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Devils Pound Wake Forest, 82-39
Player by Player
 
Duke Posts Dominate BC, 66-53
The Nutshell
Previewing Boston College at Duke
By Rob Clough
February 12, 2011

Eagles Fly Into Cameron for 2011 Pink Zone Game


Boston College -- Sunday, Feburary 13th, 2:00 PM, Cameron Indoor Stadium

2010 Snapshot: 17-15, 6-8 ACC, Declined Potential WNIT Bid

Last Meeting: 1/18/10: BC Outslugs Duke, 61-57

Current Records: Duke 22-2 (8-1 ACC), BC 17-7 (4-5 ACC)

Current Rankings: Duke #5, Boston College unranked



Significant Losses: The Eagles only carried ten on their roster last year, and six of those players are gone (hear more about this in the DWHoops video interview with BC Head Coach Sylvia Crawley). Frosh Kelsey Reynolds (1 ppg) and Mary Nwachukwu (1.5 ppg, 1.1 rpg) left after a single season, as all but one of third-year coach Sylvia Crawley's recruits have transferred. That includes sophomore wing Jasmine Gill, who added some quickness to an otherwise plodding lineup and averaged 6.5 ppg & 3 rpg, shooting 39% from three. Also departed are role-playing senior forwards Ayla Brown (6 ppg, 5 rpg) and Brittany Johnson (8 ppg, 3 rpg and 37% from three). The most significant loss is senior guard Mickel Picco (11 ppg, 3 rpg, 3 apg). She didn't play as well as expected as a senior, a factor that led to BC's relative down year.

Carolyn Swords (right) celebrates BC's 2010 ACC Quarterfinal upset victory.  The seventh seeded Eagles eliminated second seed Florida State, 67-60.
Carolyn Swords (right) celebrates BC's 2010 ACC Quarterfinal upset victory. The seventh seeded Eagles eliminated second seed Florida State, 67-60.

Who's Coming Back: Boston College has the top returning frontcourt in the ACC. Center Carolyn Swords had a fine year, averaging 14 ppg, 9 rpg and 1.2 bpg. Shooting 66% from the floor, her 6-6 frame allowed her to score against nearly anyone. 6-4 forward Stefanie Murphy bounced back after a subpar sophomore year to post 12 ppg and 6 rpg. Her ability to hit the mid-range jumper made her a nice complement to Swords. The third senior is point guard Jaclyn Thoman, who averaged 6 ppg, 2 rpg and 3 apg. She continued to improve as a junior (especially in terms of shooting; she hit 32% of her threes) but wasn't close to being a top ACC point guard. Rising soph Kerri Shields is the last remaining Crawley recruit, and she showed promise by averaging 4 ppg.

The Skinny: The Eagles have been one of the more unpredictable teams in the ACC, which is not surprising considering that they only have nine scholarship players and five of them are frosh. A year after a collapse against lesser ACC teams that cost them an NCAA tournament bid, the Eagles are once again hanging by a thread for the postseason bid they desire. With an RPI of 46 but only 4 league wins, BC can still reach that goal if they get to 7-7 in the ACC. Notching a win on the road against Duke would obviously be a huge aid in that quest, and given their victory over Duke last season, they have to feel that it's at least a possibility.

The Eagles have demonstrated two things against the league's elite: they can score on them, and they can't stop them. Other than a stunning road win against a Maryland club that was still trying to figure itself out, BC doesn't have any wins against RPI top 25 teams. Their blowout loss to Wake Forest doesn't bolster their case, either. BC averages an impressive 81 ppg, but that drops to 73 ppg in ACC play. Conversely, they give up 70 ppg overall and 73 ppg in league games. Interestingly, it's not the frosh who are suffering from decreased production in conference contests, but the veterans: Swords' average has dropped from 17.5 ppg to 16 ppg; Murphy from 16 to 14; Shields from 11 to 9; and Thoman from 10 to 8. Field goal percentage dropped from 46 to 43 percent and turnovers increased from 18 a game to 20 a game. Opposing free throws have risen from 16 a game to 20 a game. It all points to a team with specific limitations at both ends of the floor.

This is a team that likes to push tempo if possible, but is generally far slower than most ACC opponents. They give up points off turnovers and points in transition. They can certainly score in half-court sets with Swords (shooting an absurd 71% from the floor). Coach Sylvia Crawley has done a nice job of integrating her young talent, starting with frosh wing Kristen Doherty stepping in ably at wing. She does a little of everything for the Eagles: 9.5 ppg, 5 rpg, 3 apg, 2 spg, 34% from three. Soph Shields has stepped into Picco's role and has done reasonably well, averaging 11 ppg, 3 rpg, 3 apg and 39% from three.

Off the bench, frosh post Katie Zenevitch has been a solid backup for Swords, putting up 5 ppg, 5 rpg and a long-distance touch with 41% from three. Frosh point guard Shayra Brown is averaging 5 ppg while pure point frosh Tiffany Rufin is putting up 3 ppg and 3 apg in limited minutes. Forward Korina Chapman is contributing 3 ppg and 3 rpg. The bench is mostly expected to spell the starters as best as they can, not provide a major punch. When one of the starters gets into foul trouble, it can hurt the team--especially if it's Swords.
NCAA field goal percentage leader Carolyn Swords of Boston College was paired with DWHoops Publisher Orin Day in the She Can Play! Shootout at the 2010 ACC Media Day (photo courtesy ACC)
NCAA field goal percentage leader Carolyn Swords of Boston College was paired with DWHoops Publisher Orin Day in the She Can Play! Shootout at the 2010 ACC Media Day (photo courtesy ACC)

Duke's first priority is to shut down Swords, and it would be best if they could do it with just one player in a man-to-man setting. BC has done well in spreading the floor and forcing defenses to try to recover when a pass is relocated for an open three point shooter. Everyone on their rest except Swords is willing to shoot the three, and this is the true way to slow down their half-court defense. It's pretty much a post score or a three for the Eagles, as they don't have any players who can get their own shot or attack the basket off the dribble. A full court press should be used only sparingly, since the Eagles are adept at scoring off of pressure. Instead, half-court traps and intense ball pressure must be used. The guards aren't threats to drive past anyone, so it's safe to play them tight and dare them to shoot a contested shot.

Because the Eagles aren't necessarily going to try to initiate contact, it's a mistake to play them too physically. Pounding on Swords and Murphy will only send them to the foul line (they an average of four times a game and shoot around 80%). Instead, more subtle pressure needs to be exerted. Pushing them out just a little, keeping one's hands raised at all times and encouraging them to dribble should be Duke's goals. Another reason to play as much man-to-man defense as possible is to keep the Eagles away from the offensive boards; even when they're not shooting well, they can still get plenty of second shots.

On offense, BC has the size to block some shots (36 by Swords and 17 by Murphy), so Duke can't simply hope to get it near the basket for a score. After their poor showing against UNC, I'll be curious to see how the team responds at both ends of the floor. What Duke should concentrate on is attacking the basket off the dribble, using its superior team speed. Shields and Thoman do not match up well at all with Jasmine Thomas and Chelsea Gray, so it will be up to that duo to exploit this for assists as well as scores. As with most games, it will be important for Krystal Thomas to assert herself against an elite post opponent. This will be a particular focus after her bad game in Chapel Hill. The Devils need to get back to the intensity and efficiency displayed in their win against Miami. It will be interesting to see what kind of starting lineup changes we might see for Duke, as well as how they'll play less than 48 hours after a road game.



   
  • BC Offensive Rebounds

 




Devils Pound Wake Forest, 82-39
Player by Player
 
Duke Posts Dominate BC, 66-53
The Nutshell

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