No. 3 Duke 51, No. 2 Connecticut 87, FINAL: Well, that’s all she wrote. The Blue Devils were shown who’s boss, and despite having an undefeated record and multiple impressive wins going into the game, Duke now knows they still have time until they’re on top. Hopefully they get a chance for some revenge come March.
Check out the blog and tomorrow’s edition of The Chronicle for further analysis and coverage. Thanks for reading.
No. 3 Duke 47, No. 2 Connecticut 80, 3:08 2nd half: The offensive performance in the second half has been stellar, with 32 points so far against one of the top teams in the country. Still, the Blue Devils have had no answer for Maya Moore, Tiffany Hayes and Kelly Faris defensively. The Huskies have also been on fire from deep, shooting 50% from long range. The unsung hero for the Huskies will ultimately be Stefanie Dolson who, despite only having eight points, has dominated the paint with 12 rebounds. Duke has been unsuccesful battling her all game, with Krystal Thomas, Allison Vernerey and Kathleen Scheer sharing the load.
No. 3 Duke 32, No. 2 Connecticut 56, 11:45 2nd half: At least the Blue Devils aren’t going down without a fight. The game may be lost, but at least they have been competitive in the first eight minutes.
Jasmine Thomas has led Duke’s improve performance this half with seven points in the period.
Duke came back from 20 points against NC State last week. Can they do it again? Do you believe in miracles?
No. 3 Duke 21, No. 2 Connecticut 46, 16:29 2nd half: All-aboard the come-back train! Choo-choo! Just kidding, but at least it’s better than the first half, with the score so far this half being 5-5. Notably, Chelsea Gray and Kathleen Scheer began the half on the bench in favor of Allison Vernerey and the seldom used Richa Jackson. At least Maya Moore is no longer single-handedly outscoring Duke, as she did in the first half. Now it’s only Maya Moore 19, Duke 21.
No. 3 Duke 15, No. 2 Connecticut 41, halfitme: There’s only one good thing to say about the first half ending this way: there are only twenty minutes of torture left. The undefeated Blue Devils came out flat in the first half, constantly being outworked for rebounds and in transition. A primary perpetrator of both of these crimes is Krystal Thomas, who has regularly been defeated on the boards by 6-foot-5 center Stefanie Dolson.
Duke is 5-32 from the field, including 1-10 from downtown. UConn is 15-29, including 4-8 from three land. Jasmine Thomas is the offensive leader for Duke with a whopping three points.
The UConn fans chanted “over-rated” towards the Duke bench at the end of the half. Are they right?
No. 3 Duke 4, No. 2 Connecticut 26, 6:56 1st half: Frankly, Duke is just being outworked. A perfect example was a couple possessions ago when Karima Christmas had what appeared to be a defensive rebound, only to have two Huskies just rip out of her hands. UConn’s dominance is also feeding the ebullient atmosphere here, which is certainly frustrating both McCallie and the team.
No. 3 Duke 2, No. 2 Connecticut 21, 11:50 1st half: So, remember that time I live-blogged about the Duke-UConn game that was 13-2? Well, now it’s 21-2 and Coach McCallie’s squad seemingly has no answer to the Huskies’ attack. A quick stat comparison: Duke is 1-13 from the field, while the Huskies are 9-14. UConn has 12 rebounds, to the Blue Devils’ 6. When a team is down 19 points in the first eight minutes, it means just about everything is going wrong. Shay Selby has the only two points for the lifeless Duke squad.
No. 3 Duke 2, No. 2 Connecticut 11, 14:52 1st half: No, that’s not a typo. UConn began the game on an 11-0 run, and the crowd has been merciless on the Blue Devils. Duke begun the game 0-12 from the field, while the Huskies are 5-7, including two threes from Kelly Farris. Coach Joanne P. McCallie has already called two timeouts trying to settle things down, so we’ll see if they can climb out of the early hole.
PREGAME: Welcome to The Chronicle’s live blog of the top-five showdown between Connecticut and Duke. There is a wild atmosphere here at the Gampel Pavilion in Storrs, CT - possibly the most intimidating place to play in women’s basketball.
Duke starters: Krystal Thomas, Chelsea Gray, Karima Christmas, Kathleen Scheer and Jasmine Thomas
Connecticut starters: Tiffany Hayes, Bria Hartley, Maya Moore, Stefanie Dolson and Kelly Farris.
As always stay tuned for analysis, summary, random fun facts and the occasional joke. Enjoy!
Cue up the “No one believed in us” title defense.
Duke, despite holding the 2010 national championship, was picked fifth in the USILA preseason poll today, behind Virginia, Syracuse, North Carolina and Maryland. Virginia and Syracuse were the only teams to receive first-place votes, with eight and three, respectively.
The seemingly low ranking most likely comes because of the graduation of Ned Crotty, Max Quinzani, Parker McKee and other stars from last year’s team. The Blue Devils will return only six starters, although among those returning are C.J. Costabile and Justin Turri, who was named a second-team preseason All-American.
Duke starts its season Feb. 12 against Siena.
It looks like Kyrie Irving’s father, Drederick, was correct all along when he said that his son would have his cast removed Feb. 4. Irving will indeed have his cast removed this week, head coach Mike Krzyzewski said after the St. John’s loss.
But, the coach warned, this could really just mean another step in his indefinitely long rehabilitation.
“We’re not looking for him to come back,” Krzyzewski said. “We’re looking for him to get well.”
More frustratingly inconclusive news for Duke fans.
NOTE: The New York Daily News’s Dick Weiss tweeted after the game yesterday that Krzyzewski’s quote meant Irving was done for the year. This, to the best of our knowledge, is false.
Amid the cacophony of message board chatter and gnashing of teeth over the fate of Duke’s season yesterday, some cooler heads prevailed. I’m talking, of course, about some of college basketball’s better analysts, who offered their breakdowns of the Blue Devils’ 93-78 loss.
Perhaps the best post-game wrap-up came from Basketball Prospectus’s Asher Fusco. Fusco points out that the astronomically high points per possession numbers from St. John’s yesterday were only the third-best numbers it has had this year. Fusco also says that Lavin’s ingenious motion offense was the reason why the paint looked so open all game.
That lack of effort led to a truly awful defensive performance against St. John’s. The Red Storm tallied 1.26 points per possession, nearly a fifth of a point better than the next-best Duke opponent this season (Michigan State’s 1.07). Even more jarring was the fact that St. John’s offense posted its third best showing of the season—only Drake and Northwestern allowed this offense to score more efficiently.
Oddly enough, St. John’s performance against Duke seemed less of a fluke than their output against Northwestern. Steve Lavin’s team ran its offense to near perfection at times on Sunday, turning crisp back-cuts and on-target entry passes into easy points. Lavin also deserves credit for an offensive gameplan that took advantage of some hard-to-find matchup issues. Lavin spread his motion offense out, at times moving all or most players outside of the three-point arc and bringing either of the Plumlee brothers or Kelly with them. The Red Storm guards—and even quick forwards Justin Burrell and Justin Brownlee—took advantage of the empty paint to convert 58 percent of their two-point attempts.
The Dagger’s Jeff Eisenberg says that the loss of Irving means a loss of dribble penetration offense (hence a lack of open shooters), among other things. This was commonly brought up after the stagnant look of the offense in the loss at Tallahassee, but it does bear repeating especially since Duke shot 5-for-26 from three yesterday.
Eisenberg goes on to say, though, that the Blue Devils lack lateral quickness on the perimeter without Irving, a charge that Nolan Smith and Tyler Thornton would seem to refute.
The absence of Irving has also limited Duke’s ability to create open looks via dribble penetration. Whereas a quick point guard like Irving can get in the lane, force the defense to collapse on him and kick to open shooters, the rest of the Blue Devils aren’t as skilled in that area. As a result, the team is taking more contested jump shots, contributing to their poor shooting against Florida State earlier this month and their 1 of 21 3-point shooting prior to the final five minutes on Saturday.
ESPN.com’s Eammon Brennan makes a point that would have been thought absurd at the beginning of the year, when Duke faced down a non-conference schedule of Michigan State, Marquette, Kansas State and Butler: Duke has had few quality wins this season. A Big East game against a battle-tested team would be one of those quality wins, but the Blue Devils failed this one.
The evidence therein: Duke has at least two so-so losses on its resume (a road loss to Florida State being the other). It has very few, if any, “quality” wins. Instead, Duke’s best victories have come over Michigan State, Kansas State, Butler and Marquette, all teams that could theoretically miss the tournament. And it plays in an uncharacteristically “down” ACC, a conference that lacks another true contender and might have only one ranked team (the Blue Devils, naturally) by the time Monday’s poll is released. (Florida State lost 62-44 at Clemson Saturday. Guh.) Even if they win out the rest of the way — which is unlikely, too — a bad ACC means the Blue Devils won’t have many more chances to impress the selection committee going forward.
See any other expert opinions on the loss yesterday? Let us know in the comments.
Check out our slideshow by Chronicle photographer Margie Truwit of Duke’s loss on Sunday afternoon to St. John’s. Duke fell to St. John’s 93-78 in Madison Square Garden.