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Duke Takes Down Maryland, 71-64
Player by Player
 
Devils Offense Swamps Noles, 87-70
The Nutshell
Previewing Duke at Florida State
By Rob Clough
January 5, 2011

Tallahassee Trip is First Blue Devil ACC Road Test


Florida State -- Friday, January 14th, 6:30 PM, Tucker Center, RSN

2010 Snapshot: 29-6, 12-2 ACC, NCAA Elite Eight

Last Meeting: 1/29/10: Duke Thrashes FSU, 73-43

Current Records: Duke 15-0 (1-0 ACC), FSU 14-3 (2-0 ACC)

Current Rankings: Duke #3, Florida State #24 (AP)/ #19 (Coaches)
DWHoops File Photo by Orin Day
Courtney Ward scores in Cameron in 2010.
Courtney Ward scores in Cameron in 2010.

Significant Losses: Florida State lost its leading scorer and rebounder in center Jacinta Monroe, a slender & versatile post who averaged 13 ppg, 7 rpg and 2 bpg. FSU lost another double-digit scorer in forward Alysha Harvin (11 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 2 apg, 36% 3FG), who stepped up her scoring and leadership last year. The other departing player is guard Angel Gray (6 ppg, 4 rpg, 2 apg) who started every game and was a solid threat off the dribble and in transition. Sophomore Kayli Keough, the last player off the bench, transferred after averaging 2 ppg and 1.5 rpg.

Who's Coming Back: Senior point guard Courtney Ward will be key this seaon for the Seminoles after averaging 11 ppg, 3 rpg, 6 apg and 36% from three. She will need to cut down on turnovers (nearly 4 a game) to be an effective leader. Imposing junior Cierra Bravard will step into Monroe's spot after putting up 7 ppg and 4.5 rpg last season. FSU will need her to be in great shape in order to play big minutes, something that's been an issue during her first two seasons. A couple of redshirt sophomores are expected to contribute: ultra-athletic wing Chasity Clayton and clever guard Alexa Deluzio. Clayton averaged 8 ppg, 5 rpg and 37% from three, while Deluzio put up 8 ppg, 3 rpg, 1.5 apg and shot an impressive 40% from three. Also returning will be senior wing Christian Hunnicutt (4.5 ppg, 3 rpg), sophomore forward Chelsea Davis (3 ppg, 2 rpg) and sophomore shooter Leonor Rodriquez (3 ppg, 1.5 rpg), the latter of whom had to sit out the first half of the season.

The Skinny: The Seminoles are still smarting from the beating that Duke gave them in Durham last year, a loss that cost them the #1 seed in the ACC tournament and the sole regular season championship. They have yet to earn anything resembling a signature win this season, though they have beaten solid clubs like Vanderbilt, Arizona State and Virginia. They were also upset by Michigan State in Tallahassee and got shocked in the Chris Gobrecht Revenge Game as Yale hung 91 points on them in New Haven. That was supposed to be a warm-up game for their tilt with UConn, but the Elis had other plans.

It's become quite apparent that losing their senior class has meant losing a lot of defense. They still have plenty of scorers and any number of ways in which they can score (post, three point line, foul line) but their defense can be a little suspect. Essentially, how well they play frequently depends on how many quality minutes Bravard can provide. She's averaging 14 ppg and 7 rpg but is only playing 23 minutes a game. Part of that is due to her perpetual foul trouble (she averages 3 fouls a game and has fouled out twice) and part of it is due to her still-developing conditioning. There's no question that when she's engaged and in a rhythm on offense, she's as tough to stop as any post player Duke will face this season. She is missing Monroe next to her, blocking shots and grabbing boards.

DWHoops File Photo by Orin Day
Alexa Deluzio has moved into FSU's starting lineup.
Alexa Deluzio has moved into FSU's starting lineup.
Indeed, FSU has become a much more perimeter-oriented team this season. While frosh sensation Natasha Howard (11 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 1 bpg, 1 spg, 40% 3FG) may be 6-3, she's more of a stretch four than a real post player. Davis at 6-2 is their only other option in the post, and she's averaging 6.5 ppg and 4 rpg. Deluzio has moved into the starting lineup with Ward, and the former is putting up 11 ppg (29% 3FG) and 2 apg. Ward's stats are about the same as last year's--11 ppg, 4 apg, 3 TPG, 2 spg, 40.5% 3FG--which indicates that she's probably plateaued as a player. Hunnicutt (5 ppg, 4 rpg, 3 apg) has supplanted Clayton (8 ppg, 4 rpg) in the starting lineup; she adds a little more experience and moves the ball around much better.

One of the things that makes FSU tough to play is that everyone rebounds. Every one of their top seven averages at least 4 rpg. FSU outrebounds opponents by 11 boards a game, and that's due to their hustle and quickness rather than size. This means that Duke can't be content with simply being bigger than their opponent--they have to run down every loose ball. Like Duke, FSU likes to run their offense inside-out. They will look to post up Bravard (and don't foul her--she shoots 77% from the line) and run plays for Howard going to the basket. If the defense sags, they will use skip passes to set up Deluzio or Ward for jumpers. Bravard and Howard will then clean up any missed shots.

FSU has a few notable flaws. Defensively, they can be shaky if they're not turning opponents over. They prefer to guard the paint over the perimeter and so give up lots of open looks from three. A good team can get to the line against them. They really only go about 7 deep; frosh Olivia Bresnahan may see some time at wing (3 ppg, 2 rpg), but that's not an area of great need for them. If Bravard or Ward get into foul trouble, the team could struggle. lastly, FSU turns the ball over 20 times a game.

Ball pressure will be key for Duke. An array of players need to bother Ward into making risky decisions. K.Thomas and Vernerey need to be aggressive in guarding Bravard and taking it to her at the offensive end as well. Quarter court traps and pressure could work very nicely for Duke, as well as the occasional full court press when the momentum feels right. I suspect FSU will try some pressure of their own and won't necessarily do a lot of sagging, so Duke must be ready to go hard at the basket and take advantage of one-on-one opportunities. The Devils must guard the three point line fiercely as well and can't be caught allowing wide-open shots. This is what doomed them in Tallahassee two years ago. I expect a focused FSU squad looking for a big RPI win and a leg up in the ACC standings, so Duke must bring the same sort of intensity they've possessed in their other showdowns this season. I think Duke's depth will help give them the win, because depth on the road provides a security blanket when things get weird.



   
  • Bravard with a double-double.

 




Duke Takes Down Maryland, 71-64
Player by Player
 
Devils Offense Swamps Noles, 87-70
The Nutshell

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