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Duke Annihilates Lander

Duke 116, Lander 29. November 9, 2005. Cameron Indoor Stadium.

There's really not much that can be said about Duke's game with Division
II Lander. The Bearcats weren't all that good last year (14-15), lost 4
starters, were picked last in their conference this year and their top
returning player averages a little over 6 ppg. Against the #1 team in the
country on the road, that didn't exactly add up to a challenge for Duke.
To Duke's credit, they took their opponent seriously for most of the game
and played hard. But Coach G noted that this was a tough game to play,
because the team literally had to restrain themselves from making the
final margin even worse. Coach G called off any fast breaks in the last
few minutes, despite the fact that Duke was running at will. She called
off the press after the first ten minutes, even though Duke could have
forced 50 or 60 turnovers. In the last ten minutes, Duke played a 2-3
zone and stopped pressuring the ball in halfcourt play. It certainly
wasn't out of the question for Duke to score 160 points or more, but it
wasn't going to prove anything. Lander couldn't compete with Duke's
size, depth, quickness and ability to score.

That doesn't mean that everything was perfect for Duke. The Devils were
sloppy with the ball, with 11 first half turnovers and 17 overall. Duke
got lazy on its defensive rotations, allowing Lander plenty of good looks
at the basket. Towards the end of the game, when the Bearcats started to
gain a little confidence, they were able to hit some shots, with Bryony
Crouch nailing 5 treys. While the passing was generally crisp for the
Devils, there were some occasional communication problems. That led to
no-look passes that went nowhere, and players getting the ball too deep in
the post. Some of the players had trouble finishing with contact, despite
an overwhelming height advantage.

It was nice that Duke got to use a lot of different lineups, had 11
players available, and focused on quarter-court execution. Duke dominated
every phase of the game imaginable: shooting, rebounding, forcing
turnovers, passing, etc. The balance was excellent, with 8 players in
double figures, 8 players with at least 5 rebounds, and 7 players with
multiple assists. No one played more than 24 minutes, no one played fewer
than 14 minutes.

As to the game action, such as it was: Mo Currie scored within the first
ten seconds of the game, and Lander quickly tied. The Bearcats would then
go sixteen minutes without scoring as Duke went on a 50-0 run. Duke got 9
points off foul shots, 14 points from fast breaks, and 8 points from
stickbacks. The Devils held a 62-4 lead with less than a minute to go in
the half before a couple of mistakes (putting them on the line, turning
the ball over) let Lander nearly double their scoring output.

After an early Lander three in the second half, Duke responded with a
28-4 run. Duke was looking to shoot the three a bit more, and Lindsey
Harding displayed her improved stroke by smoothly hitting both of her
attempts. The last nine minutes of the game were relatively even, with
Duke holding only a 21-15 edge. Crouch started firing away from long
range, and Duke didn't really try to cover her. Though Lander tried hard
and never gave up, I'm not sure that they'll be appearing in Cameron

As Coach G noted, there's still a lot to work on. Developing chemistry
is still her top priority, though one can see it coming through in dribs
and drabs. Alison Bales and Brittany Mitch at times ran an effective
2-woman game, with Mitch on the wing feeding her the ball, getting the
ball back as Bales readjusted and then firing it back inside to Ali for a
score. Abby Waner continues to make strides at both ends of the floor.
Emily Waner looked a lot more comfortable running the team. The post
players combined for 17-26 shooting from the floor and 18-24 from the
line, with 24 rebounds and 12 blocks. Though Duke's first foe, Penn
State, is down a number of players and surrounded by controversy, that
game is still on the road. Duke has a bit more work to do before they're
ready for such an environment.


** Black: Chante struggled in this game. She simply couldn't finish
inside, getting just a single stickback. Black did draw plenty of fouls,
but only hit 5 of 8. Black also turned the ball over 3 times, once with
an offensive foul. There were no problems on the defensive end, as she
was blocking shots with ease. Chante was also quite effective when Duke
chose to trap, especially on the sidelines.

** Williams: Mistie continues to look extremely impressive in limited
minutes. She looked best on defense tonight, closing out on shooters
twice to block three point attempts. Another Lander player came right at
her and Mistie emphatically blocked the shot. In the first half, she
scored on a high-low on a pass from Black. She really went to work early
in the second half, shooting 2 free throws, hitting a hook shot and
converting a three point play. One could see her showing off some of her
new moves, as she adjusted in traffic on one play before she shot. In the
past, she'd just throw it up there and try to get the offensive rebound.
I still can't get over her improved mobility; after Erlana Larkins made
her look like a statue at times last year, Mistie looks like she's ready
to take on opponents using her quickness as much as her power.

** Currie: Mo was solid in her first game of the year, scoring the game's
first points on a strong drive. In the early going, she found Harding for
a fast break, got a stickback and sank 2 foul shots. The most spectacular
play of the night came when Mitch found her on the break. Mo stopped,
adjusted and curled to the basket on a dime, scoring in traffic and
drawing a foul. Mo missed her only shot of the second half (a jumper),
but did ahve assists to Harding and Gay. Naturally, Currie was her
usual rebounding machine self, grabbing 9. Like the other veterans, this
game was just a chance to stretch her legs a bit.

** E.Waner: Em looked more comfortable out there than in the first game,
and did a good job breaking Lander's press. She did fumble the ball away
a couple of times in the half, but also had the assist to Currie for
Duke's first basket. Waner also hit a three in the first half, though she
bricked all of her other shots. She was at her best in the second half,
when she had 3 assists in a row. That included consecutive passes inside
to Williams. Overall, her timing just seems to be a bit off, but
hopefully that will pick up when Duke is in some more competitive games.

** Harding: Lindsey's overall numbers again might appear modest (10
points, 2 assists, 4 rebounds), but her overall efficiency is startling.
There was one sequence in the first half where she found Bales in
transition, scored on her own one-woman fast break, and then hit Bales
inside for a three point play. In the second half, Lander started to sag
off and Harding made them pay with 2 threes after her teammates found her
spotting up. Her quickness was nightmarish for Lander, especially when
she'd join a big for a sidelines trap. Harding's quickness allowed her to
take a few risks, because she was able to recover quite nicely.

** Smith: Nish had a dynamic first half and a quiet second, scoring on a
drive but not otherwise impacting the game. In the first half, she
finished 3 fast breaks and passed to Abby Waner for a score. The best
sequence came when she cut to the basket and Mitch delivered a perfect
bounce pass for the basket. Oddly, Smith had some trouble late in the
half, coughing up the ball on Duke's final possession. Overall, Smith
continues to recover from an injury and is growing more confident.

** A.Waner: Abby continues to grow more comfortable in Duke's system, and
has shown a talent for off-ball defense. Her 8 steals came thanks to some
judicious application of pressure as well as by playing the passing lanes.
There were times when she overplayed the lanes and got burned, but there's
no denying her hustle. Offensively, many of her baskets were generated by
her hustle and willingness to run the floor. She had a steal and layup
and later finished 2 fastbreaks. Abby also found Mitch for a transition
score and a three, as well as Smith for a fast break. The pass to Mitch
was a great one; Abby was on the left side and slowed up for just a second
in order to draw her defender over. That left Mitch wide open for the
pass, which Waner timed perfectly. In the second half, she piled up more
assists. This time, they were mostly to the post, as Bales, Gay and
Williams all scored on Waner feeds. After finishing a couple of more fast
breaks, Abby got her first halfcourt score on a three. For all of her
recklessness, she only had 1 turnover (on a no-look pass that Black didn't
see coming). The only real negative of the evening was that she bricked 3
foul shots. At the moment, she seems to have a slight hitch in her
shooting motion, though she may just be rushing shots. Overall, this was
an exciting game for Waner, who excites the crowd as much as any player.

** Bales: Ali didn't start this game, though she wound up with more
minutes than any of the other posts. With very little size to be found on
Lander's roster, Bales had free reign and certainly used it. She actually
started the game with assists to Mitch and Gay, but soon got some attempts
of her own. She scored in transition, got a stickback, and posted up on
consecutive possessions, getting a three point play on one of them. Bales
was an even bigger offensive threat in the second half, scoring on 3
post-ups and in transition. Ali also had several menacing blocks, where
she not only blocked the shot and grabbed the rebound, but also utterly
demoralized her opponent. On a night where she hit 8 of 10 shots, there's
not much to complain about. Especially since the one or two bad shots she
took early on were corrected later in the game.

** Gay: There were moments in this game where Carrem played like a
seasoned veteran, and there were others where she definitely looked like a
rookie. She had a stellar first half, getting a stickback and scoring on
a post-up, along with grabbing 6 boards and blocking 2 shots. While she
is very quick, there is an economy of movement that she possesses that
makes her effective. There's no wasted movement with her, especially
under the basket. In the second half, she turned the ball over on 3
consecutive possessions, once with a three second call. Gay made up for
it with back to back three point plays and a steal. What I like best
about Gay is that while she's not a physical player, she doesn't shy away
from contact. Finishing while being bumped is one of the biggest things
the team as a whole needs to improve on, and the fact that she already
brings that to the table is a plus.

** Mitch: Brittany continues to impress as she picks up on how to make her
teammates better. Again, her years of experience on top-notch teams have
trained her to make her teammates happy first, and then take advantage of
her own talents. There are still some issues to be resolved regarding
on-ball defense (she was beaten a couple of times and hacked away at the
ball), but for the most part she really shined. I will continue to note
on the record that she looks like the team's best shooter in live
situations. Her form, both in terms of her shooting motion as well as the
base she sets up in her stance, is both technically flawless and
consistent from shot to shot. This makes her quite a dangerous player to
have on the floor, especially at 6-2 and with long arms. Mitch also
finished in transition off a perfect Waner pass and got a fast break pass
to Smith and fed Bales perfectly for a post score. Interestingly, there
was one segment where the team went small and she played power forward.
Her only bad decision of the night came when she was open from 19', but
instead drove and took a more difficult shot that she missed. I'm eager
to see her play against better competition.

** Foley: It was nice to see Jess back on the court after her offseason
surgery. Quiet in the first half, with just 1 steal, Foley was
distributing the ball well in the second. She had dishes to Bales and
A.Waner in transition, and found Abby for a three as well. Her size
became a factor as Duke played zone, deflecting a couple of balls that
came into her area. Jess also grabbed a few boards and scored in
transition herself.