"We're just really looking forward to the opportunity," Goestenkors said. "I think it's going to be just a tremendous experience for our entire team. … We're going to have to play with extreme poise."
Duke is 5-1 on the season, including victories over Penn State, 66-58, and most recently, Kansas State, 63-51, in the Junkanoo Jam in the Bahamas. The one loss came at Notre Dame, 76-65, in the Preseason WNIT.
Tennessee is 4-1, having lost to Texas and squeezed past Temple in its last two games. Coach Pat Summitt replaced two starters against Temple and likely will adjust her lineup against Duke. Most notably, senior Shyra Ely could move from the perimeter and return to the power forward position. Brittany Jackson would stay at the small forward position, and Sidney Spencer would start at center. The backcourt would remain the same with Loree Moore and Shanna Zolman.
"I don't know yet," Summitt said Monday after practice. "That's a possibility. We're going to wait until Wednesday (to decide). I've got to watch some tape in the next two days, just figure out what our best match-up would be."
Ely, who started this season at the small forward position, played more at the power forward spot Sunday because Jackson was at the 3. Ely played at the 4 for three years before shifting to the perimeter this year. She hasn't had many practice repetitions at the power forward position so she worked out with the post players Monday in group drills. Summitt said she would play Ely at both spots, depending on player combinations.
"We're getting her the ball a lot in the paint," Summitt said. "I thought she had some great post ups (against Temple). She said she had not had the reps there this year (in practice). I said, ‘Let's get you some reps.' "
One player who should see action early is freshman center Sybil Dosty, who has played limited but very effective minutes. She is 11-12 from the field and has scored 22 points in only 33 minutes of play this season.
Against Temple she played nine minutes and scored eight points on 3-3 shooting. She also had three rebounds.
"When Dosty was in there I thought we executed very well," Summitt said.
Dosty was on the receiving end of two baskets generated by Tennessee's smothering full-court press as the first half wound down.
"Sybil did very, very well for us," junior guard Shanna Zolman said. "She came in and gave us a huge lift offensively. I think our press really disturbed them. We did a very good job executing that, and she was running the floor very well. … She got some easy quick buckets for us that really shifted the momentum going into halftime."
Dosty, a 6'3 center from Tucson, was the Gatorade player of the year in Arizona. She averaged 21.7 points a game in high school but knew there would be a big leap from Salpointe Catholic to SEC play.
"It hasn't been an easy adjustment I have to say," Dosty said. "At practice I'm starting to get more (used) to the tempo of the game. That's really what I had to adjust to. But finishing shots, that's just been something that I've tried to do and that's been my focus. When you have a shot, especially in the post, you have to make it. You're right there at the basket."
Dosty has soft hands and excellent footwork. Dosty said she learned the fundamentals of shooting and shifting in the paint in high school, but now needs to get her feet to speed up in college.
"The tempo of the game was the biggest adjustment, being efficient quickly is probably the hardest thing," Dosty said.
The lack of production overall at the post position has hurt the perimeter players, Summitt said, because they are overanxious and pressing too hard. Tye'sha Fluker, a junior center, lost her starting position against Temple.
"We need for Tye to play a bigger role," Summitt said. "I expect more out of her, and she expects more from herself. Absolutely we're counting on her to help us."
Dosty said her focus when she gets in the game against Duke would be to defend in the post.
"We have to defend the ball," she said. "On the offensive end I have to get into the paint and make some good moves and get some baskets for us."
Goestenkors and Summitt both find themselves trying to mesh a core of returning players with talented newcomers.
Duke's highly touted freshman, Chante Black, has suffered two injuries – a gash to the forehead that took 11 stitches to close in the game against Davidson and a sprained ankle against South Florida. Black missed two weeks of practice and two games but returned for Kansas State, where she played 14 minutes and, although she didn't score, had five rebounds. Black, a 6'5 forward from Winston-Salem, N.C., is near full speed, Goestenkors said, and will be available in a reserve role against Tennessee. Black tied a school record with 27 rebounds in her first two games.
Duke will be without its junior point guard, Lindsey Harding, who was suspended indefinitely Nov. 3 for a violation of team rules. Since it is finals week, Harding will not travel with the team to Knoxville, Goestenkors said.
Freshman Wanisha Smith, a 5'11 guard from Upper Marlboro, Md., starts at the point for the Blue Devils. Jessica Foley, a 6-foot junior from Australia, who hit the game winning three-pointer against UConn last season, joins Smith in the backcourt.
The other three starters are expected to be Mistie Williams, a 6'3 junior forward from Janesville, Wis.; Alison Bales, a 6'7 sophomore center from Dayton, Ohio; and Monique Currie, a 6-foot forward from Washington, D.C., and player of the year candidate. Currie, who missed the 2002-03 season with a torn ACL in her left knee, is a junior in eligibility but a senior academically. She can return next year if she chooses.
Currie has had to step into the leadership role for the Blue Devils, which lost All-Americans Alana Beard and Iciss Tillis. Last year, Currie was "watching and waiting and letting others sets the tone," Goestenkors said. "She's really stepped up and attacked the basket. She's becoming a great leader for us."
Currie had 25 points and eight rebounds against Kansas State and was named MVP of the tournament in the Bahamas. She also earned player of the week honors in the ACC.
Duke has nine players available for the Tennessee game, and Goestenkors noted "we just don't have much depth anymore." She also is bringing a relatively young team to Knoxville.
"I'm waiting for the light to come on," she said. "We see glimmers, but sometimes it's really dim."
Goestenkors added, "We're still trying to find out who plays best together. I don't think it matters who starts."
She agreed her situation more or less mirrors that of Tennessee, where Summitt is trying to find the right combinations of players. The Lady Vols have struggled to score, and Summitt has streamlined the offense to help her team.
"They're trying to implement the Princeton offense," Goestenkors said of Tennessee. "It takes awhile. ... They're trying to get comfortable with each other. It's just a matter of it all coming together."
Goestenkors hope Tennessee waits until after Thursday to solidify its offense, but regardless she, like Summitt, welcomes an early-season contest between two top teams.
"We'd love a win at this point in time," she said. "If we don't win it's not the end of the world. I think Pat feels the same way."
Summitt does. She was excited Monday after practice and looked forward to gauging her team's progress.
Duke will have revenge on its mind. The Blue Devils were ranked No. 1 last season when Tennessee beat them, 72-69, in Durham at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Prior to that game, the contests were played at neutral sites.
LOCKWOOD'S LOOK: Tennessee assistant coach Dean Lockwood is preaching patience for the coaching staff after the Temple game. The assistant coaches sometimes look as frustrated on the bench as the players do on the court. The team is young and is still learning the "concepts" and "details" of the offense, he said.
"When we suffer in those areas our play reflects it," Lockwood said. "We watched the tape as a staff. We got good looks. We're not converting those looks. We've got to make lay-ups and free throws. When our shooters get good open looks and our scorers get the kind of shots they normally get, we have to convert. Hubie Brown used to say that shooting makes up for a multitude of sins. That is so true. Lack of shooting also exposes a multitude of sins."
Summitt has pared the offense to some specific plays, and the coaching staff is drilling the players in both repetition and learning laboratory style.
While drilling the post players Monday, Lockwood repeatedly shouted that they were not tired. He was trying to keep a somewhat fatigued team focused. The Lady Vols took off Tuesday.
"Not to use an excuse but just to be very frank and looking at our schedule, I think where we've been and the games and the set number of dates, I think there's probably a certain degree that's taxed them a little bit," Lockwood said. "Once again it's early, but we all know as a season goes forward and wounds down and we're in SEC or NCAA tournament play, we're going to have a lot of games in a short window of time so we have to be used to doing this. We can't use that as a crutch."
Freshman Sybil Dosty speaks from the benefit of youth and boundless energy but agreed that first-year players have a lot to adjust to in terms of academics and road trips.
"We have school as well," Dosty said. "We have to stay up on our schoolwork and basketball, and we're traveling at the same time. Definitely it wears on you, but you have to adjust to it and get used to. It's been fun at the same time."
Her mood was no doubt brightened at Texas, because her parents were able to make it to Austin from their home in Tucson.
"That's pretty much our closest game to where I live," she said. "It was good to see them. It's weird not to have my parents at all my games. Having them there at Texas was really great. That made it a lot easier having them there for support."
Dosty played eight minutes against Texas and scored eight points on 4-5 shooting. She also had two offensive rebounds.
Her parents, Sybil and Robbie Dosty, will be watching the Duke game on television Thursday.
STALEY'S SUCCESS: Dawn Staley is from Philadelphia, one of the country's coaching cradles. She was the national player of the year at Dobbins Tech High School before going on to star at Virginia, which she led to three Final Four appearances and one runner-up finish in 1991 when Tennessee won the title. Staley has three Olympic Gold Medals (1996, 2000 and 2004) and has played in the WNBA for the Charlotte Sting since 1999.
Staley is in her fifth year at Temple and has compiled a 77-49 record. The Owls won the conference last year and are favored to do so again this year. She was the 2004 Atlantic 10 Conference Coach of the Year. Her good work is not limited to the court. She also created the Dawn Staley Foundation, which offers after-school programs, summer leagues and academic and athletic support to Philly's inner-city children.
"I'm not doing anything that I'm not used to doing," Staley said when asked how she turned around the Temple program so quickly. "I work hard at everything I've accomplished, and I just try to instill that into our players. Continue to work hard, continue to work smart, and good things will come your way."
Staley said in the post-game press conference after the Tennessee-Temple game – which the Owls came so close to winning – that she wants to create at Temple what Summitt has accomplished at Tennessee. That's why she called Summitt and asked to play.
"To get the experience of playing a Pat Summitt-coached team is always going to help you," Staley said.
Duke coach Gail Goestenkors said she wasn't surprised by how well Temple played in Knoxville and said it reflects the parity in women's basketball brought about by better coaches – she cited Staley for an example – and deeper pools of talent.
"I still think there's an upper echelon of teams, but there is much more parity," she said.
"For me, it's a dream … dream about playing here since I picked up a basketball. We can compete with anybody. I know that might sound a little cocky coming from the losing end right now. We're trying to build something special at Temple University. We're trying to build it with a great leader and coach. We'll be back. We're going to get somebody, maybe not tonight, but somebody." -Temple forward Ari Moore after the 52-48 loss to Tennessee. Her statement was made with both respect for Tennessee and the promise that Temple would be a team to contend with soon on the national level.
"I'd like to thank Pat for giving us the opportunity. We called different schools to get games for our kids to get exposed to this type of basketball. She's in the game for the right reasons. She does things for the right reasons. I'm glad that she gave us this opportunity because our kids wouldn't know different levels of basketball, especially SEC basketball." -Temple coach Dawn Staley
"You have to. You have to challenge your kids each and every opportunity. For us being in the Atlantic 10 we have a challenging conference, but to play the Number Ones in the country only gives us experience to go into our conference with a lot more basketball knowledge." -Staley on why she schedules tough teams like Tennessee, which was ranked No. 1. Temple played LSU, now ranked No. 1, earlier in the season.
"Whether it's No. 1 or No. 100 I hope our kids continue to fight and put Temple University on the map. We're trying to do something special. We're trying to create this type of atmosphere right in North Philadelphia. If we keep playing games like this and get opportunities like this, one day it won't be all orange. It'll be cherry." -Staley on what she is trying to accomplish at Temple. The Owls official colors are cherry and white.
"I put myself in that position so I had to handle it to the best of my ability. The main thing was to be in that support system on the bench for the people that were starting and then when I got into the game just to do what I didn't do that got me not starting in the first place." -Tennessee senior forward Shyra Ely on how she handled the loss of her starting position against Temple. She started the second half and is expected to start against Duke.
"Well, she put herself in that position. I thought she responded well, gave a lot of energy, communicated well with her teammates." -Tennessee coach Pat Summitt on Ely's reaction.
"They're one of the greatest programs in the country. They're always prepared. It's not about a person, it's about their program." -Duke coach Gail Goestenkors on what she has learned playing against Tennessee.
"We're not changing that. I do like it. I do." -Summitt on the removal of the names from the back of Tennessee's jerseys this year, a program first.