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Duke Thrashes Carolina, 79-51
Photo Gallery
Devils Defense Stifles Wolfpack, 70-39
The Nutshell
Previewing NC State
By Rob Clough
February 9, 2010

Kellie Harper Leads New Look Wolfpack Into Cameron

North Carolina State - Thursday 2/11 @ 7 PM - Cameron Indoor Stadium

Last Year: 13-17, 5-9 ACC
Last Meeting: 1/19/09: Devils Nip Wolfpack, 61-58 (OT)
Current Record: 13-10, 3-5 ACC

Kay Yow and Shayla Fields (23)
Significant Losses: G Shayla Fields (17 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 3.3 apg) was, along with the late Kay Yow, the 2009 team's heart and soul. Fields was an iron woman who averaged 40.5 mpg in ACC play.

Who's Coming Back: Senior G Nikitta Gartrell (11 ppg, 5 rpg, 3.3 apg) emerged as another go-to scorer for the Pack on a team that desperately needed points but also played a bit at point guard. Senior guard Sharnise Beal (11.5 ppg) was desperately missed at the beginning of last season, especially in terms of her shooting. Soph F Bonae Holston (10 ppg, 6 rpg) got better and better as the season went on, providing a major boost for the Pack in ACC play. Junior F Tia Bell (6 ppg, 5 rpg, 51 blocks) emerged as a decent post defender, despite her slender frame. Junior F Brittany Strachan (4 ppg, 3 rpg) is a post role player who is not a scorer, much like senior rebounding specialist Lucy Ellison (3 ppg, 7 rpg). Senior C Inga Muciniece (1 ppg, 3.5 rpg) also improved as the season progressed, and will be looked to even more as a senior. Junior G Amber White (5 ppg, 2 rpg) will return after sitting out year due to injury.

NC State Head Coach Kellie Harper

The Skinny on 2010: The Pack have had a pretty uplifting year under first-year coach Kellie Harper. She has this fairly experienced unit playing an exciting uptempo style, one that's fit the personnel rather nicely. A year after coping with the death of the beloved Kay Yow, the players have found a way to honor her by playing hard for their new coach.

That said, NC State has struggled against teams with powerful post games. They've also yet to win a single ACC road game. Because the Pack depend so much on their defense to generate turnovers, they've gone through long stretches without scoring this year (sound familiar?). Unlike Duke, they don't have a big post who can get inside and score or get tough offensive rebounds. This is strictly a running and jump-shooting team. When they get hot (and they have four very good shooters to worry about), they can build up a big lead (like against UNC). When they're missing, the team doesn't get a lot of second chances. The undersized Ellison and Holston do their best on the boards (both averaging about 6 rpg), but other than rail-thin Tia Bell off the bench (5 rpg), the Pack don't get a lot of rebounding production.

The good news for the Pack is the emergence of frosh guard Marissa Kastanek, a guard who loves to fill in on fast breaks and pop threes (32% on the season). While Gartrell has been filling the role of Fields in terms of leadership/shooting/playmaking, Kastanek has been an able scorer. White has come back from injury as a slasher and another playmaker; she hit the game-winning shot against Wake Forest. Strachan and Emily Tasler (finally playing after being hurt her first two seasons) have also done a nice job in a variety of roles, giving State a lot of depth at guard.

State made it close in 2008 until a long
scoring drought ended their hopes
State doesn't match up with Duke all that well. Duke would be happy to run with them if that's what the game offered; the Pack force 20 turnovers a game but cough it up 18 times themselves. In a halfcourt game, the Devils could extend their defense to account for the shooters without worrying too much about being hurt in the post. Offensively, the Devils would have a chance to pound the boards and get extra chances. Holston and Ellison are particularly foul-prone.

What Duke doesn't want to do is get in a shooting contest with State, or put them on the foul line. The Pack are a great foul-shooting team, and Duke's defense has tended to get a bit sloppy so as to give their opponents cheap points. Duke needs disciplined pressure in this game and can't pick up fouls on jump shooters in particular. Shots must be contested, but if you get beat, don't compound the error. The shot might not go in, and Duke's rebounders would more likely than not corral the miss.

After the emotion of the big win over UNC, Duke might be a little unfocused to start the game. This would need to be corrected in a hurry, because State's shooters could put Duke in a hole early if they're not careful, much like Southern California did. Duke needs to play smart, play with focus and seek to dominate their opponent in much the same way they did against Florida State. If Duke comes out with that sort of intensity, the game will be over quickly. If they come out sloppy like they did against BC, this game could be a slog.

  • Wolfpack Women at the line

Duke Thrashes Carolina, 79-51
Photo Gallery
Devils Defense Stifles Wolfpack, 70-39
The Nutshell

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