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Previewing Duke's Junior Class
Previewing Duke's Seniors
Previews of Ga. Southern & Charlotte
By Rob Clough
November 18, 2009

Duke's First Homestand Begins Thursday

Georgia Southern - Thursday 11/19 @ 7 PM - Cameron Indoor Stadium

Last Year: 16-14
Currently: 1-0

Significant Losses: The Eagles lost two of their three top scorers from last season. That includes mad bomber Ashley Rivens (8 ppg, 118 threes attempted for 28%, 4 rpg, 2 apg) and slasher Ashley Melson (12 ppg, 114 FT attempted, 5 rpg, 2 apg).

Who's Coming Back: GSU welcomes back three starters, as well another player who started before she was lost to injury. 6-1 J'Lisia Ogburn is the team's center, averaging 10 ppg, 6 rpg and 1 bpg. 6-1 Jessica Geiger is one of the forwards, and she put up 7 ppg, 5 rpg and 2 apg. Carolyn Whitney missed 22 games last year, but the guard averaged 7 ppg, 2rpg and 4 apg before she went down. Guard Jamie Navarro took her place last year and will start next to her this season; she scored 6 ppg (31% from three) and also picked up 4 rpg, 2 apg and 2 spg. Guard Samantha Williams was a reserve last year who got 5 ppg and shot 37% from three.

The Skinny: Georgia Southern played one game before Duke, an easy 96-44 win over Brewton-Parker. Ogburn was dominant against the tiny opponent with 18 points and 10 rebounds, while Geiger had 9 & 9. Whitney was solid in her return with 14 points. Two freshmen got great minutes. 5-10 wing Kayla Dayton had 12 points and 5 assists (but also 7 turnovers), while 5-10 wing Meredyth Frye chipped in with 7 points. This is a small team that was blown out by Notre Dame and Auburn last season. They like to shoot threes (18 in their first game) but aren't that great at it (28% against Brewton-Parker and 30% as a team last year). They move the ball around well (27 assists in their win) but averaged around 19 turnovers a game last year.

This team does not match up well with Duke at all. That said, the Devils have to find ways to improve their offensive flow after the debacle against Texas A&M, and so can't simply pound it inside by bullying their way through. They have to find angles, create gaps and move without the ball. Defensively, the Devils should obviously pressure the ball and trap, but it would be nice to play for an extended period just using their base defense and getting stops & rebounds in the halfcourt. If presented with a junk defense or the Eagles simply clogging up the lane, Duke needs to be patient, swing the ball around and get that defense to move. The Devils should be practicing their mid-range jumpers, because that shot will be available.

   To rely too much on Duke's
   superior size and athleticism.

Charlotte - Monday 11/23 @ 7 PM - Cameron Indoor Stadium

Last Year: 23-9, A-10 Tournament Champions, NCAA First Round
Currently: 0-2

Signficant Losses: The 49ers lost their primary post player, Danielle Burgin. Burgin averaged 11 ppg and 9 rpg, along with 38 blocks. They also lost their point guard, Traci Ray. Ray averaged 9 ppg, 3 rpg and 4 apg; she also shot 41% from three.

Who's Coming Back: Charlotte has four significant contributors returning for a team that didn't play a deep bench. This includes leading scorer Aysha Jones, who averaged 14 ppg, 4 rpg and 3 apg last year, shooting 36% from the three point line. Second leading scorer Shannon McCallum will step into the starting lineup this year; the 5-10 wing averaged 12 ppg and 6 rpg, playing both inside and out. 6-0 Forwards Erin Floyd and Ashley Spriggs will also start. Floyd put up 10 ppg and 5 rpg, while Spriggs averaged 8 & 7.

The Skinny: The 49ers are struggling a bit so far, having been handled easily by East Carolina and losing to South Carolina in overtime. Still, the core of their A-10 champs team returns this year, and they are a squad to be reckoned with. They've used a tight seven-player rotation in their first two games, and I don't expect that to change against Duke. Providence transfer Kendria Holmes has stepped in at guard, but she's struggled with only 5 ppg so far, as well as 6 turnovers. McCallum has led the way with 17 ppg and 5 rpg, while Jones is only shooting 28% from the field and averaging 14 ppg & 6 rpg. Floyd's been solid with 11.5 ppg and 8 rpg, but Spriggs has also struggled, shooting only 13% from the field (she is averaging 6 rpg).

Charlotte's turned the ball over 46 times so far in playing a frantic pace; they have forced 46 opposing turnovers. They're losing the battle of the boards, something they're trying to fix with two big freshmen. 6-3 Jennifer Hailey has been the better of the two, averaging 10.5 ppg and 5.5 rpg. 6-4 Amanda Dowe has managed 1 ppg and 3 rpg so far. They will use those bodies against Duke, so the Devils can't automatically assume that they will get all the easy baskets inside that they want. They'll need to post aggressively and then repost when better position is needed. Look for Vernerey to get a lot of scoring opportunities with her left-handed hook. Duke wants to keep Charlotte off the foul line, where they thrive, and instead force contested jumpers. McCallum is big enough to cause Duke trouble off the dribble, so the Devils' forwards need to be careful. At the same time, Duke's guards have to stay in front of Jones.

This game could be interesting for several minutes, but I expect Duke's depth to take a toll and the Devils to blow it open in the second half. Charlotte will play Appalachian State on the 20th before they play Duke.

 Niners mining the foul line  

Previewing Duke's Junior Class
Previewing Duke's Seniors

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