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Devils Raze LadyJacks

Duke 119, Stephen F Austin 53. November 29, 2003. Cameron Indoor Stadium.

Sometimes, when your opponent isn't playing that well, it can fool a
team into thinking that it's doing all right. Duke's early 11-0 lead
against Stephen F Austin was just that sort of fool's gold, as the
LadyJacks turned the ball over 9 times and got off just one shot.
However, Duke turned the ball over on 3 straight possessions with
offensive fouls and missed a number of shots. Still, they had a false
sense of security that SFA exploited with an 18-7 run that tied things up
with ten minutes to go in the half. Duke was a step slow on defense,
failing to close out shooters or get up in passing lanes. Meanwhile, the
Devils coughed up the ball 6 more times, allowing the LadyJacks to gain
extra possessions. Duke got serious after that, closing out the half on a
29-15 run to take control of the game. In the second half, Duke opened
with a 22-0 run over the first six minutes of the half, and things
proceeded from there. The lesson was obvious: when Duke plays as a unit,
they are difficult to stop. When they don't help each other out at both
ends of the court, they are vulnerable. While it's admirable that Duke is
trying to impose its style and will on opponents, they must also do a
better job of reading the defense. Like in their first couple of games,
they tried to lob the ball inside without paying much attention to what
the defense was doing. Once they paid attention to angles and positioning
a bit better, the result was an avalanche of post points (Duke had an
absurd 70-20 advantage in the post.

Most of Duke's early points came on steals or tip-ins. Monique Currie
had a steal and fed it to Alana Beard, while Alana then followed up with a
steal and layup of her own. Iciss Tillis tipped in a couple of misses,
and Lindsey Harding scored on a strong drive to the hoop. However, Currie
and Beard were both whistled for offensive fouls going to the hoop and
Mistie Bass was called for for an elbow while on offense. SFA scored 6
straight points, and then scored 5 more after a couple of Currie free
throws. Mo looked completely out of synch in the early going, losing
control of the ball and then passing it to no one in particular. Jess
Foley fired up the crowd with a three, but SFA came right back with a
three of their own, and then tied the game up at 16 with 10:07 left.
Beard tossed the ball into Bass for her first good look at the basket and
a 2 point lead, but Duke didn't get back on defense and SFA scored off a
missed layup to even things up at 18.

Harding passed the ball into Tillis, who hit a money turnaround jumper
in the lane. After an SFA miss, Harding passed to an open Beard on the
wing, who swished a three--one of just four shots in the half for Alana.SFA turned the ball over, and Harding took advantage again with a strong
drive to the hoop. The LadyJacks stayed in range with 4 points sandwiched
around a Foley-to-Bass connection in the paint. Foley once again found
her classmate down low, this time for a three-point play that fired the
team up. Duke turned up the defensive pressure and started to run a bit.
Harding got a steal and then pulled up for 12' jumper--a perfect response
to her early charging call. Tillis then swooped into the passing lane and
strode down the floor for a layup. The LadyJacks had a three sandwiched
by a couple of Duke free throws and were still barely hanging on with over
four minutes to go at 36-25.

Vicki Krapohl hit a three, but SFA came right back with a three of their
own. Hitting 5 of their 10 three point attempts kept them in the game in
the first half. The Devils closed out the half in style with a 10-3 run,
and gained an emotional lift with the first career game action of Alison
Bales. The doctors limited her to ten minutes of game action, and she
certainly made the most of it. She was clearly a bit nervous and perhaps
a tad rattled at the crowd's enormous response to her entering the game,
but she quickly got over it. Right away, she got a rebound and was
fouled, and hit a free throw after missing her first. Currie returned to
the game and started to regain her rhythm, hooking up with Bass
twice--once in the low block, and once on a fast break. A Krapohl three
gave Duke a 17 point lead, but SFA once again dialed up from downtown to
make it 47-33. The LadyJacks rebounded a Tillis miss and looked to get
the final shot of the half. Krapohl came up with a steal and tossed it
downcourt to Tillis for an easy score, and Duke then swarmed SFA to
prevent a final shot in the last seconds of the half.

Stephen F Austin could not stop Duke from anywhere on the court as Duke
shot 63% in the half. However, Duke didn't defend that well either,
allowing SFA to hit 52% of their attempts. Duke had 15 turnovers to SFA's
18, with a number of held balls on both sides. Duke had a 17-8 advantage
on the boards, including 7-2 on the offensive end. Bass had 12 first half
points and Tillis 10. Beard was an efficient 3-4 for 8 points. Duke
wasn't in much danger of losing, but they needed to improve their effort
on defense and take care of the ball.

That's just what Duke did in the second half, forcing 8 turnovers on
their way to their 22-0 run that put the game away. Duke displayed their
intensity on their first score, where they got two cracks at the basket
before Monique finally tipped it in. Beard later scored on consecutive
drives, including one after a turnover. The Devils were starting to flow
on offense as Coach G made quick and liberal substitutions. After a
mediocre first half, Jess Foley got into the game with a series of perfect
passes. Her first couple in the half were both to Iciss, first on a cut
and then for a 5' jumper. Beard then stole the ball and fed it to Currie.
Mo ran the floor with Iciss and dished off at the last second for a three
point play. Foley then scratched with a couple of foul shots and a short
jumper on a Beard feed.

Bales came back after an SFA three and started a 10-0 run with a simple
post-up on a Beard feed. She followed that up with a couple of free
throws after being fouled hard. Duke continued to run the floor, though
by this time they stopped going after the ball aggressively. Foley fed
Harding twice in transition, and Beard got a stickback to make it 81-36with about twelve minutes to go. The only question still left was whether
Duke would hit 100 before SFA hit 50. After 4 straight LadyJack points,
Duke went on a 19-5 run to answer that question in the affirmative. Beard
scored 6 points, Duke ran the break some more, and then Alana found Mo
underneath the basket for a three point play to hit that 100 point
mark--with over six minutes left! Duke went into the post a few times and
then went with a five guard lineup (including nine minutes of walk-on Dana
Morgan!) in an effort to prevent things from getting any more out of hand
than they already were, but SFA had pretty much quit by this time. The
Devils shot an obscene 71% in the second half and assisted on 19 of their
27 second half field goals. SFA shot just 38% in the half and committed
22 more turnovers, while Duke had just 6 in the half. Even with a very
limited roster, no one played more than 29 minutes while Morgan & Bales
combined for 20 minutes. Coach G was resting Alana at every opportunity,
because the Auburn Tigers will play a very physical brand of basketball.

** Negatives:

1. Closing out on the shooters. Going into the game, Duke knew that SFA
was a guard-oriented team, and yet they gave up too many long-range looks.
Part of this was because Duke was trying to put pressure on the perimeter,
but found themselves out of position on recovery. They were better about
this in the second half--but still not great.

2. Making the right pass. Duke is a very unselfish squad that simply
needs to make better reads. Passes need to be thrown with a purpose, and
teammates need to do a better job of being ready to score when the ball is
thrown to them. This is a matter of timing and familiarity, and should
come as the season rolls on.

** Positives:

1. Rebounding. Duke had more offensive rebounds (16) than SFA had total
rebounds (14). Currie and Tillis alone outrebounded SFA with 15 boards.
Tillis was fantastic at the defensive end in particular, while Harding
jump-started several breaks with her boards.

2. Unselfishness. The more everyone was sharing the ball, the more
everyone wanted to share. Every scholarship player had at least 1 assist,
while four had 5 assists or more.

3. Transition play. Duke was simply awesome in transition, scoring 28
points off of fast breaks. The Devils had great floor spacing and made
all of the right passes, and didn't overpass on the break.


** Bass: Once Mistie got set up on the low block, she was impossible to
stop. She threw a couple of bad passes early on and had another ball go
off her hands, but then she settled down and started banging away down
low. Bass had a couple of three point plays, was extremely active on
defense (blocking 3 shots and taking a charge) and was just very efficient
at both ends. About the only thing she didn't do was grab a lot of
rebounds, though Tillis did swoop in for a couple that were in her
vicinity. Auburn has some big post players and will provide a challengefor Bass down low.

** Tillis: Iciss once again had a sensational game, scoring all over the
place, playing great defense and rebounding like a maniac. She scored on
2 rebound baskets, a turnaround jumper, a steal & layup, a cut, 3 fast
break baskets (including a three point play) and a short jumper. Tillis
made few mistakes and was a steady contributor in both halves. She was
also a regular at the foul line, going 5-5. There were a couple of times
where it looked like she might try to dunk the ball, but then thought
better of it. Right now, she's playing like a senior should.

** Currie: An extremely rough first half for Mo, who looked distracted
almost the entire time. It was as though she couldn't quite figure out
what she wanted to do: drive, shoot or act as a playmaker. She turned
down several open jumpers only to either turn the ball over driving to the
basket or commit an offensive foul. Mo forced a couple of passes into the
post that got picked off, but settled down towards the end of the half
with three late assists. Two of them were to Bass as she finally got a
good look at the post. Her early tip-in in the second half boosted the
entire team and settled her down. Mo's game highlight came on a 2-on-1
break. She was taking it to the basket and a defender had recovered to
block her path. Instead of forcing the issue, she waited til the last
second to pass to Tillis, who converted and was fouled. Mo later had a
twisting finish under the basket for a three point play, took a charge,
found Bass inside for a couple of more hoops, and had a strong drive for a
basket. Playing without a knee brace for the first time, she was a lot
more aggressive in going to the basket. However, she has to stop passing
up wide-open shots in order to take more difficult ones closer to the
basket. While I'm not suggesting that she completely abandon her
aggressive slashing style of play, good teams will play her for the drive.
Mo has to prove that she can stick the medium-range shot to open up some
room to roam down low. Of course, this didn't stop her from attacking the
boards or picking up on the defensive end, which took a lot of pressure
off of Beard's shoulders.

** Beard: Alana was once again strangely quiet in the first half, rarely
forcing the action as SFA keyed in on her. She still scored 8 points and
disrupted the LadyJacks defensively, taking a charge and deflecting the
ball a few times. In the second half, she turned her pressure up
several notches and made things very unpleasant for the LadyJacks. Alana
missed a couple of jumpers to start the second half but just kept on
coming with a couple of hard drives and a series of great passes. In
particular, she had perfect looks for Bales and Currie underneath the
basket. Beard poured it on with a 16' jumper and a short turnaround in
the lane. And of course, she was tough in transition. Beard's leadership
is tremendous right now, serving as the team's emotional focus. When she
ups her level of play, everyone else follows. At the same time, she's
taking extra care to get everyone involved and set up her teammates as
much as possible. The fact that seven players were in double figures was
not a coincidence; Beard worked hard to make sure this would happen.

** Harding: Lindsey had a very strong game at both ends, scoring on 2
twisting drives, twice in transition, and once on a short jumper. She
went up high for many of her rebounds and pressured the ball. Lindsey
continues to pass up open jumpshots but does look fully healed. Her best

play came on that short jumper she took in transition, a play that was
doubly smart because she knew that the refs were calling a lot of
offensive fouls. Harding also took a charge and was extremely physical
with her opponents.

** Foley: For some reason, Jess has tended to drift a bit when she enters
the game, getting out of position on defense, making bad passes and
rushing shots. Then she settles down a bit and contributes. She's a
player who benefits from extended playing time rather than spot minutes,
because she has to work her way into a rhythm. Once she found that rhythm
against SFA, she was unstoppable, hitting short jumpers, threes, free
throws and moving exquisitely without the ball. Jess always looks for the
cutters and has great timing with her passes, and does a good job of
cutting herself. Tillis and Harding were the primary beneficiaries of her
passes, either on cuts or in transition. It was also good to see her put
some points on the board once again after a rough couple of early games.

** Krapohl: Vicki continues to play extremely well. She hit a couple of
three point bombs late in the first half to help extend Duke's lead, and
also prowled the passing lanes for some steals. In the second half, she
had 2 rare two-point field goals, both in transition. One came when Iciss
Tillis stole the ball, ran it downcourt, and realized that she had a bad
angle to finish. She passed to Vicki, who just barely got the shot over
the advancing defender to finish. The other came on a steal & layup.
Krapohl did a nice job of pushing the ball in transition, finding Tillis
and Currie for fast break baskets. Vicki also took care of the ball and
did a reasonable job of staying out of matchup problems.

** Bales: Alison was solid in her first career appearance. It helped
that she dwarfed most of her opponents in size & strength, but it's
obvious that she has excellent fundamentals. She sees the floor well and
is always looking to pass, finding Bass on a high-low and hitting Beard
for a turnaround jumper. Ali also had a nice post-up after Beard fed her
the ball and wrestled away a rebound from a LadyJack, getting fouled. She
was only out of the proper defensive position once as she was a step slow
in getting to the basket, and was also called for a foul on a block
attempt. Bales blocked 2 shots with ease, pulling down the rebound after
one of them. If she can get healthy and in shape, she will give Duke a
different dimension down low.

** Morgan: Dana continues to get comfortable on the floor. She played
solid defense and started a break with a steal. Later, she popped a
long-range three with a hand in her face. With her ballhandling and
shooting, she's been a big asset in practice.

** Cameron Craziness: Even without most of the students, there was a good
crowd of around 4,000. There were a few band members in town who played
the fight song at the appropriate time. Also in attendance was Jason
Williams, who signed more than a few autographs.