Alana had a very solid first half with 6 points, 6 rebounds, and 4 assists. What bothered me was that she only took three shots in the first half. She played stellar defense as usual. In the second half, Alana picked up her 3rd foul early, with an offensive foul/turnover while semi-driving to the basket. She then picked up her 4th foul one minute later. While that 4th was iffy, she needed to play defense without fouling. That being said, when she came back with 7:58 to go, she was brilliant, but the game was decided by then. More importantly, I believe Alana learned that the team can win without her on the floor...something that wasn't the case last season.
Iciss Tillis: B+
Iciss was Iciss...breathaking moments of superb athleticism and versatility, with an array of skills, coupled with a few questionable passes and moves (sometimes on the same play), and a few moments of poor defense. Whereas Alana needed to tone it down a little on defense, Iciss was overly cautious not to pick up her 4th foul, but she still was late (on a few occasions) getting into the correct spot defensively. Both need to find some middle ground when saddled with fouls, especially with Duke's short roster. Still, Iciss had to guard Shereka Wright at times and did a great job on Emily Heikes. And offensively, she really came alive in the second half.
Vicki Krapohl: A
This was one of Vicki's best games as a Blue Devil. She had 8 HUGE points in the first half, as Duke was not getting scoring from Alana, Iciss, Monique, Mistie or Brittany. While she didn't score in the second half, she finished the game with 3 assists (to one turnover) and 3 steals. Moreover, she harassed Erika Valek and the other Purdue guards and provided very solid ballhandling when Duke needed it. Again, the value of her first half scoring cannot be measured. 2-5 from beyond hte arc is what we are accustomed to seeing from Vicki, but she usually does not look for her shot against the top teams...this time, she did.
Monique Currie: B+/A-
Monique's return to her old form, which was projected to take 4-6 weeks, may arrive sooner. While she did have 3 turnovers (2 were traveling calls...still getting used to playing), her overall floor game was excellent. Rather than trying to take over a game with her shooting, she did three things: rebound, find Mistie Bass and Iciss Tillis for baskets, and drive to the basket to get to the free throw line. All three things were absolutely essential in the second half, and she did all of these things primarily when Alana Beard was on the bench. That kind of leadership was very important.
Mistie Bass: A-
Rob Clough just finished saying the Elon game was one of Mistie's best games. He may have to change his mind after Mistie's performance against the Boilermakers. Mistie was a non-factor in the first half, but she was HUGE when Alana left the game. She scored on a great curl to the basket (great pass from Harding), had two "and-one" baskets (including a great pump fake to get Gearlds to foul her, plus another finish wth Gearlds coming over her back), demonstrated a nice semi-hook/floater, and ran the court well. Mistie still has a tendency to not establish position on rebounds and gets called for fouls when she gets beat, and tries to tap the ball over the top of the opposing player. She also had a turnover because she has not mastered the ability to pass out of a double team...but her overall improvement from last year to this year is clearly evident.
Lindsey Harding: B
Lindsey took a few jumpers, which was good to see. Late last season, Harding established herself as a permieter threat (15 feet and beyond) when teams doubled on Alana and Iciss. While Lindsey's confidence in her shot may or may not be what it was at the end of last season, her ability to dribble-drive and slash through the defense is amazing. She plays tough defense, and her speed is not to be believed (at one point, it looked like Shereka Wright was astonished that Lindsey caught up to her and passed right by her). What was surprising was the fact that she only had one rebound, given her leaping ability (she is one of the best rebounding guards, for her height, that Duke has ever seen). Her free throws were good (3-4); now, if she can just get those mid-range and outside shots to fall...
Jessica Foley: A-
Foley is one of my favorite players because of her outside shooting (and because of my WNBA connection with Keegan and the Mercury, but that is another story..and Foley and Lauren Jackson, one of my WNBA faves, are from the same area). Jess looked lost on defense at times last season, but she provided solid, if unspectacular defense in this game, demonstrating her improvement. She will never be the defender that Alana is, but Jess does so many other things well. On Friday night, her shot wasn't falling, but she racked up 7 assists (to 0 turnovers), 5 rebounds, and 6 steals. On Sunday, Jess' shot returned...in a BIG way. Foley hit 2-5 from three (a percentage I will take all season long), but she also demonstrated an array of scoring skills (quick dribble for a pull-up J; driving to the basket and using the glass; spot-up mid-range jumper). She took one bad shot (got blocked on a spin move in the paint and had trouble passing out of a double team in the corner, but she scored 10 crucial points in the first half and had a few nice assists in the second half. More importantly, she helped Duke build its lead when Alana Beard went out of the game