Duke-UConn: The Belief In The Power Of “Self”

by Categorized: ACC, Big East women's basketball, duke women's basketball, Gampel Pavilion, Geno Auriemma, Joanne P. McCallie, UConn women's basketball, USA Basketball Date:

Many programs aspire to be great. Some reach the intersection, get stuck in traffic, grow frustrated and decide it’s easier to just turn and settle for good.

One of the talking points UConn has always used to define its winning way is how it perceives itself heading into big games. The Huskies simply believe success rests more in how they perform than how their opponent does.

Does it work? UConn has played in the last five Final Fours and won seven national championships since 1995. What do you think?

No. 4 Duke is currently the nation’s only unbeaten team (16-0). Two years ago, with a vastly different team and 20-0 record, the Blue Devils came to Gampel Pavilion and left on the tail end of a staggering 36-point loss.

“I don’t know, maybe that’s what happens when you don’t see a lot of each other,” Geno Auriemma said. “I was really shocked by that game (87-51). I never expected that. And then it happened again in the Eastern regional in Trenton [where UConn won, 75-40]. You just don’t expect that. But Maya [Moore] had that impact on many teams.”

In fact, over the last three seasons, the Blue Devils have lost four straight to UConn by  margins of 33, 36, 35 and 16. And two of those defeats have come at Cameron Indoor Arena by an average of 24.5 points.

Make no mistake; Duke has designs on greatness. But when it comes to UConn, the road to the throne has been paved with nails.

“We aspire to be at a place where it is all about Duke, more about what we do than the opponent,” Duke coach Joanne P. McCallie said. “But we are not there yet. “

Monday, the Blue Devils get another chance when they play the No. 3 Huskies at Gampel Pavilion. And they will do so with the understanding that there is still much to prove.

“We’re just kind of in our world, trying to get better, recognizing that there’s a lot of great teams out there,” McCallie said last week. “It hasn’t been anything that anyone’s really thought about. To me, that kind of stuff is banquet material, end-of-year stuff, not during-year stuff.”

The Blue Devils are stacked again, seemingly with an answer to every issue UConn can present. They have elite players in the post [sophomore Elizabeth Williams] and on the wings [Chelsea Gray and Tricia Liston]. They also lead the nation in three-point shooting, draining treys at a rate of 43.2 percent.

“They are undefeated and you can point to Elizabeth Williams as one of the reason,” Auriemma said. “But Chelsea Gray is really, really good in the open court. She can make a lot of plays for her teammates. And Tricia Liston has become more of a go-to offensive player. She is so solid, kind of like their Kelly [Faris]. She does the little things they need and she makes shots when she is open. They are pretty well-balanced team.”

They have laid waste to just about every opponent, winning their games by an average of 30.8, second only to UConn’s 36.5. And they’ve allowed an average of just a tad (48.2) less than the Huskies (47.5) to be scored against them this season.

But how it all will work against UConn is still to be determined. Gray said the loss at Gampel in 2011 still resonates.

“It was one of the roughest film sessions we’ve had,” Gray said. “I never want to walk away from that feeling. I remember that feeling still to this day.”

Of course, the UConn players are also aware of how psychology plays into pregame hype.

“I would probably think they are using [the defeats] to motivate themselves,” said UConn center Stefanie Dolson, who scored a career-high 25 points in Saturday’s win over Syracuse to become the 36th player in program history to surpass 1,000 career points (1,017). “And they would use it to fuel their whether they lost or just didn’t play very well.”

Dolson is just one of many UConn players who have also been teammates with Williams and Duke guard Alexis Jones in USA Basketball, which just adds to the special dynamic of the game.

Williams, a former UConn recruit, is a shot-blocking force with a pre-med mind.

“She is a very good post,” UConn’s Breanna Stewart said. “She can go to the basket with either hand. She can also hit from 15 [feet] if you give her the chance. But at the same time, she’s a pretty big defensive force, too.”

What it will likely come down to is belief and execution, as it usually always does. McCallie is taking nothing for granted.

“You get a bunch of dominos and you’re trying to knock them down,” McCallie said. “You treat every game the same and you just try to get better after every game. There’s no level of satisfaction except there is an excitement to keep going.”


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11 thoughts on “Duke-UConn: The Belief In The Power Of “Self”

  1. UConn Statistics

    Doty has shot 2 FT in 67 FGA in 283 minutes.
    Buck has shot 2 FT in 10 FGA in 74 minutes.

    Stokes has 17 Blocks in 140 minutes.
    Stewart has 25 Block in 332 minutes.
    Dolson has 21 Blocks in 462 minutes.

    Why the complaints about FT disparity?
    UConn has shot 253 FT.
    Opponents have shot 238 FT.

    UConn has shot 414 3PT in 17 games.
    24 3PT attempts per game with hardly a chance of FTA.

    Identical Twins.
    Doty has 44 Assists and 28 Turnovers.
    Hartley has 45 Assists and 26 Turnovers.

    Hartley has shot 18 of 60 from 3PT for .300 average.
    Why does she have a green light with an injured ankle?
    Legs and feet are needed for proper 3PT form.

    Jefferson has shot 8 of 40 from 3PT for .200 average.
    UConn cannot afford those clankers against Baylor or ND.

    1. Village Idiot

      John: According to Jim Fuller—UConn Coaches are investigating Gabby Williams of Nevada –brought up by your Wednesday Chat.

      Did you bring this up to Shea?? I hope this is a good lead. Uconn needs some good news on the recruiting trails.

  2. Big Jim

    Duke should prepare for another long night.

    They will go home crying, Again!

    Williams – NO match for Dolson: 12 points
    Jones – a truly miserable nigh: 6 points
    Grey – can cause some problems: 7 points
    Jackson – no problem from her: 3 points
    Liston – not many points here: 5 points
    Peters – will present problems: 13 points
    The rest of the bench: 7 points

    UCONN 78 Duke 53

    This will be another relatively easy win for UCONN.

    Come back at me Tuesday, if this is not how the game goes.

    1. Master Mind

      Big Jim: I like your belief in UConn. And I hardly ever disagree with you, but:
      Uconn has to be concerned with Grey attacking the basket and Williams around the basket.
      Peters has had some very good games.
      I wouldn’t put this one in the W column just yet.

      IF Dolson can do a job on Williams (as she did the last time, and against Chiney) Duke loses.
      If Stewart doesn’t fade in a big game and KML hits 20, UConn wins
      If the press works against Duke, UConn wins
      If Tuck can give Dolson some rest and play with intensity–Uconn wins.
      If Duke is allowed to put Grey, Peters, Williams in rebounding and scoring –Duke wins.

  3. Mike McManus

    On paper, this looks like a talented Duke team with good size and excellent 3-point shooters. UCONN cannot have 18 turnovers and beat this team unless of course Duke has an equal #. This should be a challenge similar to ND if not more so. If UCONN plays like they did in the 2nd half against Syracuse, they should win. I think this game will be a good measuring stick for the remainder of the season. Good luck Huskies!

  4. JohnD

    Wow !!!!! Never knew that UConn had so many unknown statistical experts on their coaching staff.Get real !!!!

  5. JD Randle


    Have you taken a look at who Duke has played. Looks like a list of the Little Sisters of the Poor – no ranked teams and quite a few mid-major and lower teams. Huskies by 30.

    1. Mind in the gutter

      JD Randel—Michigan, Calif, Virginia Tech, BC, NC State, Xavier, —Maybe not power houses but decent competition. Don’t sell Duke short.

      Dollar to donuts that Geno and his team believe them dangerous. Geno isn’t stupid. Bravado is great–but it alone rarely wins games.

  6. Just To Be Clear

    Great teams in WCBB history include 40-0 Baylor, 78-0 UConn, 39-0 UConn. This present UConn team is not great by those standards.

    1. Coach H

      This Uconn team cannot be compared to the Rene/Tina’s last team or the Sue/DT etc team. Those teams did not have the competition of this this team. Women’s basketball has improved. Griner wasn’t around and she isn’t just big she is mobile and can score.
      However this is a very very good Uconn team. If everyone healthy they’d be a shoe in for the final four.

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