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Devils In Detail - March 2010
By Rob Clough
March 14, 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 looks back at the conference season and looks forward to each player's potential role in the NCAA Tournament..


Keturah Jackson

Key Stats: 5.7 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 2.7 apg, 2.3 spg

Keturah Jackson
Senior Keturah Jackson was named to the ACC All-Defensive Team

What She's Accomplished: KJ was named to the ACC's All-Defensive team, a fitting tribute to the role she's played this year as Duke's top perimeter defender. Of late, she's been much more decisive on offense. She's developed a few go-to spots on the floor: from 10', from 15' and from about 18'. In addition, the offense is clicking such that she's getting the ball such that she can now spot up, get the baal, and hit the occasional three. The problem with KJ of late has been her decision-making and ballhandling. While I like the idea of her handling the ball more so as to get Jasmine more shots in the open court, it hasn't really worked out that way in reality. There have simply been more periods where KJ has shot the ball more or attempted to drive more. The problem is that this increase has resulted in an exponential increase in charges, travels and balls lost in traffic. KJ is trying to shoulder the burden of offense while at the same time keeping up her defensive intensity.

Postseason Role: Jackson needs to simplify things just a little. With Shay Selby and Karima Christmas coming on as perimeter scorers, KJ would be better served setting up others and protecting the ball, and shooting when others set her up. If Duke manages to get into the Sweet Sixteen, there will be an increasing number of lethal scorers for KJ to deal with, so that should be her focus.


Joy Cheek

Key Stats: 10.2 ppg, 6 rpg, 37% 3FG, 1.3 apg, 1.4 spg

Joy Cheek
Joy Cheek got the ACC Championship she'd worked four years to attain, plus made the All-Tournament First Team.

What She's Accomplished: Joy was named third team All-ACC after an up-and-down regular season. The story continued to be the same. There were moments of basketball brilliance where she took opponents off the dribble, hit crisp jumpers, made great passes inside and out, ripped down tough rebounds, and backed down opponents for scores or fouls. There were also moments where she looked like a freshman: dumb reach-in fouls or fouling the jump-shooter, weak fade-away jumpers or layup attempts where she didn't follow through; passes thrown out of bounds or at her teammates' feet and silly offensive fouls. You never knew which Cheek you were going to see from play to play, much less game to game. Toward the end of the year, she started putting together a series of fairly consistent performances. Turnovers and fouls went down while rebounds went up. In the ACC tournament, she made the tourney's first team thanks to three straight days of consistent scoring. She was big in the second half of the championship game, scoring in all sorts of ways.

Postseason Role: Tertiary scorer, but the first option in the post. I'd like to see Duke try to get her going early in the game to build some momentum for her. In many respects, she's a rhythm player who has a hard time getting into a rhythm. If she can boost her rebounding numbers just a bit, that would give Duke a much greater chance of going far.


Bridgette Mitchell

Key Stats: 8.5 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 1.1 apg, 1.3 spg
Bridgette Mitchell
Bridgette Mitchell brings energy and relentless offensive rebounding.

What She's Accomplished: Bridgette puts up pretty impressive numbers in fewer minutes (just 20 per game) than most of the other regulars. Of course, her tendency to foul has limited her output in many contests, but when she enters into one of her zones, opponents are frequently helpless at the havoc she can wreak at both ends of the floor. Against Georgia Tech in the ACC tourney, she used a five-minute spurt to score 9 points, keeping Duke in the game when its other scorers were having trouble getting it together. She strung together several nice steals & layups against Maryland in the ACC's. When she's got it going, everything is going--from three point jumper to foul shot (where she's a reliable 80%+ shooter; she went 3-4 down the stretch against Maryland, including the game-winning free throws) to drive. When she's out of rhythm and out of sync with the rest of the team, she's still quite wild. Thankfully, those moments are getting more and more infrequent as her senior year rolls on. Off the court Bridgette continued her dominance in the classroom, being named an All-ACC Scholar-Athlete.

Postseason Role: The bench energizer. B is savvy enough to know when her team needs a lift at either end of the floor, and she essentially just needs to keep doing what she's doing. She should try to ease off on some of the fouls, even if it is part of her intimidation factor.


Karima Christmas

Key Stats: 9.8 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 1.5 apg, 2.3 spg, 31% 3FG
Karima Christmas
Karima Christmas scores from distance in Greensboro where she was named to the All-ACC Tournament First Team.

What She's Accomplished: One can see upticks in her stats from the last time I did this article, but it's been much more dramatic than that. She had 25 points against Maryland in Cameron, draining threes and getting to the foul line. The hand injury that had bothered her shooting seems to be completely healed, and the result has been the return of her three point shot. It's also been a change of mindset, where she understands that she needs to be the consistent second scorer that Jasmine Thomas requires to make Duke successful. As a result, we're seeing double figure scoring in nearly every game, along with the usual offensive rebound and defensive numbers. Karima is especially effective in teaming up with Bridgette Mitchell when Duke springs their sideline traps, often forcing a turnover out of sheer terror. Karima's consistency was tested and not found wanting in the ACC tournament, where she averaged in double figures and was named to the first team All-Tournament team. Her 15 points against Georgia Tech (10 from the stripe) were a big key to Duke winning that game, especially when Jasmine Thomas went scoreless in the first half.

Postseason Role: Power wing. Most teams have never encountered a player quite like Karima, and Christmas needs to exploit her unique blend of size, power, quickness and leaping to disrupt opponents at both ends. While most teams will focus their scouting reports on Jasmine Thomas, Karima needs to fill in the gaps by taking over the game at key intervals. If she can simply continue to hit the corner three when teams are zoning Duke and the wing three when Jasmine or KJ penetrate, then the Devils are suddenly a much more effective offensive team. Christmas must avoid silly fouls at all costs, however, especially with the unfamiliar calls that the second season sometimes brings.


Jasmine Thomas

Key Stats: 15.8 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 4.1 apg, 3.8 spg, 37% 3FG
Jasmine Thomas
Jasmine Thomas was a deserving ACC Tournament MVP, carrying Duke to their sixth ACC title. She also won the Kay Yow award as ACC Scholar-Athlete of the Year.

What She's Accomplished: Jas is putting together quite a nice list of honors: first team All-ACC, ACC tournament MVP, Kay Yow Award (ACC scholar of the year), ACC All-Academic team (along with Mitchell, K.Thomas and Vernerey) and nominations for a number of national awards. She deserves the accolades given the way opposing defenses have thrown every kind of junk defense imaginable at her. She always finds a way to contribute, be it rebounding, passing, defense or just good body language on the floor. One never senses desperation or frustration from Thomas. At the same time, she's an emotional player who really has a way of inhabiting the moment and making it hers. When she's on a roll on offense, it's an awe-inspiring sight: picking apart the defense, stopping on a dime and launching a jumper that drops in the net, pulling up behind a screen for a three, attacking the basket, tipping the ball away on defense and streaking down the floor for a layup. It was her shooting that put away Maryland in the first game of the ACC tournament, and she had a big role in beating State in the final as well. All she's done is lead her team to regular season and tournament championships, and she has them poised to achieve more.

Postseason Role: All-everything. Jasmine needs to continue to be Duke's big gun and shouldn't be afraid to take control of a game when she's feeling it. She simply needs to step back and assess what the defense is doing and what her team needs: offense, playmaking or both. The only thing Jasmine has to be careful to do is not go too fast. If she's out of sync with everyone else, it leads to turnovers, missed chippies and offensive fouls. She simply needs to be fast with a purpose.


Krystal Thomas

Krystal Thomas
Krystal Thomas has earned a reputation as a feared shot blocker.

Key Stats: 7.6 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 2 bpg

What She's Accomplished: Krystal has been an impressive defensive player all year long, something that hasn't changed as she's bounced in and out of the lineup. I thought she deserved some votes for the ACC All-Defensive team. Her intelligent but physical defense on Maryland's Lynetta Kizer in the second half of their ACC tournament clash was a big key to Duke's win. More than ever, Krystal is playing defense with her feet, not just her hands. That's what's made her offensive fade (down nearly a point a game in the last month) all the more perplexing. That's been especially true in the first half of games, where she's frequently been invisible. Granted, many opponents are throwing a zone blanket over Duke, limiting her touches, but she's not been all that active on the offensive boards either. In the second half of games, she's been much more active in calling for the ball; against Georgia Tech in the ACC's, she demanded the ball and got to the foul line as a result. From time to time, Krystal flashes a nice hook shot with either hand, but she doesn't seem all that comfortable in using it. When she has the ball and she's open, she simply has to start taking that shot more regularly.

Postseason Role: Defending the post will be her chief job, but she should try being aggressive in calling for the ball in the early rounds, when Duke is more likely to face opponents who won't be in a position to stop that sort of post scoring. Getting her confidence up against such opponents would be a good thing. Otherwise, Krystal needs to continue to play aggressive defense without fouling and start to get angry when going after rebounds.


Allison Vernerey

Key Stats: 7 ppg, 5 rpg
Allison Vernerey
Allison Vernerey grabs a rebound in the ACC Tournament.

What She's Accomplished: Alli was named to the ACC All-Rookie and All-Academic teams, an impressive achievement for a player adjusting to a new country, a new culture and a new style of basketball. Coach McCallie has described her as being extremely low-maintenance, and it's clear that she's a self-starter. She's worked on her mid-range game and foul shooting, both of which have improved noticeably in recent weeks. She's still adjusting to the physicality of the game, but has lost none of her aggressiveness. A big-game player, Vernerey made several key plays in the ACC championship game. She actually spent a good bit of time in the starting lineup and roughly splits time as the starting center. While not always a consistent scorer, her presence has given Duke a scoring option in the paint that it has desperately needed this season. Allison has grown much more patient as the season has progressed; she's not shooting before she has control of the ball, nor is she throwing as many bad passes in an effort to set up her teammates.

Postseason Role: She may well start a game or two, depending on how far Duke goes, but Vernerey will be exposed to a new level of intensity in the postseason. Duke will look to force opponents to adjust to her left-handedness so as to get repeated scores. When teams adjust, Duke will expect Vernerey to dig in and get the tough rebounds, especially at the offensive end, and get to the foul line.


Shay Selby

Shay Selby
Shay Selby on the bounce in Greensboro.

Key Stats: 3.4 ppg, 1.6 rpg, 1.2 apg, 36% 3FG

What She's Accomplished: Impact player off the bench and a permanent part of an eight-player rotation. Coach McCallie hedged at times this season regarding her depth, saying that she had 7 for sure and sometimes 8. Selby has worked hard to become a dependable 8th player at both ends of the floor. She leads the team in charges taken, she's a fine shooter off the bench, she's a good passer and digs out steals. In the ACC tournament, she seemed to make 3 or 4 important plays in every game, taking the pressure off of Jasmine Thomas. Above all else, Shay is learning to accept that making the simple play is OK, and has stopped trying to get too fancy.

Postseason Role: Same as her current role: do whatever the team needs when she enters the game. It could mean busting a zone with her three point shot. It could mean holding her ground under the basket and taking a charge, or getting in a player's face defensively and absorbing the elbow that inevitably comes when Selby is guarding someone. Selby might need to dig for a loose ball, chase down a rebound or force a jump ball.





Chelsea Hopkins

Chelsea Hopkins
Chelsea Hopkins gets a steal in Duke's Pink Zone game vs. NC State

Key Stats: 1 ppg, 1 rpg

What She's Accomplished: This has been a very tough year for Chelsea, who quickly fell out of the rotation, fought her way back into it in early January, and then suffered a knee injury, further cutting into her playing time. With the emergence of Selby, Hopkins hasn't been needed for late-half ballhandling duties all that often. Still, she's had a few positive moments at both ends of the floor, like hitting a couple threes in some games and coming up with some stops.

Postseason Role: Hopkins may need to be counted on if Thomas and Selby are in foul trouble and Duke needs someone to calm down her teammates and lead them for a few minutes.













Kathleen Scheer

Kathleen Scheer
Kathleen Scheer shoots a trey in the ACC title game.

Key Stats: 2.1 ppg, 1.1 rpg

What She's Accomplished: Kathleen is only shooting 19% from three, which has been unfortunate because shooting was supposed to be the skill that was going to get her minutes this season. Instead, she seemed to think too hard about her shot, and the result was a clear erosion of confidence. Coach McCallie has been trying to find ways to reward her recent hard work in practice, and the result has been late-season appearances in the first half. Against NC State in the ACC final, that substitution pattern paid off, as Scheer hit a big late-half shot.

Postseason Role: Shooter off the bench, rebounder. Scheer will continue to come in at wing or guard, and so must be ready to battle at the defensive end as well. First and foremost, she needs to take good shots, within the flow of the offense, and take them with confidece. If Kathleen is hesitant at either end, she simply won't play much.









Alexis Rogers

Key Stats: 1.6 ppg, 1.7 rpg
Alexis Rogers
Alexis Rogers comes off the bench for a quick three against VaTech.

What She's Accomplished: After falling out of the rotation altogether, Lexi started stealing minutes in some ACC games as a player who could come in late in the first half and play some defense.

Postseason Role: More of the same. Coach McCallie will be relying on her veterans, so I don't see Rogers having a huge role outside of a potential blowout win when Duke (likely) plays a 15 seed in the first round of the tournament. In that instance, Rogers should be ready to play at least ten minutes, and will need to prove that she's absorbed all the lessons of practice this year.










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