As we close on in another UConn-Duke Women’s Basketball Showdown tomorrow night, it’s the only phrase that matters…Duke needs to prove they can play, never mind beat UConn in a game before anyone can take them seriously as a Final Four candidate. In the six games in which Joanne P. McCaullie has coached the Blue Devils against the Huskies, the numbers are staggering. Average margin of UConn victory, 29ppg…Times in which they’ve scored 50, once..51 and they still lost by 30. In the last four games, average points in the paint, 35-16 UConn…And in those last four games, the current leading scorer of the Blue Devils, Senior Tricia Liston, has scored 2,2,3 and 2 points…Last season, she only took ONE field goal attempt in 24 minutes. And you wonder why UConn has won 24 straight against the ACC ?? It’s not a matter IF a patented UConn run comes, it’s when and how a team handles it. The ACC teams simply can’t. They rush the offense and it plays right into UConn’s hands.
Now you’d have to think the Duke players are sick and tired of getting blasted by UConn. Wouldn’t you ? And ask Coach P about it and well, the answer gets side stepped. In fact, I’d think after next season’s meeting in CT, I’d expect to see this series end. Great, put Notre Dame back on the schedule. I think they’ll win the ACC because their style is as close to UConn as any team in the country and the ACC will have to adapt to it. And as we’ve seen, they refuse to.
Tricia Liston is having a great year shooting the 3 so far, but as the numbers would say against UConn, show me she can do it against the Huskies. Chelsea Gray has been a solid performer at point guard and has come back from a dislocation of the knee cap suffered in Game 25 last season. Elizabeth Williams has had issues with foul trouble, no game exhibited that more than their most recent outing at Oklahoma where she played a career low 10 minutes. And Haley Peters has done a little bit of everything. But the most talented player on Duke ? Sophomore guard Alexis Jones..The Texas native (and HS Teammate of Baylor’s Odessey Sims) plays a lot like Sims. In fact she was one of the bright lights in the first half in Storrs last seaon before UConn blitzed em’. And that is another factor. Duke can compete with UConn for 20 minutes. Compete for 40 and I’ll be a believer.
And of course the Huskies get Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, Morgan Tuck and Kia Stokes back this week. What KML & Tuck bring is versatility and Stoke depth in the post. I’ll be interested to see how much Kaleena plays. I think Tuck will be good to go for her average of 16+ minutes per game. It’s nice to know that everyone will be available and that was the sentiment from all players who spoke with the media Sunday. With both teams coming off exams, I’ll be interested to see how both teams respond to the rust of a week plus off.
One other note, Duke has lead the last four v UConn by 2pts early in each game…and that’s it. Perhaps jumping out to an early lead gets the Cameron Crazies revved up. All the pressure is on Duke in this one to show they can compete for the National Championship. Our pregame coverage begins at 6:30 preceded by a Special Edition of the Football Coach’s Show with Joe D’ and New FB Coach Bob Diaco from the Wood n Tap in Vernon at 6..Hope you can join us.