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Duke Takes Down Canes, 69-62
Player Stats
#1 Huskies Beat Down Duke, 81-48
The Nutshell
Previewing UConn
By Rob Clough
January 17, 2010

Huskies Bring 56 Game Win Streak to Cameron

Connecticut - Monday 1/18 @ 7 PM - Cameron Indoor Stadium (ESPN2)

Last Year: 39-0 (BIG EAST Champions, NCAA Champions)
Current Record: 17-0

Significant Losses: The Huskies return virtually every player of note from their undefeated championship team, with the exception of point guard and second-leading scorer Renee Montgomery. Montgomery went through a lot of ups and downs in her career, but emerged at the end as a true leader and star. As a senior, she put up 16.5 ppg, 2 rpg, 5 apg and sank 38% from three

Who's Coming Back: UConn features the two best players in the country. First is wing Maya Moore, who averaged 19 ppg, 9 rpg, 3 apg, 1.9 spg, 1.5 bpg and who shot 40% from three. The other is imposing center Tina Charles, who put up 16.5 ppg, 8.9 rpg, 1.5 bpg and shot 62% from the floor. Replacing Montgomery will be Caroline Doty, who averaged 9 ppg, 3 rpg and 2 apg and shot 40% from three. The Huskies also return two key wing players in Tiffany Hayes and Kalana Greene. Hayes scored 8 ppg, 4 rpg and 3 apg and shot 37% from three. Greene put up 9 ppg, 5 rpg, 2 apg but shot 20% from three. Hulking Kaili McLaren came off the bench in support of Charles to average 4 ppg and 3 rpg, while wing Meghan Gardler averaged 2 ppg and 2 rpg. Speedy point guard Lorin Dixon averaged 2 ppg, 2 rpg and 2 apg.

Hall of Fame Coach Geno Auriemma
The Skinny: UConn is a team without any obvious flaws and is overflowing with talent. In many respects, they're playing even better this season so far. Charles has been tremendous as a senior, dominating even teams with great frontcourts like Stanford. She's averaging 18 and 9 so far this year. Moore's shot is actually not quite as accurate as last year, but she's made up for it with her playmaking (4 apg) and rebounding (7 rpg). The real key for this team has been the way that Greene, Hayes and Doty have stepped up. Greene is averaging 12 ppg & 5 rpg, while Hayes is scoring 11 ppg and grabbing 4 rpg. Doty has taken over nicely at point, scoring 8 ppg and dishing out 4 apg. Gardler has stepped up to score 6 ppg, while frosh Kelly Faris is putting up 4 ppg. Dixon just came back from injury and is averaging 2 ppg and 6 apg.

What makes UConn so especially tough? They are relentlessly physical but are careful to rarely foul. Their toughness is the first factor that can lead to their devastating scoring runs: opponents become timid trying to score in the post or drive into the lane, and so they throw bad passes or take quick jumpers. With UConn's overwhelming superiority on the boards (a ridiculous +15 on the season), that has helped lead to firing up their devastating fast break in game after game. When a rebound isn't starting a break, it's a steal, as the Huskies average 11 a game. Even when teams do take it inside, UConn sends back five shots a game. Opponents are averaging just 45 ppg. Offensively, the Huskies have a lot of individual talent but are remarkable in that they could have four players with 100 assists this year, and five others with over 50 assists. UConn gets to the foul line, shoots well from long range (32.5% as a team) and only turns the ball over 14 times a game. Coach Geno Auriemma trusts his players to run a lot of motion and make sound decisions, but his players can also run any kind of systemic play he chooses. With Moore, you also have the ultimate broken-play player, one who can come up with baskets in any kind of situation. In Charles, you have a player who can and does dominate as a first option against teams who can't slow her down.

For Duke to compete and hope to have a chance to win, they have to play to their strengths. First, Duke's quickness around the hoop could be key. The Devils will need to dominate the offensive boards, and cash in with second chance points. Similarly, Duke has to keep Moore & Charles away from the offensive boards. If those two get extra chances, Duke will get blown out. Second, UConn doesn't have a player in the backcourt who can match up with Jasmine Thomas. If Jasmine is on, then Duke has the potential to have a player who can help Duke keep up with UConn's relentless scoring. Third, Duke has to find a way to neutralize Greene & Hayes. KJ can match up against one of that duo, but Bridgette Mitchell & Karima Christmas have to be able to play solid defense against them without fouling. Fourth, Duke is quick and physical enough to force UConn to take jump shots. They're a good jump-shooting team, but even they are susceptible to the occasional clanked shot. Moore scored a career-low 4 points against Marquette, for example. Lastly, Duke's post players have to score and can't get in foul trouble. This is the tallest order for Duke, since Joy Cheek's battled foul trouble all year and Krystal Thomas & Allison Vernerey have been erratic as scorers.

UConn crushed ACC teams Clemson and UNC by 40 points, but Florida State challenged them before falling by 19. UConn dominated #2 team Stanford and their great frontline and tore apart Texas. The Huskies turned their "showdown" with #3 Notre Dame into a joke, winning by 24 after starting the game on a 17-2 run. Playing at home will help Duke a little, but it remains to be seen just what kind of crowd will be there. This game will tell Duke a lot about where they stand and what more needs to be done. If Duke plays with 40 minutes of focus, they stand a good chance of making this an interesting game. Any wavering of intensity will result in UConn exploiting this and making Duke pay for their mistakes--and quickly.

  • An early, soul-crushing UConn scoring run

Duke Takes Down Canes, 69-62
Player Stats
#1 Huskies Beat Down Duke, 81-48
The Nutshell

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