Gray's absence may affect Duke in UPS Team Performance Index
Duke will have to survive the rest of the regular season without starting point guard Chelsea Gray.
Gray is out with a right knee injury, and the UPS Team Performance Index shows how the Blue Devils may fare without their floor leader with a marquee matchup against Maryland on tap Sunday.
In conjunction with STATS LLC, UPS has created a proprietary algorithm that gauges six major statistics covering the spectrum of a team's on-court performance: effective field-goal percentage, effective field-goal percentage against, rebounding percentage, ball-handling efficiency, miscues and winning percentage.
From there, the data is normalized and an overall index is created for all 340 NCAA Division I teams. The scores are not meant to reflect a traditional power poll, per se, but measure a broad range of inside-the-lines excellence and overall balance.
Duke is 24-1 but fell one spot to fourth in the UPS Team Protection Index this week, being displaced by Notre Dame. The top two teams, Connecticut and defending national champion Baylor, meet Monday night in Hartford.
Gray suffered her injury in Sunday's 81-70 victory over Wake Forest. Her loss could be critical since Duke already was making too many miscues for an elite team, ranking 46th in the index.
Now the Blue Devils will have to move on without the junior, who leads the ACC in assists (5.4) and steals (3.6) per game. Duke has a tough week ahead with Friday's home game against 20-win Florida State (No. 35 in the UPS) coming two days before a rematch with Maryland (No. 5).
"We are fortunate that we have a great cast of characters and this is a great opportunity for them to step up like we saw today," coach Joanne P. McCallie said after Sunday's victory. "We will expect that every game, maybe from different players or maybe from the same person."
Duke ranks seventh in ball-handling efficiency, and that is a big edge over Maryland, which is 52nd, but those numbers were compiled with Gray.
The Blue Devils' higher rankings in ball-handling and miscues were evident in a 71-56 home victory over the Terrapins on Feb. 11, as they forced 24 turnovers and came up with 14 steals - four by Gray.
McCallie will likely replace Gray in the lineup with Tricia Liston, the team's second-leading scorer who started the first 17 games. Liston has averaged 16.1 points in eight games as a reserve after scoring a season-high 29 on Sunday, but she has more turnovers (44) than assists (39).
"We are going to keep doing what we do," McCallie said. "Alexis Jones will have a bigger role, Tricia will play the point, Chloe (Wells) will play."
Based on Gray's loss and what can be deciphered from the index, the Terrapins could be in good position to gain revenge.
Maryland is fourth in effective field-goal percentage, three spots above Duke. That's not surprising since the Terps feature the ACC's top two scorers in Tianna Hawkins (18.8 points per game) and Alyssa Thomas (17.4), with Hawkins among the nation's leaders in field-goal percentage at 57.7.
That kind of offensive efficiency was on display in Sunday's 73-44 rout at Virginia. Maryland made 11 of its first 13 shots, and Thomas hit 12 of 18 for the game while totaling 27 points and 13 boards.
"We had a lot of fun tonight," coach Brenda Frese said. "Just a dominant performance."
The Terrapins also are higher in effective field-goal percentage against, ranking sixth to Duke's 11th. Maryland is the index's top team in rebounding percentage, with the Blue Devils 15th in that department.
The Duke-Maryland game figures to shake up the index further after Baylor puts its nation-best 22-game win streak on the line against UConn, top-ranked in the UPS and No. 3 in the AP poll.
Connecticut continues to lead three performance categories in the index - effective field-goal percentage, effective field-goal percentage against and ball-handling efficiency. Baylor is second to the Huskies in offensive efficiency and ball-handling, but is only seventh in defensive efficiency despite the presence of 6-foot-8 All-American Brittney Griner.
Rebounding percentage is another area in which the Huskies have an edge as they rank fifth in the UPS while the Bears are eighth, mirroring these teams' national ranks in rebound margin. UConn is plus-11.4 and Baylor plus-10.8.
The major edge for Baylor in this matchup is miscues. The Bears rank third in that category while the Huskies are 23rd and could have a less-than-effective player on the perimeter in Bria Hartley, who logged four minutes in Saturday's 65-45 victory at Rutgers since she was ill.
"She wasn't healthy at practice yesterday," UConn coach Geno Auriemma said Saturday. "She didn't feel good last night at dinner and she wasn't great this morning at shootaround. So she gave it a shot, and it just didn't work out."
New Mexico was the week's biggest riser, moving up 41 spots to 208 after splitting two games. American endured the biggest fall to 175, dropping 41 spots after losing by a total of 26 points in its two.