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Duke Throttles Old Dominion

Duke 89, Old Dominion 40. November 29, 2006. Cameron Indoor Stadium.

Over the weekend, Duke traveled to Michigan and dispatched the Wolverines with ease. The game was a
homecoming for Coach G, who grew up in the area and had lots of family and
friends in attendance. Duke blistered Michigan with their best shooting
performance of the year and coasted easily.

Back home in Cameron, they demolished an Old Dominion club that's struggling.
A proud program that has been in the NCAA tournament every year since 1992, they
dropped early games to Virginia and Kentucky and struggled to beat a couple of
lesser opponents. Coach Wendy Larry emphasized defending Duke in transition.
When the Devils scored 4 quick transition points just a minute into the game,
Larry called a time-out to re-emphasize this point. Unfortunately for the Lady
Monarchs, it didn't help. Duke blew out to a 15-1 lead three minutes into the
game and were up 29-6 ten minutes into the half. Duke threw a blanket over
ODU's leading scorer TJ Jordan, frustrating her into a 2-12 shooting
performance. While Duke's defense was excellent and they forced 18 steals, ODU
caused a lot of their own misery with bad shots, very little defensive intensity
and balls dribbled out of bounds. Coach G was actually unhappy after the game
with certain aspects of Duke's performance, and noted that ODU was having one
of those games where nothing went right.

In particular, Coach G was displeased that Duke gave up 18 offensive rebounds
and only won the rebounding battle by 3. As a result, Duke only had a +2 edge
in second chance points. Gail was also displeased by a lack of focus at times,
with 18 turnovers and some wild shots taken. It was clearly difficult for her
team to focus at times considering the huge lead and the awful performance by
their opponents, but Gail wanted them to know that a great team plays to their
own level, not someone else's, and that more intensity would be necessary
against better teams. Indeed, with Rutgers, Texas and Vandy coming up, Gail
seemed concern that her team wasn't going to be physical enough to match up on
the boards with those teams.

Coach G emphasized pushing the ball in transition and sharing the ball. That
message was received loud and clear as 14 of Duke's first 15 field goals were
assisted. With ODU cheating towards Alison Bales for much of the game, that
gave Carrem Gay plenty of room to operate. She was everywhere in the first few
minutes of the game. She scored as Abby Waner pushed the ball to her after the
opening tip, passed to Waner for a score after a steal, passed out to Abby for
a three, posted up for a score and finished a fast break after a Waner steal.
When Joy Cheek entered the game and scored on a up-and-under, Duke led 17-3.

Wanisha Smith was carving up the Lady Monarchs with style, driving and
dropping off a no-look pass to Cheek for a layup. Gay continued to dominate,
finishing a fast break and earning a three point play thanks to a Waner steal
and sharp forward bounce pass, and then relocating a pass to Emily Waner for a
three. When Keturah Jackson hit a 15' jumper, Duke's lead was up to 33-7. The
Devils went cold for a few minutes and ODU actually broke into double figures,
but Duke finished the half with a 10-0 flurry. Smith had assists to Gay,
Jackson and Bridgette Mitchell and also scored on a drive to put Duke up 43-11
at the break. Points off turnovers told most of the story, as Duke had an
astonishing 33-4 edge.

ODU actually outscored Duke 9-8 to start the second half as Duke was a bit
sloppy. Carrem Gay went down hard and left the game for a few minutes, and
that seemed to prey on everyone's mind. Her return to the game sparked the
Devils as she scored on a drop step and triggered a fast break score to Waner
after a long rebound. That put Duke up 39-20 and they steadily built the lead
after that. The bench got plenty of run in the second half, scoring half of
Duke's 46 points in the period. The performance from the bench was important,
and Coach G was pleased with their intensity. In Duke's earlier games, the
bench play was noticeably sloppy as everyone was trying to figure out what to
do. By integrating each bench player with a couple of starters, it eased their
comfort level a bit and got them more prepared to make an impact upon entering
the game. The most important things for a bench player to remember are to keep
it simple, stay within your role, and focus on each play. Keturah's Jackson
impressive scoring output was the perfect example of this. One last note:
Chante Black is slowly getting better; her latest MRI was negative for any
serious damage to her knee. There is still inflammation and any serious
playing time will be delayed for conditioning reasons. While there's no
timetable for her return, it may well have to wait until after the end of this


** Bales: Ali didn't get a lot of touches and wasn't quite as sharp as usual
with her passing. ODU kind of got her in some uncomfortable territory, pushing
her out beyond the foul line but not quite leaving her wide open for the jumper.
The frustration Ali felt was evident in her 4 turnovers--a dropped ball, an
offensive foul, some feet shuffled, etc. Still, she rebounded well and altered
many more shots than her 4 blocks indicated. Her teammates made a point of
looking for her more often in the second half, where she scored 8 of her 10
points. She helped force opposing center Tamara Ransburg into 2-9 shooting and
8 turnovers.

** Gay: Carrem was simply in the right place at the right time, over and over
again. This was no accident--she read plays nicely and saw that she'd have
many opportunities to finish if she cut quickly and sharply. As a result, she
was 6-6 from the floor. More impressive was the way she started fast breaks
after rebounds and found shooters after offensive rebounds. Happily, the spill
she took after passing inside to Bales for a score produced only a sore
shoulder--nothing more serious. One thing that became evident is that teams
who concentrate on Bales too much will be made to pay by an alert Gay. Her
energy helped sustain Duke through slow spots during the game, and her ability
to finish nice passes made the whole offense flow better. Duke shot a
season-high 59% for the game and Gay was a big part of this.

** Smith: Nish had a solid game, hitting a baseline jumper and attacking the
basket for a drive. However, it was her playmaking that was a delight to
watch. From a no-look pass to Cheek to needle-threaders to Jackson & Bales,
Smith made mincemeat out of ODU's defense. She also spent a lot of time
guarding TJ Jordan, frustrating her to the point where Larry had to bench her a
bit to cool her off.

** A.Waner: Abby's stellar play continued here, as she continues to play off of
her teammates' abilities. Larry noted that one reason Waner is so formidable
in transition is that she can leak out a bit, knowing that her post players
have just snagged a rebound and are looking to push the ball up the floor.
What made this such a strong performance was that Abby was so dialed into the
game's flow that she always seemed to make the right decision on when to run,
when to push the ball to others, when to shoot and when to hold back. She and
Gay dominated the early action, as Abby had 4 assists, 3 steals and 5 points in
the game's first eight minutes. In the second half, she was the recipient of
three fast break passes, getting a three point play on one of them. The key
for Abby is to continue to play with this level of focus in closer games
against high-level opponents. As long as she makes the right reads and
continues to develop good habits, she has a chance to make a huge impact.

** Harding: Lindsey's shot was way off in this game--none of her jumpers fell,
and she scored only on layups. One of them was one of her "one-woman fast
breaks", but she had less of an impact on the offense than Waner or Smith. On
the other hand, her defense on Jazzmin Walters unnerved her dimunitive
opponent. Lindsey will need to step up on offense in the next week, but her
defense continues to set the tone for her teammates.

** Cheek: This was one of Joy's strongest games of her young career. She was
the first player off the bench and immediately scored twice. She did turn the
ball over a couple of times but otherwise was a huge lift off the bench. That
was especially true when Gay left the game in the second half with a potential
injury--Joy immediately came up with a steal. Later in the game, she pounded
away at ODU, scoring 8 late points. That included a nice left-handed hook on a
pass from Smith. The frosh have been up and down this season, but this was a
good team to play well against. With Chante Black on the bench for a while
longer, Joy will continue to be needed.

** Mitch: Brittany is looking better and better playing with the first team,
spending much of her time at the 2 and 3. Interestingly, she's also dropping a
bit into the post on defense, especially when a wing is trying to post up. Her
length has given some opponents problems, especially ones who aren't especially
strong. Her length also let her slap down some passes and caused a couple of
jump balls. Brit finished a couple of fast breaks, but her best offensive play
came when she drove and flipped up a shot off the backboard for a score.

** E.Waner: Emily continues to struggle from behind the arc, hitting just 1 of
her 6 threes. She had another wacky passing moment, this time passing directly
to Coach G out of bounds when she faced a bit of pressure. She made up for that
with a laser pass to Cheek for a score and a behind-the-back dropoff to Jackson
for a layup. Em continues to rush her shots too much in an effort to increased
the quickness of her release, but it needs to be much smoother.

** Mitchell: This was not a high-impact game for Bridgette. She missed a couple
of shots wildly and only scored on a fast break and a direct feed. In general,
she simply wasn't in good position the whole night. That was especially true
on the boards, where she was shut out for the first time in her career, and
actually allowed ODU to get rebounds where she should have blocked out. All
frosh go through ups and downs, so hopefully she'll be ready to make an impact
against a jet-quick Rutgers team.

** Jackson: This was easily the best game of KJ's career. She smoothly hit a
couple of 15' jumpers, finished nice looks and dished to Mitchell for a score.
KJ played solid defense, didn't make mistakes and took care of the ball. Coach
G was especially pleased with her impact, especially her control. The game
looked like it was slowing down a bit for her, and the confidence she displayed
shooting her jumper was the key to the other outstanding parts of her game.