Devils In Detail - January 2010
Duke Thrashes FSU, 73-43
Florida State - Friday 1/29 @ 8:30 PM - Cameron Indoor Stadium (FSN)Last Year:26-8, 12-2 ACC (#1 Reg. Season), NCAA Tournament 2nd Round
Last Meeting: 3/7/09: Duke 75, FSU 57 - ACC Semifinals
Current Record: 18-3, 4-1 ACC
Who's Coming Back: Senior F Jacinta Monroe (13 ppg, 7 rpg, 3 bpg) anchored the
team inside, blossoming into a fearsome defensive presence and fine scorer.
Senior G Angel Gray (4 ppg, 3.5 rpg) came back from injury and proved herself
as a capable cog in FSU's uptempo attack at both ends. Senior W Alysha Harvin
(7.5 ppg, 3 rpg) stepped up in providing scoring, defense and rebounding at the
wing. Junior PG Courtney Ward (7 ppg, 3 rpg, 5.5 apg, 50% 3FG) matured into a
true team leader and clutch shooter, giving FSU some true stability at lead
guard. Junior F Christian Hunnicutt (3 ppg, 2 rpg) was a solid role player who
gave some minutes at wing. Sophomore C Cierra Bravard (10 ppg, 5 rpg, 33
blocks) was a revelation at times thanks to her imposing size and skills in the
post. Like many big young players, issues of endurance & fitness slowed her
down in the ACC's frenetically-paced style of play. Sophomore W Kayli Keogh (1
ppg, 2 rpg) got some backup guard minutes here and there.
The Skinny on 2010: This is one of the biggest games of the year for Duke. They only get one crack at the Seminoles, and so the winner will have a significant tiebreaker advantage down the line. That certainly hurt Duke last year in their stunning overtime loss to the Noles in a game that the Devils had well in hand most of the way. The Devils did get their revenge in a blowout win in the ACC tournament over the #2 seed, but they hope it doesn't have to come to that this year. So far, the Seminoles have had a solid year, giving UConn all it wanted in a 19-point loss and dominating Virginia.
However, FSU lacks a signature win and fell behind Duke in the ACC race thanks to Miami upsetting them in Coral Gables. A beatdown at the hands of DePaul certainly hasn't done any favors to their future seeding chances. The Seminoles know that they need to beat Duke and UNC to win the league and get postseason respect, and they will be motivated for the challenge despite both games being on the road.
FSU is one of the most balanced and versatile offensive teams Duke will face all season. First off, they erased any concerns about shooting by posting a team percentage of 38% from long range so far this year. Harvin's shooting 37%, Ward 34%, redshirt frosh Alexa Deluzio an impressive 42% off the bench, Gray 55% (as a change of pace--only 20 attempts in 21 games), Hunnicutt 32% and redshirt frosh Chasity Clayton 44% (on 18 attempts). You have to respect the Seminoles' range and can't really play the percentages on many of their players.
That shooting has opened things up nicely for FSU's posts and slashers. Monroe is having a typically solid year with 13 ppg and 7 rpg. She anchor's FSU's tremendous shot-blocking attack with two per game. Harvin has stepped into Davis-Cain's shoes and is scoring a steady 11 ppg to go with 4 rpg and 2 apg. Clayton has been a revelation as a slasher and leaper, scoring 8 ppg and grabbing 5 rpg (and besting those numbers in conference play). The only minor disappointment has been Bravard, who actually went to the bench for 6 games when she was underperforming but has since returned to the starting lineup. While she's averaging 7 ppg and 4.5 rpg, she racks up fouls at an alarming rate. She's already fouled out of 3 games and averages 3 fouls per game.
Ward is FSU's other double-digit scorer at 10 ppg. While she loves dishing out passes (6 apg), her 4.5 turnovers a game reveal that FSU's major flaw as a team is turnovers (nearly 20 a game). The key to beating the Seminoles will be pressuring Ward into mistakes and using Duke's size and length to trap Harvin, Ward, Deluzio and Gray. If FSU is allowed to regularly get into its halfcourt sets or go uptempo, Duke will be in for a long game. If Duke can disrupt FSU and create offense from defense, then the Devils could have a lot of success.
A big key in all of this is the choices Duke makes when going to the offensive boards. The Devils frequently send at least two players to the offensive boards every time, and sometimes as many as three. They may not be able to do this against FSU, especially if the Noles can hit some long-range shots in transition or off the secondary break. This means that players like Bridgette Mitchell, Krystal Thomas and Karima Christmas will need to work extra-hard on the boards by themselves. This is a big key for the game; if FSU outrebounds Duke, they will almost certainly beat them. This potential difficulty in getting offensive boards also means that shot selection will be more important than ever, as will getting to the foul line. The Seminoles will foul opponents if they are aggressive, and this is something Duke will need to take advantage of.
Krystal Thomas could also be a big key for Duke. I suspect that FSU coach Sue Semrau is confident enough in her bigs to not double-team Krystal or go zone in the initial part of the game. If that comes to pass, Duke needs to get the ball in to Krystal where she can score...and she has to look for that shot. Joy Cheek is also agile enough to give FSU's bigs trouble if she posts up strong (something she hasn't always done this year). I'm not sure that FSU has anyone who can guard Jasmine Thomas, who can always go to the pull-up jumper if everything else on offense fails (like it did at Maryland).
Ultimately, this game needs to be ugly for Duke to win. An ugly game will mean
a disrupted FSU offense, and they don't have a singularly gifted star who can
win a game by herself when everything else isn't working. They are a gifted
unit, but their losses and struggles in other games have revealed that they can
be disrupted by a physical team that can force them into mistakes.
Devils In Detail - January 2010
Duke Thrashes FSU, 73-43