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Previewing Duke at Virginia Tech
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Duke Cruises Past VaTech, 57-43
Player Stats

Duke Cruises Past VaTech, 57-43
By Rob Clough
January 16, 2011


THE NUTSHELL: Starters Rested in Second Half of Comfortable Win

The overall message from Duke's win over Virginia Tech was "solid, but not spectacular". This was a game where Coach McCallie was trying to extend and expand its rotation, giving its young players a chance to show what they've got in real game situations. The results, both for the team and certain players, was mixed. Duke began the game on an offensive roll with a marvelous number of beautiful connecting passes. Indeed, 9 of Duke's first 10 baskets were assisted. A couple of those were steal/runout situations, but there were also nice passes into the post and to cutters. Six of those assists came from six different players, and Karima Christmas accounted for 4 of them on her own. Three of them came from frosh, including Tricia Liston off the bench. Just eight minutes into the game, Duke had a 20-6 lead--and only one basket was a three. Duke turned VT over 5 times and looked ready to blow the Hokies out.

That never quite happened, though. While Duke was never in any real danger, they did let VT creep within 7 points in the second half. Part of that was due to several long scoring droughts wherein Duke was using some different lineups, but part of it was also due to the same lack of focus that afflicted the team in the win against Florida State. In both games, Duke overwhelmed their opponent with their usual defensive effort, but this time they made them pay at the other end with crisp passing and nice movement. Watching Duke in these two games, playing two squads that aren't especially physical or stalwart on the defensive end, was akin to watching an athlete run a sprint after training with 50-pound ankle weights for three weeks.

Still, that offensive sloppiness hurt Duke because the Hokies made them pay for their mistakes, scoring 20 points off 19 Duke turnovers. While youngsters like Richa Jackson (playing just four minutes as she's trying to work herself back into the rotation after a shoulder injury) had a couple of turnovers, the veterans certainly weren't immune, as Karima Christmas coughed it up 6 times. The good news for Duke when VT started to make a comeback early in the second half is that they still have Jasmine Thomas. She stuck a jumper on a relocation pass from K.Thomas to push it back up to 9 and then rebounded a missed jumper. After Liston was fouled and hit 2 shots, Jasmine came up with a steal and found Haley Peters in transition. When Liston hit a three on Duke's next possession, the lead was up to 16 and VT never got closer than 10--and that was only because of a six-minute Duke scoring drought.

Peters and Chelsea Gray had some good plays but weren't especially spectacular. On the other hand, Liston has gone from zone-buster to full-fledged scoring weapon. Even though she was just 2-8 from three, she still had 13 points, getting to the foul line 3 times. Better still, she grabbed 5 boards and continued to move the ball around nicely. Both player and coaches are doing a nice job of maximizing her strengths (shooting, game IQ, floor vision, moving without the ball) and minimizing her weaknesses (muscle, lateral quickness). She's certainly proving to be much more than a good spot-up shooter at this point.

The other player of note in this game for Duke was Allison Vernerey. After struggling prior to the FSU game (her 1-20 slump from the field was well-known), she scored 15 points against the Hokies on 7-11 shooting. Not coincidentally, she also had 7 rebounds and was quite active on the offensive boards. Developing her as a legitimate post presence not just for off-the-bench play but also occasional team-ups with K.Thomas will be crucial for Duke as the season develops.

Defensively, Duke shut down Hokie frosh sensation Monet Tellier (2 points, 1-6 from the field). Leading scorer Shanel Harrison was held to 10 points. The Hokies shot just 32%, got to the foul line only 4 times, and committed 22 turnovers. Unlike recent years where the Duke game in Blacksburg came down to the final few minutes, Duke took care of business and picked up their second ACC road win of the season. Better still, Duke will have a few days between games to continue to tinker with the offense and get the team ready for a physical war against Georgia Tech Friday night in Cameron.

Duke Blue Devils Team Box Score


Virginia Tech Team Box Score


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Previewing Duke at Virginia Tech
Duke Cruises Past VaTech, 57-43
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