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Duke Thrashes FSU, 73-43
Photo Gallery
BC Outslugs Duke, 61-57
The Nutshell
Previewing Boston College
By Rob Clough
February 2, 2010

Can It Be Any Colder Than Snowy Durham Up There?

Boston College - Thursday 2/4 @ 7 PM - Conte Forum

Last Year:23-12, 7-7 ACC, WNIT Final Four
Last Meeting: 2/2/09: Duke 69, BC 58
Current Record: 12-10, 3-4 ACC

BC's Carolyn Swords
Significant Losses: G Corey Rusin (4 ppg, 2 rpg, 2 apg) was a career backup who made some real contributions as a senior. F Lauren Whitehurst (4 ppg, 3 rpg) and G Victoria Jones (2 ppg, 1 rpg) were role players, with Whitehurst providing some nice moments as a backup post and Jones showing some speed at guard. The Eagles lost several other marginal players to transfer.

Who's Coming Back: Junior C Carolyn Swords (15 ppg, 9 rpg, 68% FG, 48 blocks) emerged as one of the most consistent post players in the ACC, capable of scoring against anyone. Only foul trouble slowed her down. Junior F Stefanie Murphy (11 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 35 blocks) had a solid year, but one with a bit less impact than her freshman year when she was less of a known quantity. Still, she could also score and rebound against anyone. Senior G Mickel Picco (15 ppg, 3 rpg, 2 apg, 35% 3FG) became a consistent long-range threat last year and had several spectacular scoring displays. Senior wing Ayla Brown (6.5 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 2 apg) soldiered along as a solid, but unspectacular player. Junior PG Jaclyn Thoman (4 ppg, 2 rpg, 3 apg, 43% 3FG) took over full time as the team's lead guard, bur sometimes struggled against quick ACC opponents. Senior G Brittany Johnson (4 ppg, 2 apg) hit some big shots off the bench while W Jasmine Gill (2 ppg, 1 rpg) is poised to make an impact as a sophomore.

The Skinny on 2010: BC has had a disappointing season to date, albeit with some big recent ACC wins. With Thoman on suspension in the early part of the season, the Eagles bumbled their way to an 0-3 start, including a loss to Harvard and a blowout against Vermont in Boston. They limped into the ACC season with a 9-5 record with their major problem being defense. The Eagles put plenty of points on the board, but they couldn't stop any opponent, allowing them to shoot 41% from the field and 35% from three. To start the ACC season, they bounced back with dominant wins at home against NC State and Georgia Tech, shooting 50% and 62% in those contests, respectively.

When it came to road play, things got much stickier for the Eagles. They allowed Maryland to shoot 57% as BC lost a 7-point game to the Terps. Florida State ran them out of the building (dominating on the boards by 15) and Clemson earned their first ACC win of the season against the Eagles, again outrebounding them. Throw in a close home lose to Virginia, and things were starting to get grim. BC turned things around with a solid win over a very good Miami squad in Boston, putting themselves in the thick of the ACC race. A win against Duke would be a huge feather in their caps and would square their league record. A loss would be bad news, given that they're traveling to Chapel Hill next.

Mickel Picco drives
BC's Big Three is having an OK season, but no one's really stood out. Swords is averaging 15 ppg and 10 rpg, but those averages dipped a bit in league play--in part because she's picking up more fouls(she stil leads the country in FG%). Picco is averaging 13 ppg and is shooting a decent 35% from three, but has been inconsistent. Murphy is scoring 10 ppg and grabbing 6 rpg, and is one of the few players on the team who's playing better in the ACC. She nearly single-handedly won the Clemson game. Thoman is doing OK at point guard, averaging 4 apg, and seems to be hitting a few more open jumpers. The revelation in conference play has been Johnson, who's averaging a team-best 13 ppg and has hit some big-time shots. That's senior leadership at work.

This is still a team built for halfcourt play, reliant on set plays and screens. There's a lot of size here with Swords & Murphy (plus a few bodies off the bench) and plenty of shooting as well. Picco, Johnson, Thoman, Gill and frosh Kerri Shields can all hit the three, which provides nice inside-outside balance. There are two big keys for Duke in this game: defensive disruption and offensive rebounding. BC turns the ball over 17 times a game, and if Duke can force 20+ miscues and turn them into offense, the Eagles will be in a hole. At the same time, the Eagles don't try a lot of pressing or trapping, preferring to rely on their size defensively, so Duke will simply need to be patient in the halfcourt. If the Devils can flood the passing lanes, deny passes into the post and recover on the perimeter, then they will win the game easily. If BC gets into any kind of offensive rhythm and the Devils are lazy on their defensive rotations, then this will be a tight ballgame.

BC Head Coach Sylvia Crawley
Offensive rebounding is key because BC doesn't have the quickness to block out other teams. Bridgette Mitchell needs to be ready to attack the glass, along with Joy Cheek and Karima Christmas. On an individual level, Cheek & Krystal Thomas need to play smart against Swords & Murphy: crowd them but don't foul them, don't bite on head-fakes, and body them up offensively. Duke's swarm of offensive rebounds could also help out by picking up fouls on BC's post players.

While Picco is not having a great season, she's still a variable that must be monitored. With her quick release, she's a threat to go off for 20 or 30 points at any times, so the Devils will need to have a hand in her face the whole time. If Duke can bottle her up as well as limit the damage caused by BC's posts, then this will be an easy game. Of course, even with BC's horrible defensive numbers, Duke still has to prove they can score. On the road, that's been a difficult proposition. Indeed, I expect the first half to be extremely close, and then Duke will have a chance to pull away, depending on how well it's rebounding and defending. This is certainly a potential trap game for Duke if they're not careful.

  • Swords owning the boards

Duke Thrashes FSU, 73-43
Photo Gallery
BC Outslugs Duke, 61-57
The Nutshell

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