After last Saturday's victory over Delaware State, Old Dominion head coach Wendy Larry is searching for her 500th career victory as a head coach in the NCAA.
But with No. 5 Duke (5-0) standing in the way tonight at 7 p.m. at Cameron Indoor Stadium, the Lady Monarchs (2-2) will have their work cut out for them to provide their coach with the milestone. The Blue Devils plan to get in the way.
"We just plan to make her wait one more game," Duke head coach Gail Goestenkors said.
Despite Duke's unblemished record so far this season, Goestenkors knows there are still areas in which her team can improve. Since the start of the Blue Devils' season, Goestenkors has emphasized the need for the team to share the basketball, and that will once again be a focus against the Lady Monarchs.
"We are all involved in new roles," Goestenkors said. "We're all still coming to realize when is the best time for each person to take a shot."
In last Saturday's game against Michigan, the increased teamwork translated into strong showings by both starters and the bench and a blowout victory. Sophomore guard Abby Waner reached double digits for the fifth-straight game, while senior guard Lindsey Harding scored a season-high 13 points. No Duke player saw more than 30 minutes of play, as everyone on the team got a chance to contribute to the victory.
Duke will look to its depth and growing cohesion on offense as it tries to stave off the challenge from a gritty ODU squad that reached the NCAA Tournament a year ago. The Lady Monarchs have won their past two contests, largely in part because of the team's strength on the offensive glass.
Last year, the Blue Devils spoiled Old Dominion's season opener by beating the Lady Monarchs, 93-56.
"I expect [Old Dominion] to come out with a lot of fire just because of their loss last year," sophomore Wanisha Smith said. "We are going to come out and play hard."
Lady Monarchs guard T.J. Jordan, a 5-foot-8 junior who has averaged 15 points per game so far this season, and her willingness to crash the boards could prove to be a challenge for Smith and the other members of the Blue Devils' backcourt.
"We are going to make it hard for [Jordan] to be the leading scorer of this to game," Smith said. "We are just going to box her out."
Although the team has yet to lose, it will focus tonight on limiting the second opportunities for players like Jordan and the rest of the Lady Monarchs.
In practice this week, the Blue Devils spent extra time doing a variety of additional rebounding drills in preparation for the Old Dominion offense. And throughout those rebounding exercises, Goestenkors continuously reminded her team of a favorite catch-phrase, stressing the importance of the drills.
"Defense wins games, but rebounds wins championships," said sophomore forward Carrem Gay, recalling the words of Goestenkors.
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