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Duke Women's Basketball - The Year in Review, Part II

II. Player-By-Player Evaluation

** Michele Matyasovsky 6-1 F Sr 5 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 1.2 apg, 19 blocks

Season Recap: Once again, Michele fended off all comers and held on to her
starting job. Michele was a role player's role player, content to set
screens, get rebounds, keep the offense flowing and play denial defense.
There were times that the team could have used a more consistent offensive
presence from her, but that wasn't really her role. The reason why she
started is that you always knew what you were going to get from her. That
didn't always translate into stats, but her presence in a game usually
made the offense flow better.

Statistically, Michele's senior year was the least impressive of her
career. This was due in part to bringing in new players to roam the
paint, but only up to a point. Offensively, Michele simply struggled.
She played about the same number of minutes this year and took almost
exactly the same number of shots as the prior two years, but her shooting
fell from 52% to 43%. Her three point shooting dropped from 36% to 29%.
Part of this was a function of losing Currie, a factor that affected all
of the role players' offensive games, but Mattie missed plenty of open
shots. The good news for Michele is that she found other ways to
contribute, posting career bests in assists, blocks and steals. Like the
rest of her team, she took on the persona of a great defensive player.
Her defense was extremely underrated as she regularly took on taller
players in the post and did a good job on them. Just as important as her
play on the court was her leadership off of it. The easygoing senior was
a big key in helping the freshman class adjust. On senior night, Brooke
Smith wrote Michele's #41 on her arm with the words "Our Buddy" underneath

Michele started in every game of her senior year and in 69 of her 136
career games. Most of those were played out of position, either at center
or power forward. Considering that she started her career in the
backcourt, this was an indicator not only of her versatility but of her
willingness to fill any role for the team. Her improvement as a defender
showed what experience can bring to a team, because she relied on
positioning, anticipation and trickery in defending the post. A great
example came against Tennessee, when she anticipated passes and came
around defenders to tip them away for steals. Despite not being much of a
leaper, Mattie snuck in for 6 rebounds against a huge UT frontline,
including two crucial stickbacks. Her experience came in handy once
again versus Arkansas, with 9 points and 2 assists in a very tight game.

The game against Florida International would prove to be one of her
career highlights. She was assigned to guard 6-8 center Sylvia Mesa and
made her into a complete non-factor. Despite giving up 7 inches, Michele
fronted her perfectly, deflecting a number of passes thrown into Mesa. On
one occasion where Mesa actually caught the ball, she brought it down,
allowing Michele to block it! Mattie also took the slower FIU posts
outside in hitting 3 threes. She kept up her shooting streak against
Tulsa, hitting 3 of 4 from long range. Unfortunately, those 6 threes
would wind up being nearly half of her season output. She kept up her
solid scoring output with 10 against Iowa State.

In the near-fiasco against Virginia, Michele was one of the few players
who scored. Her 4 points along with 7 rebounds made a difference. When
the team was struggling against Georgia Tech, she proved herself to be a
true glue player by hitting several crucial long-range shots, including a
three that gave Duke the lead in the second half. Against Wake Forest,
she was absolutely clutch in a game where the Devils were otherwise doing
their best to blow it. First off, when Wake shockingly took a second-half
lead, Michele calmly scored on a cut and a turnaround jumper in the lane.
Late in the game, when Wake had closed within 2, Michele drove and hit a
big-time runner that gave Duke the cushion they needed. Mattie struggled
against the physical UNC frontline but made up for it with strong scoring
and rebounding performances against Maryland and Florida State. The
latter game was still in doubt until Michele carved up the FSU defense
with slick passing and timely cuts. Matyasovsky was averaging a
respectable 6.8 ppg and thriving on the wing.

Then the bottom fell out. Michele was utterly abused by UConn,
providing little help anywhere on the court. Moving back to the post, her
game suffered greatly, and she only managed to score a total of 25 points
over the next seven games. Her last truly shining moment came at home
against NC State, where she scored 9 straight points and dominated
inside and out. The six field goals she would sink that night turned out
to be one less than the number of shots she'd hit in the team's remaining
8 games. The biggest play she made in the postseason was grabbing the
rebound of Wake's last-second chance to tie. In the last couple of games
of her career, she did make a defensive splash, tallying up a total of 5
blocks and 4 steals, pacing Duke's strong defensive effort. As always,
she did whatever she could to help the team, even when her own skills
weren't up to par.

Michele leaves a legacy as a player who put team above self but who
could rise to the occasion when needed. Who can forget her freshman year
in the ACC Tournament, when Georgia Schweitzer flipped her a pass that put
the game away? Or in fall of 2001, after Duke had been stomped by
Tennessee--Michele carried a depressed team to a win over Georgia Tech.
Most impressively, the way Michele handled herself in the post was one of
the biggest keys to Duke's success in the past four seasons. It's all
down to a deep understanding of the game, one where seeing the game
several plays ahead at a time was a matter of routine. Her game was about
being in the right place at the right time and staying out of the wrong
place, keeping the offense flowing well. Most of all, she won and kept on
winning, a subtle but crucial part of 4 ACC Champions. Michele was never
a star nor a player who put up big numbers night after night, and she
certainly didn't play as well down the stretch as anyone would have liked,
but that doesn't diminish what she did accomplish. She has a job with
the LPGA all set up after graduation, but she can always come back into
Cameron and see the banners that she helped to raise.

Best Games: FIU (11 pts, 6 rbd, 3-3 3FG), @ Georgia Tech (11 pts, 4 rbd,
2 ast), Florida State (12 pts, 4 rbd, 2 ast), NC State (13 pts, 4 rbd, 2
ast, 1 blk)

Statwise: Michele was nearly a top 25 scorer at Duke, finishing 26th with
827 points. She was Duke's 7th all-time shot-blocker with 68, finished
#19 in threes with 46, and shot 75.2% from the foul line, good for 8th
all-time. Mattie finished right behind Mosch in overall wins with 121 and
ACC regular season wins with 55.

** Sheana Mosch 5-10 G Sr 7.9 ppg, 3 rpg, 1.5 apg, 1.6 spg

Notable 2003 Achievements: All-ACC Tournament 2nd Team
All-Tournament South Padre Shootout

Season Recap: Sheana had a rather odd career at Duke. Not since Payton
Black has there been a player who could look like a superstar on one night
and a role player the next. Her career statistics were excellent in many
categories, but one always had the sense that she could have done even
more. Just when it looked like her senior season was about to go down the
drain, she would perk up and make some huge plays in a game. While it was
frustrating to see her hesitate and second-guess herself on the court so
often, it was just as exhillarating to see her joy for the game and love
of her teammates. Coach G noted that she and Michele were perfect players
to coach, because they always put the needs of the team above their own
individual glory. Not only that, but Sheana in particular never moped or
whined about having to take a less glamorous role on the team. Indeed,
there were few players who cheered on her teammates more enthusiastically
than Sheana. In her role as a co-captain, her chest-bumps to each of the
starters before the game fired up the team and served as a symbolic
reminder that even though she had seniority on the team, she was still
behind them all the way. So though Mosch perhaps didn't attain the
heights that her talent tantalized us with, she succeeded in what may be
the most important aspect of sports: she was a great teammate.

With Monique Currie out of the starting lineup due to injury, Sheana was
tapped to start at the beginning of the year. That only lasted five games
thanks to a prolonged shooting slump to start off the season (13-42 in her
first six games). Sheana did try to make up for this in other ways, with
her defense against Tennessee an especially impressive high point. But
Mistie Bass had proven that she was ready to start, and so Sheana moved
back to the bench. This really didn't affect her overall playing time
very much. With Currie & Howe both gone and Harding & Foley still
learning the ropes, Duke still needed her presence out on the floor. In
Duke's dominant late December run, Mosch was one of the players who truly
came alive, raising her average from 5.8 to 8.4 ppg in a matter of just
seven games. No one game was particularly spectacular, just a series of
solid scoring and defensive performances from a position where Duke needed

When the ACC season began, she was one of many players who went into the
tank for awhile. She was 3-14 from the field in her first four ACC games
and was turning the ball over as well. As a result, her playing time
began to dwindle. Then came the Carolina game on the road. Throughout
her career, Sheana has been a Tar Heel slayer. Who can forget her huge
performance on the road in 2001, when she dominated in overtime? Or her
two key threes late in the game to beat the Heels in Cameron? In this
contest, she kept Duke in the game when Alana Beard was out with foul
trouble and in a shooting slump. Sheana responded with 7 points, 5
assists, 4 rebounds and 2 steals. In the overtime, she had a big assist
off a drive to Tillis for three and hit a short runner that put the game

Sheana followed that big game with a season high 15 points against
Maryland, but then slumped once again, combining for just 9 points over
the next four games, shooting 3-15. That included a gooseegg against
UConn in one of the worst games of her career. As February rolled around,
she finally stopped second-guessing herself on the court, stopped worrying
about offending her teammates and just started playing. The result was
nothing less than a dramatic rescue of a season going down the tubes. Her
offense returned in the rematch with Virginia, and this time Sheana had 11
points and 4 boards. Moreover, the Cavs seemed to have no answer for her
drives and pull-up jumpers. She followed that up with solid games against
Georgia Tech and Wake, but really saved her best for part two against UNC.

After hearing some hype about how the Heels had the nation's deepest
backcourt, Mosch responded with 16 points and 4 steals. Sheana disrupted
the Heels on defense and was unstoppable on offense, firing up threes and
nailing short jumpers & drives. She kept up her scoring down the stretch,
pouring in 12 against Maryland, 13 against FSU and 14 against NC State on
Senior Day. That was certainly an emotional game for her, and she was
nothing short of brilliant. With State going hard to the boards, Mosch
was able to leak out for fast break basket after fast break basket. Her
struggles in the ACC Tournament opener matched Duke's, with just 5 points
on 1-6 shooting. On the other hand, her reemergence against Georgia Tech
(16 points) and timely scoring against UNC (11 points, including 4 huge
points in the last minute of the first half) demonstrated how well Duke
played in both of those contests.

Unfortunately, Sheana picked an unfortunate time to go into another
shooting slump, this being the NCAA tournament. She was just 3-12 in the
first three games, but she did pick up her play on the defensive end. In
fact, it was her crucial steal against Georgia star Alexis Kendrick that
preserved the tight win. Against Texas Tech, she got to run a bit and
finished several breaks, and came up with the rebound after Iciss Tillis
blocked a huge shot towards the end of the game. With desperation setting
in against Tennessee, Sheana hit a three and played excellent defense.
Her last game was a solid one, as she was one of only two Duke players in
double figures.

Sheana's individual career was quite a roller-coaster ride. Frequently,
the only thing stopping her on the court was herself. The difference in
attitude when Sheana thought too much about what she was doing and when
she managed to stop thinking and just play was startling. When Mosch was
in the flow of the game and took what was available, she was unstoppable.
Everyone knows about her ability to finish in transition, but her superb
handle and tricky step-back jumper meant that she could get off her own
shot whenever she wanted. But she wouldn't take the shot, in game after
game, or she'd hesitate and wind up taking a worse shot. As a senior, her
long slumps really hurt her overall numbers. She had career worsts in
field goal percentage, 3 point FG%, free throw %, assists, rebounds and
overall scoring. She did play fewer minutes, but only 4 fewer per game.
The one thing she did increase was her steals total, reflecting the team's
overall commitment to defense.

Sheana in many ways was a bridge player, linking the pre-Beard era to
the post-Beard era, one where Duke suddenly became competitive in
recruiting at an elite level. Mosch was a typical Duke recruit when she
committed: a top 30 type talent who had won a lot of games in high school.
Mosch's play was along the lines of Jen Scanlon or Peppi Browne--slash to
the basket, hit the occasional short jumper, and get fouled as often as
possible. As a freshman, she got better as the season went on and her
teammates started trusting her with the ball. She scored 25 points in an
NCAA game. She had trouble asserting herself when Beard came arrived,
until her remarkable 6 game stretch where she dominated the ACC,
culminating in a 30 point game against Clemson. An injury slowed her down
as a junior, but she continued to soldier on for a depleted ballclub. It
was pretty clear at this point that she would never make the leap into
true stardom, but instead was content to stay a valued role player. I'm
not sure she really had the ego or obsessiveness necessary to become a
star, though the way she tantalized the fans with occasional and
spectacular scoring exhibitions thrilled some and puzzled everybody else.

As I mentioned earlier, in the end she proved that there was more to
basketball than the outcome. Her guidance and support as a teammate, her
unselfish attitude and unceasing enthusiasm made her a player one could
root for. One thing that Mosch left behind was a long string of wins.
Two Final Fours, 3 first place finishes, 4 league titles and a record
number of total and ACC wins are amazing accomplishments, and many of her
winning records may never be broken. Not a bad legacy for this sometimes
exasperating but always delightful player.

Best Games: FIU (12 pts, 5 rbd, 2 ast, 2 stl), @UNC (7 pts, 4 rbd, 5 ast,
2 stl), UNC (16 pts, 4 stl), @FSU (13 pts, 5 rbd, 5 stl), NC State (14
pts, 5 rbd, 5 ast), Tennessee (10 pts, 4 rbd, 2 stl)

Statwise: Sheana did rather nicely in career winning marks, breaking the
record for career ACC wins (57, or 69 if you count ACC tournaments) and
overall wins (124). Sheana also holds the record for most consecutive
games played with 140, a mark that may never be broken. She also did
rather nicely in some other career numbers, including 11th in scoring
(1283), 9th in assists (271), 7th in steals (183), 4th in FT made (346),
and 3rd in FT% (79.4%).

** Alana Beard 5-11 G/F Jr 22 ppg, 6.9 rpg, 3 apg, 1.3 bpg, 2.8 spg,
53% FG, 78% FT

Notable 2003 Achievements: Kodak All-American
AP 1st Team All-American
USBWA All-American
Full Court Press 1st Team All-American
Basketball Times 1st Team All-American
ACC Player of the Year
1st Team All-ACC
1st Team All-ACC Tournament
All-ACC Defensive Team
ACC 50 Greatest Women's Basketball Players
ACC Top 10 Women's Athletes
Midwest Regional MVP
All-Midwest Regional Team
All-Final Four
ESPN National Player of the Year
Wade Trophy Finalist
Naismith Trophy Finalist
Honda Award Finalist
6-time ACC Player of the Week
South Padre Shootout MVP
Duke Classic MVP
Paradise Jam MVP
Team Best Offensive Player
Team Best Defensive Player
Team Practice Player of the Year

Season Recap: Alana took the summer off from competition and worked on
her body. The results were impressive, as she went from a skinny guard to
a player with a well-defined physique. She needed that new body right
away when Currie went down. I thought that she brought a lot of Currie's
game to the table this year, using power as well as quickness to get to
the basket. The bottom line was one of the greatest seasons in the
history of the ACC and an affirmation of her status as one of the best to
ever play the game. It got to the point where numbers that would have
been season-bests for some players looked below average for her. Early in
the season, it was obvious that she had somehow reached another level, one
where the competition at this level no longer even has a chance to stop
her one-on-one. What makes Beard great is not her considerable array of
skills, nor her ability to dominate the game at either end of the floor,
nor even her team-first attitude. Her greatness lies in her unquenchable
thirst for winning and hatred of losing. When the game is on the line,
Alana made herself into a player who will come up with whatever is needed
to win the game.

The irony of this is that a player who is almost entirely unconcerned
with stats and individual glory will wind up as the most decorated player
in the history of the university. She has already shattered a number of
records and more will continue to fall in her last season. While most of
the national player of the year awards have escaped her, she's still been
on more All-American teams than any previous Duke player. More than
simply a great player, she has become a magnet, a walking ambassador for
the game. Her rapport with children and sheer charisma have given her
near rock-star status in the women's hoops world--a rare event, indeed.
Alana's presence sells tickets and makes the game look better. As a
devotee of the game who is always looking to get more people interested, I
simply say, "Watch Alana Beard. Then tell me if you don't like women's
basketball." The program has gained a number of fans simply because of
what she can do on the court.

Against teams like ECU, there wasn't even a question of them being able
to stop her. With fifteen minutes left in the game, Alana had 22 points
and ECU had 24. The real challenge would be Tennessee, and Alana
responded magnificently, despite her long-range jumpers going off-course.
She dominated UT star Kara Lawson, stripped frosh star Shanna Zolman twice
and flirted with a triple double. That gave her the early lead in the
player of the year race, but Diana Taurasi was right behind her. Beard
then went to the Paradise Jam and dominated, dropping 28 and 27 points on
ODU and Arkansas, respectively. She hit the game-winning free throws
against the Ladybacks in overtime after missing a couple of one-and-ones
late in regulation. After she won the MVP of that event, she added best
player honors at the Duke Classic, ripping through Howard and St.
Joseph's, the latter to the tune of 29 points. Even when her jumper
wasn't falling, Beard was scoring by posting up for short turnarounds or
driving through traffic.

The St Joe's game started an 8-game streak where she scored 20 or more
points in each game. The game at Tulsa stood out thanks to her getting 10
rebounds and 7 steals along with 27 points. Teams like Detroit Mercy and
Iowa State had no chance against her in the South Padre Island Shootout,
where she again took MVP honors. After a bad first half against Clemson,
Alana took over the game, scoring on almost all of her 7 offensive
rebounds and dominating Clemson star Chrissy Floyd. Then came the game
for the ages against Virginia. On a night when her teammates were
contributing absolutely nothing, Alana saved the day with a 41 point, 10
rebound masterpiece. That included the controversial game-winning free
throws as well as shot after shot that preceded it.

Alana had to show that she was human sometime, and that came against
Georgia Tech. Held scoreless in the first half, Alana did hit 6 of her
last 10 shots for a 19 point, 7 rebound performance. That included a
couple of shots that clinched the game for Duke. Still, the team wasn't
playing that well as a whole, something that was clearly bothering Beard.
Despite her huge numbers, her preference was to get her teammates involved
before she did her thing. Instead, Beard was being forced to put up
bigger and bigger numbers just to assure wins. The Wake Forest game was a
case in point, where a 29 point, 11 rebound, 5 assist, 4 steal, and 3
block game was just barely enough to scratch out the victory.

Thankfully, the UNC game provided an opportunity to correct that. Alana
struggled at the onset, shooting just 1-6 from the field and sitting out
several minutes with foul trouble. But she picked it up in the second
half, making such plays as a finish of a lob pass from Tillis. She took
over down the stretch, scoring on cuts, post-ups and free throws. In the
overtime, Alana blocked a Coretta Brown shot, grabbed the rebound, and
knifed her way upcourt for a basket. Alana also had a three point play
and stickback in OT, scoring 23 of her 26 points after the first half.
Duke finally blew out an ACC opponent when they played Maryland, and so
Alana only had to play 26 minutes. Against Florida State, she struggled
with foul trouble and a defense aimed at slowing her down. When she
picked up her fourth with 12 minutes to go, Coach G opted not to bring her
back in so as to increase the confidence level of her teammates, letting
them prove they could finish the job against a good team. With just 7
points, it would be the only time all year that she failed to crack double
digits in scoring.

After another double-double, this time on the road against NC State, the
big game against UConn loomed. In the minds of many, this game would go a
long way in determining the national player of the year. Beard won the
battle, outscoring Taurasi 26-17 and stripping her of the ball twice, but
Taurasi won the war. Duke could not overcome a bad first half, one where
Alana shot just 2-7 and had 3 turnovers. Still, her determination in the
second half was truly inspiring once she decided to take over in the last
ten minutes of the game. Beard went back to work against Clemson, a bit
freer to work on the offensive end now that Lindsey Harding was starting.
Beard scored 21 against Clemson and 24 against Virginia in the rematch,
doing most of her work on the foul line. She then sped past Georgia Tech
for 23 points, though she did come up with a minor ankle injury. Alana
then had an easy day at the office in a rout of Wake.

That set up the rematch against UNC. She dominated Nikki Bell of the
Heels on defense and still had time to score 19 of her own points on a
night where the scoring was quite balanced. Beard wound up her regular
season with three solid games that all turned out to be easy victories.
She turned an ankle against FSU, which kept her out of the game for 13
minutes, but her teammates picked up the slack with no problems. Then
came the ACC Tournament. Against Wake, Beard uncharacteristically missed
6 free throws, many of which could have put the game away down the
stretch, but she still wound up with 18 points. Alana only scored 11
points against Georgia Tech, but set the tone early on with 7 quick
points. Against UNC, Alana once again overcame a medicore first half and
finished with 16 points and 20 rebounds--10 offensive. She simply
outworked UNC at both ends of the court.

In the NCCA Tournament, Beard was her usual unstoppable self against
Georgia State, a tough team that really hung in there. Alana played a lot
in the post, coming up with 8 boards and 4 blocks. She turned an ankle in
practice before the Utah game and there was some doubt as to her
availability. Beard responded by icing her ankle all night and producing
a brilliant 27 point performance on 10-12 shooting. Alana started with a
steal and three point play, demonstrating right away that she was not
going to be stopped or even slowed. She was hitting every kind of shot
imaginable, including a floater that she threw up as she was falling out
of bounds on a fast break. Beard was slowed by a Georgia squad that used
a sticky zone, scoring just 11 points. That included a crucial 10' jumper
that crawled over the rim with about a minute to go. Alana also shut down
quick guard Alexis Kendrick, who had been tearing up Duke's defense.

Next up was the matchup with Texas Tech. Alana was brilliant against a
great player in Jia Perkins, dominating her at both ends. Beard had 28
points, 8 boards, 4 blocks and 3 steals, getting to the hoop whenever she
wanted. Against Tennessee, Beard put on another show, hitting a
buzzer-beating three at the half and nearly singlehandedly willing her
team to victory down the stretch. Her most amazing pplay was a pass she
threw that was deflected and seemingly in the possession of a Lady Vol.
Instantaneously, Beard appeared next to that player and grabbed the ball
out of her hands and then scored. She was inconsolable after the loss,
but she literally did everything she could to win.

The question that will certainly be nagging at Beard this summer is what
could she have done to make her team better? With Currie gone, there was
no question that Alana had to pick up her scoring slack, raising her
average nearly 3 points per game. Her shooting percentage fell off as a
result, from an absurd 57% to a more human 53%. After increasing her
strength and definition, she was able to reach the free throw line with
greater ease, increasing her attempts by over 100. That improved strength
also helped her on the boards, with her 6.9 a game being a career best.
Along those lines, playing more on the frontline meant that her
shotblocking totals went way up but that her steal totals were down a bit.
At this point, Beard's only remaining weaknesses are an inconsistent
jumper and occasional carelessness with the ball. Hitting only 29% of her
threes made the team susceptible to zones. While she has an excellent
handle and a deadly crossover, Alana does sometimes lose control of the
ball. Most of these are errors of commission, where she's trying to make
something happen. One area where Beard has completely taken control is in
leadership. She is finally comfortable as the team's leader as well as
its best player, giving emotional pep talks before the game and pumping up
her teammates when they are involved in a big play. Alana truly is the
ultimate competitor, hating losing even more than she loves winning. Only
a small handful of teams in the country have the personnel to slow her
down, and no one can truly stop her. I can't wait to see what she has in
store for her senior season.

Best Games: Tennessee (22 pts, 9 rbd, 7 ast, 5 stl), Arkansas (27 pts, 8
rbd, 3 ast), @ Virginia (41 pts, 10 rbd, 2 blk, 1 stl), @UNC (26 pts, 12
rbd, 3 ast), UNC (16 pts, 20 rbd, 2 ast, 2 blk, 2 stl), Utah (27 pts, 2
stl), Texas Tech (28 pts, 8 rbd, 4 blk, 3 stl), Tennessee (29 pts, 6 rbd)

Statwise: Alana shattered 8 records this year, including points in a game
(41, Virginia), points in a season (813), FG made (294), FG attempted
(558), FT made (201), FG attempted in a game (30, Virginia), double-figure
scoring games (36), and tied FG made in a game (16, Virginia). Alana also
obliterated the career steals mark and now has 324 in her career. Beard
is poised to wipe out several other career marks next year. She has 2016
points and trails only Chris Moreland and her 2232 points. Her 605
rebounds make her 15th on Duke's all-time list; she's on track to finish
4th all-time at Duke. With 377 assists, she's currently #5 all-time at
Duke and will probably finish #2. Alana has 103 career blocks, good
enough for 4th place all-time and 5 behind Iciss Tillis. Beard will
likely finish second or third. With 58 career three-pointers, she's #17
on the list and has a chance to finish in the top ten. Alana's 431 free
throws put her at third on Duke's list, and she will likely shatter Chris
Moreland's record of 576 next year. Alana will also probably take over
the lead in categories like FG made, FG attempted and others, including
double-figure scoring games, where at 97 she's just 9 back of all-time
leader Chris Moreland. In terms of all-time ACC numbers, she's currently
tied for 8th in career steals and has a chance to reach #2. She's #11 in
scoring and also has a chance to reach #2 there. And if she breaks Chris
Moreland's free throw records, those will also be ACC records.

Strengths: Quickness, defense, intensity, lack of fear, ability to absorb
punishment, clutch play, leadership
Needs to Work On: Ballhandling, jumper
Role: Leader, primary scorer, primary defender
Must: Balance offense and defense

** Iciss Tillis 6-4 F Jr 14.5 ppg, 7.4 rpg, 2.1 apg, 1 bpg,
2.1 spg, 39% 3FG, 80% FT

Notable 2003 Achievements: Kodak All-American
HM AP All-American
Basketball Times 4th Team All-American
1st Team All-ACC
All-Midwest Regional Team
ACC Tournament MVP
1st Team All-ACC Tournament
Wade Trophy Finalist
Naismith Award Finalist
3-time ACC Player of the Week
All-Tournament Duke Classic
All-Tournament Paradise Jam
Team Rebounding Award
Team FT% Award

Season Recap: Iciss had what can only be called an excellent season,
improving her numbers across the board and helping lead her team to its
best ever record. Still, there were grumblings about her inability to
fully maximize her potential and tendency to disappear during some big
games. This is probably because she has more talent and versatility
than virtually anyone in college basketball. A 6-4 post player with
excellent feet, long arms, good defensive instincts, a feathery shooting
touch to three point range and the grace to finish on fast breaks is
simply a rare creature indeed. While she is not built to bang around in
the post, she did a reasonable job of accepting contact or at least
shrugging it off. Her handle is decent for a player of her height but
isn't as deceptive as Beard's. Still, she tried to get to the basket more
this year, and managed to get to the foul line more often as a result.
Iciss' real problem is that there were no reliable scorers behind her in
the rotation. Once teams realized that they couldn't stop Beard no matter
what, they started keying in on Tillis, focusing on her distaste for
physical play. Opponents would bump her, elbow her in the ribs when the
ref wasn't looking, and generally do anything to get her out of her
groove. Sometimes it worked and she would disappear, but she also would
stage some big comebacks after slow starts. More than anyone else on the
team, Iciss missed the physical presence of Monique Currie and her ability
to draw the defense to her. Offensively, she is best suited to be a #3
threat who draws one-on-one defensive pressure. Her versatility really
comes to the fore in such situations, because she can drive without
worrying about going through two players, post up an opponent knowing that
she won't be doubled, or take her game outside understanding that she will
get open looks. What must also be understood is that even when she isn't
scoring, she's still getting rebounds, assists, blocks and steals. Iciss
was productive all year even if she didn't prove herself to be an
unstoppable offensive superstar.

Probably the most aggravating thing about her game is her tendency to
drift. She loses focus at times and as a result will make an inexplicably
bad pass or take a beyond-awful shot. After a gentle reminder from Coach
G, Iciss will then snap back into form. When she's on, Iciss is a truly
fearsome player to contend with. In the opener against ECU, Iciss
drifted, missing a number of easy shots. On the other hand, she was
unstoppable against Tennessee in the very next game. In addition to a
buzzer-beating shot at the end of the first half, she had a huge three
point play, a superb pass to Beard, and a couple of clutch jumpers to keep
Tennessee at bay. Throw in a couple of threes and it was clear that UT
didn't know what to do with her.

Iciss played well in the Paradise Jam, tallying up 21 rebounds against
very good Old Dominion and Arkansas clubs after grabbing just 9 in her
first three games. Tillis can really stuff a stat sheet. Against ODU,
she had 14 points, 11 boards, 6 turnovers and 4 assists. Turnovers would
prove to be a big problem all year for her. Duke's next few opponents
didn't put up much of a fight, and Tillis' overall play was decent but not
spectacular. That changed when FIU came to town with a plethora of posts.
Iciss startled her foes with her versatility, opening up by hitting a
jumper and a three, then finishing on the break, and then going inside
with a hook. Defensively, she was jumping the lanes for 5 steals and
blocking shots. When she got into a rhythm and built up her confidence,
it was really hard to stop her.

Tulsa beckoned for the Blue Devils as Iciss enjoyed her homecoming game
in a stadium mere minutes away from her house. After some initial
jitters, Iciss had her usual varied game: 19 points, 5 rebounds, 4 steals,
and 3 assists. After a mediocre showing at the South Padre Island
Shootout, Iciss came up big in a tight game against Clemson. Or, rather
she came up big in the second half, scoring 16 of her 19 points. After a
flaky first half, she gathered herself and took it right at the Tigers.
She dropped in a couple of threes and also blew by them in transition.
Most impressively, she was 7-8 from the foul line. Unfortunately, that
was followed by a forgettable, foul-plagued fiasco against Virginia where
she missed all 6 shots. That game was an excellent example of what Duke
would have to deal with if no one helped Beard on a regular basis.

As she usually does, Iciss bounced back, playing some brilliant ball
against Georgia Tech. On a night when Beard had trouble getting her
offensive game going, Tillis carried the Devils with an awesome array of
moves. That included a post-up, a jumper off a spin move, two scores in
transition, two runners, a three and two turnaround baseline jumpers.
Against a big team, Iciss did a marvelous job of using her quickness to
spin away and open up some room for herself. This was one of many games
where Tillis flirted with a triple-double.

After a decent but sloppy game against Wake, Iciss once again had first
half difficulties, this time against archfoe UNC. Going toe-to-toe with
Carolina's imposing front line, Iciss came up with 24 points, 14 rebounds
6 assists and 4 blocks. That included a basket late in the game that put
Duke ahead and a three in overtime that helped crush UNC's spirit. She
followed up that game with an efficient showing in a blowout against
Maryland and a fantastic performance against FSU. Once again, Beard was
in foul trouble, and it was up to Tillis to step up. That she did, with
a career-high 30 points and 8 boards. There was nothing FSU could do to
stop her in the post, and she went for the throat.

Unfortunately, Iciss couldn't stay consistent. She was sloppy against
NC State with 4-10 shooting and 5 turnovers, and downright got her butt
kicked against UConn. With just 9 points on 4-11 shooting and 5
turnovers, she just wasn't much of a factor on offense, though she did get
10 boards. Things continued to stay ugly with a 5-13 and 7 turnover
showing against Clemson. Finally, Iciss turned it around with a focused
game against a very good Virginia team. She scored in a variety of ways,
made good decisions with the ball, played tremendous defense (6 steals),
and frustrated UVa's star Brandi Teamer. After a couple of solid games
against Georgia Tech and Wake Forest, Iciss ripped through UNC to the tune
of 21 points, 10 boards, 3 blocks and 2 steals. That also included a
nasty shot to the ribs from Leah Metcalf, but Iciss eventually shook it
off and went back to tormenting the Heels inside and out. Tillis was a
bit quiet down the stretch of the regular season, only cracking double
digits in scoring once in three games. Of course, none of those three
games were competitive.

Iciss looked out of synch against Wake in the ACC tournament, turning
the ball over 5 times. She did score 14 points and grab 9 rebounds, but
also fouled out when the game was still in doubt. Seeing Georgia Tech
made everything right again, and Iciss had one of her typically solid
games against them, nailing 3 threes. In the ACC finals, Iciss was
absolutely awful in the first half, thrown completely out of synch by a
physical UNC defense. She put the first half aside, focused on using her
speed and perimeter skills, and proceeded to drop 21 points on the Heels
in the second half, earning tournament MVP honors. What this season was
all about for Tillis was adjusting to physical play and bouncing back from
poor starts. The ACC Tournament was the ultimate example of this.

Iciss was mediocre against Georgia State but did quite well against Utah
in the NCAA Tournament, with a double-double, no turnovers and 4 steals as
well as excellent post defense. The Georgia game would be her best
showing, as she ripped the zone defense for 21 points, with ten of them
coming in the last five minutes of the game. Unfortunately, Iciss was
overmatched by Texas Tech's physical play, getting in early foul trouble
and shooting just 3-13 from the field. However, she hit a huge three with
under four minutes to go that put Duke on top, and later blocked a
Plenette Pierson shot with seconds to go that helped seal the win.
Tennessee had her figured out for the rematch, using Gwen Jackson on the
perimeter and then muscling Tillis hard to throw her off. This time,
there would be no bounce-back for Iciss. When the team needed her scoring
in the worst way, she could only manage 4-11 from the floor.

More than anything, it was her performance in the last couple of games
of the year that touched off some criticism--especially after she had been
named a Kodak All-American. An objective look at her season as a whole,
however, shows that she was much more consistent this year than last and
did a great job overall on the boards, even without the help of Monique
Currie. When she was at her best, Duke was nearly unstoppable. Against
some elite teams with elite coaches, she found those opponents attacking
her weaknesses avidly and didn't always adjust. Iciss is never going to
be a low-post center who can bang with the best of him. That's simply not
her game and it never will be. On the other hand, you don't want to see a
player as versatile as she is simply standing behind the three point line
the whole game, waiting to toss up another shot. When she is able to mix
it up offensively with drives, short jumpers, assorted post moves and then
add in the long-range stuff, that's when Tillis is at her best. The
problem is that she sometimes doesn't make the best decisions under
duress, resulting in those errant shots and passes. Tillis will have
Currie, Brittany Hunter and Alison Bales around to help her with some of
the post duties. She'll have a greater chance to play one on one and at
the wing. The key will be to play aggressively but intelligently,
especially when it comes to shooting off-balance shots or trying to
dribble through traffic. If she can avoid just a few basic mistakes in
every game, it will put her game on a much more even keel, allowing her to
be even more devastating. As the Walking Matchup Problem, Iciss can do
pretty much anything on the court. The key for her next year will be to
do it all the time.

Best Games: Arkansas (13 pts, 10 rbd, 2 ast), @Georgia Tech (24 pts, 14
rbd, 6 ast, 3 blk, 1 stl), @UNC (22 pts, 14 rbd, 2 ast, 4 blk, 2 stl),
Florida State (30 pts, 8 rbd, 3 ast), UNC (21 pts, 10 rbd, 3 blk, 2 stl),
UNC (21 pts, 10 rbd, 5 ast, 3 stl), Georgia (21 pts, 4 rbd, 2 stl)

Statwise: Iciss is attacking the career top 10 lists at Duke almost as
aggressively as Alana is, and is actually ahead of her in some categories.
Iciss is currently #9 all-time in scoring with 1311 points, and projects
to finish at #3 all-time. She's #4 in rebounds with 732 and should finish
#2. In assists, Iciss could finish at #8 all-time; she currently is #16
with 233. Tillis has 108 blocked shots and will finish either #1 or #2
when her career ends. She's #5 in steals with 213 and is certain to
finish #2. Her 105 threes put her at #8, and she could finish as high as
#2. Iciss also has a chance at besting the career double-double mark as

Strengths: Versatility, skills, quickness, shooting, shot-blocking
Needs to Work On: Ballhandling, driving to the basket, accepting contact
Role: Secondary scorer, primary rebounder
Must: Play consistently, brush off physical play

** Vicki Krapohl 5-5 G Jr 5.2 ppg, 1.8 rpg, 2.6 apg, 38% 3FG,
1.2 spg

Notable 2003 Achievements: Third Team All-ACC
Team Heart & Hustle Award

Season Recap: A season that started out on the sensational side slid back
to merely good by the end for Vicki. In a way, she was a victim of her
own success. That's because her amazing three point shooting (over 50%)
for much of the year made teams take her seriously as an offensive threat.
Opponents actually tried to guard her on an active basis, making sure that
she never caught the ball cleanly and never had an open look with her feet
set. As long as they did that, Vicki was pretty much neutralized, because
she's no threat to drive and can't really create her own shot. She also
started to rush the good looks she did get down the stretch. While this
hurt her game, it did open things up for her teammates, particularly Alana
Beard. Alana suddenly got one-on-one coverage instead of being
double-teamed all the time.

Despite her struggles and greater bench time as a result, Vicki proved
to be a sterling example of what an enthusiastic teammate should be.
There was never a hint of displeasure when Vicki was moved to off guard
and Lindsey Harding took over at point; indeed, Vicki made sure to show
Lindsey the ropes and gave her constant encouragement. There was no
bigger cheerleader for the team on the bench than Vicki, who genuinely
revelled in her team's success. On the court, Vicki was one of the best
players at talking and keeping people moving, a skill many players find
hard to master. Hopefully she will be a co-captain next year, because she
certainly deserves that honor and responsibility.

Vicki essentially had four jobs: hit the open three, play tough defense
by staying in constant motion, push the ball up the floor, and don't turn
the ball over. Up through the end of February, she was shooting
brilliantly, leading the ACC and even popping up on national lists.
Defensively, she could adequately guard most players, with the notable
exception of the nation's elite. Vicki showed amazing improvement in
pushing the ball up the floor, starting many a fast break with a
thread-the-needle pass. She also did a reasonable job of taking care of
the ball, but a 1.4:1 assist/turnover ratio was good but not great. The
most important aspect of her game was her shooting, because when she hit a
three, it often turned a game around.

Vicki opened the season with 3-3 shooting from long range, but also
turned the ball over 4 times. Against Tennessee, she hit a huge three
that put Duke up by 10 in the second half, and also harrassed Loree Moore
the whole game. She again had a problem with turnovers, coughing up the
ball 3 times. Quiet from the field in her next three games, she did
have 6 assists to just 2 turnovers. Vicki was terrific against Howard,
dropping in 3 threes and coming up with 6 assists. Krapohl also hit a
three against St Joe's and racked up 4 assists, bringing her total in the
Duke classic to 10 assists and 3 turnovers. In the Charleston Southern
game, Vicki matched her career high with 15 points, all of them threes.

After the St Joe's game, Vicki racked up 21 assists to just 5 turnovers
in the next five games. Her overall game was improving in some subtle
ways, due in part to her experience. Defense suddenly became a strength
of hers, not because she magically became quicker, but because she was
reading the flow of a game with greater facility and so was able to
anticipate screens that much easier. On offense, she was used to what
Beard and Tillis could do and so got them the ball in the right spots on
the floor. Krapohl was much more than a placeholder in the starting
lineup; indeed, she had become an important cog in Duke's machine.

Vicki proved that against Clemson in Cameron, one of the best games of
her career. She hit several crucial three pointers, including one in the
second half that wound up as a five point play, but it was her defense
against the mercurical Kanetra Queen that was key to Duke's victory.
Virginia certainly took her seriously, dogging her the entire time and
preventing her from getting any good looks at the basket. Against Georgia
Tech, Vicki got a taste of the future when Lindsey Harding spent much of
the time at point, allowing her to hunt her shot. She was on to the tune
of 3-3 from behind the arc, as well as shadowing Tech sniper Megan Isom.
The Wake Forest game was an interesting one because they left her wide
open in their zone scheme, and she took advantage by dropping 3 threes.
She was starting to rush her shots a bit, however, and turned the ball
over 3 times.

UNC did much the same thing but their superior quickness made it
difficult for Vicki to do anything well, shooting 0-4 from the floor. She
bounced back by hitting 4-9 from three and tallying up 11 assists in the
next two games. Maryland's point guards got shut down, while Vicki was
able to put FSU away with a crucial steal & layup. After an OK game
against NC State, she was overwhelmed by UConn's speed in transition.
Essentially, she was a non-entity in this game and couldn't apply much

That's when Coach G made a change and shifted Vicki over to off guard on
a full time basis. Vicki struggled at times in this role, turning the
ball over 6 times in her first couple of games, but easy wins against Tech
and Wake (along with 50% shooting from three) boosted her confidence.
Getting another shot at UNC gave Vicki plenty of motivation to improve her
performance, and her tremendous 7 assist, 0 turnover, 5 point game was
certainly a bit of vindication. Krapohl twice stole inbounds passes for
easy scores, deflating a UNC team that didn't know what hit them.
Unfortunately, that would be the last truly great game of the year for

From late February to the end of the year, Krapohl struggled from the
floor, shooting just 14-56 (25%). She had 19 assists to 13 turnovers,
hurting her once-pristine ratio. Krapohl was still playing good defense,
though with the ante being raised game by game she started to become less
effective. In the ACC Tournament, she hit a free throw to seal a Duke
victory but was otherwise unremarkable. She was 4-23 in her next four
games and was now really starting to struggle. Vicki finally broke out a
bit against Georgia, a team that dared her to shoot. She hit 3 of her 8
threes and that was enough to help Duke get by. Vicki was no match for
the pressure defenses of Texas Tech and Tennessee, and so was benched
for large portions of those games in favor of Sheana Mosch or Jess Foley.

Again, I think Vicki was a victim of her own success and of Duke's
overall offensive struggles. Once teams realized that they had to guard
Krapohl and that they could do so without being burned too badly by Duke's
other players, things became very difficult indeed for her. I also think
that she started to lose a little bit of confidence down the stretch, and
that's something that will have to be rebuilt. The good news is that I
think Duke will be an improved offensive team overall next year, which
means that Vicki will get better looks at the basket. As a senior, she
will be needed to provide an example for the younger players both on and
off the court. She may not hold on to her starting job, but will continue
to get plenty of minutes as Duke's best perimeter shooter. The goal for
Duke is that whenever Vicki shoots, the opponents should always say, "Oh
no!" as they curse themselves for giving her an open look.

To that end, I'd like to see Krapohl become comfortable with a quicker
release. She got used to having all day to shoot, and when that was no
longer the case, she struggled. Vicki will never be adept at creating her
own shot off the dribble, but she must take advantage of the opportunities
that she gets. Of course, there's nothing wrong with Vicki's heart,
intensity, passion for the game and love of her teammates. There's a
reason why she owns the "Heart & Hustle" award, and why she and Beard mesh
so well on the court; Beard respects players who can match her intensity
in practice and on the court. Krapohl's total devotion to the program and
willingness to do just about anything for it is inspiring, while the fact
that her hard work has made her into a good player is remarkable. With a
little more hard work, she can have a memorable senior year.

Best Games: Charleston Southern (15 pts, 3 rbd, 3 ast), @Georgia Tech (10
pts, 3 rbd, 2 ast), Florida State (8 pts, 4 rbd, 4 ast, 4 stl), North
Carolina (5 pts, 7 ast, 2 stl)

Statwise: Vicki is currently #20 in career assists with 210. She has a
chance at finishing in the top ten next year. Her 112 threes put her at
7th all-time in Duke history, and she has a chance to finish at #2. She's
just behind Alison Day in three point percentage--42.9% to 42.1%.

Strengths: Shooting, passing, defense, hustle
Needs to Work On: Creating her own shot, speeding up her release
Role: Designated shooter, secondary ballhandler
Must: Continue to stay positive, shoot with confidence

** Wynter Whitley 6-2 F So 4.4 ppg, 2.5 rpg

Season Recap: After a promising freshman season where she demonstrated
her defensive tenacity and surprising offensive skills against the
nation's best, Wynter had a season filled with doubt and pain. The death
of her younger brother was the latest tragedy for Wynter, who has also
lost her father and later her best friend. The result was a season where
focusing in on basketball was often very difficult, and what should have
been a triumphant return to her hometown in the Final Four instead was
tinged with sadness. It is thus very difficult to write an evaluation
of Wynter's season because of the unquestionable effect that this had on
her game. It almost seems cruel to comment on some of her less impressive
moments as a result, but I'll try to bracket that as best I can.

As a freshman, Wynter quickly found herself playing a crucial role. She
was a starter right away, a responsibility that began to wear on her a bit
as the season went on, until she proved that she would be more comfortable
coming off the bench. In any event, Whitley quickly demonstrated that she
was by far the team's best post defender, possessing a combination of
size, strength and grit. Her willingness to do the dirty work inside and
absorb contact brought immediate comparison to Duke's best-ever defensive
player, Rochelle Parent. Wynter proved she could do a lot more than
defend, demonstrating a decent outside shot, the ability to post up and
score, and occasionally even putting the ball on the floor and drive to
the hoop. Wynter did a nice job in getting to the foul line and
converting. Whitley was a tough matchup when she was really on, because
of her size, strength, power and mobility. She was the perfect Duke
player because of her versatility, and an instantly popular teammate
because of her sunny off-court personality.

Wynter began the 2003 season on a positive note, playing well against
ECU. With Mo Currie out, Whitley was one of the candidates to take her
starting job and was certainly one of the players expected to help pick up
her scoring slack. The game against Tennessee was a big one for Wynter
and helped demonstrate that Duke deserved to be #1, even without Currie.
Duke got off to a poor start wherein they relied too much on their
perimeter game. Whitley came in off the bench and immediately went hard
to the basket, got offensive rebounds for scores, played tough
defense, and generally showed that Duke wasn't going to be pushed around.
A Whitley who provided that much of a push off the bench was going to make
Duke tough to beat.

Whitley put in some unremarkable performances after that game. She
played especially poorly against Arkansas in a game where Duke really
needed her help. A disturbing pattern was starting to emerge, where
Wynter would either get in quick foul trouble or turn the ball right away.
When the ACC season rolled around, she went from scoring 5-7 points per
game to registering three gooseeggs in a row. The Virginia game was
especially awful, with an 0-4 mark from the field, 3 fouls, 1 turnover and
only 1 rebound. It looked like her season was going to be a complete
waste until the UNC game rolled around.

With Beard and Tillis struggling, Bass getting in foul trouble and
missing free throws, and Krapohl & Harding ineffective, Wynter came in off
the bench and brought the team back to life. She single-handedly
strangled the Heels in the post on defense and did a fantastic job in
blocking out. Stopping the Heels from getting extra shots is always the
first step in beating them. Wynter took a charge, forced a held ball, and
hit some shots early on to keep the team close. That included a post-up
and a 15' jumper. Later in the first half, she hit a three that gave Duke
the lead. It was her rebounding that really kept the team in the game,
tallying her first career double-double.

Wynter followed that up with a solid showing against Maryland in a huge
blowout. After that, she entered into a 6-24 shooting slump, though she
did at least play pretty good defense in the loss to UConn. The rest of
regular season resembled her early season showings, as she was scoring 4
or 5 points a night and grabbing a couple of rebounds. The impact just
wasn't there on a regular basis. In the postseason, she played even less,
failing to score in her last four contests. Her last few games were
agonizing to watch. In contests that were nip and tuck struggles for
the Devils, Wynter would start out either taking bad shots, picking up
immediate fouls, or turning the ball over several times in succession. It
was a combination of frustration, bad luck and a need for immediate
production on the court, because Duke couldn't risk someone needing to
play through a slump. Wynter was having so much trouble concentrating
that she nearly didn't get to travel to Atlanta for the Final Four, and
there was some speculation that she might not return to Duke for her
junior year.

Thankfully, a transfer did not come to pass. Duke needs Wynter's
experience, versatility and potential. She has a chance to be a mentor
for frosh Hunter and Bales, two talented but young post players. Wynter
will be the lone senior on the team in a year, which means that it's time
to start developing her leadership qualities. Beyond the intangibles,
Duke will need her to score, rebound and go back to her hard-nosed style
of defense. Whitley is a player who depends on playing with passion and
heart. When she's lacking in passion, it affects her entire game. Duke
was as affected by Whitley's ineffectiveness last year as they were by
Currie's injury. A Duke team with an active, scrappy & savvy Wynter
Whitley is quite formidable, even on the team's worst days. She proved it
last year and she has a chance to prove this on a consistent basis next
year. But prove it she must--Wynter has to come into the season in great
shape and hungry for competition. I don't want to see her simply step
aside for the younger players, because that won't help the team get
better, her teammates improve, or her own state of mind. If she wants to
be great, she still has time, if she's willing and able to focus on her

Best Games: Tennessee (8 pts, 6 rbd, 1 ast), @ North Carolina (13 pts, 10
rbd, 1 ast, 1 blk, 1 stl), Maryland (11 pts, 6 rbd, 2 ast), @ Maryland (13
pts, 1 rbd, 1 ast)

Statwise: Wynter is 20th in blocked shots with 28.

Strengths: Versatility, strength, agility, defense, taking charges
Needs to Work On: Offensive decision making, ballhandling, passing
Role: Possible starting center, definitely a big frontcourt contributor
Must: Decide what kind of year and career she wants to have, and work to
make it happen

** A Few General Words On The Freshmen

There are two fundamental adjustments a high-level freshman must make.
First, they have to learn howto blend into a system after being featured
as a star at their high school, often for four years. This adjustment has
both positives and negatives. The good news is that they will no longer
receive double and triple teams when they get the ball, nor are they
face-guarded to keep the ball out of their hands. The bad news is that
many high school players have a tough time learning how to play with folks
who are not only at their level of talent, but often times at a far
greater level. This becomes especially difficult when playing time is hard to
come by. The second major adjustment is dealing with the rigors of
college basketball. The game is faster and the players are stronger and
much more physical. The coursework is more demanding, the season is
longer, and the travel is much more wearying. Players who relied too much
on speed, quickness, height or strength in high school often find a rude
awakening as they encounter players with similar physical attributes but
far more sophisticated skills.

There are exceptions to every rule, of course. In the past couple of
years, Alana Beard and Monique Currie used their superior athleticism and
combined it with remarkably developed skills. More than that came a level
of confidence and competitiveness that is rare in players so young. While
Beard's impact on the game was obvious at both ends, Currie was perhaps
the best "next play" player I've ever seen at that age. This year's
heralded group was brought in not to provide that kind of impact right
away, but to plug in a hole or two for 2003 and provide a strong
foundation for the future. While they may not have All-America futures,
they will fill important roles. At Duke, a player can expand her role by
exerting the effort to improve their weaknesses. How much this class
works on those flaws will determine their ultimate legacy, though at this
point they all show considerable promise.

** Mistie Bass 6-2 C Fr 6.9 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 26 blocks

Notable 2003 Achievements: ACC All-Freshman Team
2-time ACC Rookie of the Week

Season Recap: The Mistie Mountain had a season typical of a talented
youngster who had a lot to learn about the game at this level. This meant
a number of excellent games where she looked like a dominant player, as
well as other games where she was abused by Duke's opponent at both ends.
Thankfully, she was one of the players who was really starting to play
well in the postseason, and I see no reason why she can't improve on her
performance next year.

Mistie was really a first in Coach G's era: a pure post player whose
inclination was to bang inside first and do everything else second. Duke
has either done without post players or relied on either finesse players
like Tye Hall & Payton Black or inside-outside players like Michele Van
Gorp & Ali Day. Bass was used to going straight into the low post,
calling for the ball, and using a couple of go-to moves to score inside.
Against several opponents, she was able to do that with impunity at the
college level as well. If you let her catch the ball down low, she could
pin you to her hip and finish. As the season went on, she started having
some problems scoring. Part of that was other teams going zone and
keeping the ball out of her hands. Mistie wasn't much of a threat from
outside of 5' and also wasn't much of a motion player. The other problem
was that she was really closer to 6-2 than 6-3; as a result, bigger
players were able to figure out her moves pretty quickly and swat back her
shots. Against her high school foes, a jump-hook was usually a reliable
weapon. Against larger and quicker college opponents, it wasn't.
Furthermore, it got away from what she does best: body up her opponent and
use that contact to either maneuver around for a score or to draw a foul.
The other problem that Mistie faced was double-teams. At this level, she
simply wasn't a good enough passer to solve such an approach. Lastly,
there were times where running up and down the court wore her out a bit.

The good news is that Mistie's skills are unique and valuable, and her
weaknesses can all be improved upon. First and foremost is conditioning.
Mistie has a good understanding of what it takes to succeed at this level
in terms of her conditioning, and it was clear that she improved in this
area as the season went on. There were even a couple of occasions where
she finished fast breaks. Mistie will never be Iciss Tillis in terms of
footspeed, but even a modest upgrade will make her a more versatile player
and give her a better chance of success at the next level. Mistie also
needs to continue to work on her footwork. When she used a dropstep, it
was a devastating weapon because no one could bump her off. If Mistie
added an effective up-and-under and use dthe pump-fake more often, she
could become unstoppable down low. Since she loves to bang, she needs to
go hard on every possession and shouldn't settle for a weak layup attempt.
And of course, her foul shooting must become a big weapon for her. She
shot a decent 68%, but given that she was second only to Alana Beard in
free throw attempts, it would be nice to see that rise to around 75%. I
do think that in some games, fatigue was a factor in her foul shooting.

Mistie is not a great passer or ballhandler, but frankly she doesn't
need to be. All she needs to learn is how to make quick decisions: if
she's doubled, kick the ball out. Learn to play the two-woman game if
it's there. Always be on the lookout for the open shooter. Mistie is
actually pretty agile for her size and can make the tough finish, though
missing a few shots early in a game often hurt her confidence level.
Mistie sets awesome, bruising picks that really freed up her teammates.
This was something she really picked up on as the season went on, and
showed that she has no fear of giving up her body. She is virtually
impossible to get by on a pick and tough to stop going to the basket.
Mistie is an adequate defender who sometimes got left behind against quick
opponents, the UConn game being a good example. She can block shots but
must be careful with regard to foul trouble. Of course, with Duke's depth
at the post, this becomes less of an issue.

The one other area I'd like to see Mistie improve in is rebounding. She
posted a solid 3.7 rpg average as a frosh, but given her size and
strength, Bass could do so much better. What I really love about Mistie
is her attitude. She's extremely aggressive and isn't afraid to take big
shots or call for the ball. She hit a huge shot against Arkansas to send
that game into overtime, for example. Mistie is afraid of no one, and
while that sometimes got her into trouble, it also set the tone for her
season. She's also one of the team's more emotional players and clearly
hates losing. Bass was on a number of teams that won state championships
in Wisconsin and it's clear that she expected the same when she got to
Duke. While she obviously wanted as much playing time as she could
she accepted coming off the bench both early in the year and when she was
later demoted from a starting job. I never once saw her mope or sulk
about either her playing time or the number of shots she got. It didn't
help when her nose got broken by Brooke Smith, limiting her vision and her
ability to catch the ball as a result. There was definitely a period of
time when Mistie lost confidence in herself, and as a result, her
teammates were reluctant to give her the ball. She fought through it and
had some nice performances down the stretch. Mistie is still unique among
Duke's players and should play a huge role next year--especially if she
shows the kind of progress one would expect from the frosh to the
sophomore years.

Early in the season, Coach G regarded Mistie as the least ready to play,
due in part to conditioning. She noted that she was also the fastest
learner, and that showed in early-season practices against men. Mistie
was one of the few players who didn't back down to the stronger men's
practice squad, and actually got off a number of three point plays. Early
in the season, her results were mixed. She had a solid 7 points against
Tennessee, aggressively going to the hoop every time. But she fouled out
against Hampton and was mediocre against Old Dominion; her playing time
was suddenly in jeopardy. Mistie expoded against a tough Arkansas squad,
outdueling fellow frosh Ruby Vaden and hitting a number of pressure shots.
That started a string of dominant performances, scoring 19 against Howard,
16 against St Joseph's, 13 against Charleston Southern and 16 against FIU.
It looked liked Duke had found a third scorer to replace Mo Currie.

Unfortunately, that wouldn't last. After putting up 10 points against
Clemson and Georgia Tech in the early ACC season, she wouldn't venture
into double digits again until the NCAA tournament. Mistie had been a
starter since the Howard game, but back-to-back bad showings against NC
State and UConn convinced Coach G to try a different lineup. In addition
to struggling with her game in general, Brooke Smith broke Mistie's nose
in practice. That led to Mistie playing just 8 minutes against Virginia
but seemed to motivate her to improve. She showed no fear against Georgia
Tech's solid frontline, going 4-4 from the field. Bass also had solid
efforts against Wake, UNC and Maryland, averaging 7 points and 5 rebounds.

Mistie was mostly unremarkable in the ACC tournament, with the exception
of some huge tip-ins against Wake Forest. She warmed up in the NCAA
tournament, however, getting 5 points and 7 big rebounds against Utah
after a slow start. She helped save the day against Georgia with a 10
point game that helped bust a zone by going over it. She also fought hard
with 7 points and 6 boards against Texas Tech in a streetfight of a game.
Though she had a rough time against Tennessee in the Final Four, Mistie
had proved that she was up to the task of competing at the highest level
in stress-packed situations. Now that she knows what is expected of her
on a day-to-day basis, I think she will be in an excellent position to
improve and succeed. I also think that having more post players to
practice against will improve her game.

Best Games: Arkansas (13 pts, 3 rbd), Howard (19 pts, 7 rbd, 1 ast, 3 blk,
1 stl), St Joseph's (16 pts, 6 rbd, 3 stl), FIU (16 pts, 6 rbd, 3 ast, 1
stl, 1 blk), North Carolina (9 pts, 6 rbd), Georgia (10 pts, 4 rbd, 1 ast,
1 stl, 1 blk)

Statwise: Mistie finished with 26 blocks, good for 5th-best all time on
the freshmen list. In fact, this puts her in the top 25 overall right

Strengths: Physical power, jump-hook, aggressiveness, screens
Needs to Work On: Passing, stamina, post moves, foul shooting
Role: First post player off the bench, possible starter
Must: Learn to hit the open shooter when double teamed, finish hard every
time she goes up

** Jessica Foley 5-11 G Fr 5.4 ppg, 2.1 rpg, 1.7 apg,
35% 3FG, 85% FT

Notable 2003 Achievements: ACC Co-Rookie of the Week
All-Tournament South Padre Shootout

Season Recap: 2003 was a learning season for the very talented Foley, a
guard whose best playing days are ahead of her. This was pretty much the
plan all along, since Duke had plenty of depth and experience at her
position. Jess had to adjust to a number of new experiences: moving to a
new country, adapting to a foreign educational system, dealing with a
larger basketball, learning the rules differences between international
and American college ball, and adjusting to a far more physical style of
play. It was the latter factor that led Coach G to hold her out of
certain games, with UNC the most notable of these. That said, Jess proved
to be an excellent outside shooter, a superior passer and a player with an
advanced understanding of how to play in a motion system. Against teams
that played less physically, Jess was especially effective, both in
cutting to the basket and finding players on cuts.

Jess actually looks and plays a lot like Georgia Schweitzer. They're
both around the same height (about 6 feet), can shoot and pass, and
demonstrate an uncanny sense of calm on the court. In Foley's case, that
comes from years of international experience, playing against older and
tougher players in the Australian professional league, and frequent tours
of the US. She's used to playing against the best and it shows. This is
not to say that she's a finished product. While an excellent passer, her
handle is quite ordinary. Both her footspeed and lateral quickness are
also just average for this level. As a result, she's not going to put the
ball on the floor and drive all that often. She'll need to improve her
ballhandling and physical strength in order to do so. With her size, it
would make her a really tough matchup if she did get stronger, enabling
her to play at any one of three positions.

As a frosh, she was strictly an off guard, however. She struggled at
the point in preseason training going up against the likes of Harding,
Krapohl and Beard. What earned her minutes was her sweet, sweet shot
and her understanding of motion. Jess generally had a knack for being in
the right place at the right time, resulting in some big rebounding games
when she got some extended minutes. And while she had the usual frosh ups
and downs during the season (which included an injury), she demonstrated
how much she had grown as a player by acquitting herself rather nicely in
the postseason. With Sheana Mosch and Michele Matyasovsky both
graduating, Jess will play a crucial role off the bench. She'll take over
Mosch's role as designated bench scorer and instant offense and will also
have to assume Mattie's role as the team's best motion player. Jess is
playing with older Australian team members this summer against some of the
best international competition in the world, something that can only help
her get better as she prepares for a larger level of responsibility on the
2004 Duke squad.

Jess' college career got off to an auspicious start with a 12 point, 6
assist game against an overwhelmed ECU squad. She fired passes inside for
scores, found open shooters and bombed away for 4-7 threes. Jess played
several quality minutes against Tennessee, hitting a big three and
generally doing a fine job in relief of Beard. Jess did not play well in
the Paradise Jam and wound up playing just 2 minutes against Arkansas.
She bounced back in a big way against Howard, with 12 points and 5
assists. Foley struggled with her shot in the next four games, shooting
just 4-15 from three. As a result, she started to become more tentative,
even though the shots she was taking were good ones. That didn't stop her
from passing well, making hustle plays and hitting the boards, however.
With her overall game in good shape, it was just a matter of time until
the shots started to fall again, and this happened in the South Padre
Island Shootout. Jess scored 25 points in two games, shot 4-8 from three
and had 5 assists to just 1 turnover.

Despite that showing, Coach G chose to mostly keep her on the bench
against Clemson, a physical squad that required a veteran presence. What
was worse was Jess sustaining a foot injury right before the Virginia
game. Duke could have used her shooting in a game where everyone but
Beard was awful. Jess missed three games and was held out against UNC on
the road for reasons similar to that of Clemson, only more so. The good
news was that Jess' injury was not as severe as first feared, and she
returned with a nice showing against Maryland in her first game back.
Foley really made her mark against FSU in Cameron when Beard went out of
the game with foul trouble. She scored 7 points and absolutely carved up
the Nole offense with 4 assists, including a perfect lob pass to Iciss
Tillis. As always, Jess had a knack for the big play, with a three and a
stickback that seemed to demoralize FSU.

Jess didn't play much against NC State or UConn, though she did hit a
three that bounced straight up off the rim and in towards the end of the
game that blew the roof off Cameron. Foley started getting regular
minutes against ACC foes for the first time, averaging a bit under 7 ppg
in the second half of conference play. While she wasn't a star in any of
the games, she always seemed to come up with at least one big play. In
the UNC game in Cameron, she hit a buzzer-beating three at the end of the
first half that swelled Duke's lead to 15. Foley didn't play much against
Wake in the ACC Tournament, but did hit a crucial jumper. She was
rewarded with extended action against Georgia Tech, coming up with 5
points and 5 boards.

Held out against UNC in the ACC finals for more veteran players, she
responded with superb performances in the NCAA tournament. In a game
where Duke otherwise looked quite lethargic, she came up with 10
points and 5 boards against Georgia State. Jess didn't shoot well but
worked hard on the boards and drew several fouls. Foley also came up big
against Utah in the second round, killing the Utes with threes, cuts and
rebound baskets. Foley did not shoot well in the next game against
Georgia, despite getting plenty of attempts. Part of this was a slightly
slow release that allowed Georgia to at least get a hand in her face
despite playing a zone. Jess only got a total of 9 minutes in Duke's last
two games, as Coach G again went with her veterans against more physical

Jess has a very bright future at Duke. Her size and versatility make
her a perfect match for Coach G's system, while her clutch play and
shooting ability mean that she should be able to step in for big minutes
next year. The fact that Coach G did not recruit any guards in the class
of 2007 shows just how much confidence she has in Jess. When one also
considers that Caitlin Howe may never be able to become a big contributor,
that makes Jess even more important as a long-range bomber. Don't be
surprised to see her burst into double figures on a regular basis next
year. If she can improve her handle to go along with her already
excellent 2:1 assist/turnover ratio, she could become one of the most
valuable members of the team.

Best Games: Detroit Mercy (14 pts, 5 rbd, 3 ast), Florida State (7 pts,
4 ast, 2 rbd), Georgia State (10 pts, 4 rbd, 1 ast), Utah (11 pts ,4 rbd,
2 ast)

Statwise: Jess had 30 threes, good for 4th-best all-time by a freshman.
She also shot 84.6% from the foul line, which would be second-best if she
had a few more attempts.

Strengths: Three point shooting, passing, understanding of motion play,
Needs to Work On: Ball-handling, strength, decision-making, shot release
Role: Designated long bomber, first sub at either 2 or 3
Must: Be ready to shoot quickly

** Lindsey Harding 5-10 G Fr 6.2 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 3.2 apg,
1.5 spg, 77% FT

Notable 2003 Achievements: ACC All-Freshman Team
2nd Team All-ACC Tournament
ACC Rookie of the Week
Team Most Improved Player

Season Recap: Lindsey was the player whom I thought would have the
biggest initial impact from this class, given the role she had to play and
her own considerable athletic gifts. Still, it wasn't all peaches and
cream for Harding, who had to overcome a foot injury and difficulties on
offense before becoming a starter and significant presence at both ends of
the floor for the Devils. With Krista Gingrich graduating and Caitlin
Howe out for the year, it was clear that Lindsey would get all the burn
she wanted at the point. Vicki Krapohl held the starting edge because of
her experience and shooting ability, but it was clear that Lindsey brought
some things to the table that no one else on the team possessed. First
and foremost was her world-class speed. Coach G liked to describe her as
a "one-woman fast break" because of her incredible acceleration. When you
throw in her astounding leaping ability that allowed her to get rebounds
that should have been way out of her reach, one begins to understand how
she averaged nearly 4 boards a game. Most important was her tenaciousness
on defense, hounding opponents into turnovers and bad shots.

Lindsey had to make some significant adjustments to fit into Duke's
team, however. She was her high school team's only significant option,
and her quickness allowed her to get to the basket against virtually any
foe at that level. At Duke, she had to develop a pass-first mentality and
learn when to drive. Harding was also a bit unsure about her perimeter
jumper. There was nothing wrong with her form or her range; she could hit
threes in practice on a frequent basis. But in game conditions, she was
reluctant to take the open shot even when it was her team's best option.
She would instead try to force a drive to the basket that would either get
blocked or simply well-defensed by an equally quick opponent. Of course,
the other adjustment she had to make was playing on a broken foot. Thanks
to an orthotic device in her shoe, she never missed any playing time. The
orthotic let her play without damaging the bone; in fact, the bone
started to heal while she was playing in the shoe. However, it was quite
clear to anyone who had seen her in preseason that she lost a step wearing
the shoe. This proved to be a blessing in disguise for her development,
because it forced her to slow down and rely on something other than her
speed. As the season progressed, she made better and better decisions
with the ball and in fact broke Alana Beard's freshman record for assists.

Overall, Lindsey is a tough, smart player who is perfect for Duke's
system. She loves to run, can penetrate and either finish or get fouled,
does a great job at getting the ball to her scorers, is as intense a
defender as I've ever seen, and loves winning. The one missing element is
a consistent jumpshot and the confidence to take it at any given time.
She has a real chance to be Duke's best point guard of all time, if she
continues to improve. Having had a summer to rest and recover, we should
be seeing a Harding who combines the speed she showed in the early going
with the maturity she developed later.

Lindsey entered the national basketball consciousness with a bang as she
outperformed Tennessee's guards in their nationally televised clash. She
shut down Loree Moore and generally wreaked havoc on UT's backcourt with
her speed and defensive pressure. Her hanging three point play down the
stretch was just gravy. However, her shooting was still an issue, going
through a 2-17 slump over four games. Harding bounced back with solid
offensive showings against overmatched Charleston Southern and Howard, but
really proved her worth against a solid FIU team. After scoring 14 points
in that game, it took her eight games to score a total of 14 more points.
That included gooseeggs against Iowa State, Virginia and UNC. In the
latter game, Lindsay played for just 8 minutes, making very little impact.
She had at least been piling up assists in some of the other games, but
Harding was unusually passive in her first Duke-UNC battle. Lindsay was
still dealing with her foot problems and had yet to adjust to them, but
she was also dealing with a frosh's typical crisis of confidence.

Things picked up a bit in a win over NC State, where she picked up 9
points, 5 boards and 3 assists. That set up her crucial role in the loss
to UConn. Even though she had a rough first half, she never stopped
fighting and wound up hitting 3-5 and picking up 3 assists, as well as
slowing down UConn's offense. That latter fact inspired Coach G to start
her in Duke's next game, a move that changed pretty much everything about
the team and one that helped inspire its Final Four run. The presence of
Harding meant that Duke would be running a 3-guard offense predicated on
intense defensive pressure and running as much as possible. Over the next
four games, Lindsey would still average modest numbers (5 ppg, 5 rpg, 4
apg), but she would help Duke get the early jump on its opponents that
they had been missing.

It was the big showdown game against UNC where Lindsey made another
developmental leap. A non-factor in their first meeting, Lindsey
dominated the Heels' deep backcourt and star guard Coretta Brown in
particular. Lindsey knocked down shot after shot and forced Brown into a
2-11 nightmare of a game. Harding was even more impressive against
Maryland in her next game, notching a career high 19 points. She finished
up the regular season on a strong note with 9 points and 5 assists in a
tight win against FSU and 7 points, 7 assists and 6 rebounds in the Senior
Day blowout against NC State.

Lindsey really proved her mettle in the ACC Tournament. She was one of
the better players overall in the near-loss to Wake Forest, though her two
late turnovers nearly cost the team dearly. Thankfully, Harding would
only turn the ball over once more in the rest of the tournament. After a
solid showing against Georgia Tech in the semis, she once again dominated
the Heels in the finals, completely disrupting UNC's offense in the final
minutes. One thing that's true about Lindsey is that she certainly
doesn't mind contact, and her 9-9 showing from the line in this game
proved that she can take advantage of this as well. The Heels have relied
on speed for so long that it was difficult for them to deal with a player
who was even more athletic than the members of their fleet backcourt.

The NCAA Tournament would not be quite as kind to Harding, but she did
provide a series of steady performances. She averaged 5 ppg, 4 rpg, 4 apg
and 2 spg, shooting 45% from the floor. This included battles against top
point guards Alexis Kendrick and Erin Grant. Harding held her own against
both, though she did struggle to stop the mercurial Kendrick at times.
What Harding was learning how to do best was get Alana Beard the ball.
Ultimately, simply getting used to her teammates and learning how to set
them up made her incredibly valuable and made Duke a better team. Like
Duke's other frosh, there's no reason why she can't continue to improve
over her four years and make runs at Duke's all-time assist and steal
records. While she may never become a dominant player per se, I sense
that Lindsey will one day be the team's engine and key to future success.

Best Games: Tennessee (7 pts, 7 rbd, 5 ast, 3 stl), FIU (14 pts, 3 rbd, 3
stl), Virginia (5 pts, 9 rbd, 5 ast, 5 stl), North Carolina (15 pts, 4
ast), @Florida State (19 pts, 4 rbd, 5 ast, 2 stl, 1 blk), North Carolina
(17 pts, 3 rbd, 3 ast, 5 stl)

Statwise: Lindsey broke Alana Beard's freshman record for assists with
124. She was second to Beard in steals as a frosh with 68. Her 76.5%
from the foul line was good for 4th all-time as a frosh.

Strengths: Speed and quickness, leaping ability, rebounding, strength,
Needs to Work On: Ballhandling, decision-making, jump-shot
Role: Starting point guard, primary perimeter defender
Must: Start to become a true leader, trust in her ability to hit the
jumper, become more comfortable in reading defenses

** Brooke Smith 6-3 F Fr 3.4 ppg, 2.5 rpg

Season Recap: Of all Duke's recruits, the one who was least ready to
receive significant playing time when the season began was Brooke Smith.
It was not due to a lack of effort, but rather a case of not being ready
to compete with the athletes at this level, especially at the defensive
end. Things simply went too fast for her. When it became clear that she
was the last player in a ten-woman rotation and that she wouldn't play
much this year, she had a decision to make. She could try harder and
compete for more playing time, a task made more difficult with the
addition of Bales & Hunter, or return home. Brooke chose not to compete,
which was a disappointing but understandable decision.

Brooke really struggled when the team practiced against men. She was a
step slow and was pushed around like a rag doll. Her skills became
useless in such a physical encounter, and it was clear that she didn't
know how to react at that time. She couldn't push back like Mistie Bass,
try to outquick everyone like Lindsey Harding or outtough everyone like
Caitlin Howe. In the first couple of exhibition games, she was clearly
pretty tight and struggled to catch the simplest of passes. Playing
against ECU in Duke's opener helped, as she came up with 11 points, 5
rebounds and a couple of blocks. Smith scored with ease on a variety of
moves, including a beautiful sweeping hook shot. Of course, her opponents
were terrible. When the Tennessee game rolled around, it was clear that
she was not going to get any significant playing time. Her body language
and attitude on the bench were not very positive--she was clearly unhappy
even though her team was winning.

Brooke then played a career-high 23 minutes against a pitiful Hampton
squad but only scored 4 points on 2-8 shooting. She got a significant
amount of time against Old Dominion (9 minutes in a game that was tight
most of the way), but didn't do much with it, scoring only 2 points and
grabbing no rebounds. She was great in a romp against Howard but was
erratic against St Joseph's. Offensively, she was a mess, turning the
ball over 4 times. Picking up 4 fouls showed that she was out of position
on defense as well. Against two bad clubs, Charleston Southern and
Detroit Mercy, she averaged 9 pts and 7 rebounds. But these were clubs
without much speed or size. When she didn't even get into the very close
Arkansas game, it was a clear sign that this was not going to be a year
where she had much of an impact. When the ACC season started, Coach G
announced that she was going to pare her rotation down a bit, and that
meant Brooke's minutes went bye-bye. In Duke's first five ACC games,
Brooke played a total of 11 minutes.

A funny thing happened, though. Through a few months of practicing
against superb athletes like Iciss Tillis and bruisers like Mistie Bass,
Brooke started to get better. She was no longer lobbing up the first shot
she saw like so many young players do, but instead focused on defense and
rebounding. In blowout wins against Georgia Tech and Wake Forest, Brooke
totalled 9 points, 10 rebounds and 2 blocks. Smith started getting spot
minutes at the end of halves and started looking a lot more confident. In
the ACC Tournament, she dazzled everyone with an array of post moves
against Georgia Tech, scoring 3 baskets in a row while grabbing 2 steals.
She came off the court with a huge grin, finally looking like the player
who had been so successful in high school.

That was to be her last hurrah, however. With the NCAA tournament
coming on, playing time was once again limited. She did have a last
minute of glory in the Texas Tech game. She was inserted in the game in
the first half when most of the posts were in foul trouble. Brooke was
fouled going for a rebound and hit 1-2 from the foul line, a nice job
considering the circumstances. From what I have heard, Brooke really
liked her teammates and being at Duke, but was worried about playing time.
Also, she missed her Northern California home. Durham's nasty winter this
year certainly couldn't have encouraged her to want to stay. Thus, she
transferred from Duke and became Tara VanDerveer's first-ever transfer.
Stanford was her other finalist to begin with, so this was a natural move.
I think taking a year off from competition will really help her a lot.
Brooke needs to get stronger and must build up her stamina. She's simply
no match for the elite posts in the country. A year in the weight room
and in practice will do a world of good for her. In a couple of years,
she should be able to make an impact and eventually start for the
Cardinal. Brooke is a nice young woman who expected too much too soon and
simply wasn't ready for it, but is now making the right decision for
herself. Still, one has to wonder what if she redoubled her efforts in
order to beat out the freshmen for significant playing time? We'll
unfortunately never know.

Best Games: Howard (14 pts, 4 rbd, 2 blk), Detroit Mercy (9 pts, 5 rbd, 1
blk, 2 stl), Georgia Tech (9 pts, 1 rbd, 2 stl)

Strengths: Post moves, passing, shotblocking
Needs to Work On: Strength, stamina, defensive positioning

** Caitlin Howe 5-10 G Fr Redshirted

One can only shake one's head at the incredible string of mishaps that
have plagued Caitlin's career. Her toughness, leadership, knowledge of
the game and incredible shooting stroke had folks talking about an Olympic
berth for her in 2008. Instead, she tore her ACL in her junior season and
in the first game of her senior season. The first operation apparently
had some major flaws in its application that may wind up costing her her
career. When she came to Duke, she had her knee scoped and some loose
cartilage was removed. Soon afterwards, she was practicing at full

I had a chance to watch her in practice a couple of times. The big
negative is that she was not very quick laterally--her knee will prevent
her from ever being a truly elite athlete. She got up and down the court
just fine but was no speed burner. What set her apart from the other
frosh was her court awareness and on-court maturity. Caitlin knew where
to be at the right time and wasn't afraid to take the big shot. Moreover,
she was far from a standstill jumpshooter. Cait loves to take the ball to
the hole, driving on anyone with no fear of contact. That toughness for a
young player would have made her an important competitor on last year's
team. She feared no one and combined shiftiness with physical strength to
get the kinds of shots that she wanted. For comparison's sake, she's sort
of a cross between Georgia Schweitzer and Jen Scanlon. She has good size
for a guard, can run an offense like Schweitzer and attack a defense like
Scanlon. But at the end of the day, it's that gorgeous, textbook stroke
of hers that's her bread and butter. Duke could have certainly used it in
a lot of games.

Caitlin felt her knee shift again in Duke's first exhibition game and
was out until late January, when she suffered yet another ACL tear. She
was redshirting anyway, but that injury really hurt because she will be
out until at least next January at the earliest. Howe really has a
tremendous passion for the game and so is not giving up, rehabbing in an
effort to restore her knee and her confidence. If anyone can do it, she
can, but she has to know that the odds are against her. In the meantime,
Caitlin put her time to good use by winning the Team Scholar award this
year. Here's to hoping that Caitlin's knee finally cooperates with her
and allows her to play, because if she can play, she will contribute.

Strengths: Unbelievable shooting touch, toughness, passing, handle
Needs To Work On: Mobility, injuries
Role: Designated shooter
Must: Get healthy and stay healthy, above all else