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Duke Survives Maryland, 58-57
Player by Player
Previewing Florida State
Devils In Detail - January 2010
By Rob Clough
January 26, 2010

A Closer Look at Duke's Roster

Editor's Note: Devils in Detail is a periodic DWHoops feature that looks closely at Duke's roster. This edition includes a summary of each player's current role and ways that they might "step it up" for the ACC stretch run. DWHoops will continue revisit this format periodically throughout this season.

Keturah Jackson

Key Stats: 5.5 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 2.8 apg, 2.5 spg

Current Role: Defensive stopper and ballhandler. KJ has been tremendous against many opponents' top scorers; her ability to shut down Miami's Riquana Williams was perhaps the biggest feather in KJ's cap this year. At her best, KJ can be a stat-sheet stuffer with rebounds, assists and steals. Her size and strength can make her a tough matchup for many opponents. Even against JMU, in a game where Dawn Evans scored a lot of points, KJ stepped up with 10 points, 4 rebounds, 5 assists and 4 steals.

How To Step Up: Take better care of the ball and don't try to do too much with it. KJ piled up 11 turnovers in three games before an error-free game against Virginia Tech. Smart teams often try to isolate her offensively, and KJ rarely looks comfortable when she's in that position. The result has been awkward-looking jump shots often taken off the wrong foot and wasted possessions. There's nothing wrong with KJ shooting when her teammates set her up (she drained a three against UConn doing just that), but the Devils can always get a better shot than KJ putting up a forced jumper. As a senior, she needs to read those situations a bit better and force the defense to work harder.

Joy Cheek

Key Stats: 10.5 ppg, 5.9 rpg, 39% FG, 40% 3FG

Current Role: Well, it should be primary post scorer, but Joy has struggled to get a lot of easy shots to fall. It's telling that her three point percentage is better than her overall shooting percentage. When Joy is active, engaged and focused, her versatility & size make Duke extremely tough to stop. In games against James Madison, Maine and Clemson, Joy was a formidable scorer and tough rebounder. Her 21 points against JMU were a big reason why Duke was able to take control against a solid opponent. There are times when Joy's versatility works against her: rather than have a couple of go-to moves, she has a variety of scoring tools--but she is sometimes hesitant in figuring out which tools to use in the heat of the moment. That has resulted in turnovers, rushed shots and offensive fouls. Even starting at center didn't necessarily make things any easier for scoring, especially when she was matched up against an All-American in Tina Charles.

How To Step Up: It's pretty simple: get to the foul line and stay out of foul trouble. If Joy is going to foul, it needs to be hammering someone in the post going for a layup, not whacking a jump shooter. She especially needs to be careful in the first half. When backing in for one of her turn-around runners, Joy just needs to get a little deeper and start to relish drawing contact. Given her size and strength, she should be able to get to the foul line at least 4 times a game. That will open up everything else for her, including her long-range shot. Ideally, Joy should be averaging around 15 ppg.

Bridgette Mitchell

Key Stats: 9.6 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 33% 3FG

Current Role: Starting wing forward, offensive rebounding specialist. Bridgette is playing with a decent level of consistency as a scorer but especially as a rebounder. Not only did she hit the game winner at Maryland, but she was a key scorer in Duke's road win over Temple, had a double-double on the road against Clemson, had 20 & 9 vs Wake, and was comfortable in scoring 10 in the win over Miami. Many of these games have been on the road, a sign of her maturity and mental focus this year. She worked hard against UConn, coming up with 4 offensive rebounds to help lead Duke's charge on that end. Her steadiness and intensity has been a big key to Duke's success.

How To Step Up: Cut down on fouls and turnovers. B's ballhandling and decision-making is still shaky at times, and a number of her turnovers have been offensive fouls as she's charged toward the basket. I don't mind her taking down opponents that come near the basket; that's been a toughness aspect that she's added to her game and one that reinforces Duke's physical nature against opponents. Sometimes, those fouls are more a result of Mitchell not moving her feet or being in the right place on the court than an opponent making a great move. Being in the right place when the team switches defensively needs to be a focus for B in the latter half of her senior year. She's physical enough to take a charge; she just needs to be in the right place in order to get one.

Karima Christmas

Key Stats: 9.2 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 2.4 spg, 1.6 apg, 27% 3FG

Current Role: Versatile power forward/wing/shooting guard who attacks off the dribble. Rima is having trouble with her shot of late, most likely because she has a hand injury that's been hindering her for much of the year. Indeed, she's missed her last 8 three point attempts. Having that part of her game taken away from her has limited her scoring in general, as teams are playing her for the drive. As a result, she's only been in double figures once over the last five games, after cracking double digits in 7 of 8 games. No one blocks out quite like Karima, whose low-output rebounding game this year was 3, and included a 14-board masterpiece against Temple. She shredded the Owls for 23 points, getting to the foul line 11 times in a very physical game. Christmas also came up big in Duke's win over Miami, with 12 points and 7 rebounds.

How To Step Up: Karima simply has to be a consistent offensive force. The rebounding, energy and effort are all there on a game to game basis, but she doesn't always hunt her shot. She only had 4 attempts in 20 minutes against VT and 5 in 28 minutes against UConn. She doesn't make a lot of mistakes with the ball (just over 1 turnover a game), so she's in a position where Duke can afford for her to get more aggressive. I'd like to see Karima take 8 shots a game at a minimum and hopefully boost that to 10 shots a game as she gets more comfortable.

Jasmine Thomas

Key Stats: 15.6 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 4.6 apg, 2.7 spg, 36% 3FG

Current Role: Primary scorer and distributor. Jasmine has carried the team on her back, getting into double digits in every game but two (and those were blowout wins). She had a near triple-double against James Madison and did her best to keep Duke in the game against UConn. Thomas has done a nice job of attacking the basket, spotting up for shots, knocking down open looks and shooting after rubbing off little screens. Thomas has excelled as a passer as well, boosting her assist/turnover ratio to over 1.5:1. She's also been a ballhawk, jumping passing lanes as well as attacking dribbles. Jasmine is sure to be All-ACC, has a chance to be ACC player of the year and also has All-American status in play.

How To Step Up: Jasmine could boost her scoring even more if she got to the foul line more often. She gets about 3 attempts a game now; boosting that to 5 or 6 would put her near 20 points a game. That would mean finishing just a bit stronger than she has been now, which would also help stop that rash of missed layups she's had. She also shouldn't be afraid of taking over games when she's feeling it; against UConn, I thought she could have shot more in the first half of that game, given that the Huskies hadn't figured out that they needed to deploy an extra player against her.

Krystal Thomas

Key Stats: 8.7 ppg, 7.4 rpg, 2 bpg, 56% FG

What She's Done So Far: Top post defender and rebounder, post scorer. Krystal has fought her way back into the starting lineup and reaffirmed that with 17 points against Virginia Tech. Krystal didn't score much against Stanford but did a good job on center Jayne Appel, and followed that up with 8 points & 10 rebounds against James Madison. The problem for her has been one of consistent aggressiveness, as she would follow up a 14 point game in one game with a zero-attempt game in another. Part of that is a function of opposing defenses, but she wasn't even finding ways to go the offensive boards for stickbacks. She was too passive in accepting what the defense was doing instead of actively trying to find ways to score or set up her teammates. There's been nothing wrong with her defense or rebounding, which have been top-notch. She's only dipped below 5 rebounds on one occasion (her 0-attempt game against Temple) and has been in double figures 5 times. At her best, she adds a physical dimension to Duke's attack that can be tough for many teams to match up against.

How To Step Up: Demand the ball, shoot with confidence and finish strong. Krystal is powerful enough that she should be drawing some "and ones" when taking shots. She's looking to face up a bit more often as well, and she showed off her range by draining an 18' jumper against Virginia Tech. That obviously shouldn't be her bread-and-butter as an offensive player, but something to keep as a change of pace. While she needs to be aggressive with the ball, she needs to be able to read defenses and pass the ball back out if she's not in good position, and trust that her teammates will get her back the ball when she re-posts.

Chelsea Hopkins

Key Stats: 1 ppg, 1 rpg, 1 apg

Current Role: Reserve point guard. Chelsea played extremely well in extended minutes against NC Central, especially in terms of how she controlled the ball and ran the team (5 assists, 1 turnover). She followed that up with some great minutes at the end of the first half against Temple, hitting a three and scoring off the dribble. After getting some more good minutes against Providence, she was sloppy against Clemson (4 turnovers) and has gone back to spot duty. Her 2 assists against Virginia Tech might give her a look in Duke's upcoming games. Coach McCallie often likes to insert her late in the first half to ensure that primary guards don't pick up silly fouls.

Current Role: Get to the foul line and take care of the ball. Chelsea simply can't afford to turn the ball over at all, given her lack of explosiveness as an offensive player. She's still quick enough to penetrate, and she needs to give up her body and take a pounding if she's going to score. It would also help her cause if she could pull up and sink the occasional 15' jumper.

Kathleen Scheer

Key Stats: 2.6 ppg, 1.2 rpg, 15% 3FG

Current Role: Like many members of the bench, Kathleen played well as a shoting threat and scrappy rebounder against NC Central. She also displayed a nice passing touch, but it was the fact that she drained multiple treys that made this her best performance of the year. She followed a decent showing against Providence (5 points and a block) by struggling a bit at Clemson, and she didn't play much until scoring 5 points against Virginia Tech.

How To Step Up: It's simple: hit some shots and take care of the ball. Kathleen has fantastic range on her shot, but in games, there's a weird hitch in her shot. That's especially true when she pulls up for a shot, as opposed to being set up by someone else. That hitch is a sort of hesitancy and an indication that she's thinking too much about her shot rather than being in the moment of the game. It's a vicious cycle, because she knows if she doesn't hit shots, she won't play--but if she worries too much about being taken out, she will never hit a shot. She's pressing too much, and that's resulted in some of the turnovers and fouls as well. Scheer needs to find a way to relax, take a breath and let the game come to her. If her teammates can sense that she's relaxed, her teammates will start to get her the ball more often.

Shay Selby

Key Stats: 3.5 ppg, 2 rpg, 1.6 apg, 36% 3FG

Current Role: First guard off the bench. Shay is the bench player who has managed to find a way to get more minutes by doing the little things. She's leading the team in charges taken at 5, and she's done that because she hasn't been afraid to sacrifice her body. Even against UConn, she came in and absorbed an elbow from Caroline Doty (resulting in a Doty foul), she dug in for a couple of big rebounds and even blocked a shot. Against Miami, she hit a couple of crucial three-pointers that gave Duke some much-needed separation. Playing against Wake Forest and Virginia Tech, Shay came up with 5 rebounds in each of those games. She's now averaging a steady 14 minutes a game over the past few games and has been playing more and more next to Jasmine Thomas.

How To Step Up: Shay needs to continue to be a defensive pest, dig for rebounds and loose balls. The next step is to start to look for her shot a little more and start to assert herself as a playmaker. The key will be making the simple play and not worrying about the spectacular play. Her penchant for behind-the-back passes and high degree-of-difficulty plays has held her back a bit in her career, but given her skill set as a player, there's no need to show them off just yet. Making the direct pass and taking the simple shot should be her goals. If she can build her scoring average up to 7 or 8 ppg and get 2 apg on a regular basis, then both Shay and Duke will be in great shape for the stretch run.

Allison Vernerey

Key Stats: 6.9 ppg, 5.3 rpg

Current Role: First post player off the bench. As opponents have figured out how to guard her, Allison has struggled a bit since mid-December. She's only hit double-figures once (against NC Central) after doing so 5 times earlier in the year. Part of that was a function of Krystal Thomas going to the bench and Allison being stuck behind her in the rotation, but the problem is that she was turning the ball over far too often to earn a starting nod. She's still an important part of the rotation and is certainly no less aggressive than earlier in the year. Vernerey is currently adjusting to the shock of the physical play and intensity in the ACC, and will probably need a few more games to get used to it.

How To Step Up: Learn to finish with her right hand and fix the hitch in her free-throw form. Adding a reliable 10' jumper would also make her a tough player to stop. However, that's the sort of development that will have to happen in the offseason. As far as the rest of this year goes, Vernerey simply has to be more careful with the ball, especially when faced with a double-team. She's tried to power through double-teams instead of finding open teammates and trying to repost. Allison also needs to be smarter about setting up in the post before she asks for the ball, to ensure that she's in position to score.

Alexis Rogers

Key Stats: 2.1 ppg, 1.9 rpg

Current Role: Deep bench energizer. After falling completely out of the lineup, Rogers stepped up her effort to play some solid minutes in several games. Her hustle was on display when she scored 11 points against NC Central, and she had a key rebound and assist in Duke's close win over Miami.

How To Step Up: Continue to hustle, especially at the defensive end. Make good decisions with the ball. The rotation beyond the 7th player is still entirely fluid, so if Lexi continues to work hard there's a chance she could get minutes in real games. What she doesn't need to do is worry about scoring; in Coach McCallie's system, it's rebounds that will get her minutes.

Duke Survives Maryland, 58-57
Player by Player
Previewing Florida State

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