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A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Breaking down UConn/Duke game

Dynamic shooters Tricia Liston and Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis could
play significant roles in tonight's UConn/Duke showdown
It's the game many people have been waiting for as the top two teams, at least according to those who vote in the polls, will square off tonight at Cameron Indoor Stadium.

The results of the recent games, including last year's second-half blitz by the Huskies resulting in a 30-point victory, will mean nothing as long as the Duke players don't allow any sense of doubt to creep into their minds.

Here are my keys to the game
Are Mosqueda-Lewis and Tuck ready? Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis and Morgan Tuck, two of more skilled offensive players on the UConn team, returned to practice last week and both are expected to play. It will be interesting to see how much time the two of them get. Just judging by the short sample I have to go by (the last 15-20 minutes of Sunday's practice) Tuck was out there moving around without restriction while Mosqueda-Lewis watched from the sidelines so perhaps Tuck is a little further along but I guess we will find out tonight. I am not expecting either of them to play monster minutes as they've been out for a while but they both change the way opponents have to play the Huskies.

Can Duke turn over the Huskies: When Duke is at its best the Blue Devils are trapping and wreaking havoc as Chelsea Gray has 32 steals and Alexis Jones 27 in 10 games this season. However, three of the Huskies' primary ball handlers have more than twice as many assists as turnovers including Bria Hartley's impressive 56 assists to 19 turnovers. Duke gets nearly 30 points a game off opponent's turnovers but UConn foes have managed a total of 54 points off turnovers through the first 10 games.

Who controls the paint? Duke gets 45 points in the paint per game, UConn has outscored its opponents 464-160 in the paint including a 48-10 advantage in the only other game this season against an ACC opponent (Maryland). If Duke can hold its own in this department, things could get interesting. It should be noted that UConn is only a plus nine in the offensive rebounding department so perhaps the Blue Devils can extend possessions with some aggressiveness on the offensive glass.

Who guards Breanna Stewart? You'd have to think that Duke All-American candidate Elizabeth Williams has a chance to play UConn's Stefanie Dolson pretty even if she can stay on the court as Williams has had a serious issue with foul trouble this season. However, what will the Blue Devils do against Stewart. Although Duke is likely to play zone, its probable starting lineup does leave a pair of 6-footers Haley Peters and Tricia Liston. Top reserve Richa Jackson is also four inches shorter than Stewart but might be the best option among the veteran Duke players. It will be interesting to see if freshmen Oderah Chidom and Kendall Cooper get extended minutes to try to disrupt Stewart.

Defending the 3: I would have to think pretty high up on UConn's defensive plan of action would be to limit Tricia Liston's open looks from the perimeter. The senior is in the midst of a spectacular season and her 3-point numbers are simply staggering as she is shooting 53 percent (31 for 56) from long distance and Duke is shooting nearly 44 percent from 3-point range. Liston played 24 minutes in last year's game, attempted one shot and no 3-pointers. I'm pretty certain those numbers will go up substantially tonight. UConn has done an exceptional job defending the 3 this season as opponents are shooting just 25 percent from there this season but the Huskies will be tested as Chelsea Gray is an outstanding floor leader who finds ways to get her teammates good looks at the basket.


Blogger JC said...

Tonight's game will be the 5th time Liston has played in a Duke/UConn game. In the previous 4 games, Liston has scored a total of 9 points. She has struggled against UConn because they have not allowed her to be open and get her feet set. She's also a defensive liability. We'll see tonight if that changes. I don't think Duke can win if she has another sub-par offensive game.

1:00 PM 

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