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UConn Crushes Duke, 87-51
Player by Player
Bounce-Back Devils Bounce Miami, 82-58
The Nutshell
Previewing Miami at Duke
By Rob Clough
February 1, 2011

Devils Hope to Bounce Back Against Canes

Miami -- Thursday, Feburary 3rd, 7:00 PM, Cameron Indoor Stadium

2010 Snapshot: 22-13, 4-10 ACC, WNIT Finals

Last Meeting: 1/18/10: Duke Takes Down Canes, 69-62

Current Records: Duke 20-1 (6-0 ACC), Miami 20-2 (6-1, ACC)

Current Rankings (Coaches Poll): Duke #5, Miami #21
DWHoops File Photos by Orin Day
Miami's Riquna Williams explodes to the basket
Miami's Riquna Williams soars to the basket in the 2010 ACC Tournament
Shenise Johnson takes it to the hoop
Shenise Johnson takes it to the hoop

Significant Losses: Miami lost two key starters and a couple of deep reserves. The key loss is center Diane Barnes, a former JuCo who had a fine senior year in averaging 9 ppg and 8 rpg. While limited as an offensive player, she was at least efficient, shooting 55%. Charmaine Clark was a playmaker and four-year veteran (a rarity in Miami) who averaged 7 ppg, 4 rpg and 3 apg. Frosh post Hannah Shaw (1 ppg, 1 rpg) and frosh point Lee Anna Osei (8 games) transferred after a single season.

Who's Coming Back: The 'canes return two of the most prolific scorers in the ACC in Shenise Johnson and guard Riquna Williams. Williams exploded as a sophomore, averaging 20 ppg, 4 rpg, 2 apg and 2 spg, and shooting 36% from three. Rising junior Johnson played every position but center for Miami at one time or other, averaging 19 ppg, 8 rpg, 5 apg, 3 spg and shooting 39% from three. It's a testament to her talent that she was first team All-ACC despite the fact that Miami finished in a three-way tie for last in the regular season. Rising sophs Stefanie Yderstrom (8 ppg, 1.5 rpg, 2 apg, 30% 3FG) and Morgan Stroman (7 ppg, 6 rpg, 2 spg) both had promising rookie seasons. Undersized junior post Sylvia Bullock will be asked to shoulder a big load down low after averaging 3.5 ppg and 4 rpg, while soph guard Shanel Williams (3 ppg, 1 rpg) will look to expand her minutes off the bench.

The Skinny: Last season, the Canes lost a startling number of games by just a few points, several of them in overtime. That put them in the ACC's cellar, but the experiences the young team faced enabled a run to the WNIT finals. Going into this season, Miami still seemed a year from really contending. The low-post scorer they needed is sitting on their bench in the person of Pepper Wilson, a space-eating transfer from Pitt. The elite point guard the team needed to relieve all-everything Shenise Johnson wound up being ineligible this season, but will play next year. Instead of writing this year off, the Canes have done a fine job of seizing the moment. They're now winning the close games they dropped last year, and they're also beating every team they should be beating.

Along the way, Miami has picked up quality wins over Georgetown, Boston College and Georgia Tech. It should be noted that those wins were all at home and that they dropped games at Florida State and Nebraska. Their showdown with Duke represents a real chance for them to make a statement as a program and jump into real contention for the ACC crown. Duke is the second game in a brutal four game stretch that also features UNC and Maryland (as well as Georgia Tech, whom they beat in overtime). Miami is trying to nail down an NCAA bid and needs 7 or 8 league wins to do it; beyond that, they're in the hunt for a league championship.

Miami has one of the best Big Threes in the league. They're led by the top two scorers in the ACC in guard Williams and wing Johnson. Williams has completely remade her body in two seasons and is now lean, muscular and cat-quick. She gets her 21 ppg in part by taking 7 threes a game but also by attacking the rim (she gets to the foul line 5 times a game). Williams is also grabbing 5 rpg, 3 apg and 3 spg; she is only shooting 29% from three, however. Johnson is the closest thing the ACC has seen since Alana Beard: an astonishing performer who does it all: 19 ppg, 8 rpg, 4 apg, 1 bpg, 4 spg and 4.5 FTA per game. She is only shooting 30% from three this season but is 50% overall. In transition, that duo is hell on wheels, filling up the lane, finding runners and finishing. When they're generating steals and running, Miami is very hard to stop.

Duke alum Katie Meier finally has the Canes in the Top 25
Duke alum Katie Meier finally has her Miami Hurricanes in the Top 25

The good news for Miami is that the third member of their big three, sophomore forward Stroman, has really stepped up. She's averaging 14 ppg and 8 rpg, goes to the line nearly 6 times a game, and also averages 2 apg, 1 bpg and 3 spg. Soph guard Yderstrom is another shooting and passing option for Miami, putting up 7 ppg, 2 rpg, 2 apg and 30% shooting from three. Bullock has stepped in at center; while she's only scoring 4 ppg, she's done a good job as a post defender. Guard Krystal Saunders is the team's main sub off the bench, scoring 5 ppg. Guard Shanel Willisms also gets some run with 3 ppg and frosh forward Maria Brown has helped out inside with 3.5 ppg and 3 rpg.

All told, Miami averages an impressive 81 ppg. Despite their lack of size, they're still +3 on the boards. Their defense is predicated on their ball pressure, which generates 26 turnovers a game (including a startling 15 steals). The team does a decent job of holding on to the ball despite that frantic pace, turning the ball over 17 times a game. The game plan that emerges is pretty obvious: take care of the ball, slow down the pace and make Miami prove they can score in a half-court game. Once the pace is slowed, Duke's next task is to keep Johnson and Williams out of the lane. While the Devils don't want to give them wide-open looks (Williams is averaging 25 ppg and is shooting 36% from three in ACC play), it should be their goal to reduce Miami's offense to those two taking contested threes because everything else has broken down.

Of course, pressing teams often don't like to be pressed, and Duke had success doing that against Georgia Tech. Duke should apply selective pressure to Johnson in particular, who averages 3 turnovers a game. Of course, Duke's main advantage will be on the boards. Krystal Thomas had a big game against the Canes last year and must continue her recent aggressiveness in terms of scoring. If she can get Bullock into foul trouble, the gates will open up inside for Duke to attack the rim. I expect Miami to double-team her, bringing over either Johnson or Stroman to force Krystal into making decisions. She must be ready to make a quick connecting pass to an open player. If she hesitates or brings the ball down, Miami will hamstring Duke's offense. The same will be true of Allison Vernerey.

One of the key matchups in the game will be Christmas vs Johnson. Karima got handled up in Storrs and needs to prove that she can be an elite player at both ends. Another important matchup will be Scheer/Peters vs Stroman. Those two need to concentrate on rebounding and defense; if they can take Stroman out of the equation, Miami's offense will be consist entirely of jump shots. Duke's depth could play a factor here, though the Canes are used to playing big minutes. Tiring Miami out is less important than getting them into foul trouble. That will require consistent aggressiveness on the offensive end, attacking off the dribble. What I want to see out of Duke is not just intensity at the beginning of the game, but focus. If Miami can take away Duke's options A and B on offense, the Devils need to show patience and use passing to create scoring opportunities. Duke needs to take good shots in the early going, be careful of creating runouts for Miami and get back in transition above all else. That may mean sending fewer players to the offensive boards than usual, so Christmas and K.Thomas will need to be extra diligent in terms of blocking out. Playing a good team like Miami is Duke's chance to make a statement of their own as a program: that Duke is still the best team in the ACC and one of the best teams in the country. A good performance at both ends could help get the bad taste of the UConn loss out of their mouths.

  • Do Not Want: The Hurricanes running.


UConn Crushes Duke, 87-51
Player by Player
Bounce-Back Devils Bounce Miami, 82-58
The Nutshell

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