a
factor. Her 8 turnovers slowed the Boilers down considerably and she was
never able to take advantage of the slower Jess Foley on defense. Duke
used Currie on Wright for most of the game, Beard on Valek and Harding on
Beth Jones. Emily Heikes was ineffective against Bass (3 points, 4
rebounds, 4 fouls) and Lindsey Hicks was a non-factor against Tillis (2
points, 2 rebounds, 3 turnovers, 4 fouls). The brightest spot for the
Boilers was Erin Lawless, who ran the floor well and hit several short
jumpers. Katie Gearlds hit 3 threes and led the team with 6 assists and 5
rebounds. Purdue's 10 fast break points and decent shooting from three
(5-14) helped them to 50% shooting for the game. But when your opponent
gets 14 more shots (62 to 48), 14 more free throw attempts (29-15) and 15
more rebounds (38-23), you know it's going to be a long day. Duke had
four players in double figures and 2 more with 8 points apiece. The
Devils shot an outrageous 68% in the second half thanks to Bass & Tillis
wrecking Purdue inside. Duke stuck to their game plan, overcame a crucial
injury, played through foul trouble, and came out smelling like a rose.
There were no excuses and no one feeling sorry for themselves, just a
teamwide commitment to sharing the ball (21 assists on 32 field goals, and
3 of those made baskets were stickbacks). If Duke continues to develop
this continuity on offense and holds together while its wounded heal, they
will be in great shape down the line.

** Negatives:

1. Transition defense. Purdue outscored Duke 10-7 in transition, with
most of those points coming in the first half. Once Duke stopped turning
the ball over, those points dried up in a hurry for the Boilers.

2. Fighting the double team. Purdue did a nice job of double-teaming
players when they picked up their dribble, especially when they
inexplicably dribbled into the corner. No one came over to help their
teammates out in these situations either.

3. Sloppy passing. Duke threw too many lazy crosscourt passes, thinking
that Purdue wouldn't contest them. Once they used dribble penetration to
create better passing angles, those miscues went away.

** Positives:

1. Rebounding. Even with rebounder supreme Hunter out of the game, Duke
simply destroyed Purdue on the boards. For the most part, they did it by
outquicking the Boilers to the ball, though Bass got her 3 offensive
rebounds thanks to positioning. Also of note was Jess Foley blocking her
out opponent a couple of times, allowing her teammates to get the rebound.
That doesn't show up in the stat sheet, but it was noticed.

2. Finding the open shooter. Harding, Foley, Krapohl and Beard all did
a nice job of getting the best shot available for Duke. Duke's shooters
did not hesitate once they got a good look and their feet were set.

3. Help defense. This was the most impressive aspect of Duke's win. They
shut off Purdue's penetration by setting up for 4 charges, taken by
Currie, Tillis, Harding and Bass. Tillis is not known as a player who
gives up her body on defense, so her taking a charge was big. Taking the
charge was crucial because the player under the basket was frequently a
victim of a mismatch. But instead of panicking by flailing at the ball,
they just stood their ground. The Devils also recovered back to the
shooter quite well. Again, Foley played a big part in this. She's not
as quick as many of her opponents, but she's starting to absorb the
nuances of defense in Duke's system.


** Bass: There were some folks wondering why Mistie was still starting
ahead of frosh sensation Hunter, but the last two games have certainly
demonstrated why this is. After a sluggish first half in which she missed
three easy shots, Bass stepped up with a huge 15 point second half to
finish with 18, one short of her career high. She scored 9 points in four
minutes to boost Duke's lead from 10 to 16, and a three point play with
nine minutes left made it 24 points, essentially killing any chance at a
Purdue comeback. One can observe how much more fluid she is and how much
she's improved going to the basket. She's stopped trying to fling up so
many wild hook shots and instead is relying on her footwork to post up,
catch, step through and power up for the score. Very simple principles,
but difficult to master for a young player. Bass also had an assist for a
three, but also had a turnover when she brought the ball down and was
victimized by a double-team. Mistie also needs to continue to get quicker
to the ball for defensive rebounds. Still, she was a well-deserved player
of the game and deserved player of the week consideration. If she can
provide this kind of scoring on a regular basis against good teams, Duke's
overall balance will be formidable.

** Tillis: Iciss recovered from a sluggish first half to post a dominant
second half stat sheet. Tillis picked up three first half fouls and
played tentatively as a result, only attempting 2 field goals. Things
looked grim for her overall game when she picked up her fourth foul, and
Purdue started to go at her hard. Tillis backed off a bit on defense and
the result was a couple of easy baskets for the Boilers. Iciss reentered
the game with about 14 minutes to go as Bass & Currie had held the fort.
Tillis alertly picked up a loose ball and scored, and this easy basket
seemed to flip a switch in her game. She ravaged Purdue for 16 points in
the last thirteen minutes, using every trick she had. There was a three
on a set play on an inbounds, a pull-up 15' jumper off a spin, a score on
a cut, a dish to Beard, a pull-up three, and another junk basket on a
Currie bobble. She also picked up her defensive intensity, blocking a
shot and rallying for 5 second half rebounds. Tillis was also a lot more
careful with the ball, only turning it over twice.

Iciss is starting to climb her way up the Duke record books. She just
passed Payton Black and now has 1360 points, right behind Kira Orr (1388)
and Jen Scanlon (1377). She's now the #3 rebounder in Duke history with
758, passing Jennifer Chestnut and trailing only Chris Moreland (1229)
and Sue Harnett (899). Iciss is now in the top 15 in assists with 238 and
will move into the top 10 in another 15 games or so. She still commands
the #3 spot in blocks with 110 (39 behind Harnett) and is now #4 in steals
(with 220, she went ahead of the great Peppi Browne). In about six or
seven more games, she will zoom up to #2 behind Alana Beard. Look for
another stat update in another 3 games or so.

** Currie: After a sweet-looking early jumper, Mo started to drift a bit
in the first half, turning the ball over twice on lazy passes and taking
some off-balance shots. Coach G got her attention by yanking her from the
game for several minutes. With Beard out of the game in the second half,
it fell on Monique's shoulders to create for her teammates. She opened
the half with a jaw-dropping spin move and then proceeded to drive and
feed Mistie Bass and Iciss Tillis inside. During Duke's decisive run, she
had 5 assists and 5 points as she also went hard to the basket and got
fouled. Her best play was a strong drive to the basket, where a Purdue
defender was waiting to take a charge. Currie stopped on a dime and
dished to a waiting Foley, who sank a baseline jumper. Monique is still
not yet her old self, but she's finding many other ways to contribute.
She doesn't have to be her old self yet, and is doing a fine job in a
supporting role. When the time comes and she's ready to trust both her
knee and her jumpshot, she will have an explosive performance.

** Beard: Alana overcame ferocious defensive attention and foul trouble to
make Purdue pay down the stretch. Beard was unusually quiet in the first
half, perhaps not wanting to force the issue like she did against Texas.
She did manage to score 6 points, grab 6 boards and dish to Harding and
Krapohl for scores. Then she picked up 2 quick fouls in the second half,
both of them questionable. Coach G went nuts when she picked up her
fourth, but had to be pleased with the results. A rested and invigorated
Beard blitzed the Boilers down the stretch, abusing Wright a couple of
times. Her early second-half three did force a Purdue time-out and showed
how much calmer she looked on the court. Beard's foul trouble meant that
she had to lay off of hounding the ballhandler, but her 5 assists and 10
rebounds more than made up for it. More than any other player I've ever
seen at Duke, she always finds a way to contribute.

Alana's assault on the Duke and ACC record books continues. Now with
2067 points, she just moved ahead of NC State's Chasity Melvin and
Virginia's Heather Burge for 9th place on the all-time list. Charlotte
Smith of UNC (with 2094 points) is next. Alana is on the verge of
cracking Duke's top ten list in rebounds with 629 (just 3 behind Tye
Hall), is 2 assists shy of 400 (and 11 behind Katie Meier for 4th place),
is 4th in blocks with 104, is 7th on the ACC steals list with 330 (4
behind Marion Jones of UNC) and fifth all-time in free throws made (7
behind Meier).

** Harding: Lindsey continues to recover from a poor showing at Texas with
very good floor play. While she only attempted 1 jumper (which didn't
fall) and missed a couple of layups, she did play strong defense on Beth
Jones (essentially making her disappear), split traps well and went to the
line a couple of times thanks to penetration. She read the defense well
when Purdue was in a man-to-man defense, and easily took her opponent off
the dribble. Lindsey wasn't spectacular in this game, but instead helped
make her teammates look good with some sharp passes. Her time to score
will come.

** Hunter: Brit was looking good until she got hurt when she got pushed
down. She alertly scored on an inbounds play where the Boilers fell
asleep at the switch and missed a gimme. She was in obvious pain and a
concerned Coach G came over with the trainer. Brit went to the locker
room and hobbled back on crutches, where she was consoled by teammates
like Howe (who went with her into the locker room), Whitley, and
especially Tillis. After being extremely upset initially, Hunter became a
great cheerleader on the sidelines.

** Foley: Perhaps her best game as a Duke player, when one considers the
quality of opponent. Jess desperately needed a good offensive game to
bolster her confidence, and this game was just what the doctor ordered,
tying her career high with 14. She didn't just score on threes, though
her two bombs came at the right time for Duke. Foley also pulled up for a
15' jumper, hit a 5' baseline jumper on a gorgeous feed from Currie, and
drove for another score. Jess set up her teammates in the second half,
getting the ball to Bass for a three point play and to Tillis for three.
Her sound defensive play was another big plus, because this is one of the
things that had been preventing her from getting the big minutes. Foley
has a tremendous skill set and will be counted on to do a lot of things
over her career, but she must continue to push herself in order to
expand her role.

** Krapohl: This was Vicki's best performance in a big game in a long,
long time. Krapohl wasn't shy about pulling the trigger, especially when
she was able to set her feet. The two shots she hit were crucial in
giving Duke back control of the game. While she didn't score in the
second half (and did miss the front end of a one-and-one), she more than
compensated with excellent defense and aggressive rebounding. Her offense
even seemed to invigorate her defense, and it certainly helped that she
didn't have to guard speed demons like Nina Norman. Vicki could play a
crucial role this year coming off the bench, providing ballhandling and
instant (zone-busting) offense. Krapohl now has 117 threes in her career,
just 5 short of Nicole Erickson and 6th place in Duke history. There's a
very good chance that she could finish as high as #2 all-time at Duke.

** Morgan: Dana played for a couple of minutes and picked up a steal, much
to the delight of all.

** RBC Center Notes: The attendance was a pathetic 4,000, after nearly
13,000 filled the building last year. There were almost no fans of Texas
or Purdue--perhaps a 100 total. There were maybe 300 or 400 State fans,
and the rest were Duke fans. In attendance were the last 2 senior classes
for Duke: Michele Matyasovsky, Sheana Mosch, and Krista Gingrich. All
cheered loudly for their team, and booed the refs. Also on hand were
former State star Andrea Stinson (one of the best ever in the ACC), former
WNBA coach and Goestenkors mentor Lin Dunn, and former Duke star Payton