DWHoops - We cover Duke Women's Basketball - Delivering Images & Insight Since 2006 Join DWHoops DWHoops Member Login About DWHoops DWHoops Site Archives DWHoops Twitter DWHoops on Facebook DWHoops Feed Latest Photo Galleries 2015 Duke Schedule


Duke Pummels Pitt, 92-43
Player by Player
 
Kentucky Claws Duke, 72-65
The Nutshell
Previewing Duke at Kentucky
By Rob Clough
December 7, 2011

Rupp Arena Will Host Top Ten Clash


Kentucky -- Thursday, December 8th @6:00PM in Rupp Arena. (TV: CW/FSN)

2011 Kentucky Snapshot: 25-9, 11-5 SEC NCAA Tournament 2nd Round

Last Meeting: January 4th, 2011: Devils Edge Out Kentucky, 54-48.

Current Records: Duke 6-1 Kentucky 8-0

Current Rankings: Duke #6, Kentucky #10.

Significant Losses: The only significant loss for the Wildcats was one of the best players in the history of the school: forward Victoria Dunlap. Dunlap averaged 17 ppg, 9 rpg, 1.5 apg and 1.5 bpg. She's the player who led Kentucky's ascendance into the top 25.

Returning Players: Everyone else of consequence is back for Kentucky, led by guard A'Dia Mathies (13 ppg, 5 rpg, 2 apg, 2 spg, 33% 3FG). Also returning are sharpshooter Keyla Snowden (10 ppg, 1 rpg, 38% 3FG), guard Bernisha Pinkett (7 ppg, 3 rpg), post Brittany Henderson (5 ppg, 5.5 rpg) and guard Maegan Conwright (6 ppg, 2.5 rpg, 2 apg). A key player returning ot the team is playmaker Amber Smith, who sat out last year with an ACL tear. In 2010, she put up 9 ppg and 4.5 apg. Her presence means that Mathies can concentrate on scoring instead of setting up others. Other contributors from a very deep bench include guard Jennifer O'Neill (5 ppg, 36% 3FG), center Samantha Drake (3 ppg, 3 rpg), guard Crystal Riley (3 ppg, 1 rpg, 1 apg) and guard Kastine Evans (3 ppg, 2 rpg).

Kentucky coach Matthew Mitchell.
Kentucky coach Matthew Mitchell.
The Skinny: Kentucky proved their worth by crushing top 15 Louisville by 20 points. After a cushy early-season schedule where coach Matthew Mitchell was trying to see how his team would regroup without Dunlap, they were ready to dominate their arch-rivals. The Wildcats did what they do best: go to the offensive boards (they're averaging 23 per game this season), bomb away from three (7 made threes per game at a 31% clip as a team) and get to the foul line (26 attempts per game). Kentucky is an unconventional team that sometimes goes to a four guard lineup and subs out five players at a time. While Mathies is the team's best player, this year's Wildcats don't depend on her to the degree that they did with Dunlap, making them a far more effective team overall. The team's versatility talent and experience will make them a legitimate contender in the SEC.

Playing in cavernous Rupp Arena instead of the cozier Memorial Coliseum (8,000 seats) certainly adds a big-time air to this game. I'll be curious to see just how many fans they draw; they got over 6000 spectators per game last year, and I imagine they'll do everything possible to get the gate over 10,000. Last year's game in Cameron was a weird one. Duke dominated the WIldcats on the glass but simply couldn't score or hit a free throw. It took a flurry of Jasmine Thomas jumpers to pull out the win in the end. For Duke, this is a chance for the team to get a road win against a legitimate top ten opponent. Duke's already played one of the best teams in the country and took them to the wire, but can they go into a hostile environment and play consistent, mistake-free offense?

The good news for Duke is that this game will largely be predicated on hustle and effort. Kentucky loves to dictate a fast-paced tempo and tire out opponents with frequent, five-woman substitutions. Neither of those tactics will necessarily be effective against Duke, whose eight-woman rotation can stretch to nine. The Devils are also perfectly comfortable running and would probably prefer a free-flowing game. While Duke has to do a better job of defending the three point line than they have this season, the game will likely come down to whoever wins the battle of the boards. It's Kentucky's lifeblood, the factor that helps offset the reality that they don't have a conventional low-post scorer (though Drake has been solid this year with 7 ppg and 7 rpg). Kentucky loves running a four-guard offense, but Duke could counter this since Haley Peters is quite mobile. If there was ever a game where Elizabeth Williams needs to be prepared to dominate, it's this one. No one on Kentucky's roster is bigger than she is, and she's proven to be a relentless offensive rebounder this season. If she can corral misses and convert them, then Duke will win. Keeping the Cats off the boards means cutting down on the number of times they go to the foul line, though the Devils will need to pay special attention to Mathies. She's averaging 16 ppg this year and getting to the foul line 6 times a game. Neutralizing her will make it easier to home in on Kentucky's shooters. The Devils will mix and match defenses, but I suspect the match-up zone will ultimately be Duke's bread-and-butter. That potential reliance on zone will make it all the more important for Williams to get rebounds and stay out of foul trouble. This game will be another opportunity for Duke to demonstrate growth against a hungry opponent that's making a big deal of them coming to play. Beyond effort and execution, poise will also be very important; hopefully, the leaders of the sophomore class will be able to step up in that regard.



   
  • Wildcats on the offensive boards.

 




Duke Pummels Pitt, 92-43
Player by Player
 
Kentucky Claws Duke, 72-65
The Nutshell

DWHoops.com is an independent media organization covering ACC & Duke Women's Basketball since 2006.
We support but are not affiliated with Duke University Athletics or The Atlantic Coast Conference.

Website Content Copyright 2007-2014 DWHOOPS.COM (Orin A. Day, Durham, NC, USA.) All Rights Reserved.
Privacy Policy and Terms