Harding faces hometown foe

If you can't play at home, the next best option might to be play someone from home.

That is the situation that the Blue Devils' senior point guard Lindsey Harding faces this weekend, as No. 5 Duke (1-0) will host Houston (0-1) Sunday at 2 p.m. Marist (1-0) will also pay a visit to Cameron Indoor Stadium this weekend, playing the Blue Devils tonight at 7 p.m.

Harding, who played at Houston's CY-Fair High School in the northwest part of the city, said that she is excited to be playing her hometown team.

"I would have loved to play Houston in Houston, but I guess it is kind of familiar territory," Harding said. "In general, it's just kind of fun to play a team from home."

Harding will miss out on an opportunity to play at home by one year, as Duke will travel to Houston next season for the second leg of a home-and-home series.

Harding will also miss out on the opportunity this weekend to play an old AAU teammate, Houston's Wooden Award nominee Tye Jackson. The 5-foot-10 guard, who averaged a team-high 17.7 points per game last season, suffered a leg injury in the Cougars' final exhibition game and is not listed on the team's travelling roster for this weekend. Jackson transferred to Houston from Purdue, where she played against Duke in 2004.

"We've played on the same AAU team for years," Harding said. "I have definitely been following her, and she has been doing great at Houston."

Despite the absence of Jackson, the Blue Devils-who won their first game 102-49 against Northeastern-expect to be challenged by the Cougars, who are buoyed by a number of experienced junior college transfers. The Cougars have seven of them on their roster, in addition to two players who transferred from other Division-I programs.

"They are very, very athletic," head coach Gail Goestenkors said. "They are young in that they have a lot of new faces, but they're juniors, so they've already played two years of college basketball."

The Blue Devils will also face a challenging opponent in Marist, which won both the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference regular-season and tournament titles last year. The Red Foxes run a Princeton-style motion offense that Duke may be unfamiliar with.

"They run a five-out motion, so they run a little bit different style of play than we see," Goestenkors said. "Their post players can shoot the three, so it's going to be good for us because it's a different style."

Goestenkors said a top team from a smaller conference like Marist could be indicative of the type of opponent that the Blue Devils would face in the opening rounds of the NCAA Tournament.

"They understand what the NCAA Tournament is all about," Goestenkors said. "We will face a team like that in the tournament, so it really is beneficial for us to play them."

Duke also hopes to perform well this weekend, as they host a recruit, class of 2009 guard-forward Kelly Faris. The 5-foot-10 Indiana native is also a standout volleyball player who was named the MVP of the 2006 USA Junior Olympic Championships.


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