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Bounce-Back Devils Bounce Miami, 82-58
Player by Player
 
Tar Heels Hold Off Duke, 62-60
The Nutshell
Previewing Duke at UNC
By Rob Clough
February 6, 2011

New Week, New Big Monday, Different Result?


North Carolina -- Monday, Feburary 7th, 7:00 PM, Carmichael Auditorium - ESPN2

2010 Snapshot: 19-12, 6-8 ACC, NCAA First Round

Last Meeting: 2/28/10: Tar Heels Smash Devils, 64-54

Current Records: Duke 21-1 (7-0 ACC), UNC 20-3 (6-2 ACC)

Current Rankings: Duke #5, UNC #12
DWHoops File Photos by Orin Day
Waltiea Rolle blocks Allison Vernerey's shot during last year's Chapel Hill debacle.
Waltiea Rolle blocks Allison Vernerey's shot during last year's Chapel Hill debacle.
Sylvia Hatchell celebrates the 2010 UNC win over Duke -- the Blue Devils failed to score from the field in the last 6:53.
Sylvia Hatchell celebrates the 2010 UNC win over Duke -- the Blue Devils failed to score from the field in the last 6:53.

Significant Losses: The Heels lost a mix of deep reserves and a couple of young players to transfer. Seniors wings Martina Wood (3 ppg, 1 rpg) & Trinity Bursey (3 ppg, 2.5 rpg) both played more than even Sylvia Hatchell would have liked, given that they were some of the few players with the maturity to do what she needed the team to do. They just didn't have the talent to do it as well as the other players. Two players from her vaunted frosh class are gone: wing Nyree Williams (1 ppg, 2 rpg), who barely made it on the floor; and post Cierra Robertson-Warren (4 ppg, 2.5 rpg), who came off the bench and had some promise.

Who's Coming Back: While the Heels return their top seven scorers, the most important returnee is redshirt senior forward Jessica Breland, once again healthy after sitting out a season for treatment of cancer. Amazingly, she averaged 14.5 ppg, 8 rpg and 3 bpg while unknowingly suffering from lymphoma. Also returning is the senior backcourt of point Cetera DeGraffenreid (14 ppg, 4 rpg, 5 apg, 3 spg) and Italee Lucas (15 ppg, 4 rpg, 2.5 apg, 34% 3FG). Rising junior Chay Shegog returns at center after averaging 9 ppg and 6 rpg and will sometimes play next to rising soph Waltiea Rolle, who put up 7 ppg, 4.5 rpg and 2 bpg. Also returning are junior forward Laura Broomfield (8 ppg, 8 rpg) and junior guard She'la White (7 ppg, 2 rpg, 2.5 apg, 38% 3FG). Soph wing Tierra Ruffin-Pratt is back after getting shoulder surgery in the offseason, averaging 6 ppg, 5.5 rpg and 1.5 apg as a frosh. Rounding out the team is soph forward Krista Gross, who put up 2 ppg and 2 rpg.

The Skinny: This year's Heels are pretty much the same bunch from last year, with the exception of Jessica Breland's return. Sylvia Hatchell hyped up her preseason stature a bit too much, because the residual effects of chemotherapy have made breathing a little difficult. Getting her knee scoped certainly didn't help her any, either, but she's pushed through it and has been a steady contributor--just not someone who's a candidate for ACC player of the year or All-America honors. The team's best player has been Lucas, who has her head screwed on straight this year and has been wreaking havoc with her shot-making. She's averaging 17 ppg, 3 rpg and 3 apg while shooting 38% from three. Her availability on Monday is in question, given that she suffered a high ankle sprain against Florida State. The Heels would really miss her shooting, but I suspect White (5 ppg) will be ready to step up her game in her absence. Don't be surprised if Hatchell turns to frosh Latifah Coleman (2 ppg) for some offense as well.

Point DeGraffenreid has played well this season, averaging 8 ppg, 6 apg, 3 rpg and 34% from three. Her assist/turnover ratio is a sparkling 3:1, and she still pushes tempo as well as anyone. If Duke allows her to get to the line or in the lane in general, she will make them pay. Ruffin-Pratt, a once-celebrated recruit who struggled with shoulder injuries and fitness last year, has started to really come on as of late. She's averaging 6 ppg and 7 rpg and is much more aggressive in looking for her shot now. Gross has also been a solid competitor at wing, putting up 4 ppg and 4 rpg on a very deep roster.

Jessica Breland (left) fouls Karima Christmas in the 2008 ACC Tournament.
Jessica Breland (left) fouls Karima Christmas in the 2008 ACC Tournament.
The real strength of this team lies in its frontcourt, one that dominated Duke in last year's game in Chapel Hill. Breland's putting up 13 ppg, 7 rpg and 2 bpg; her defense in particular makes her a tough draw. Rolle is getting exponentially better and has supplanted an injured Chay Shegog in the starting lineup, a move that's boosted her scoring and confidence. Currently, she's averaging 9 ppg, 6 rpg and 2.5 bpg. If Shegog is healthy, she can really score (9 ppg, 5 rpg), but she's not a great defender. Finally, forward Broomfield flourished in Breland's absence, and she's averaging 8 ppg and 8 rpg on the season. She's one of five Heels who has double figures in blocks this year.

Joanne McCallie has never beaten UNC in Chapel Hill. UNC was something of a mystery team this season as they played a lot of nobodies and got blown out by UConn. Their offense is much improved (81 ppg) and they hold opponents to 59 ppg on average. They've made more free throws than opponents have attempted and attempt 24 foul shots a game. Other than Lucas, they lack a deadeye shooter. They don't have a lot of players who can create and finish with the ball, limiting their offense to post-ups, threes, free throws and fast breaks. While big, they're not especially physical and are susceptible to big scoring runs. If Lucas is out, Duke will want to use an aggressive zone, possible one where both Krystal Thomas and Allison Vernerey are in the game. The Devils will want UNC to become a jump-shooting team but don't want to be passive in their zone, allowing UNC to get offensive rebounds.

On defense, UNC will almost certainly double-team Krystal Thomas--it's what they do. This means that Karima Christmas and Richa Jackson will have an opportunity to attack the basket and take short jumpers. Indeed, it's this in-between space that Duke will need to attack. 10 to 12' jumpers will be available if Duke moves the ball around. Quick strikes and precision will be needed once again for Duke; if Jasmine winds up dribbling for 15 seconds and has to put up a contested shot, the Devils will not win. A win against the Heels would mean a lot: Duke would be 2 up over the nearest ACC opponent with just 6 games left. That would put them in the driver's seat for the rest of the regular season race. It would also be another win over a team with superior size, and on the road, to boot. A loss would not be crushing, but it would make things tighter than needed.



   
  • Duke relying too much on jump-shooting.

 


DWHoops will provide Full Coverage of this game including photos...



Bounce-Back Devils Bounce Miami, 82-58
Player by Player
 
Tar Heels Hold Off Duke, 62-60
The Nutshell

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