The independent news organization of Duke University

Depth keys aggressive game plan

NORFOLK, Va. - Duke's transition game and fast tempo played a pivotal role in the Blue Devils 93-56 rout of Old Dominion Sunday.

The Blue Devils pressed early and often, allowing them to set and control the pace throughout the game. Duke forced the Monarchs into 26 turnovers by constantly switching defenses and utilizing half-court traps. The Blue Devils, in turn, translated Old Dominion's miscues into quick, easy baskets. Duke tallied 16 fast-break points compared to just four for the Monarchs.

"We want to be a full-court pressing team, we want to be a transition team," head coach Gail Goestenkors said. "Pushing the tempo frustrated them early on, and allowed us to get a lot of easy buckets. It was key to our success."

Duke's pressure defense was also apparent in its 93-67 season-opening win over Penn State. The Blue Devils forced 20 Nittany Lion turnovers and capitalized on these mistakes to shoot better than 70 percent in the second half.

The fast-paced style of play especially benefited Duke guards Abby Waner and Lindsey Harding. Midway through the first half against Old Dominion, Harding had back-to-back fast-break layups-one coming off a steal and the other coming off a block by center Alison Bales. Harding used such easy looks to put up 16 points, all of which were scored in the first half.

In an attempt to deny the Blue Devils uncontested looks in the paint, the Monarchs often left the perimeter unguarded. Duke's guards took advantage, shooting 63 percent from beyond the arc in the first half and hitting eight trifectas in the game.

"We have a great post game, we have a great perimeter game," Goestenkors said. "You cannot take everything away."

The depth of the Blue Devils allows them to constantly press and push the ball. Eleven different players saw double-digit minutes Sunday and Duke's fresh legs helped wear down the Monarchs. The Blue Devils held Old Dominion to just 32 percent shooting in the second half.

Duke's new starting lineup also reflects its commitment to play a fast-paced game. After not featuring a true point-guard last year, the Blue Devils now start two gifted ball handlers, allowing them more options when running the break. Goestenkors has also chosen to bring Bales off the bench and start the more mobile Chante Black, who is better suited to the run-and-gun style that Duke has employed early in games.

Additionally, the fact that three of last year's starters-Bales, sophomore Wanisha Smith and senior Jessica Foley- are now coming off the bench helps maintain the same level of intensity throughout the game on all fronts.

"Our defense really ignites our offense," Goestenkors said. "When we become a great pressing team, we are really going to take it to another level."


Share and discuss “Depth keys aggressive game plan” on social media.