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2008 ACC Media Day
2008 WNBA Wrap Up
2008 Blue White Game
By Rob Clough
October 27, 2008

Devils Show Intensity in Preseason Kickoff

Photos of this Game

The second Blue-White womens' game was held on Parent's Weekend, complementing the men's game held on Saturday. The format and player distribution was a bit different than last year, by design. There was a sixteen minute half with fairly limited substitution, then a fifteen minute halftime, and then another sixteen minute half with the score evened up artificially. Keturah Jackson and Karima Christmas switched teams in that half. Immediately following that second half, a four-minute "overtime" was held, with yet another switch (Bridgette Mitchell for Keturah Jackson).

Coach McCallie noted that she wanted a game that more closely resembled actual playing conditions, and one gets the sense that she has a far better idea of what she's working with now than she did a year ago. There will be no period where everyone gets a start and extended minutes just to give everyone a chance this season. Indeed, the lineups of each team reflected the likely starting lineups this season.

The White squad started Chante Black, Joy Cheek, Carrem Gay, Abby Waner and Jasmine Thomas, with Karima Christmas coming off the bench. The Blue team started Krystal Thomas, Kathleen Scheer, Bridgette Mitchell, Keturah Jackson and Shay Selby, with Chelsea Hopkins stepping in as sixth woman. As one might expect, the White team absolutely overwhelmed their opponent during every segment of the game. In the first half, Abby Waner, Chante Black & Joy Cheek combined to score 27 of their team's 34 points--smothering the Blue team's 19 total points. In the second half, Carrem Gay, Jasmine Thomas and Black had 30 of the White squad's 40 points--tying the Blue team's 30 points.

Chante Black blocks Shay Selby
The game was extremely physical, with a number of players attacking the basket and getting fouled hard. There was a fairly consistent level of effort and execution on defense (with a few exceptions), but the offense was erratic at times. A number of players saw time at point, including Keturah Jackson along with the expected players such as Shay Selby, J.Thomas, Chelsea Hopkins, and Waner. The less experienced players at point (Selby, Hopkins, Jackson) combined for 10 turnovers against 7 assists, though they did face intense ball pressure. There was a sense that it wasn't quite fair to stick all of the young players on one team, but this game was a hard look at where every player stood and how chemistry was developing. Future games will allow them to ease into the lineup a bit more gradually. It was difficult to get a handle on the exact attendance, but it seemed like about 1,500 or so. Many fans stuck around afterward to get the new team poster autographed. Below are a few player-by-player impressions.

Black: Chante was smooth, efficient and in control. She dominated Krystal Thomas at both ends, using her quickness and experience to get good shots. She used a nice up-and-under at times, hit some medium and long range jumpers and even attacked off the dribble a bit. She was especially efficient in the overtime, scoring, dishing to Gay for a score and coming up with a key block. It was obvious that the guards were looking to feed her the ball as much as possible.

Cheek: Joy may be the most improved player overall compared to last season in that she's looking to become a dominant offense force. She was unstoppable in the first half, especially off the dribble. Her surprising quickness kept her opponents off balance as she was able to slash and finish. Her mid-range and long-range game was also impressive, as she nailed a three in the second half. Two concerns: she was not especially active on the boards (just 2 rebounds) and she noticeably tired as the game went on, raising questions about her conditioning. That said, she seemed to bounce back a bit in the overtime, hitting a couple of big shots.

Gay: Carrem started at wing and spent most of her time defending out on the perimeter. She proved to be quite disruptive in her on-ball defense against the opposing point guard. In the second half, she hit a three, scored using her left hand in the post (something that Cheek also did) and generally got more aggressive at the offensive end. A Cheek-Gay starting tandem would be interesting because Cheek actually plays a bit more on the wing offensively but in the post defensively, and vice-versa for Carrem (a natural low-block scorer who doesn't have much of a handle).

Waner: Abby misfired on her first several shots but started to relax and drained her last couple of threes of the first half. As always, she hustled harder than anyone else (coming up with 3 first half steals and 5 for the game, including a dagger steal-and-layup under the basket that killed Blue's chances) and led the team in assists with 6. Even during the longest stretches of her shooting slump last year, Abby always played hard and played smart. I didn't see a lot of screens set for her in this game, so it'll be interesting to see how she gets her shot attempts.

J.Thomas: Jasmine played with a lot of confidence and hustle. She hit 2 banked-in threes and had an impressive 13 points in the second half of the game. With 5 assists and 8 rebounds, she proved quite effective in teaming with Waner and looking for her own shot a bit more. She was especially effective with her mid-range game. Like Waner, Jasmine was very physical in this game, and used her improved upper-body strength to power post younger defenders.

Jackson: KJ looks much more confident handling the ball this year and is starting to be able to play to her strengths as an athletic slasher. She is still an awkward shooter at best and looked for her own shot a bit too often at times, but it was still exciting to see her drive the lane and deliver a couple of perfect passes for scores. This is another player who has become more physical and more prepared to absorb contact. She simply needs to balance that with better all-around court awareness.

K.Thomas: The good news is that Krystal looked much more mobile and healthy than she did last year after her injury. The bad news is that she's clearly not yet where she once was. Chante' noted that it's going to take time for Krystal to get used to the movement of the game and get comfortable again. It was clear that she doesn't yet have the lateral movement to challenge slashers and block their shots without fouling (she tallied 6 fouls). On the other hand, she wasn't shy about challenging Black, even if she was only 3-9 from the field. Krystal should become an important player for Duke this year and will look a lot better when she has more experienced players surrounding her.

Mitchell: Bridgette was extremely active, which was both good (14 points, 7 rebounds) and bad (5 turnovers and 9 fouls). She was trying to bring her team back from a big deficit and hustle on the boards. The problem was that the lack of court awareness that has plagued her career was on full display in this scrimmage. She overcompensated on plays instead of anticipating what her opponent would do. Given the overwhelming experience of the White team, this ploy spelled trouble, because she didn't have a number of great defenders to help her out. One must admire her effort and willingness to attack the basket even as one wishes she was able to think through plays a bit more before she reacted. Still, her relentlessness in attacking the offensive boards is such a great weapon that one hopes she can find a way to get some extended stints this season.

Christmas: This wrecking ball of a player seems to really respond when the pressure of a game increases. In the overtime, she tried to keep her team afloat with 4 points, 2 rebounds and a block. In total, she had 17 points, 9 rebounds and 5 fouls. Christmas used her tremendous upper-body strength to go to the foul line 10 times and convert on 8. She's much smoother on the offensive end with an improved-looking shot. At the moment, she still needs to work on her handle and passing. It's going to be difficult keeping a player as aggressive as she is on the bench, especially if she can improve her all-around efficiency.

DWHoops Photos of this Game

2008 ACC Media Day
2008 WNBA Wrap Up

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