What The Devil?

By Jeff Lippman - November 29, 2007

The year started off so promising for Duke. What happened?

Playing through an injury to Abby Waner, the No. 11 Blue Devils reeled off three wins to start the year, two coming over NCAA Tournament teams in Purdue and Temple.

But just as quickly as they won three straight, two consecutive losses have been added to their record.

First No. 2 Connecticut beat Duke in the U.S. Virgin Islands at the Paradise Jam. And what a beating it was, with the Huskies winning 74-48.

In their latest defeat, against No. 23 Vanderbilt, a team depleted from departures off last year's roster, the Blue Devils got trounced by 13 points.

Both losses came away from Durham, and both came with the All-American junior Waner back in the lineup. But Waner has been more of a detriment than a help, as she is still hobbled and it shows as she's shooting just under 26 percent from the field in three games and only averaging 8.3 ppg.

But Duke shouldn't fret. They'll be back playing solid basketball in no time.

Of course, they do have to watch out for No. 5 Rutgers, who they host on Dec. 6 at Cameron Indoor.

That game will be a rematch of the heartbreaking loss Duke suffered in the NCAA Tournament's Sweet 16 last year when Lindsey Harding missed the free throws that would have tied the game for the Blue Devils, propelling Rutgers to go on a run to the national title game.

A win and everyone forgets about their two latest gaffes, a loss and Duke drops to 4-3 (assuming they can take care of Penn State on Dec. 2). Coach Joanne P. McCallie does not want to be 4-3.

Abby Waner will be back to her old self in no time. Freshman Jasmine Thomas will put it together and start making her shots. Chante Black and Joy Cheek will settle into their roles as dominating post players. Freshman Krystal Thomas will learn how to play center in the ACC. And Wanisha Smith will break out of her terrible slump.

When that happens, watch out because McCallie's Blue Devils will be a tough team to beat. Until then, get your kicks in now.

Posted by Jeff Lippman at 05:29 PM on November 29, 2007

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