Duke's Rubber Glove

By Jeff Lippman - February 19, 2007


She's the best player on the best team in the country. Duke's Lindsey Harding is like rapidly aging fine wine, she gets better with each game she plays.

The senior point guard is a black hole on the defensive end, if she didn't score a single point, she'd still be Duke's most important player.

Shay Doron and Kristi Toliver know it. Candace Parker found out, too. Ivory Latta became so frustrated during her game against Harding that the usually very outspoken All-American was speechless. Harding has been doing that to the game's best players all year--her entire career.

An All-American candidate herself, Harding has earned that reputation, although at times she's overshadowed on her own team. Duke has All-American candidate and female version of J.J. Redick in sophomore Abby Waner. The Devils boast 6-foot-7 shotblocker extraordinaire Alison Bales--who, together with Harding make scoring against Duke next to impossible.

Waner's threes and Bales' rejections aside, Duke would be nowhere without Harding.

After watching Harding play you wonder, "What is the knock on this girl?" She can do everything. For Duke, she is everything. If Gary Payton is the Glove, Harding is like a rubber glove, tight, form-fitting, never letting her defender beat her off the dribble.

As she's proven countless times already, Harding is not just the penultimate defender, she's one heck of a scorer too.

Leading the Blue Devils in scoring at 14.4 points per game, I ask again, where is the soft-spoken guard's faults? Does she turn the ball over? Considering the ball is always in her hands, a measley two turnovers per game is an excellent ratio.

Can she dish the rock? Sure, she leads the team in that category. I could go on.

Bottomline, the senior can do it all, and that was never as apparent as after Sunday's game against Maryland in College Park.

The Rubber Glove, the All-American Intimidator, the shutdown, turn-out-the-lights-the party's-over defender held the Terp guards, Shay Doron and Kristi Toliver--Toliver of last year's buzzer-beating overtime-inducing three pointer to sink the Blue Devils' chances of winning a national championship--to just 16 combined points on 7-for-20 shooting and 2-11 from long range.

She's brilliance in black and blue--Duke's uni colors, not like the bruises she gave the Terps' egos all night--as her lockdown defense severely hindered the vaunted Maryland scoring attack, she also almost single handedly won the game on offense.

Scoring 29 points, a career high, makes sense for Harding, who only gets better as the stakes get higher. Her team needed her to score, so she scored. Waner, Duke's second leading scorer--although she is considered more of a scorer than Harding, why? I don't know--had an awful night, finishing with a goose egg on 0-for-4 shooting.

If she wanted, she could score 20 a game, but that is what makes Duke and Harding so special. They are a team without a flashy superstar, they are a team, plain and simple. And Harding is the final piece of the puzzle, the glue that holds it together and the mount on which it's prominently displayed.

After thoroughly dominating the defending national champs on their home court, Maryland coach Brenda Frese said it best.

"If Lindsey Harding isn't player of the year, I don't know who will be," Frese said. "She has stepped up big against every opponent they have played. We had a game plan to contain her but she did a tremendous job."

Courtney Paris, Candace Parker, Crystal Langhorne all have more years to achieve it and Ivory Latta won one last year.

But this is the year of the Blue Devils, Duke is No. 1 and they appear unstoppable in their quest for a national championship. That is all thanks to the 2006-07 Player of the Year-to-be Lindsey Harding.

Posted by Jeff Lippman at 10:15 AM on February 19, 2007
Comments (1)

Comments

Your article is really, really neat! We are so very fortunate to have been able to watch Lindsay play through her time at Duke and to have occasion to visit with her after games and at end-of-year banquet. She is not only a great basketball player but an awesome person off-court - quiet-spoken, unassuming, totally modest and sincere. She gives a great deal of her extra time volunteering with the special olympic kids in the area. It is good to see, through your article and others, that her talents are recognized beyond our little community. Thanks, Jeff!

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