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Devils Offense Swamps Noles, 87-70
Player by Player
Duke Cruises Past VaTech, 57-43
The Nutshell
Previewing Duke at Virginia Tech
By Rob Clough
January 15, 2011

Hokies Conclude Duke's Two Game Three Day Trip

Virginia Tech -- Sunday, January 16th, 2:00 PM, Cassell Coliseum

2010 Snapshot: 15-15, 4-10 ACC

Last Meeting: 2/14/10: Devils Survive The Hokies, 65-53

Current Records: Duke 16-0 (2-0 ACC), VT 9-8 (0-3 ACC)

Current Rankings: Duke #3, Virginia Tech unranked
DWHoops File Photo by Orin Day
Beth Dunkenberger
Beth Dunkenberger in the Virginia Tech Huddle

Significant Losses: The Hokies lost their two leading scorers in undersized but tough power forward Utahya Drye (11 ppg, 7 rpg, 3 apg, 1 spg) and volume shooter Lindsay Biggs (11 ppg, 3 rpg, 1.5 apg, 31% 3FG). Also gone are redshirt junior guard Shani Gray (2 ppg, 1 rpg) and senior wing Lakeisha Logan (2 ppg).

Who's Coming Back: The team will start with point guard Nikki Davis (6 ppg, 3 rpg, 4 apg), fully settled in two years after transferring from Alabama. Sophomore forward Alyssa Fenyn was one of Tech's more productive frosh last year, averaging 7.5 ppg and 4 rpg. Junior guard Shanel Harrison will inherit Biggs' shots after putting up 7 ppg and 5 rpg. At center, senior Brittany Gordon returns after contributing 7 ppg and 5 rpg. Joining her inside will be sophs Porschia Hadley (4 ppg, 3 rpg) and Abby Redick (2.5 ppg, 3 rpg). Also returning are soph guards Aerial Wilson (2.5 ppg) and Taylor Ayers (1.5 ppg).

The Skinny: Every year, it seems to be one step forward and two steps back for Beth Dunkenberger's Hokies. She's welcoming in a talented freshman class but is struggling to replace two stalwart seniors in Biggs and Drye. The reality for the Hokies is that they have a solid lineup of players but lack the raw star power needed to compete in the ACC. On a good day, they can compete with the likes of Charlotte, Miami and Minnesota but fall short. On an extraordinary day, they can upset Vanderbilt. On a bad day, they can lose at home to Robert Morris. On an average day, they must labor to beat bad teams like Presbyterian and lose badly to Iowa and Florida State.

Let's take a closer look at that Vanderbilt game. The Hokies trailed the Commodores by 15 at the half but roared back thanks to shooting 56% in the second half and keeping their turnovers low. Playing in front of an enthusiastic home crowd in Blacksburg was a factor, as was a splendid performance by frosh guard Monet Tellier. The best member of their first-year class is averaging 10 ppg, 4 rpg, 2 apg and 42% 3FG. She had 23 against Vandy and has steadily improved as the season has progressed. The team's leading scorer is wing Shanel Harrison, who's contributing 13 ppg, 6 rpg and 36% 3FG. Fenyn is averaging 8 ppg and 4 rpg.

Beyond that, things get a little dicey for VT. Wilson is good for 7 points a game. Frosh forward Nia Evans comes off the bench for 6 ppg and 4 rpg. Davis is good for 5 apg, but is also turning the ball over 3 times a game along with shooting just 31% from the field. Starting center Brittany Gordon is putting up an anemic 3 ppg and 4 rpg. Players like Ayers and Hadley chip in around 4 ppg. The bottom line is that VT simply doesn't have a deep array of scorers, nor do they have a real post scoring presence. Their best post scorer is the frosh Evans, and she can hardly be depended upon against elite defenses.

The one thing that Duke cannot do is underestimate Virginia Tech's willingness to compete. Their big comeback against Vandy is a testament to their fighting spirit. The Hokies will not give up or roll over if they're done. This means that Duke's focus on both ends can never flag. Defensively, Duke has to harrass Harrison and Tellier into turnovers (the currently combine for 5 a game). Davis also turns the ball over and cutting her off will cripple their offense. When the turnovers aren't coming, Duke has to stay at home on both of them. The Devils did a poor job of closing out on FSU's shooters and the result was letting them hang around much longer than they should have. Offensively, VT will no doubt zone as long as they can in an effort to stop Duke's superior size and penetrating guards. Patience must be Duke's watchword on offense. This is where playing Liston will aid Duke greatly. Not only will her shooting ability help bust zones, but her moving without the ball will keep VT's defense moving.

Duke will obviously look to control the boards (which will be easier if VT stays in a zone), trap the ball, pressure the ball and attack the basket. Against the zone, Duke needs to be clever and patient with regard to getting the ball inside. Rather than throwing the ball over the top, they need to work different angles of attack when defenders commit to a penetrator. Duke was able to do this well against FSU. Ball pressure will be more important than trapping against VT; the former is more likely to result in generating turnovers in the long rung, while the latter might lead to some easy baskets that would boost VT's confidence. Duke shouldn't completely eschew this tactic but rather should use it selectively. Done well, it could bust the game wide-open and break VT's will.

Virginia Tech has always played Duke tough in Blacksburg. As long as the Devils do what they do well (rebound, defend, pressure) and don't put the Hokies on the foul line, Duke should be fine. This game is all about refining the offense and continuing to develop good habits at both ends of the floor. This game will be a testament to how mature Duke is at the moment as a team, given that it's a classic "trap game", in between FSU and Georgia Tech. It will also be a good test in terms of how well Duke reacts to a short turnaround (less then 48 hours) on the road.

  • Jacked up threes.

  • Taking contested shots.


Devils Offense Swamps Noles, 87-70
Player by Player
Duke Cruises Past VaTech, 57-43
The Nutshell

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