BC Outslugs Duke, 61-57
Duke Thrashes Carolina, 79-51
North Carolina @ 7 PM - Cameron Indoor Stadium (ESPN2)Last Year:28-7, 10-4 ACC, NCAA Tournament 2nd Round
Last Meeting: 3/1/09: Senior Night Comeback Shocks Heels, 81-79 (OT)
Current Record: 16-5, 4-3 ACC
Significant Losses: W Rashanda McCants (14 ppg, 6 rpg) was a jack of all trades but master of none for the Heels. She led the team in scoring but wasn't a dominant presence in any area of the game. F Jessica Breland (14 ppg, 8.5 rpg, 3 bpg) will sit out this season due to her recovery from lymphoma. F Iman McFarland (4 ppg, 4 rpg) was a plugger who served a role as a defensive presence. G Heather Claytor (4 ppg, 44% 3FG) was a long-range specialist who came off the bench, while F Christina DeWitt (4 ppg) came back for her final season after sitting out her junior year due to suspension. G Alex Miller (2 ppg) returned from injury, only to lose the rest of her career to another injury after 18 games.
Who's Coming Back: Soph guards Italee Lucas (14 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 3 apg, 39% 3FG)
and Cetera DeGraffenreid (12 ppg, 3 rpg, 4 apg) emerged as quick, aggressive
threats at both ends of the floor who could score and pass. Soph C Chay Shegog
(7 ppg, 4 rpg) had a solid first season and stepped up her play in league games.
Soph G She'La White (4 ppg) didn't put up big numbers but did log a lot of
significant minutes, and will be called on to step up as a scorer and
distributor. F Martina Wood (3 ppg), F Laura Broomfield (3 ppg), and W Trinity
Bursey (2 ppg) were all bit players who will be fighting with the frosh for
The Skinny on 2010: This is a painfully young UNC team, but it's one that's jam-packed with talent. The frosh and sophs on this team are incredibly quick and athletic, but aren't always in the right place at the right time--especially on defense and on the boards. The result is one of the worst-rebounding UNC clubs in years, especially against teams with great front lines. The Heels just dropped their second straight ACC game against Miami after losing at home to Florida State. The Heels will be desperate to beat Duke just to stay in the ACC race and keep up with hard-charging Virginia and Georgia Tech, to say nothing of FSU and Duke. In fact, after Friday's ACC action, a Tar Heel loss Monday would put them behind Wake Forest, tied for 6th with Boston College at 4-4.
Shegog has been inconsistent as a soph. She has moments of greatness (she's averaging 9 ppg and 6 rpg) but is frequently a sieve on defense and silent on offense. When the Heels get her in proper scoring position and in the right rhythm, she can be tough to stop. Of greater interest for UNC has been the play of 6-6 frosh Waltiea Rolle, a shot-blocker deluxe whose length makes her a nightmare when UNC turns to their matchup zone. She's raw offensively (7 ppg), but one can see her bursting with potential if she can catch, turn and shoot a bit more smoothly.
Another frosh, the heralded Tierra Ruffin-Pratt, has proven herself to be an excellent glue player so far in her career. Of all the Heels, she's the one whom I can sense might one day be a great leader. She's averaging 7 ppg and 5 rpg, but she seems to make a lot of connecting plays. While has also started a number of games, shooting 38% from three as she's averaged 7 ppg and acted as a reliable scoring option.
For Duke, UNC's use of the zone could be extremely problematic. I expect the Heels to double-team Krystal Thomas when she gets the ball, and to be extremely physical while doing so. Hatchell will send a number of players to chase around J.Thomas, including White, Lucas and Ruffin-Pratt, in hopes that they can wear her down. Otherwise, she will sag on players like Mitchell, Cheek and Jackson, daring them to hit 15-17' jumpers.
Duke's main counter (other than hitting the occasional shot) will be to outwork
the Heels on the offensive boards. This is a tricky proposition, because no
one loves to run more than the Heels. If Duke sends too many players to the
offensive boards, UNC will get a number of uncontested runouts. This is where
Cheek, Mitchell and Christmas will need to shine. If Duke can get second shots
with just a couple of those players going to the boards (along with K.Thomas or
Vernerey) with Duke's guards running back quickly on defense, then the Devils
will be in very good shape. If the Heels convert Duke's shots into defensive
rebounds all night, then the Devils will be in for a long game.
Turnovers will be another crucial factor. Simply put, Duke can't afford any live-ball turnovers: no lazy cross-court passes turned into layups, no hurried passes thrown out of traps, etc. The Devils have to be smart with the ball, exploit weak traps set by UNC and finish on drives. UNC fouls a lot, so the Devils have a chance to set the tone of the game if they go hard to the rim. If Duke can turn over the Heels and convert they way they did against FSU, then the Devils will again be in great shape.
In the halfcourt, the Devils have to stay in front of DeGraffenreid at all times
and send a chaser out on Lucas. If they can do both of those things
consistently and force DeGraffenreid to become a pull-up jump-shooter and force
Lucas to drive, then much of UNC's firepower will be neutralized. Duke will
need a disciplined and intense start to the game to set the pace, much like
against FSU. If the result of this game is a quick lead by the Heels (like in
the BC game), then Duke will likely be forcing things in trying to play
catch-up. This is a big game for both teams, and the winner will be the team
that is more focused for forty minutes.
BC Outslugs Duke, 61-57
Duke Thrashes Carolina, 79-51