Duke adjusting to life without Gray as Tar Heels come to town

Mar. 02, 2013 @ 10:30 PM

A fourth consecutive ACC regular-season championship and the No. 1 seed for next week’s ACC Tournament that comes with it, is in the bag for No. 5 Duke.

No. 15 North Carolina, after missing the NCAA Tournament last season, has ensured that painful experience won’t be repeated this month.

When the fierce rivals meet in women’s basketball today (4 p.m., ESPN2) at Cameron Indoor Stadium, though, the intensity still figures to be solid as ever.

The Blue Devils (26-2 overall, 16-1 in the ACC) are learning to play without injured point guard Chelsea Gray, the all-American candidate lost for the season to a knee injury two weeks ago.

Duke won its first two games without Gray, at home over No. 24 Florida State and at No. 9 Maryland, but lost 69-65 at unranked Miami on Thursday night.

Regaining the confidence it had gained by opening the season with 16 consecutive wins, even though it no longer has Gray, hasn’t been easy for the Blue Devils.

“We’re a December team when everybody else is March,” coach Joanne P. McCallie said. “That doesn’t come that quickly. There haven’t been enough games and game experiences. We’re getting comfortable, like, we’re figuring things out together as a team, but this isn’t like magic. ... I just think it’s a process. This is not an overnight deal.”

UNC (26-4, 14-3) sits firmly in second place in the ACC standings, one game ahead of Maryland heading into the final day of the regular season. No matter what happens today, Duke and UNC have first-round byes for the ACC Tournament. They’ll each play their first postseason games on Friday at the Greensboro Coliseum.

But the Tar Heels were run over by Duke, 84-63, when the teams first met this season, back on Feb. 3 at Carmichael Arena in Chapel Hill.

“I hope it’s more competitive than that last game,” UNC coach Sylvia Hatchell said. “In the second half, we played pretty good but that first half ... was pretty terrible. We’ll see what happens.”

Hatchell said her team, for the most part, lack competitiveness against Duke. The lone example, she said, came from an unlikely source, freshman forward Xylina McDaniel.

“The most fierce spirit that we had on that court that night was Xylina,” Hatchell said.

“Xylina has the most competitive spirit out there on the court — maybe it’s because she was a freshman; she didn’t know better. I don’t what it is, but she loves to compete.”

McDaniel leads all ACC freshmen in scoring (12.8) and rebounding (7.2) per game. She said playing on the road hasn’t been intimidating this season.

Teammate Tierra Ruffin-Pratt, sitting nearby when McDaniel said that, interjected, ““She hasn’t been to Duke yet.”

McDaniel said admitted being nervous about her first game at Cameron Indoor Stadium. But she’s not sure how the crowd, expected to be a sell out, will affect her.

“I don’t know how I’m going to take it,” McDaniel said. “I don’t know. We’ll see.”

Duke looks to increase its defensive intensity after a lackluster performance at Miami. The Blue Devils had only four steals, their lowest single-game total in McCallie’s six seasons as their coach.

Gray, who won’t return this season, was the ACC leader in steals at 3.6 per game.

“‘Chelsea will get six steals in a game like that and turn it around,” Duke junior forward Haley Peters said. “Everyone sitting back and waiting for Chelsea to do something is not something we can afford.”

Today is Duke’s final chance before the postseason to show it can be as strong without Gray.

— Sports Editor Jimmy DuPree contributed to this article.

DUKE'S LAST GAME ...

MIAMI 69, No. 5 DUKE 65
    FG FT Reb
DUKE Min M-A M-A O-T A PF PTS
Williams 34 8-11 1-2 2-6 2 3 17
Jones 36 4-11 3-6 1-5 6 2 13
Jackson 30 3-7 0-0 2-5 1 2 7
Liston 30 3-9 2-2 0-1 1 0 8
Peters 36 7-13 3-4 1-9 0 3 17
Wells 20 1-2 0-0 0-6 1 2 2
Johnson 3 0-0 0-0 1-2 0 1 0
Vernerey 11 0-2 1-2 0-1 2 2 1
Totals 200 26-55 10-16 9-40 13 15 65

Percentages: FG .473, FT .625.

3-Point Goals: 3-13, .231 (Jones 2-3, Jackson 1-2, Wells 0-1, Peters 0-2, Liston 0-5).

Team Rebounds: 5.

Blocked Shots: 7 (Peters 3, Williams 3, Vernerey).

Turnovers: 19 (Peters 5, Williams 4, Jones 3, Jackson 2, Liston 2, Johnson 2, Wells).

Steals: 4 (Williams 2, Wells, Jackson).

Technical Fouls: None.

    FG FT
MIAMI Min M-A M-A O-T A PF PTS
Yderstrom 37 5-18 3-4 1-5 4 3 16
Saunders 35 3-8 7-10 0-1 1 1 15
Stroman 26 3-9 5-6 2-6 1 2 11
McGuire 24 2-6 3-4 2-3 3 4 7
Wilson 29 8-16 0-0 4-12 1 2 16
Woods 15 1-4 0-0 2-3 2 3 2
Hayes 12 1-2 0-0 1-2 1 0 2
Brown 22 0-4 0-0 2-4 2 2 0
Totals 200 23-67 18-24 17-40 15 17 69

Percentages: FG .343, FT .750.

3-Point Goals: 5-16, .313 (Yderstrom 3-9, Saunders 2-5, McGuire 0-1, Brown 0-1).

Team Rebounds: 4.

Blocked Shots: 3 (Saunders, Hayes, McGuire).

Turnovers: 10 (Stroman 4, Woods 2, McGuire, Hayes, Wilson, Brown).

Steals: 12 (McGuire 3, Stroman 2, Brown 2, Wilson 2, Yderstrom 2, Hayes).

Technical Fouls: None.

Duke 30 35—65
Miami 33 36—69

A—1,368.

Officials—Susan Blauch, Joseph Vaszily, Jules Gallien.

UNC'S LAST GAME ...

No. 15 NORTH CAROLINA 85, BOSTON COLLEGE 57
    FG FT
BOSTON COLLEGE Min M-A M-A O-T A PF PTS
Doherty 30 4-18 0-1 2-4 1 4 9
Zenevitch 25 5-7 3-6 1-3 2 4 13
Boudreau 31 3-8 0-0 0-1 1 1 8
Shields 29 3-11 2-2 0-4 1 2 10
Holt 20 1-6 4-5 0-5 4 3 7
Ruffin 20 0-0 2-4 0-5 4 3 2
Coulombe 24 2-3 0-0 1-2 1 3 4
Brown 19 2-4 0-0 0-0 0 3 4
Lesko 2 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0
Totals 200 20-57 11-18 6-29 14 23 57

Percentages: FG .351, FT .611.

3-Point Goals: 6-22, .273 (Boudreau 2-6, Shields 2-8, Holt 1-2, Doherty 1-5, Zenevitch 0-1).

Team Rebounds: 5.

Blocked Shots: 3 (Coulombe 2, Doherty).

Turnovers: 23 (Boudreau 4, Holt 3, Brown 3, Ruffin 3, Shields 3, Doherty 3, Coulombe 2, Zenevitch 2).

Steals: 10 (Doherty 3, Brown 2, Ruffin 2, Boudreau, Zenevitch, Holt).

Technical Fouls: None.

    FG FT Reb
NORTH CAROLINA Min M-A M-A O-T A PF PTS
Gross 28 2-5 3-4 1-7 1 3 7
McDaniel 24 2-4 2-3 0-9 1 3 6
Rolle 25 8-12 4-5 2-6 0 2 21
Rountree 28 5-9 1-1 2-2 2 2 13
Ruffin-Pratt 26 5-12 10-12 1-6 4 3 20
Butts 22 4-5 1-2 2-4 3 4 9
Coleman 19 1-6 2-2 0-3 2 3 4
Buckland 15 1-5 0-1 0-3 0 1 2
Johnson 7 0-3 1-2 2-3 1 0 1
Bryant 6 1-2 0-0 0-1 0 0 2
Totals 200 29-63 24-32 11-46 14 21 85

Percentages: FG .460, FT .750.

3-Point Goals: 3-13, .231 (Rountree 2-5, Rolle 1-1, Coleman 0-1, Gross 0-2, Buckland 0-4).

Team Rebounds: 2.

Blocked Shots: 6 (Rolle 3, McDaniel, Ruffin-Pratt, Gross).

Turnovers: 16 (McDaniel 4, Butts 3, Gross 3, Ruffin-Pratt 2, Rountree, Johnson, Rolle, Coleman).

Steals: 18 (McDaniel 5, Coleman 3, Ruffin-Pratt 3, Gross 2, Rolle 2, Buckland, Butts, Rountree).

Technical Fouls: McDaniel.

Boston College 21 36—57
North Carolina 40 45—85

A—2,631.

Officials—Bryan Brunette, Kathleen Lynch, Luis Gonzalez.