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Duke Throttles St John's

Duke won game 1 at the Surf 'N Slam Classic against a pretty good St
John's club, 105-55. Duke will play host San Diego tonight in their own
Jenny Craig Pavilion (the Slim Gym). The Toreros have already lost to
second division ACC clubs Clemson and Georgia Tech, though they do play
better at home. St John's had already pounded Wake Forest earlier in
the year, and their only loss was to Marquette on the road.

Duke got off to a sizzling start as the Red Storm chose to zone Duke
early on. Considering that their starters go 5-8, 5-8, 5-9, 6-0 and 6-1,
this wasn't a bad move. Their best players are forward Angela Clark and
guard Kia Wright, a former UConn recruit. Clark actually played quite
well, getting 17 points and 9 rebounds, but Wright was harrassed into 3-13
shooting from the floor. The usual Duke trademarks were evident in this
game: rebounding supremacy (+12), turnover generation (12 steals and 21
total SJU turnovers) and accuracy from the floor (57% for the game and 56%
from three). Duke did turn the ball over 17 times, which is right at the
line of acceptability. The Devils also put the Johnnies on the line 25
times on 18 fouls, which speaks to Duke's overall aggressiveness but also
to the fact that its help defense is not 100% airtight yet.

What's clear about the past couple of games is that zoning Duke is not
going to work. This group is so unselfish and savvy that they will always
be able to get the best shot against a zone instead of just jacking up
attempts. That includes finding ways to penetrate the zone and looking
for the posts whenever possible. The result in this game was tying a
school record 13 threes, with 7 different players hitting them. Jess
Foley exploded for 14 points, nailing 4 threes of her own. That speaks to
how well she's recovering from off-season surgery. Emily Waner had only 1
three, but her 4 assists against 0 turnovers shows that her recovery from
an injury is proceeding apace.

When SJU abandoned the zone, Duke's post players went to work. The
three main posts combined for 40 points, 19 rebounds and 5 blocks and shot
16-26 from the floor. Duke doubled up SJU on points in the paint (40-20)
and more than tripled them up on points off turnovers (29-9). Even though
St John's had 16 offensive rebounds, they only scored 9 points as a
result. What this game showed was that teams at St John's level can stay
within range for a half, but Duke's overwhelming depth makes it tough to
do that for a game. Still, Duke will need to wait til the ACC starts for
a top-10 type challenge.