NCAA Notebook: Advantage goes to freshman Alexis Jones
Before Sunday’s Norfolk Regional semifinal, the element of experience at the point guard position had to favor Nebraska senior Lindsey Moore over Duke freshman Alexis Jones.
So much for conventional wisdom.
Jones did finish with seven turnovers to only one by Moore, but that’s an example of statistics not telling the story.
Jones finished with 14 points, nine rebounds and six assists in leading the Blue Devils to a 53-45 victory to earn a berth in the regional final against Notre Dame on Tuesday (7 p.m., ESPN).
“I loved her game; I loved the ball in her hands because she can make so many good decisions,” Duke coach Joanne P. McCallie said. “She did have seven turnovers, and that’s that freshman point guard at this level.
“I’m OK with that because she doesn’t over-do it. She’s a pretty crafty kid.”
Jones got to display how crafty late in the game when the Cornhuskers were attempting a full-court press, and she repeatedly dribbled through traps before setting up the offense in the halfcourt.
“It’s part of just trying to take care of the ball,” Jones said. “I know when I’m getting trapped and everybody’s running, you can easily turn over the ball pretty fast.
“I had a lot of turnovers this game, so I was just trying to keep the ball in my hands. More of my turnovers are (about) trying to make the right decision, ... taking my time and being really poised.”
Moore finished with 11 points, six assists and four turnovers. But her 5-of-18 shooting, including 1 of 8 from 3 point range, was well off her season averages of 15.2 points and 47.8 percent from the floor.
“She handled it very well and had great poise,” McCallie said of Jones. “She got familiar with the floor and what things were looking like.
“Defensively, they’re very good. They do a lot of nice things on help side that take away some lanes, and you really have to be clever — and I thought she was. I thought she won the battle of being clever.”
PARDON THE INTERRUPTION
Duke was rolling along with a 40-32 lead in the second half, then came a media timeout with 7:53 left.
You didn’t have to be a lip reader to understand McCallie’s reaction when she was pulled aside for an interview with ESPN2 sideline reporter Jeannie Edwards.
“ I’m like, ‘Now?’” McCallie said. “They warned me about it (beforehand); it was just funny. (I’ll do) anything we can to promote women’s basketball. ... It was just funny.
“It’s just a funny that you’re in ... game mode, you’re coaching in game mode and then there’s this interview. I’m like, ‘Now?’ I just couldn’t compute it.”
McCallie said she hopes the interview went well.
“ESPN does such a great job with women’s basketball — covering, promoting — and we want to do our part,” McCallie said. “As coaches, we agree to many, many things and that was one of them. I was amazed.”
Would she prefer wearing a microphone so sideline instructions could be broadcast?
“Oh no,” she said. “I think that kills the game. I think that the interviews are probably a good idea. ...
“Coaches sound dumb a lot (during a game). It’s better to get some pointed questions, and then you can get insight.”
THE LEARNING CURVE
Again and again, Duke junior Richa Jackson found herself not closely guarded by the Cornhuskers.
So she shot, and missed. And shot, and missed. A pattern that repeated on nine out of 11 shots.
“So here she is, they’re leaving her open,” McCallie said in explanation. “It’s one thing when you command on offense; it’s another thing if you react to what somebody else is doing.
“She reacted to being left open and took whatever shot instead of just getting in the flow of things. Richa’s a great player; I have no concerns about that. She had to go through that. She has to learn from experience, and she learned a great deal of lessons today in that regard.”