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Devils In Detail - January 2012
Devils Shoot Past Virginia, 77-66
The Nutshell
Previewing Virginia at Duke
By Rob Clough
January 1, 2012

Boyle Leads Cavs into Cameron for 2012 ACC Opener

Virginia -- Tuesday, January 2nd, 2012 @ 7:00pm (Cameron Indoor Stadium)

2011 Virginia Snapshot: 19-16, 5-9 ACC, WNIT Quarterfinals

Last Meeting: Duke Squashes Virginia, 71-48.

Current Records: Duke 9-2, Virginia 12-2

Current Rankings: Duke #8/#7 (AP/USA Today), Virginia unranked (but has the second greatest number in the "also receiving votes" category in the AP Poll).

Significant Losses: The Hoos lost senior guard Paulisha Kellum (7 ppg, 3 rpg, 2 apg), a stabilizing force for a very young team. Also leaving are senior Jayna Hartig (1 ppg), and juniors Whitny & Britny Edwards. Britny did not play last year, but Whitny averaged 7 ppg and 3 rpg.

Returning Players: UVa returns its top four scorers, including senior guard Ariana Moorer (10 ppg, 4 rpg, 3 apg) and soph wing sensation Ataira Franklin (9 ppg, 4 rpg, 48% 3FG). Moorer is not a very efficient scorer but Franklin is, scoring roughly the same number of points despite taking 50 fewer shots. Also returning is steady senior forward Chelsea Shine, who contributed 9 ppg and 5 rpg, game in and game out. Redshirt soph point guard China Crosby bounced back from an ACL tear to post 7 ppg, 3 rpg and 1 apg. Other key rotation players include junior center Simone Egwu (6 ppg, 5 rpg), junior wing Lexie Gerson (6.5 ppg, 2 rpg), junior forward Telia McCall (4 ppg, 3 rpg), and soph post Jazmin Pitts (4 ppg, 3 rpg). Soph guard Kelsey Wolfe (3 ppg) and junior post Erinn Thompson (1 ppg) round out the roster.

Virginia coach Joanne Boyle
Virginia coach Joanne Boyle.
The Skinny: This is an interesting game strictly from the perspective of former Duke player and long-time assistant coach returning to Cameron as the leader of an ACC team other than the Blue Devils. Her Hoos haven't defeated Duke since 2000 and haven't done it in Cameron since 1997, but she's done some good things with an all-holdover group from the underachieving Debbie Ryan era. She initially talked about wanting to run with her club but wisely backed off on such rhetoric when she saw that she was short-handed (only ten active players on the roster) and didn't have the personnel to pull off such a style. Instead, she's turned this team in a defensive powerhouse, forcing 24 turnovers a game and holding opponents to under 50 points per game. The team's defense is built on its perimeter, as Moorer, Franklin and Gerson all average nearly 3 steals per game apiece. That defense creates offense for a squad that lacks a strong post presence or efficient, dynamic scorers.

Instead, they make do with rock-solid forward Chelsea Shine (currently averaging 9 ppg and 7 rpg), the occasionally spectacular play of Moorer (13 ppg, 6 rpg, 3 apg) and the more efficient play of Franklin (11 ppg, 3 rpg, 33% 3FG), who is really coming on after some early-season injuries. The team was dealt a blow with the recent injury to point guard China Crosby, whose quickness and shooting was turning her into a valuable weapon. Gerson has started in her stead, averaging 7 ppg and 2 apg. The Hoos have three slightly undersized posts to throw at Duke in starter Simone Egwu (4 ppg, 4 rpg), backup Telia McCall (5 ppg, 3 rpg) and deeper reserve Jazmin Pitts (6 ppg, 3 rpg). That's pretty much all that UVa will have to offer against a slightly deeper Duke team that will have to cope without starting guard Chloe Wells but that does return Shay Selby. Duke has any number of advantages in this game, including size and scoring.

I imagine UVa will either immediately double-team Elizabeth Williams or go to a zone that limits her touches. That will leave plenty of scoring opportunities for Duke's shooters, if they can make the extra pass. The game will come down to two factors: rebounding and turnovers. Virginia lives off of their ability to generate miscues, and Duke has been known to rack up turnovers, as the recent game against Temple aptly illustrates. The Devils have to force as many turnovers as they commit, which may be easier thanks to Crosby's absence. Virginia is one of the worst rebounding teams in the ACC, and this is where Duke could really exploit a weakness, especially if they send their forwards to the offensive boards. I expect the game to be close for a half, but look for Duke to go on one run that gives them a bit of separation. UVa lacks the sheer firepower to make a comeback in such a situation, especially on the road.

  • The Hoos winning the turnover battle.


Editor's Note - to read more about Virginia and the other ACC teams, please check out our 2012 ACC Preview at Amazon.com.

Devils In Detail - January 2012
Devils Shoot Past Virginia, 77-66
The Nutshell

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