First off, BE THERE! There should probably be a few tickets left, and
this promises to be one of the most exciting games of the year. UNC and
Sylvia Hatchell have become increasingly frustrated as Duke has become the
public face of the ACC and held a tight grip on the league championship
the past few years. But there's no question that she has had tremendous
talent, year after year, and this season is no exception. In fact, this
may be her best team in terms of talent, balance and chemistry since the
Tracy "Blowfly" Reid years. A big reason why are her two fab frosh,
diminutive point guard Ivory Latta and do-it-all forward Camille Little.
Latta is an extremely quick guard who can hit the three, run an offense
and play tough defense. Little is even better: a strong, versatile
forward who can also hit the jumper, dominate on the boards and score
inside. Both are top 10 scorers, while Little is a top 5 rebounder.
Latta already has great assist and steal numbers, though she does turn the
ball over a bit. Their third best player is the reigning ACC rookie of
the year, La'Tangela Atkinson. Another tremendous post scorer and passer,
she also brings a defensive toughness that the Heels have frankly lacked
in recent years.
UNC's big drawback is that their best players are very young. Still,
there's plenty of older talent, like senior center Candace Sutton, a fine
shotblocker who can score near the basket. Then there's versatile guard
Leah Metcalf, a player who can shoot and pass quite well, though she may
be best known to Duke fans as the player who cheap-shotted Iciss Tillis in
Durham last year. Nikki Bell is a good defender and penetrator, while the
Heels bring Kenya McBee, Jessica Sell, and Carrie Davis in for depth.
Duke has more quality depth and is every bit as quick and athletic as the
Heels. The keys to the game will include rebounding (keeping the Heels
away from the offensive boards is crucial) and turnovers (if Duke can turn
them over then they're in good shape). It'll also be interesting to see
what kind of defense UNC plays. Hatchell likes to pressure the ball in
traditional man-to-man, but this strategy hasn't worked very well against
Duke in recent years. She may do what others have done and try zone, a
tactic that worked well in the first half of the ACC finals last year.
Lastly, Iciss Tillis has had many big games against the Heels. Here's
hoping she busts out of her shooting slump in a big way in this game! The
game will be at 2:00pm on ESPN2, but all you locals come out and make some