sportswrap february 17, 2014
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‘ONE FOR THE AGES’ MEN’S BASKETBALL: DUKE SQUEAKS PAST TERPS IN FINAL ACC TILT BETWEEN OLD FOES
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Parker’s jam, defensive stand leads Blue Devils to top Terps by Karl Kingma THE CHRONICLE
Sporting jerseys from the 1991-92 national championship season, Duke survived a scare Saturday and ended its historic conference matchup against Maryland with a 69-67 win. Normally known for their long-range scoring, the No. 8 Blue Devils did not shoot particularly well from the field, but tough team defense and great offensive production from freshman Jabari Parker proved just enough. Parker led all scorers with 23 points, including an emphatic one-handed dunk with 1:05 remaining to give Duke a 6867 advantage. “I’m just trying to be there for my team,” Parker said. “It doesn’t really matter how many points I score. If it’s got to be 20, then let it be. I’m just making the defense uncomfortable, just trying to make plays for the team.” Despite their shooting woes, head coach Mike Krzyzewski’s squad seemed in control for much of the first half, extending their lead to as many as 10 points through stout defensive execution. But the Terrapins (14-12, 6-7 in the ACC) refused to go quietly—sophomore Jake Layman’s midrange jumper cut the margin to one with 2:24 remaining in the first half. Layman’s shooting was a huge positive for Maryland, he finished with a team-high 18 points. Charles Mitchell seemed to be the other focal point of Maryland’s first half offense—the sophomore finished with 12 points and six rebounds. Despite the performances of Layman and Mitchell, solid free-throw shooting and a strong drive by Amile Jefferson helped Duke absorb Maryland’s push. The Blue Devils (20-5. 9-3) hit the locker room with a six-point lead. Unfortunately for Duke, the team’s shooting seemed to get even worse in the
second half. Krzyzewski suggested that offensive frustration led to a loss of defensive focus, allowing a hungry Maryland squad back in the game. “You don’t see [the ball] going in, and it can have an impact on you,” Krzyzewski said. “In that split second Wells took advantage where we didn’t play good defense.” After a slow first half, Maryland combo-guard Dez Wells reveled in the Blue Devils’ defensive lull and began attacking the rim with renewed vigor. With just under nine minutes remaining in the contest, the Terrapins took a 54-52 lead on Wells’ strong drive to the hoop—their first lead of the game. “They were stopping the break high, stopping it in the back court, and we turned it over a couple times,” Wells said. “I was like ‘Guys, come one, if they are going to do that, let’s make them pay.’ So we made them pay, we started really attacking after that.” As the Maryland bench erupted, the contest that had previously been one-sided was transformed into a back-and-forth barnburner. Both teams were clearly exerting maximal effort on every play, and the competitive drive of both sides was particularly visible on the 50-50 balls. A casual observer might have thought the loose balls contained 24-karat gold rather than inflated air. Head coach Krzyzewski appreciated his team’s effort. “There were some exchanges there that are going to be highlights,” Krzyzewski said. “Those scrums where that ball is all over and you see Duke and Maryland players diving everywhere… there were a few of those. Those are unbelievable. The will to win was shown so brilliantly during those exchanges.” For all of Maryland’s intensity, it seemed that Duke was able to corral the crucial stray rebounds and deflected passes down the
stretch. Senior Tyler Thornton acknowledged that hustle is an integral part of Duke basketball. “That’s how you win the game,” Thornton said. “Those 50-50 balls—that’s what it comes down to. It doesn’t come down to those shots you hit in the first half or those free throws you hit, its about diving, getting the loose ball, getting the jump ball stuff like that…. That’s what this program has been built on.” The Blue Devils recovered from their offensive malaise just in the nick of time. Rasheed Sulaimon hit a clutch 3-pointer to regain the lead for Duke with four minutes remaining. Despite being relegated from the starting five, Sulaimon’s bench production was vital to the team’s win. The sophomore finished with 11 points, and no shot Maryland’s Dez Wells scored 17 second-half points, but was more important than his final one. “As you can see from the stats it was just a tough shooting night for all of us,” Sulaimon said. “Jabari had a monster rebound, I called for it, he kicked it out to me, he trusted me, and I shot it.” Back-and-forth scoring continued, but Parker’s resounding dunk with just over a minute remaining gave Duke the 68-67 lead. After an odd play where Amile Jefferson’s offensive rebound was discounted due to a shot clock violation, Maryland had one final possession to pull off the upset. Charles Mitchell caught the ball in the post and got a good shot off—the ball hung on the rim for what seemed an eternity. The shot finally rimmed out, and Thornton slapped the ball away to the clutches of Jefferson, who sealed the Blue Devils’ win on the other end. “Duke-Maryland has been a lot of great games in the past,” Sulaimon said. “This will be the last one…. They fought their hearts out, we fought our hearts out, and at the end we just wanted a little bit more.”
Duke managed to hit just 5-of-24 attempts from 3-point range, marking the team’s worst shooting performance of the season.
28/34 Duke made up for its shooting inefficiency by shooting 82.4 percent from the free-throw line. SOPHIA PALENBERG/THE CHRONICLE
Playing in his first Duke-Maryland game, freshman Jabari Parker scored 23 points, including the go-ahead bucket with 1:05 remaining.
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A fitting end for Duke and Maryland’s final ACC matchup by Nick Martin THE CHRONICLE
SOPHIA PALENBERG/THE CHRONICLE
it was not enough to top the Blue Devils.
Rivalry or not, the final chapter of Duke-Maryland in the ACC was riveting enough to be described by Blue Devil head coach Mike Krzyzewski as “one for the ages.” On a night when the ball never seemed to bounce their way, the Blue Devils were able to overcome their worst shooting performance of the year by doing the little things and—with a little bit of help from the basketball gods— walk away with a 69-67 victory in the last conference matchup between Duke and the Terrapins. After the game, a nostalgic Krzyzewski was adamant that he will miss the annual rivalry games against Maryland. “I have been the most outspoken, in a good way, about what they have done. I have said all along that they are part of the ACC,” Krzyzewski said. “Over the years, the players, the coaches and the teams that have shared these unforgettable moments, I don’t know what it’s worth. It won’t be replicated.” To say Duke had an off-night from the floor might be an understatement. The Blue Devils shot 33.3 percent from the field for the game, including the opening stretch of the second half in which they missed 17-of-19 shots. Three-point shooting—an area in which Duke usually excels—was not something the Blue Devils were able to lean on as they shot 5-for-24 from behind-the-arc. But the game’s biggest shots—minus Jabari Parker’s go-ahead dunk with 1:05 remaining—didn’t come from the paint or from long range, but rather from the charity stripe. With their shots failing to fall from every other spot on the floor, the Blue
JULIA MAY/THE CHRONICLE
Facing Maryland for the final time as an ACC member as his team wore throwback uniforms, Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski called Duke’s home atmosphere “vintage Cameron.” Devils were 28-of-34 from the free throw line. Forward Rodney Hood said that with the team unable to find its shooting stroke, the Duke coaching staff encouraged players to attack the rim. “We weren’t hitting shots. We were taking good shots but they just didn’t roll in today,” Hood said. “Coach called a timeout and drew a play up for me to get into the lane and I shot a floater and it went. We just had to attack the basket and get fouled and we did a great job of stepping up and hitting our free throws.” But Saturday night’s game was about
Just six of the Blue Devils’ 18 field goals were assisted, which is the fewest assists Duke has dished out this season.
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As the final seconds ticked off the clock, Charles Mitchell’s hook shot rolled off the rim to preserve Duke’s victory.
more than the Blue Devils’ resiliency and ability to find a way to win. It was the perfect finish to the series, a series Duke now leads 114-63. As the last time Maryland and Duke will face off as ACC foes—the Terrapins are Big Ten-bound following this season—the Blue Devils were able to go out with a much-needed victory. From the glory days of Lefty Driesell to the “Miracle Minute” in 2001—when Duke stormed back to beat then-No. 8 Maryland after trailing by 10 with less than a minute remaining—to the JJ Reddick cell phone incident, the matchup will be missed by both sides. “It started with Lefty [Driesell] really. You talk about all these years, [Bob] Wade, then Gary [Williams] did an incredible job, and now Mark [Turgeon],” Krzyzewski said. “The one consistent factor is that they have been great games.” Despite the constant chants of “Not our rivals,” by the Cameron Crazies, everything about the contest had rivalry written all over it—from the players’ chippy play to the epic finish in which Maryland’s Charles Mitchell’s hook shot over Hood’s outstretched arm came inches away from dropping in the bucket, bouncing on the rim three times before falling back to the court and into the arms of Amile Jefferson. For a split-second, as Mitchell’s shot hung on the rim with Parker and Hood looking on intently as Turgeon jumped up and down on the sideline, it looked as though Maryland would have the opportunity to end the series with three straight wins. But as it was with the “Miracle Minute”, the basketball gods were on Duke’s side Saturday night. “It felt like forever. It felt like forever,” Hood said. “We needed a stop and I guess the basketball gods were good to us today. It could have easily rolled in.”
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Duke women get their final shot at Maryland by Amrith Ramkumar THE CHRONICLE
Looking to reassert their defensive prowess, the Blue Devils will welcome another top10 opponent to Cameron Indoor Stadium. No. 3 Duke will take on No. 9 Maryland Monday at 7 p.m. one week after suffering No. 9 Maryland its second consecuvs. tive home loss of the season because of No. 3 lackadaisical defense. Duke The Blue Devils alMONDAY, 7 p.m. Cameron Indoor Stadium lowed Notre Dame and North Carolina to score a combined 177 points in the two losses. It was the first time in 20 years that Duke lost two consecutive home games and the first time since 2008 that the Blue Devils fell to the Tar Heels at home. “It’s pretty motivating when you don’t perform at the level you think you’re capable of, especially [with] defense and rebounding,” head coach Joanne P. McCallie said. “We needed to take a break. It turned out to be a snowy break, and then we’ve had terrific [practices] with emphasis on transition defense [and] learning our rotations.” The Blue Devils (22-3, 9-2 in the ACC) will have to slow down one of the best offensive players in the conference—Maryland senior forward Alyssa Thomas—to get back in their defensive groove. Thomas—the reigning two-time ACC Player of the Year—averages 18.6 points and
10.8 rebounds per game and will try to lead the Terrapins (20-4, 8-3) to victory in the final regular-season matchup between the teams as conference foes. “They’re a very good team,” McCallie said. “[Thomas] is a terrific player. She’s not one you could ever stop, but it’s important to try to slow her down as much as possible. Shot contesting is very big—I think it’s very, very important that we recognize those shooters [and have] the combination of a great team defense approach on [Thomas] and incredible shot contesting.” Maryland averages 84.0 points per game because of the players that surround Thomas. Freshman guards Lexie Brown and Shatori Walker-Kimbrough combine to average 19.6 points per game and both shoot better than 40 percent from beyond the arc. The balanced Terrapin squad—winners of four straight—also has six other players averaging between 13.9 and 23.2 minutes per contest. All of those players average between five and nine points per game. Maryland’s depth could give the Terrapins an advantage Monday because the Blue Devils have struggled to get bench production since the injuries to senior guards Chelsea Gray and Chloe Wells. Because freshman Kianna Holland transferred and freshman Rebecca Greenwell is redshirting due to injury, the Blue Devils now have only one true guard—junior Ka’lia Johnson—to bring off the bench. As a result, senior forward Haley Peters
played on the wing for several minutes against North Carolina alongside post players Oderah Chidom and Elizabeth Williams. Duke’s limited options at the guard spot will likely force the Blue Devils to rely more on Peters’ versatility. “I definitely have a great deal of confidence in Haley at the three spot,” McCallie said. “Oderah has worked her way into more minutes because she’s been very productive and tough on the floor. We’ve got some different combinations. Do we have tons of experience with those yet? No, but hopefully in the next couple of weeks we will gain [it].” Although Duke is incorporating new lineups, Williams will likely still be counted on to power the Blue Devil offense. The junior center had a career-high 28 points against North Carolina after scoring just 10 points combined in the two previous games. But Williams and her teammates frequently missed easy paint opportunities against the Tar Heels that seemed to affect Duke’s defense. Nonetheless, the Blue Devils like their chances when they are getting the ball inside—they know they just have to convert more of their opportunities. “Overall, I’ve loved our paint opportunities,” McCallie said. “I love the fact that we’ve been able to create so much scoring in the paint—that’s terrific. Without question, with a little bit of rest and with more focus on the defensive side of the ball, [we can] allow the offense to come.” Another factor that could help Duke con-
CHRIS DIECKHAUS/THE CHRONICLE
Junior Elizabeth Williams scored a career-high 28 points in the Blue Devils’ loss to North Carolina last week.
vert more of its opportunities is the team’s newfound sense of urgency. “Sadly, in life, sometimes you do become somewhat spoiled,” McCallie said. “We’ve won a lot of games this year. When we lost to Connecticut and Notre Dame, we didn’t take it like we should have taken it. When a team comes into your house and plays very well, and we don’t do much to stop that, that’s a very different feeling. Perhaps that feeling is something we should have had before. Now we certainly have that.”