TUESDAY March 30, 2010
The Blue Devils carded a 281 yesterday to move into fourth-place in the Hootie at Bulls Bay Intercollegiate. They play the final round of the tournament today
Stingy Baylor defense spells doom for Devils Brittney Griner finishes with nine blocks by Patricia Lee THE CHRONICLE
MEMPHIS—Typically the strongest element of its game, Duke’s defense failed to hold in last night’s game against Baylor. Time and again, the Lady Bears broke through for quick shots and easy buckets. Though Duke pressed Baylor for much of the entire game— and double-teamed Game 6-foot-8 freshman BrittGriner for most Analysis ney of the time—the Lady Bears were never fazed. They demoralized the Blue Devils’ defense with uncontested fast break baskets and utilized their superior quickness to outrun Duke up and down the court. “The two things that won the game were our press and their press,” Baylor head coach Kim Mulkey said. “Their press allowed our quickness to get by them and score transition buckets, and it allowed us to cut that lead.” The holes in the Blue Devils’ defense are partly accountable for the Lady Bears’ 12 fast break points and 34 percent shooting percentage from the field. And they didn’t hurt Griner’s stunning performance. She finished with 15 of the team’s 51 points, going 6-for-13 from the field and making all of her shots either in the paint or from the free throw line.
After falling behind 26-21 at the half, Baylor went to a smaller lineup, helping the Lady Bears down low, by allowing for easy shots under the basket when Baylor’s smaller players quickly passed the ball to Griner or junior guard Melissa Jones. “We needed some steals and needed to score some points in transition so we went to a smaller lineup to do that,” Jones said. “[Duke] had kind of an advantage with their overall team height. We felt that if we got the ball, we would be able to run on them. Fortunately we have some very quick offensive players on our team, and they were able to get some buckets for us.” But Duke’s shortcomings on the defensive end weren’t the sole flaws that led to the Blue Devils’ 51-48 defeat in the last minute of the game. Facing strong defensive pressure from Baylor, Duke was unable to cope and was held to a season-low shooting percentage of 23 percent, tied a season low of 48 points and only made 3-of-17 3-point field goals in the game. “They have quick guards on the perimeter, and we got by them, but with Griner in the paint, it makes you think twice about going all the way to the basket,” said junior Jasmine Thomas, who led Duke’s scoring with 16 points. “When we did pull her out, we still settled for outside shots. We could Christina pena/The Chronicle
See Analysis on page 10
Brittney Griner led a tough Baylor defense, which held Duke to a season-low 48 points on 23 percent shooting.
A team of its own For a short while this weekend—about as long as Baylor led on Sunday—I privately wished I had a reason to root for Cornell or Butler, the NCAA Tournament’s two pseudo-Cinderellas whose fans seemed so gleeful in their cheering. This was new to them. They didn’t have three national championship banners hanging in their arena. Their students did not matriculate expecting to raise another in their four years, and their coaches and players weren’t bombarded with questions about why they hadn’t made the Final Four in five years. For a team Ben like Cornell or Butler, the outpouring of emotion after an upset was not relief but euphoria, pure as a Jon Scheyer jumper. Of course, Duke isn’t supposed to be that plucky upstart. It’s the team that Cornell and Butler dethrones, the one that everyone roots against, the one whose NCAA Tournament loss opens a torrent of schadenfreude. The Duke that we’ve come to known is J.J. Redick throwing up the shocker after swishing 30-footers, Steve Wojchiechowski slapping the floor at midcourt, Christian Laettner blowing kisses to an adorMichael Naclerio/The Chronicle ing crowd. In short, Duke is neither Cornell nor Butler. Duke, shown here celebrating after its win over Baylor, has found Duke is Duke, and more simply, it’s supposed to be the a unique identity as the season went on, senior Ben Cohen writes. Duke that everyone hates as much as they cherish their
own team. But on Sunday, just as Duke began to pull away from Baylor, two realizations hit me and, I imagine, many others. The obvious first one was a reactionary impulse: We’re going to the Final Four. (Except with a smattering of celebratory four-letter words that would make Mike Krzyzewski proud.) The second was one that had formed over the entire season and crystallized in one game: This is not that Duke team, and we’re better off for it. These Blue Devils have little in common with the Duke teams that have won national championships. It’s probable that no one on this team will have his jersey retired; five of Duke’s 13 retired numbers were worn in 1991, 1992 and 2001. This team lacks a genuine superstar; the national championship teams featured names that are still, almost 20 years later, synonymous with Duke Basketball. This team seemed delighted and surprised to plow through the South region; the national championship teams were expected to waltz the entire way. The dichotomy between these two types of teams— successful as they both may be—reminded me of a certain issue of Sports Illustrated that hit newstands when this year’s senior class still haunted high school hallways. It was the yearly college basketball preview, and the cover was a photo of Duke players running in Cameron See Cohen on page 11
March 30th, 2010 issue of Duke Chronicle