Sunday’s home tilt against Troy presented a unique challenge for the Blue Devils. The visiting Trojans predicated their offense on tempo and high-volume shooting, a style that Duke has not faced so far in the regular season.
The Blue Devils’ countered with extremely efficient transition offense of its own Sunday as Duke seized a sizable lead right out of the gates. Leaonna Odom’s versatility as a ball-handler, scorer and distributor was also showcased throughout her team’s 99-85 victory.
The Blue Devils were able to capitalize on 13 Troy turnovers and often had a clear numbers advantage when they pushed the ball on the wings. Troy has become known for its rebounding prowess, but the Blue Devils outrebounded the Trojans by eight, allowing for constant transition opportunities. Duke virtually matched Troy’s fast break and second-chance point totals, showing that the Blue Devils have the ability to sustain a high level of play in a fast-paced contest.
“A fun game, really fun to watch and be a part of,” Duke head coach Joanne P. McCallie said. “That kind of rebounding prepares us for just about any level of rebounding and that’s really important.”
Evidently, the performance by the Blue Devils on the glass fed into their constant fast break opportunities. With Duke mixing it up with different lineup combinations, small ball exploited the gaps created by Troy’s frenetic pace. The Blue Devils’ ability to effectively box out and run in transition with multiple lineups is a positive that the coaching staff can take for the near future. Duke’s ability to matchup effectively with a team that shoots at a high volume bodes well for the Blue Devils’ chances of competing on a nightly basis in the grueling ACC.
“With any team that has that capacity offensively, it just shows you that you have to be in every minute,” McCallie said. “I think we had an exhale, and we got into some foul trouble, and we got some subbing going on maybe too quickly. I think that we must remember that it doesn’t matter what you’ve done, you just have to keep playing.”
The speed and shooting that the Blue Devils possess make this particular style of play entertaining and effective when Duke finds a rhythm and is locked in defensively. The decision by McCallie to allow Odom to run the point seems to be paying dividends, as the Duke offense can attack an opposing defense from multiple angles and areas on the floor.
With the ACC slate featuring multiple teams that push the tempo consistently, the matchup against Troy could go a long way in preparing the Blue Devils for the rest of the season.
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Max Rego is a Trinity senior and an associate sports editor for The Chronicle's 118th volume. He was previously sports managing editor for Volume 117.