An Assesment Of Duke

TAMPA - Well, Duke's good. But are they that good?

Truly, the jury is still out on these Blue Devils, who are young, and who played without star All-American candidate Abby Waner due to a tweaked ankle - an ankle that in a massive air cast looked a lot worse than a tweak.

Duke was able to do pretty much anything they pleased against an outworked and overmatched USF team that falls to 1-1 on the season after the 89-52 spanking at the hands of the Blue Devils. I bet Bethune Cookman didn't have athletes like Duke.

But without Waner, the Blue Devils did look sluggish at times. And although they were simply dominant in the post - they could do anything they wanted against the smaller Bulls, who had their center foul out just as the second half was getting started.

They didn't start their two freshman, the Thomas girls, Krystal and Jasmie, but they definitely looked better off with them in the lineup.

It was obvious that they missed Waner, and her sister Emily was no substitute, but it didn't matter on this night.

Duke's Chante Black will be a superstar for them this season, and with the freshman 6-foot-4 Thomas and Joy Cheek, Duke will have a lot of size. But as their only viable point guard, Jasmine Thomas, is also just a frosh, there will be a learning curve.

Duke does not have a suitable ball handler outside of Thomas.

Leading the Blue Devils in scoring tonight was Black, who had 16 points to go with 11 rebounds and two blocks. The other inside presence for Duke, Cheek, had 15 points.

J. Thomas finished with six points, five assists, four blocks and four steals for the Devils who will look to her more and more as the season wears on.

Leading the way for USF was Shantia Grace with 12 points.

Duke was excited to play this game at the St. Pete Times Forum, the host of the Final Four in April, because as they said after the game at the press conference, it gave them a good feel for their surroundings.

But would they stick around to watch the Vols and Sooners, two teams they will most likely have to go through at some point this season? Nope, they'll head home said Black, they have lots of schoolwork.

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