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Previews of Ga. Southern & Charlotte
 
Lethargic Devils Outlast Eagles, 69-42
The Nutshell
Previewing Duke's Seniors
By Rob Clough
November 19, 2009

Can Bridgette, Joy, and K.J. Lead the Devils Back to the Final Four?


We conclude our preseason player previews with Duke's Senior Class.



Duke's Senior Class: Joy Cheek, Bridgette Mitchell, and Keturah Jackson


#13 - Bridgette Mitchell

6-0 Forward/Guard - Trenton, New Jersey

Strengths: Bridgette is one of the most unorthodox basketball players I've ever seen. At 6-0, she's one of the greatest offensive rebounders who's ever worn a Duke uniform. There's a joyous relentlessness to her game that's exciting for both her teammates and fans. She simply never stops attacking the basket. Defensively, her long wingspan has made her an ideal player to stick at the top of zones, a defensive scheme that has suited her nicely. Bridgette doesn't really have a true position. Attacking the basket like a guard, she rebounds like a post. As a senior, I've been impressed not just with her aggressiveness, but her focus as well. It's clear that she's also a good teammate. There's a comfort level with this year's starting five, where it's obvious that they can anticipate what their teammates will do. Thus far, Bridgette has been happy to pick her spots. When she's been feeling it (especially early in games), she will take a flurry of shots. When she's not, she'll simply do the dirty work for a bit and let others shoot. Duke will need a consistent level of offense from her but not necessarily double digits. The Devils will need her to keep that focus on the defensive end at all times.

Needs Work: Bridgette needs to work on her shooting and ballhandling above all else. Teams will play her for the drive and dare her to shoot, so she needs to make them pay. In particular, honing a pull-up jumper from 15' on in will be just as valuable as extending her range out to three. With a starting five that's not bursting with ballhandlers or playmakers, Bridgette simply has to develop to a level where opponents aren't pressing her and producing turnovers. Mitchell is another player who could benefit from more trips to the foul line, which will mean extending those drives just a little further to the basket. Some more drills on learning to finish with contact might also make her a more effective scorer and maximize all of those attempts.


#21 - Joy Cheek

6-1 Forward - Charlotte, North Carolina

Strengths: At her best, Joy is an exciting combination of power and finesse. At 6-1, she can post up on opponents with her strength and low center of gravity. However, she can also put the ball on the floor and attack the basket or step outside and pop threes. Coming into the season, she seemed to be in the best shape of her career. She's running the floor well and has been playing all-out without getting tired. Joy's versatility is a nice fit with the rest of the team, considering that positions will be more blurred on this squad than on many past editions of the Blue Devils. I expect her to become one of the primary scoring threats for Duke and the most significant post scoring threat.

Needs Work: There's no question that Joy had a down season as a junior. Her shooting numbers plummeted from 51% to 39% and she only hit 27% of her 45 three point attempts. Her rebounding numbers dropped from 5.3 rpg to 4.7 rpg. She slipped in and out of the starting lineup as she would follow a solid game with a low-impact performance. Simply put, Joy will need to be consistent from game to game. She'll need to be aggressive with and to the ball; there's no reason why a player of her strength & agility shouldn't be averaging around 8 rpg. While I love the fact that Joy is so versatile, she shouldn't fall so in love with her jumpshot that she forgets to punish smaller opponents with her bruising low post game. She has a beautiful hook shot that is a bit underused. The single biggest factor that will boost her scoring is getting to the foul line more often. Last year she only got to the line an average of twice a game. If Joy can at least double those attempts, she'll not only be on her way to averaging a double-double, she'll get her opponents in foul trouble.


#13 - Keturah Jackson

6-0 Forward/Guard - Columbia, South Carolina

Strengths: KJ is Duke's toughest player and most relentless defender. Her agility and lateral quickness have made her the team's go-to perimeter defender. As a fifth-year senior, she's seen a lot of huge games, including being on the bench during Duke's run to the title game in 2006. KJ is another player who's obviously a great teammate, given her enthusiasm and positive attitude. KJ greatly improved as a ballhandler and playmaker last season, nearly doubling her assists. On a team with few natural ballhandlers, that ability will become especially important this year. Don't be surprised to see her bringing the ball up the floor on some possessions, allowing Jasmine Thomas to go off the ball and hunt her shot.

Needs Work: KJ's limitations have always been on the offensive end. Her shooting has been erratic, though she's worked hard to develop an effective midrange shot and even extend her range out a bit. While a good ballhandler, she sometimes drives right into the teeth of the defense and charges when she doesn't quite have a plan. KJ simply needs to play to her strengths: fill in the gaps where she's needed, finish drives, hit free throws and continue to shut down the opposition's top scorer. Teams will dare her to shoot, and while she should keep them honest, she also shouldn't take that bait too early in the shot clock.

Note: It is our intention to produce another player-based feature at the end of the first semester.



Previews of Ga. Southern & Charlotte
 
Lethargic Devils Outlast Eagles, 69-42
The Nutshell

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