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Duke Dominates USC, 75-50
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Duke Dominates USC, 75-50
By Rob Clough
November 15, 2010


Player Stats and Commentary

Duke Starters

Krystal Thomas


Krystal really struggled in the first half, missing a couple of close-in shots, fumbling away the ball and committing silly fouls. She did sink 2 free throws and grab a handful of rebounds, but this wasn't what was expected out of a senior center. She was much more poised in the second half, collecting six more rebounds, getting to the line and finishing inside (thanks to great passes by J.Thomas, Wells and Gray. It was obvious that her teammates were trying to get her going in the half and the extra activity helped her loosen up. She also shared the ball, with a beautiful pass to Scheer for a three. It should be noted that Duke needs a reliable, scoring post presence, and I sense that McCallie will give her every chance to succeed. She simply needs to focus past whatever's distracting her and understand how lucky she is to have so many avid passers on the team.

Kathleen Scheer


This wasn't as flashy a game as her debut (the circus shot she tried on a drive didn't quite work out the same way in this game), but she still made some important contributions. Her drive to the basket (catching USC by surprise) put Duke up for good. Her early three in the second half demonstrated that Duke wouldn't allow USC a chance to catch their breath so as to get back into the game. Her defense and rebounding were both excellent as she surprised USC twice with blocks and also did a great job hawking the ball. She did leave some points at the foul line and her shot off the dribble is still erratic, but she's otherwise gained a lot of confidence as a player, and it's rubbed off on her teammates. She's now making connecting plays in a way she didn't last year, which will be a big aid for Duke's overall offensive flow.

Karima Christmas


This was a quiet game for Karima, whose 5 points on foul shots were imporant for Duke. Whenever it seemed like USC badly needed a stop to stay in the game, Karima would drive to the basket and get fouled. She forced a held ball and hustled in her usual fashion but didn't seem to care very much about scoring. That's fine for this game, but I'm sure she'll take more attempts when she's really needed.

Jasmine Thomas


Jasmine didn't need to bring her "A" game, but she still did plenty of damage. She contributed to the struggles of Ashley Corral with stifling defense. She found Gray for a three and K.Thomas in the post. Jasmine scored 7 points during the late first half, when Duke started to pull ahead and drained a huge three in the second half to break up a USC run. Thomas was able to concentrate on defense for much of the game, using her quickness to block shots and disrupt USC on offense. To her relief, she was very much part of an ensemble instead of being forced to take a star turn.

Chloe Wells


Chloe hit an early three but otherwise struggled with her shot. She compensated with her playmaking, as her steal led to a Jackson fast break, while Chloe's drive opened things up for a Jackson three. Wells had a beautiful open-floor steal & layup in the second half, though she also was tagged for a charge. While she wasn't quite as fluid offensively as she was against BYU, Chloe did a good job on offense and an outstanding game on defense, as she came up with steals and stayed glued to USC's Ashley Corral. Valuing the ball and playing defense are at the top of her to-do list; scoring is of secondary importance, and she did a good job at both. I'd like to see her pound her dribble a little less, as there are times when she dribbles the ball without having a clear plan in mind.

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Off the Duke Bench (in order of entry)

Allison Vernerey


Vernerey gave Duke a huge spark when she entered the game. She scored 5 quick points, sank from three throws and blocked a shot. Indeed, she was every bit as effective as Krystal on defense, especially when teamed with Peters or Scheer in the zone. Vernerey's length and speed make her ideal as the back of the zone, because she can easily jump out on shooters with that speed and her length. She missed some easy shots in the second half (including a wide-open shot under the basket where she was in just a bit too deep) but also hit a run-killing jumper and found J.Thomas for a three during a crucial juncture of the game. My early fears about Allison struggling have been unfounded so far, as her free throw stroke looks much improved (other than one shot-putted attempt) and she has clearly absorbed the defense. I wouldn't be surprised to see her back in the starting lineup at some point.

Haley Peters


Haley simply went to work in this game. She talked about how the coaches had emphasized keeping her poise on the floor, and there were a number of moments where it was clear that this lecture had sunk in. The clearest example came when she pulled down one of her 13 rebounds and was surrounded by USC players. Instead of swinging her elbows to open up space (which is now an automatic offensive foul even if no contact is made), she instead tucked her elbows in, smothered the ball and waited out the pressure. She said that part of her certainly wanted to throw an elbow but that she concentrated on protecting the ball. Haley had been having trouble in the post at times, getting pushed around by other players. Part of that came from overrunning proper blockout spots on the floor in an attempt to be too eager in going after the ball. The game just seemed to move a bit slower for her as she mostly made good decisions. USC has a frontcourt with size (6-5 and 6-2 as starters, with 6-1 players off the bench) but not power, and Haley took advantage of this with her quickness and aggressiveness. In the first half, Haley had a stickback and also stuck a short jumper. She also fed Vernerey for a score. Peters had a pretty three point play in the second half on a drive. There were a couple of times that she threw a bad pass, and another instance when she grabbed a rebound, dribbled up the floor and wound up making a bad decision. She's certainly still adjusting to high school (when she was expected to do everything) and college (when she's just expected to rebound and play defense). This game was an important part of that process.

Richa Jackson


Very quietly, Richa is proving to be an efficient, aggressive player. She's filled a big need on this team as a player who can smoothly finish in transition, can attack the basket with either hand (her left-handed scoop was impressive) and hit the three when she's passed the ball. While not physically imposing, her lightning reflexes allow her to get her hands on loose balls and offensive rebounds. Richa has proven to be unselfish with the ball, finding Gray in transition and Vernerey from the wing. She's not been very ball-dominant at all; when she gets the ball, she either attacks or shoots right away, or else makes a good decision with a pass. The main thing she needs to work on now is being a bit more judicious with regard to fouls; Jackson seems a bit too casual in that area and it could wind up hurting her in a bigger game.

Chelsea Gray


Chelsea is slowly building her wind back up, but she had brief periods where she dominated the game. She scored in transition in the first half and used her remarkable bag of tricks to generate baskets for herself and her teammates in the second half. Gray has a baffling head fake that freezes opponents, which she used to deliver a bullet to K.Thomas and to free herself up on a drive. She passed up a shot of her own to give Liston a boost with a perfect pass for a three. Grey hunted rebounds and loose balls; she was once again a bit too eager to overextend the defense in an effort to pick up steals. That said, she's not shy about doing real work on defense, as she took a charge and forced a jump ball. Slowly but surely, Chelsea is working her way into game shape and will have a bigger impact down the line.

Tricia Liston


Tricia is at the stage of her career where she's starting to absorb the painful lesson that she's not capable of doing the same sort of things she did in high school. She can't just bull her way to the basket; opponents are stronger at this level and will strip you of the ball. You can't be casual with the ball or overpenetrate with no plan, because that will also result in a sure turnover. She didn't get off the bench until the second half and struggled during her first stint in the game. To her credit, she relaxed and pushed Duke's lead over 20 during the last four minutes of the game. First, she grabbed an offensive board and was fouled, hitting 1 shot. When that second free throw went through the hoop for her first career points, she noticeably relaxed. When Gray drove and saw Liston wide open on the wing, she passed her the ball and watched Tricia smoothly drain the shot. Competition for playing time will be fierce for Duke in close games, and if Tricia can demonstrate that she can be a reliable shooter while doing a credible job on the defensive end, then she certainly has a chance to contribute.

Duke Dominates USC, 75-50
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