Hoping for Diamond and Saniya to return to action.
(State at Duke, 8:00 p.m., Thursday February 23rd, ACCN)
One could easily say that Duke visiting State on December 29th, 2022 was a turning point for State's women's basketball 2022-23. When Duke visited, State was 12-1 with the team's only loss at that time to UConn. Among the team's 12 wins were a 94-81 win at NET 6 Iowa, a 65-54 win at NET 37 Georgia and a home win over 24-5 NET 32 South Florida. Since State has won 7 and lost 8.
State playing without Diamond Johnson in the December 29th Duke game did not help, and, although Jada Boyd returned after missing four games due to an ankle injury, she did not play well scoring 6 while shooting 3-9 from the floor all in nineteen minutes of play.
Coming into the December 29th game, Duke was shooting 282 from the arc; Celeste Taylor 297 from the arc. In the December 29th game, Duke shot 9-14 from the arc while Taylor shot 5-6 from the arc.
What was also perplexing with regard to the Duke game referenced in the preceding paragraph was Mimi Collins going 0-5 from the floor (2 points from free throws) and Madison Hayes not scoring at all. Why was this perplexing? In the preceding game against Clemson, one in which neither Boyd nor Johnson played, Madison Hayes had herself "a day" scoring 20 points on 7-13 from the floor; 4-10 from the arc. In that same game Mimi Collins had 16 shooting 7-16 from the floor; 1-1 from the arc. Duke playing great defense does not answer this complete change for Hayes and Collins from the Clemson game to the Duke game.
In Duke's last game the starters were six-one fifth-year senior Elizabeth Balogun, five-eleven sophomore Reigan Richardson, five-eleven senior Celeste Taylor, six-six junior Kennedy Brown and five-six sophomore Shayeann Day-Wilson. These same five started for Duke in the December 29th game.
For Duke, Taylor, a transfer from Texas, is the leading scorer at 11.7 ppg. Taylor shoots 411 from the floor; 324 from the arc. Balogun, a transfer from Louisville, is second in scoring at 9.7 ppg. Although one might expect the six-six Kennedy, a transfer from Oregon State, to lead the team in rebounding, she at 5.1 rpg, does not as Balogun at 5.3 rpg does. Noting that Reigan Richardson transferred from Georgia, one might add that of the starting five, only Day-Wilson is not a transfer.
While six-six Brown is not the offensive player and rebounder that Elizabeth Kitley is, she does play good defense.
State's overall record is 18-9; their conference record is 8-8; their live RPI is 21; their NET is 18; their ELO is 32; and their SOS is 4. State's quad 1 NET record is 6-8.
Duke's overall record is 23-5; their conference record is 13-3; their live RPI is 5; their NET is 9; their ELO is 11; and their SOS is 13. Duke's NET quad 1 record is 8-4. Duke's best win was at NET 7 Notre Dame 57-52.
RPI likes Duke over State 66-57 with a 78% win -probability. Lobo likes Duke over State 61.6 to 59.9 with a 56.5% win-probability. That "Lobo Look" might be too kind if neither Johnson nor Saniya Rivers plays. Due to Coach Moore's comments, I am not expecting Diamond to play.
State right now is in eight place in the conference at 8-8. State could move up to seventh place by beating both Duke and Pitt, and with Miami (10-6) losing their last two games while UNC (10-6) does not. (State cannot make fifth place as the current fifth place holder is Louisville with 11 wins.) Any tie breaker with UNC gets complicated and until the regular season is over is hard to figure out. State could fall to ninth place if Syracuse beats Pitt, at Pitt, Thursday night to end the season with a 9-9 conference record and State loses to both Duke and Pitt to finish 8-10. Since State beat Syracuse on January 1st, they have the tie breaker over Syracuse if both State and Syracuse end up with 9-9 records.
State not only needs to beat Pitt at home on February 26th, they need to crush so as to enter the ACC Tournament on a high note. Teams limping into conference tournaments and NCAA tournaments do not last long.
Go Pack! Beat Duke!