AUSTIN, Texas - It's not often a 2-4 opponent legitimately scares the second-ranked team in the nation.
No. 2 Duke (6-0), however, is far from comfortable as it heads to Fort Worth, Texas, to take on Texas Christian University at 8 p.m. tonight. Some of the fear comes from the Blue Devils' last performance, in which they had trouble defending Texas' athleticism. The Longhorns shot 42 percent from the floor-including 56 percent in the first half-by far the best by a Duke opponent this season.
The Horned Frogs feature an extremely small lineup. Vanessa Clementino, a 6-foot-2 forward, is the only player over six feet tall averaging double-digit minutes. TCU, however, resembles Texas in its speed, something that concerns the Blue Devils.
"I talked to the team right after the game [at Texas], and I said, 'If you're not ready to play at TCU, we are going to get beat, point blank,'" head coach Gail Goestenkors said. "I've seen tape on them, and they are more athletic than Texas, and Texas was obviously very athletic."
The Blue Devils also believe the Horned Frogs are significantly more talented than their 2-4 mark would suggest. TCU has lost to Georgia, North Carolina, Oklahoma and USC-all top-25 teams. Although the Horned Frogs did not seriously threaten their highly-touted opponents in their first three losses, the team is coming off a three-point defeat at USC.
"They are playing the best teams in the country," Goestenkors said. "So they are not going to be intimidated by us."
Goestenkors also worries about a potential slump from her team. Sunday's 84-70 win over No. 16 Texas was Duke's first real test of the season, after the team glided through the opening five games, winning by an average of 43 points. Having escaped their first real challenge, the Blue Devils may see unranked TCU as a return to Cupcake City, despite their coach's warnings.
"It is a concern," Goestenkors said of the possible drop in intensity. "If they saw the way we played [against Texas], we would give them a lot of confidence that they can do some things, so we can't afford to have a letdown."
A source of the potential decrease in passion could be the change in environment. Duke and Texas both raised the intensity of their play once the 8,000-plus crowd in Austin was brought to life following Monique Currie's flagrant foul and a subsequent Longhorn technical. Tonight, the Blue Devils will play in an arena that has averaged an audience one-quarter the size of the crowd in Austin.
"When the crowd is against you, I think your adrenaline rises a little bit, and you play a little bit harder and try to make things happen," Currie said after Sunday's game. "It's unfortunate that you have to wait for the crowd to get against you to do it, but it really helped us pick up our game towards the end."
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