|Homestand Against Quality Foes Will Test Blue Devils|
#3 Ohio State - Thursday 12/3 @ 7 PM - Cameron Indoor Stadium
ACC-Big Ten Challenge
Last Year: 29-6, Big Ten Champions, NCAA Sweet Sixteen
Significant Losses: The Buckeyes lost imposing second-leading scorer Star Allen (11 ppg, 8 rpg) and part-time starting guard Ashlee Trebilcock (7 ppg, 44% 3FG). Allen was a space-eater who helped open things up for Jantel Lavender, while Trebilcock was mostly just a scorer who filled in the blanks.
Who's Coming Back: The Buckeyes start things with 6-4 All-America center Jantel
Lavender, a physical presence who is currently averaging 24 ppg and 9 rpg, a
year after averaging 21 & 11. She's active, aggressive and has a soft scoring
touch; she also shoots 76% from the foul line. She's the team's star, but the
team's catalyst is whirling dervish PG Samantha Prahalis. Prahalis is
averaging 14 ppg and an astounding 10 apg. Both stars are somewhat turnover
prone (they combine for 5 a game), but their aggressiveness more than makes up
for that. The Buckeyes start a pair of 6-0 forwards in Sarah Schulze and
Brittany Johnson. Both average about 10 ppg and are shooting nearly 60% from
the foul line. With Prahalis' improvement as a sophomore (she averaged 10 ppg
and 6 apg as a frosh), that's lifted the games of Schulze and Johnson (who
averaged 3 ppg and 7 ppg last season, respectively). 6-5 Andrea Walker serves
as Lavender's backup and is solid in that capacity, averaging 4.5 ppg and 5
rpg. Shavelle Little is Prahalis' back-up, scoring 6 ppg.
The Skinny: Lavender and Prahalis are superstars, and Duke will need to find
ways to contain both of them. The Devils have the size and bodies to throw at
her. This game will be a big proving ground for Krystal Thomas. If she can
hold her own on the boards and keep her out of the deep post as much as
possible, then Duke will have a great chance to win. Vernerey will also have a
chance to prove herself against a great opponent, giving OSU a different look.
Early foul trouble for the posts could be a significant momentum swing.
Mitchell and Cheek match up well with Johnson and and Schulze; Joy in particular
needs to exploit her matchup and draw fouls in the paint. The key matchup will
be Keturah Jackson defending Prahalis. Prahalis' main weakness is that she's a
mediocre shooter. Duke will need to turn her into a jump shooter and keep her
out of the paint. In particular, the Devils will have to close out on Johnson
and Schulze; if they're open, they will drain threes. The other OSU weapon to
consider is frosh Tayler Hill (a one-time Duke recruit) who is averaging 9 ppg.
She's not shooting all that well at the moment, but she has the potential to be
a deadly scorer.
OSU has already beaten Cal and Oklahoma State without too much trouble, but Duke
will be the first team they face that has any real size. So far this year,
they're +10 on rebounds and go to the line 24 times a game. They only turn the
ball over 13 times a game. This is a team that is efficient, has clearly
defined roles and that makes few mistakes. To win, Duke will need to get them
out of their comfort zone. The Devils are quicker and match their size and
will need to exploit both factors. Look for Ohio State to clamp down in the
post defensive and force Duke to hit jump shots (like all of Duke's other
opponents). The difference is that OSU will be happy to leave Lavender alone
to protect the rim while they send a chaser to shut down any open shots. It's
a given that Jasmine Thomas needs to have a big game for Duke to win, but
Karima Christmas and Shay Selby also have the potential to be
difference-makers. We'll see if Duke is tough enough to beat the #3 team in
- Prahalis driving and dishing
Southern Cal - Sunday 12/7 @ 2 PM - Cameron Indoor Stadium
Last Year: 17-15
Significant Losses: The Women of Troy lost three big contributors in lead guard
Camille Lenoir (13 ppg, 3 rpg, 4 apg, 40% 3FG), forward Nadia Parker (11 ppg,
5.5 rpg, 31 blocks) and guard Brynn Cameron (8 ppg, 2 rpg, 35% 3FG). Cameron
scored 16 points in last year's matchup against Duke. Mark Trakh and his coaching staff were dismissed at the end of last season.
Who's Coming Back: Guard Ashley Corral is leading the team in scoring at 15 ppg,
with 5 rpg and 4 apg. She's shooting just 30% from three, however. She scored
16 points off the bench against Duke last year. Briana Gilbreath is a talented
6-1 wing who's putting up 11 ppg and 6 rpg; she had 11 and 6 against Duke.
Forward Aarika Hughes is the team's leading rebounder at 6 rpg and is also
scoring 10 ppg. Duke held her in check last year with only 4 points. 6-5 Kari
LaPlante is averaging 6 ppg and 5 rpg; she came off the bench for 8 points in
last year's matchup. Wing Heather Oliveris only averaging 5 ppg this season
after scoring 9 ppg last year; she scorched Duke for 14 points. 6-2 guard
Hailey Dunham gave Duke problems last year with 10 points; she's only averaging
4 ppg this year.
The Skinny: The Women of Troy have lost games to (now top 10) Xavier, Rutgers and Gonzaga,
but managed to knock off two top 25 squads: Gail Goestenkors' Texas team, and Mississippi State.
USC gave Duke all it
wanted on the road last year, as Duke had to furiously rally to send the game
to overtime and finally win. Duke's seniors carried the load that day, but the
shooting of Shay Selby and Jasmine Thomas off the bench (they combined for 33
points) was the x-factor that allowed Duke to win. USC has struggled to shoot
(32% from three), rebound (-5), and hang on to the ball (16 turnovers a game).
That said, they have size at guard and wing, a new weapon in frosh Christina
Marinacci (7 ppg) and the knowledge that they can hang with Duke.
Duke has advantages with size and J.Thomas' ability to attack. The key will be
taking care of the ball. They turned the ball over 29 times last year and put
USC at the foul line 28 times. If Duke simply takes care of the ball,
patiently gets it into the post and attacks the boards, they should be able to
win by double digits. One other thing to watch is the way USC moves the ball
around, and if they're able to get open looks from three. If USC can get into
a shooting rhythm, they will be difficult to stop because they have so many
players who can score. USC can run and Duke should be careful when and how
they press. Corral is only 5-9 and is already averaging 4 turnovers a game.
Duke needs to show her a lot of different looks: full-court press, half-court
traps, and ballhawks like Hopkins & Jackson pressuring the ball.
- Corral getting open looks