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Duke Escapes NC State, 65-64
Player by Player
 
Duke Crushes Clemson, 92-37
The Nutshell
Previewing Clemson at Duke
By Rob Clough
January 25, 2011



Clemson -- Wednesday, January 26th, 7:00 PM, Cameron Indoor Stadium

2010 Snapshot: 13-18, 4-10 ACC, No Postseason Bid

Last Meeting: 3/7/10: Duke Trounces The Tigers, 67-41

Current Records: Duke 19-0 (5-0 ACC), Clemson 9-12 (2-4 ACC)

Current Rankings: Duke #3, Clemson unranked

Significant Losses: All-ACC forward Lele Hardy finally graduated, after four years of carrying the program. She averaged 14 ppg, 8 rpg, 3 apg and 3 spg as a senior wing, single-handedly keeping Clemson in many games. Other departing seniors include forward April Parker (4 ppg and 3 rpg in the post), guard Christy Brown (3 ppg, 2 rpg) and guard Morganne Campbell (2 ppg, 1 rpg). Also departing is last year's starting point guard, frosh Keyrra Gillespie. She averaged 4 ppg, 4 rpg and 4 apg and was important to the team in some ways as Hardy.

Who's Coming Back: There are some interesting pieces here for new coach Itoro Umoh-Coleman to work with. The best is big center Shaniqua Pauldo, who averaged 11 ppg and 5 rpg. The top returning guard is Sthefany Thomas, who put up 8 ppg and 2 rpg, shooting 32% from three. Other significant returnees include guard Kirstyn Wright (6 ppg, 2 rpg), athletic forward Lindsey Mason (5 ppg, 2 rpg), backup post Jasmine Tate (4 ppg, 5 rpg), reserve shooter Bryelle Smith (3 ppg) and deep reserve forward Lindsay Welker (2 ppg, 1 rpg). Of this group, only the first four are ACC-caliber players.

The Skinny: As expected, it's been a rough year for Itoro Coleman and her Tigers. With little talent and lacking any kind of a winning basketball culture, this season has been an uphill climb. Yet, there are signs of hope. Clemson went to NC State and Wake Forest and pulled out wins in both buildings. Given those achievements, there's no reason why they couldn't beat Virginia Tech, Wake Forest again and perhaps even Virginia and get an improbable five ACC wins. Even in losses to Georgia Tech and Florida State, Clemson kept things competitive, losing both games by about 10 points.

It helps to have veterans. Tate, Thomas and Wright are all seniors and Coleman has all three of them maxing out their talents. Shooter Thomas is averaging 13 ppg, 3 rpg, 2 apg and 35% from three. Slasher/shooter Wright is putting up 12 ppg, 5 rpg, 3 apg and 40% 3FG. Tate's contributing 7 ppg and 7 rpg as the team garbagewoman. What's important is that Coleman has really reached these players and they're the foundation for what she's doing now by keeping Clemson in ballgames.

Pauldo and Mason have split time starting at center. Pauldo is scoring 10 ppg but grabbing just 4 rpg, which is below what would one expect of a 6-3 center. Mason isn't much of a scorer (6 ppg) but she's incredibly active on the boards (7 rpg) and has 34 blocks in 21 games. Coleman has to play offense/defense with these two, which creates problems either in terms of rhythm or a serious weakness opening up while they're in the game. Other than Smith (5 ppg), Clemson has no veterans coming off the bench of any consequence. The two players whose emergence has made Clemson competitive are frosh guards Chancie Dunn (3.5 ppg but 6.7 ppg and 4.5 apg in ACC play) and Kelia Shelton (5 ppg but 8 rpg in ACC play).

The energy of those young players has given the Tigers a legitimate 8-player rotation. The problem is that this rotation still only averages 64 ppg and gives up 75 ppg in ACC play. There are a few keys for Duke in this game. First, they must respect their opponent. I think a lack of respect for NC State led to a lack of focus and the near-disaster in Raleigh. Second, they must honor Thomas and Wright as shooters. They will hit tough jumpers and sink open shots, so Duke must make them disappear on the perimeter and make them drive. Third, Duke has to keep Tate and Mason off the boards. By simply blocking them out, Duke will eliminate any scoring threat from that post contingent. Lastly, Duke needs to apply constant pressure on the ball. Clemson turns the ball over about 22 times a game and really wilted against Miami's pressure in particular.

Offensively, Duke should focus on dribble penetration so as to draw in defenders for either a kick-out or dump-down into the post. With such a short rotation, Duke needs to keep Clemson's defense moving and off-balance. Certainly, the posts should get the ball when available and shooters should take open shots, but penetration will be Duke's best offensive weapon in the halfcourt. If Duke is focused and ready to take care of business, they should hit double digits about 10 or 15 minutes into the game and cruise from there. Duke must value the ball and can't let Clemson try to pressure them; every easy basket for Clemson will bolster their confidence and competitiveness. Every easy basket for Duke will demoralize them.



   
  • Thomas and Wright open for threes.

 




Duke Escapes NC State, 65-64
Player by Player
 
Duke Crushes Clemson, 92-37
The Nutshell

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