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Duke Leaders Down Charlotte, 57-44
Team Box
 
Duke Leaders Down Charlotte, 57-44
Player by Player
Duke Leaders Down Charlotte, 57-44
By Rob Clough
November 23, 2009

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Game Recap


Coach McCallie, after Duke's sloppy win over Charlotte, noted that she thought the team got better after this game. I'm not so sure. In short bursts, Duke showed exactly what they are capable of: fearsome shot blocking, dominant rebounding at both ends, scoring in the post and off the dribble and all-out hustle to the ball. The problem is that after several games, the team looks less cohesive, not more. There was a surprising lack of enthusiasm and emotion in their play. Offensively, the team did a poor job of moving the ball around and taking great shots. When they did get good looks, a number of players couldn't finish--especially Jasmine Thomas and Keturah Jackson. The one positive constant in this game was Duke's toughness. They pushed Charlotte around for forty minutes and made them pay when they approached the rim. The Devils blocked 12 shots and altered a number of others against a team that had no fear.

Charlotte was an interesting test after the struggles of the last week. The defending A-10 champs returned most of their key players. They dropped a couple of early games but still had plenty of firepower, even though they were breaking in some new post players. Defensively, Duke shut down a number of their primary weapons, including leading scorer Aysha Jones, who was held scoreless on 0-5 shooting. Second-leading scorer Shannon McCallum was held to 8 points on 3-12 shooting. Charlotte just just 32% on the game and was 2-11 from three. The Niners shot 12 free throws, most of which came in the sloppy second half. They certainly came to play in the early going, converting a couple of Duke turnovers into scores as they broke out to a 9-4 lead four minutes into the game.

The Devils put on the clamps for the next nine minutes, going on a 15-0 run to take control of the game. Duke blocked 4 shots and forced 6 turnovers to spark the run, which featured five different players scoring. Joy Cheek, who kept Duke in it early with a hook shot and layup after a turnover, finished the run with another steal & runout. Jasmine Thomas hit a pull-up 15' jumper and finished a drive after a steal by Chelsea Hopkins. Allison Vernerey hit left and right handed hooks. Jackson hit a short jumper and found Karima Christmas for a three. Over the next five and a half minutes, the Devils only managed a single basket (a Cheek three). The Devils missed 7 shots & 3 free throws and turned the ball over three times. Charlotte crept to within 22-19 with 4:06 left in the half, but Bridgette Mitchell & J.Thomas started making plays for Duke.

B. She hit 2 free throws and finished a cut on a pass from Jasmine. After another right handed hook from Vernerey, Jasmine exploded for a score off the dribble and blasted up the floor to find Alexis Rogers in transition. She did turn the ball over with 30 seconds left, but she was part of the effort that shut down Charlotte in the last three minutes of the half. Duke led thanks to slightly better shooting and a couple of more conversions off turnovers; their rebounding lead (+3) was surprisingly small.

Charlotte moved the ball crisply and scored twice early in the half to cut the lead to 33-27, but a 13-0 Duke run seemed to put the game away. Duke's inside-outside game was working well, as Krystal Thomas emerged with 4 points, J.Thomas had 4 assists, and Mitchell hit a three and posted up for another score. The Devils only scored 11 points the rest of the way, and just a single basket in the last 6:43. Duke went from a blowout win, complete with the deep reserves in the game, to a situation where Charlotte was down just 10 points with the ball and 2:21 left. Stranger things have happened. Charlotte's Ashley Spriggs missed the front end of a one-and-one, but after KJ missed an easy drive, she looked like she was on her way to an uncontested score. Cheek came out of nowhere to block the shot and get the rebound, making the save of the game. Jasmine hit a three a bit after that to end any remaining suspicion.

Duke simply doesn't look like it's entirely in sync at the moment. The addition of Keturah Jackson to the starting lineup has brought a bit more ball handling and defense, but the team has missed the energy of Karima Christmas in the starting lineup. The bench players are trying to find their way as well after getting very little time last season. The freshmen are aggressive but also aren't quite meshing with everyone. There's no question that there's talent, hustle and toughness with this team; I'd stack them up against any team in the nation in this regard. What hasn't been fully established are roles and what is expected with each role.

The good news is that Duke's schedule will force the team to sink or swim, and very quickly. The teammates need to lean on each other a bit more to become truly outstanding, and the coaches need to call plays that give them the best chance to succeed. There were so many times that Duke could have run a high pick-and-roll to let Jasmine or Karima loose, but the bigs rarely came up to set screens. More high screens in general will loosen up a sagging defense and force it to move and react. Defensively, Duke was at its best when it played it straight, defending the rim and attacking passing lanes. The Devils will be challenged in Cancun by two very clever coaches who will attack Duke's weaknesses.



Duke Leaders Down Charlotte, 57-44
Team Box
 
Duke Leaders Down Charlotte, 57-44
Player by Player

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