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Senior Day Is Tonight

Four years of greatness sure does go by fast, because tonight is the
final regular season home game of Alana Beard, Vicki Krapohl & Iciss
Tillis. It should also be noted that there will be a fourth senior
honored, walk-on Kalita Marsh. Though Kalita hasn't played much, she's
been very much a team for quite a long time as the head manager, prior to
her putting on a uniform for the Blue Devils. Duke's opponent is Clemson,
and it should be noted that the Tigers have quite a bit at stake in this
game. They are fighting for their NCAA tournament lives with a 7-7 mark
in the ACC, and a win against Duke would almost certainly clinch it for
them. Jim Davis' Tigers are one of only three ACC teams that have ever
defeated this class (NC State and FSU being the others), and his Tigers
have actually played them tougher in Cameron than on the road. Whatever
this night brings, don't expect a cakewalk. The game will be on at
7:00pm in Cameron, with TV coverage from Fox Sports.

This class is one that has taken Duke from being a regional power that
sometimes made huge headlines to a year-in, year-out national power that
plays (and recruits) against the best of the best. The following that
this group has cultivated has also turned Duke into the ACC team with the
best attendance (by far) and one of the best in the nation as well. Let's
look at some of the memories their fans have of this remarkable trio
(with my own comments at the end):

This probably doesn't qualify as that memorable a memory, but it sort of
coincides with my disappointment of not be able to see Iciss play this
year in Tallahassee, because of the concussion she suffered in the Clemson
game. Being a South Georgian it is usually at FSU where I get to see the
team play. Last year or may be the year before Duke was pressuring the
ball and Iciss stole the ball at about half court when FSU tried
to throw it across the court. The significance of this play and it
happened so fast, but she had to have gotten to at least 10 1/2 feet in
the air to get the ball. FSU had been playing well up to that time in the
game but then Duke went on one of those runs, game over.


I've only had a chance to see the women play in person three times since
Alana, Iciss, and Vicki have come to Duke. The first was last year, at
the Clemson (I think) game where they clinched the regular season title
yet again. The second was a meaningless game against Elon where they set
a record for margin of victory. And the third was against Purdue in the
first ever Women's Jimmy V Classic. While none of those three games were
nailbiters, or would be considered great games, I had just as much fun at
them as I have at the few Mens games I've been two. The big three (Alana,
Iciss, and Vicki) have made me a believer in Duke Women's basketball,
that's it's here to stay. Alana might be one of the best to play the
game, and she has worn a Duke jersey for the past 4 years. Iciss might be
one of the most emotional players to play the game, and she has worn a
Duke jersey for the past 4 years. And Vicki might be the best silent
leader I've ever seen, and she has worn a Duke jersey for the past 4 years.

Alana's jersey going to the rafters was not just her jersey, it was every
Duke women's player that deserved to have their jersey retired, but
didn't. It was for Iciss, and for Vicki too. What makes it so much
better though, is that I know come April, the Duke Women will be hoisting
a National Championship trophy.


Sometimes these girls have been as much fun to watch on the bench as on
the court. The unbridled enthusiasm and joy they show for the
accomplishments of their teammates has been awesome. Case in point: last
year's ACC tournament game against Ga. Tech. After winning a tough first
round game against Wake Forest, the team had Ga. Tech well in hand
in the second round. Brooke Smith, a freshman who had not had much
playing time all year, came off the bench and scored three fairly quick
baskets with some nifty moves. The bench was going crazy and at the next
timeout, Alana and others raced out to meet her, jumping and cheering and
yelling like maniacs.


Memories of the Past:
* Coach G telling the story about Vicki at the 2001 banquet
* Iciss clowning around with the basketballs under her shirt
* Seeing Alana's mom on the interstate to San Antonio, then talking about
it with her every time we meet
* 3/8 of the 2002 Final Four squad
* Tillis and Beard dominating OT at Carmichael
* Vicki's blocked shot
* Alana's 41 of 60 Duke points at UHall
* "The Streak"
* All the games where it seemed like Vicki could not miss (hey, that's
most of them!)
* Never giving up against UCONN (twice!) and Tennessee
* Seeing Alana pass Chris Moreland to become Duke's leading women's scorer
* Winning with exuberance and class

Some memories I'm hoping for and/or looking forward to:
* A win on senior night and great speeches
* Seeing Alana pass Johnny Dawkins to become Duke's leading scorer, period
* Fourth Straight ACC Tournament Title
* Fourth Straight #1 NCAA seed
* Fourth Straight Sweet Sixteen
* Third Straight Final Four
* First NCAA Title
* Iciss Tillis dunk :)
* Seeing all their ACC records, individual and team
* Seeing Iciss in the Hall of Honor
* Seeing the #20 blue banner in Cameron forever
* Seeing Vicki, Alana, and Iciss achieve all their "after Duke" dreams
* Hearing future generations of Dukies talk about how great they were


My favorite memory is of Iciss in last year's ACC tournament final...when
Sylvia Hatchell was desperately trying to get the UNC crowd into the game
as her team was on the brink of losing. She drew the technical in full
Sylvia fashion and continued her temper tantrum on the sideline, flapping
her arms and screaming at the crowd and her team. Iciss was so
enthralled that she went to the WRONG free throw line to shoot and
Vicki (if memory serves, it might have been Alana) ran out and dragged to
her the right basket. Iciss, realizing what she had done, was cracking up
all the way to the other end of the court. Of course she sunk the shots,
and Duke went on to rack up its fourth ACC tournament win in a row. It
was classic!

Here are a few of mine...
- Alana Beard's spin move against UNC's Coretta Brown during Beard's
freshman year in Cameron
- Iciss Tillis' second half performance in the 2003 ACC Championship
- Beard's second half performance against UNC in 2004 in the Dean Dome
- Vicki Krapohl's 6 three-point shots against UNC in 2004 in the Dean Dome
- Krapohl's two big steals against UNC in Cameron in 2003
- Tillis' crazy three-point shot off the side of the glass in the 2003
Final Four
- Beard hitting a three against UConn in Hartford, right in front of a
sign that said 'Can Beard Shoot?' (using the CBS abbreviation)
- Tillis' steal and Beard's basket against UConn to tie the game at
- Beard's half-court, alley-oop pass to Tillis against UVA in Cameron in 2003
- Beard's two-handed block, save of the ball in-bounds, and finger roll
layup on the other end against Iowa State during the 2002-2003 season
- Beard's 2 open court, one-on-one steals against Taurasi (one in Cameron,
one in Hartford)

As for this reporter, what strikes me the most about this group is the
sheer joy with which they play the game. I can't think of three
individuals more different in terms of background and even off-the-court
activities, but on the court I've never seen a group that hugged so much,
laughed so much and genuinely reveled in each others' success. The little
pre-game ritual that Beard & Krapohl have shared for years is something
I've come to love. Right before tipoff, Beard stretches her hand high,
and Krapohl leaps up to high-five her. Then there were moments when Iciss
could grab Vicki and swing her around. As silly as the seniors are off
the court, they are unmatched for intensity on it. Tillis in her low
crouch, waiting for the ball to be tipped, is another favorite image.
Beard with that fierce look of determination, refusing to face defeat, is
another. Krapohl spotting up, looking to drain another trey, is yet

They've led the team to four straight first place finishes, three ACC
titles (with one yet to be fought for), two final fours (with another up
for grabs) and so many big victories against high profile opponents.
They've personified hard work, style and sportsmanship throughout their
careers. It's perhaps a bit trite to talk about athletes as role models,
but the following they've attracted among young girls the past few years
is simply remarkable to see. All of them have always had time to interact
with their growing throng of fans, and who knows how many they will
inspire in years to come? Here's to Ms. Heart & Hustle, Vicki Krapohl.
Here's to The Walking Match-Up Problem, Iciss Tillis. And to quote Coach
G, here's to "the best player I've ever seen", Alana Beard. No matter the
outcome of tonight's game or the rest of the season, you've all given more
than you'll ever know to this program and your university.