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Georgia Tech Extends Duke Woes, 71-62
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Preview: UNC at Duke
Devils In Detail - February 2015
By Rob Clough, Photos by Orin Day
February 28, 2015

A Closer Look at Duke's Roster


Editor's Note: Devils in Detail is a periodic DWHoops feature that takes a closer look at the Duke Women's Basketball roster. This edition is sponsored by Jeff Scott painting. Jeff is a Duke graduate who, like Rob, is also big on the details, and has been Orin's go-to painter for more than a decade. In addition to a love of color, color design, and fine finishes, Jeff Scott painting has a deep familiarity with older and historic homes. Call or write to Jeff for a free estimate or a consultation - call (919) 210-9397 or email jeffscottrestoration at yahoo.com.


Elizabeth Williams

Key Stats: 15 ppg, 8.5 rpg, 3 bpg

What She's Done So Far: It's been a pleasure to see Liz get back her remarkable leaping ability, and the way it's played out is seeing the way she's greatly improved her rebounding. After averaging around 7 boards a game throughout her career, she's pushed that into double digits as a senior, in part because she's simply able to do more physically. Throw in the fact that she came into this season in the best shape of her career, and it's easy to see that she was ready and willing to take over the team and be its top threat. On offense, she's still rushing things a bit, especially near the basket. If Liz took her time on every possession, posted and then reposted, she'd be tough to stop. Instead, she sometimes bulls her way inside and either commits a charge or puts up a wild shot. When her teammates are doing a good job of keeping the ball moving, then it's easy for her to simply move swiftly without the ball and score on a cut or in transition. Liz has improved her foul shooting form, as the hitch at the top of her shot has been eliminated, even if the way she moves her legs is still a bit odd. Liz has extended the range on her shot a bit, hitting the occasional baseline or high post jumper. On defense, she's a terror as usual, going right at opponents and snuffing out shots. She's especially effective on the perimeter, where she's now so quick and can leap so high that she's blocking corner three attempts. She's become a more willing and able passer out of the post, especially as she finds open shooters. Williams is also doing a nice job of getting loose underneath and receiving high post passes.

What She Still Needs To Do: Above all else: stay healthy. Duke lost winnable games against Nebraska and Texas A&M in part because the Devils missed her ability to warp a defense with her mere presence and snuff out opposing offenses with her shot-blocking. Her next step needs to be on offense. She should be averaging close to 20 points a game and needs to be more aggressive in demanding the ball. Even if she's not shooting, Williams needs at least a touch on virtually every possession, and there shouldn't ever be consecutive possessions where she doesn't get a look. Making sure that Williams is constantly involved in the offense will help limit the number of empty possessions that Duke has, especially against elite opponents. As long as Williams stays aggressive, follows through on her shots and knocks down her foul shots, then opponents will have a lot of decisions to make on how to defend Duke. Williams also needs to be much more aware of early foul trouble and how to be aggressive without fouling. Without her on the floor, the Devils frequently struggle to score. Even if she's not actively scoring, her presence warps opposing defenses because of her ability to post up and score at any time. Liz also needs to be much more patient when taking her free throws. She also needs to be careful about contact, because with Duke's lack of post depth now, she can't afford to be out of the game because of a cheap couple of fouls.

Elizabeth Williams

Elizabeth Williams

Elizabeth Williams

Azurá Stevens

Key Stats: 13 ppg, 8 rpg

What She's Done So Far: Stevens was a question mark coming into this season. She was reputed to be a 6-5 guard, and her highlights against low-level competition in her league in Cary made her transition to big time college ball a concern. Instead, she's displayed a remarkable sense of confidence, as her wide array of skills have transferred quite nicely to elite matchups. Stevens is an above-average ballhandler for her size, capable of dribbling up the floor and attacking the rim. She can pull up and get her nice-looking jumpshot whenever she wants. While not yet a consistent three point shooter, that shot is in her arsenal. Instead, she prefers using her quickness and agility to attack the basket. She has a reliable turnaround jumper and a variety of post moves, and her height makes her tough to cover. Stevens is a relentless rebounder, especially on the offensive boards, and gets a lot of points on tip-ins and stickbacks. At this point, she's barely begun to scratch the surface of her potential, and she's already a productive and efficient player. On defense, she can block shots but also stand at the top of the zone and pressure the ball.

What She Still Needs To Do: There are times when her lack of upper-body strength betrays her against stronger opponents, as she doesn't finish as hard as she needs to. She's been a poor foul shooter so far, which is surprising because of her pretty stroke. Stevens needs to be more careful with regard to fouls, especially when playing defense on the perimeter. As her shot continues to improve and she encounters more types of defenses, she will only improve as a player. Her potential is All-American level. She's got the green light to bring the ball up the floor, though you won't see her initiating the offense. You will see her looking to get the ball inside from the high post and sometimes the wing, as she and Elizabeth Williams play off of each other quite nicely. Improving her handle and decision-making will be an imperative for her in general. Her dribble is a little high at times, resulting in a ball that can be easily poked away. Stevens needs to continue to be in attack mode at all times, even if she misses shots. Other teams are scared to death of what she can do on the floor, and she needs to carry that intimidation on to the floor.

Azurá Stevens

Azurá Stevens

Azurá Stevens

Rebecca Greenwell

Key Stats: 14 ppg, 6 rpg, 2 apg, 2 spg, 37% 3FG.

What She's Done So Far: Greenwell has a lot on her plate. She's Duke's best perimeter option, even if she occasionally slumps from three.. Opponents key in on her because of the threat that she presents. She's a remarkable foul shooter (87%), a tough rebounder and someone who doesn't really have a position other than "basketball player". She's played point and wing, even posting up an opponent on one occasion for a hook shot. Greenwell is a willing and gifted passer and is far from a spot-up shooter. She loves contact, getting her nose in the middle of loose-ball scrums as she digs for rebounds and steals. As much as she's a great shooter, she likes attacking the rim even more and has boosted her scoring average thanks to her forays into the lane. She's a tough, smart and passionate player who clearly hates losing.

What She Still Needs To Do: While Greenwell is smart and capable, her ambition occasionally outstrips her experience and decision-making. That results in off-balance shots, offensive fouls and risky defensive plays. She stands up too much on the defensive end instead of getting low and staying in front of her opponent. Her ballhandling is average for a two guard and poor for a player who has to play point guard. Greenwell is a remarkably productive player who needs to improve her efficiency and decision-making; all she needs is time to be a great player. With Calhoun gone, this put even more pressure on her to step up, especially as a scorer and wing player. In some ways, it's a positive development for her, because it hopefully will mean taking away some of the point guard responsibilities. Indeed, with Mercedes Riggs getting more minutes, it's freed her up a bit to hunt her shot.

Rebecca Greenwell

Rebecca Greenwell

Ka'lia Johnson

Key Stats: 7 ppg, 5 rpg, 4 apg, 42% 3FG

What She's Done So Far: Johnson, for better and worse, has been Duke's key player this season. After a career as a role player, she's now being put in a position to run the team, guard the other team's best perimeter player, look for her own offense, rebound and minimize her errors. When she's been on, like when she threw down a triple double against Old Dominion on the road, she's been an awesome force. When she's been off, like when she shot a combined 3-26 against Texas A&M and Nebraska, she's been awful. Smart opponents have yielded the jump shot to her. To KJ's credit, she's avoiding that shot off the dribble, and instead is looking to attack the basket more. Considering that she's converting at over 70% from the line, this has been a great development. It should also be noted that despite playing very little point in her career, she's averaging nearly a 1.6:1 assist/turnover ratio and is by far the most prolific passer on this year's team. She's still doing the work on the boards and still playing tough defense, but it's her ability to thread the needle on her passes and increasingly find new ways to get her teammates the ball that has marked her season.

What She Still Needs To Do: She needs to continue to generate offense somehow, even if it's just by attacking the hoop or taking open jump shots when the ball is passed to her. She must become a more efficient and credible offensive threat or else teams will simply leave her to double-team the post. KJ must continue to take the open three off the pass, because she's shooting a career-best from long distance. Avoiding mid-range shots is something she should do unless it's entirely within rhythm.

Ka'lia Johnson

Ka'lia Johnson

Amber Henson

Key Stats: 4 ppg, 4 rpg

What She's Done So Far: Amber had a great preseason and really only lost her starting job because it was obvious that Azurá Stevens was a higher-impact player. Amber's been especially effective on defense, both in terms of simple post positioning as well as the occasional blocked shot. While she has absolutely no lift in her legs thanks to years worth of knee problems, she can still spot up and hit shots as well as post up and use a variety of moves as well as her long arms to get to the hoop. Her game against Kentucky at a point when Duke's starting posts both were sitting due to foul trouble was especially inspiring. She was a threat from all over the floor -- including the foul line. Henson is also a willing and clever passer who operates well out of the high post, thanks to her height and ability to get the ball to the right spot. Of late, her defense and rebounding have been especially effective, especially when Duke is in foul trouble at the post position.

What She Still Needs To Do: As Henson continues to play and get minutes, she will continue to grow more confident. One must remember that despite her age, she's rarely played big minutes against elite opponents. Even last season, she was mostly doing mop-up time as she sat behind several experienced players. As such, she needs to continue to be aggressive on offense and figure out just what her knees will and won't allow her to do. With Belton and now Chidom out of the lineup, Henson has gone from a player whose contributions are gravy to one who needs to continue to step up and produce. I'd like to see her try to post up a bit more and score using her length, but she also needs to be able to land quick jump shots.

Amber Henson

Amber Henson

Kendall Cooper

Key Stats: 2.5 ppg, 3 rpg

What She's Done So Far: When given a few minutes to shake off the rust, Kendall continues to be a physical and athletic post who can score inside and hit open jumpers. She's a fine rebounder and shot-blocker who doesn't mind getting bumped inside. Her first game after Chidom's injury featured Kendall at her best: knocking down an open jumper without hesitation, posting up and powering through, displaying a nice touch around the basket and actively looking for her teammates with smart passes.

What She Still Needs To Do: Kendall began the season behind the other posts. She wasn't in great shape, and this continues to be a sticking point. Beyond that, she's had some disciplinary-issues that have limited her minutes. On the floor, she still has a tendency to foul too much, take occasionally questionable shots and get out of position. Coach McCallie noted that line-ups are always fluid, even if a player starts slow, and Cooper is a good example of this. One positive from the UConn game was Cooper's aggressiveness on defense. That was enough for the coach to insert her as a starter for the next game, and she did a pretty good job. When Sierra Calhoun transferred, that allowed Cooper to hold that spot in the starting lineup, keeping her at power forward and allowing Stevens to move over to wing. She came off the bench again, in large part because her fouls and turnovers outweighed her inconsistent offensive production. At this point, Duke has little choice but to use Cooper and hope that she steps up the way she did against Clemson, especially against better opponents. The Devils need her talent and need her to find a way to stay focused, avoid fouls and play with confidence.

Kendall Cooper

Kendall Cooper

Mercedes Riggs

Key Stats: 2 ppg, 1 apg

What She's Done So Far: Riggs has taken a while to get used to the speed and intensity of the game at this level. While she was competitive in practice, hitting open shots and making crisp passes while playing intense defense, translating that into game play has been another matter. Slowly but surely, however, Riggs has provided just enough relief for Johnson to earn more minutes. She's hit a few big shots, made some good passes, taken care of the ball better and scrapped after loose balls.

What She Still Needs To Do: Ideally, Riggs should get somewhere between five and ten minutes per game in order to relieve Johnson and make sure that Greenwell isn't overly taxed in having to play lead guard while looking for her shot. Defensively, she can't be too aggressive in going after steals because of her lack of lateral quickness. Instead, she needs to stay low and stay in front of her opponents. Riggs is limited but could still become an extremely important role player if she continues to adjust, play hard and play smart. With Calhoun gone, Riggs will need to continue to be ready to contribute and take care of the ball. She has the ability to act as a solid floor spacer when teams collapse on the post, knocking down wide-open threes. That's her shot, and she needs to take it when it's there.

Mercedes Riggs

Mercedes Riggs

Erin Mathias

Key Stats: 1.5 ppg, 2 rpg

What She's Done So Far: Erin has displayed bouncy athleticism, a nice-looking stroke and a willingness to play inside and out. She's a scorer through-and-through, something she was able to display with 11 points against Buffalo. Given a chance and the right match-ups, she can be a tough cover. She's played much more in ACC games, both because she's improved and out of pure necessity. Indeed, she's playing significant minutes now in real games because of the injury to Chidom.

What She Still Needs To Do: Defense has been her major problem to date, as she's fouling far too much. She needs to move her feet quicker rather than play defense with her hands. Part of that is also the process of needing to get stronger so that she can simply hold her ground with greater ease. The game overall just needs to slow down a bit for her, but she has great potential to be an inside-outside contributor. Above all else, she needs to play with confidence, especially since minutes are there for her to seize right now. If she can shoot the ball, play good defense at the top of the zone (her length makes her ideal for a 3-2) and avoid fouls, she will play.

Erin Mathias

Jenna Frush

Key Stats: 1 ppg

What She's Done So Far: Jenna's taken her role as a senior leader seriously. Though she's now a scholarship player, she still runs around during timeouts, handing out drinks and towels. As always, she does whatever needs to be done to help and fire up the team. She's an emotional leader and a positive, encouraging and upbeat voice on the bench. On the floor, she's much steadier now than she's ever been; she knows the plays and knows how to run things.

What She Still Needs To Do: Jenna is now being trusted enough to be inserted into the game as early in the first half, depending on the situation. She needs to be more aware of where she is on the floor in those situations, especially at the defensive end as opponents will try to exploit her lack of size.

Jenna Frush

Oderah Chidom

Key Stats: 9 ppg, 5 rpg, 2 apg (out for season)

What She's Done So Far: Oderah improved her passing and ballhandling from her rookie season, especially in terms of passes to other post players. Her quickness and first step made her a unique threat for a post player, as she was able to take one dribble from the top of the key and explode all the way to the hoop for a score. Her rebounding and defense also improved, as she's doing a much better job at closing in on opponents when they get under the hoop. When she got on the block and really took her time or was in transition, she was a difficult player to stop. Unfortunately, her separated shoulder has come at an awful time for Duke. She tried to play through it and keep popping it back in, but there's enough damage now that surgery has become a must. It's no coincidence that Duke lost when she was out against Boston College, and the road ahead without her is much tougher.

What She Still Needs To Do: At this point, she simply needs to get healthy after her operation. A full recovery is projected; on the Duke men's side some years ago, Chris Carrawell suffered from a similar injury and then came back full force after he had surgery.

Oderah Chidom

Oderah Chidom

Lyneé Belton

Key Stats: 4 ppg, 2 rpg (out for season)

What She's Done So Far: Belton came to Duke behind most of the other post players due to conditioning issues, as well as inexperience. However, she's an aggressive and skilled gamer. The fact that she tore her ACL when she had her best collegiate game to date was especially galling. Belton's size and power made her a unique presence on Duke's roster, as she was especially adept at clearing out space for offensive rebounds and stickbacks. What I liked best about her game was her remarkable agility; it's clear that she can move well with and without the ball. She also thinks through the game, and that ability to know just where to be on the block is a valuable asset.

What She Still Needs To Do: Obviously, Belton will need to rehab and look to next year. Duke is applying for a redshirt for her. Part of that rehab will involve getting in peak shape and developing her agility. In terms of skills, Belton will need to work on her dribble, foul shooting and mid-range game. She's not yet close to being a complete player, but she's displayed tantalizing potential and has a unique skill set.

Lyneé Belton

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Georgia Tech Extends Duke Woes, 71-62
Analysis
 
Preview: UNC at Duke

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