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Duke Dominates USC, 75-50
Player by Player
Devils Fend Off Auburn, 75-62
The Nutshell
Previewing Duke at Auburn
By Rob Clough
November 16, 2010

First Road Game for Duke Freshmen Will Be A Test

Auburn University -- Thursday, November 18, 7:00 PM, Auburn Arena

2010 Snapshot: 15-16, 5-11 SEC

Last Meeting: 11/27/2005 (Duke Classic) -- Duke 69, Auburn 37.

Current Records: Duke 2-0; Auburn 1-1

Significant Losses: The Tigers lost KeKe "Aircraft" Carrier, their big center who averaged 12 ppg, 7 rpg and 2 bpg. While a great presence in the post, her lack of speed and endurance forced Auburn to switch around its game plan when she was playing. Also departing is part-time starter Nicolle Thomas, a guard who put up 6 ppg and shot 36.5% from three.

Who's Coming Back: Five players who got at least 13 starts return for the Tigers. The team is led by guard Alli Smalley, who averaged 16 ppg, 4 rpg, 2 apg, and 33% from three. Parrisha Simmons and Morgan Toles make up the other members of the starting three-guard lineup; Toles is the team's playmaker with 8 ppg, 4 apg and 3 rpg, while Simmons is a more physical player who put up 3 ppg & 5 rpg. At forward, Jordan Greenleaf averaged 8 ppg, 7 rpg and 2 apg. Blanche Alverson put up 7 ppg & 4 rpg, shooting 31% from three.

The Skinny: Nell Fortner's team struggled a year after losing DeWanna Bonner to the WNBA. The good news is that her young team returns intact, and they will be playing in their new venue, Auburn Arena. Last year's squad played a tough schedule and they simply weren't up to the task of beating Temple, Florida State, Texas A&M and San Diego State. The SEC provided the usual challenges, though Auburn did knock off Kentucky, Mississippi State and Georgia. Fortner isn't making things any easier for her team this year, as the Tigers will play FSU and Duke back-to-back (losing to the Noles 67-61 on Monday night).

There isn't much in the way of experienced size on this team. Alverson is 6-3 but is really a wing. Frosh Peyton Davis is 6-5 while soph Pascale West is 6-8; both might get spot minutes against Duke for defensive purposes. The strength of the team lies in its perimeter. Smalley and Alverson love to bomb away from three. Neither is a great shooter, but both will fire away 5 to 6 times a game. Neither is very physical either, so Duke will be able to sit on their shooting hands without having to worry too much about either player attacking off the dribble. Toles is not a threat to even shoot from long range, but she can break down a defense and get looks for others. That said, she also turns the ball over 3 times a game, so Duke would do well to back off of her initially but spring timely traps. Greenleaf is a great offensive rebounder (about 3 a game) and gets easy scores on stickbacks and fouls; the Devils will need to block her out.

With Carrier gone, I suspect the Tigers will try to go a bit more uptempo. They only forced 14 turnovers a game last year (including 6 steals a game) and even the presence of Carrier didn't make them a very good defensive club. Like Duke's first two opponents, Auburn was an underachieving team from a power conference that returns most of its key players. The fact that they are playing at home will be a boost, especially in a shiny new arena. Auburn has less talent and balance than BYU or USC, but there's enough scoring punch on this squad to make it a decent first road challenge.

The Tigers beat Mercer in their first game, controlling the action but never quite pulling away in comfortable fashion. Fortner tried to use as many of her young players as possible in an effort to evaluate chemistry, with mixed results. West scored 4 points but accrued 4 fouls in just eight minutes of play. Auburn had a 7 point against Florida State before falling by just 6 points. Smalley struggled (shooting just 2-15), but Alverson & Greenleaf had huge games with 16 and 15 points, respectively. Greenleaf also had 9 rebounds agaisnt FSU's big front line (4 offensive). Toles hurt FSU with 15 points and 7 assists, but did turn the ball over 4 times. The Tigers got some help off the bench from frosh Jassany Williams (5 points, 3 rebounds) but as a team struggled with foul trouble. Florida State struggled in the face of Auburn's pressure with 29 turnovers but made up some of that ground by going +19 on the boards.

Duke simply needs to value possessions, attack the basket and hunt offensive rebounds. If the Devils can smother Smalley and bother Toles, then the frontcourt should be able to do the rest. Auburn will present a different challenge because of its quickness and ability to pressure the ball, but their lack of experienced depth could be a problem for them if the J.Thomas/Christmas combo can attack off the dribble and get to the foul line. If Auburn chooses to go zone, the Devils have to be smart in how they attack it and make sure to send two players to the boards every time to go after rebounds. I think this is a game where the veterans will need to step up initially to help the frosh who might be nervous for their first road game. If the frosh are composed, then Duke should cruise. If they're skittish, the game might be more challenging than one would expect.

  • Greenleaf on the offensive boards.

Fun Fact: Duke Head Coach Joanne P. McCallie got her start in coaching as an Auburn assistant under Joe Ciampi.

Duke Dominates USC, 75-50
Player by Player
Devils Fend Off Auburn, 75-62
The Nutshell

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