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OldGoldFreePress COLUMNISTS | BACK TO Steve'S COLUMNS

PURDUE WOMENS BASKETBALL:
Women’s Opponents’ Profile #2: the Duke University Blue Devils, 11/23/03


The Jimmy V Classic opponents haven't met since the 1998-1999 National Championship Game in San Jose.


Date: 11/22/2003
Author: Steve
© Old Gold Free Press Columnists

    Welcome to the second opponent profile for the 2003-2004 season. Each profile will include information about the opponent’s main campus, its women’s basketball team, and one player or coach on the team. Links to web pages will follow each section. Look for a profile on each opponent 1-2 days before the tip-off.

    The Campus

    Duke’s campus in Durham, North Carolina, has eight different schools including engineering, nursing, divinity school, and law. The university was formed in 1838 by Methodist and Quaker families and known as Union Institute. Although the Methodist church neither owns nor directs the university, the presence of its Methodist origins can be felt on campus with numerous statues including that of John Wesley, the founder of Methodism.

    Duke is currently under the leadership of Dr. Nannerl O. Keohane, although she is scheduled to step down as president in June 2004. Some of Duke’s accomplishments under her leadership include expanding the university’s physical landscape, establishing a program that has developed ties between the university and its neighbors in Durham, and attaining a $2 billion fundraising goal.

    The university’s official website is very easy to browse and filled with all sorts of information, including a page about the origin of the university’s mascot: the Blue Devils. Based on patriotic and military origins rather than religious, the Blue Devil association with Duke University can be found at the following page: http://www.lib.duke.edu/archives/history/why_blue_devil.html

    To visit the university’s main webpage, type the address below into your web browser: http://www.duke.edu/

    The Team

    Duke’s national coming-out party took place the same year that Purdue received national attention: 1998-1999, when the two schools battled for the NCAA championship. Since then, both programs have figured prominently in the national basketball scene, with Duke appearing in two Final Fours and Purdue battling for the national championship in 2000-2001.

    As of 11/22/03, Duke has posted a 1-1 won-loss record, losing 85-77 to Texas at the State Farm Tip-Off Classic and setting a school record in victory margin with a 108-26 thrashing of Elon at Cameron Indoor Stadium on Friday. The Blue Devils, while missing a couple of players due to injury, remain a deep team; eight players average at least 19 minutes per game, but no one player averages more than 30 per outing.

    While 82-point victories skew statistics, there are some notable patterns that show up while looking through the Duke roster. First, Alana Beard doesn’t have to score to impact the outcome of the game: her scoring is down from last season thus far with an average of 15.5 ppg, but she also averages 7 rebounds and 8 assists per game, along with a 5.3:1 A:TO ratio. Beard is also credited with being the best defender in the nation. Second, balance is the name of the Blue Devils’ offensive game: five players average more than 10 points per game, and a sixth player currently averages 9. Third, the Blue Devils attempt to dominate the game in the paint, where they held a 12-point advantage over Texas and a whopping 44-point advantage over Elon; with Iciss Tillis, Mistie Bass, and Brittany Hunter dominating down low and making 34 of their 57 shots, expect the Blue Devils to hammer away for the bulk of their season. Fourth, the shooting touches haven’t yet warmed up for the Blue Devils who have hit 30% of their 3-point shots and 64.7% of their free throws.

    Type the following address into your web browser to get to the official Duke women’s basketball page: http://goduke.ocsn.com/sports/w-baskbl/duke-w-baskbl-body.html

    The Player

    ACL injuries have played havoc in women’s college basketball, slowing the careers of numerous outstanding players including Purdue’s own Erika Valek. Sometimes the level in play between where a player was before the injury and after is quite a discrepancy. Sometimes, in the case of Duke’s Monique Currie, the fall-off doesn't seem to exist.

    Currie, Duke’s sophomore guard from Washington, D.C., created a stir in her first collegiate game when she had a double-double. An outstanding freshman year culminated in being named second team All-ACC and MVP of the ACC tournament. Currie’s sophomore year, however, never got on track as she injured her ACL within the first five seconds of the Blue Devils’ first preseason game. As a result, she missed the entire 2002-2003 year and the Blue Devils’ Final Four appearance in the tournament.

    This season appears to be moving in the right direction for Currie, however, as she currently leads the Blue Devils in scoring at 16 ppg, ranks second in assists with 4.5 per game, averages the third-most minutes per game and has solid shooting percentages in FG (45.5) and FT (91.7). Add six rebounds per game and it appears the redshirt sophomore is ready to dominate play once again in a variety of ways.

    For more about Monique Currie, enter any of the following addresses into your web browser. The first is Currie’s official player bio, the second is an article about her physical rehab, and the third is a transcript of her ESPN.com chat.

    http://goduke.ocsn.com/sports/w-baskbl/spec-rel/111902aab.html
    http://www.chronicle.duke.edu/vnews/display.v/ART/2003/10/22/3f9590d3d7b2b
    http://proxy.espn.go.com/chat/chatESPN?event_id=4265

    The Prediction

    Duke’s strength lies in getting all players involved in the game offensively, primarily its All-Americans Beard and Tillis, who have as much big-game experience as any duo in the country. Even if those two players aren’t hitting on all cylinders, their versatility allows other players like Mistie Bass, Lindsey Harding, and especially Monique Currie and freshman Brittany Hunter to freely operate offensively.

    Purdue, however, has just as much experience and leadership and has one of the best floor generals in the nation in Erika Valek: the Boilermakers shouldn’t be rattled against the Blue Devils’ pressure and have shown balance offensively as well, with seven players scoring in its victory against Kansas State last Sunday. Eight players currently average more than 12 minutes a game and all know their roles, so there shouldn’t be a lot of tired legs on the floor for either squad.

    While Duke’s offensive prowess is undeniable, it’s the Blue Devils’ defensive versatility that could cause problems for the Boilermakers. If Coach G wants to disrupt the Purdue offense, she could place Beard on Erika, Harding on Beth, and Currie on Wright. If she wants to be physical on the inside players, frosh Hunter or Bass could anchor the low post against Emily while Tillis uses her finesse style of play to hound Lindsey. Add that this game will be Katie’s and Erin’s first collegiate road game, and there may be some extra butterflies in the stomach on the Purdue bench.

    The game isn’t being played in Durham, but Raleigh is close enough that Duke should have a home-court advantage if any of their fans decide to make the trip to the campus. And while none of the current Duke players were on the roster of the 1998-99 game, they may want revenge for what was their program's best-ever opportunity to win a national championship.

    The Boilermakers face their second consecutive top-5 team this season and must look to build upon what they learned against Kansas State in order to defeat Duke. Emily's physical play in the post won't bother Hunter and Bass as much as it did Ohlde, Duke has much more efficient defenders than the Wildcats, and, perhaps most importantly, Purdue must learn to keep a level head while playing on the road the first time this season. If Carol, Sharika, Ashley, Sabrina, Indi, Erin, and Katie can provide solid minutes during the game and allow the starters' legs to stay fresh, the Boilermakers can place another notch on the "W" column: 77-75, Purdue.


As news organizations move their stories to an archive, some of the links listed above may become inactive

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