When Duke makes the trip to Cancún, Mexico, for three games during Thanksgiving break, its most experienced leader will not be with the team.

The No. 15 Blue Devils will play on three straight days Thursday, Friday and Saturday against Idaho, Iowa State and Texas State in the Cancún Challenge Mayan tournament, a round-robin style competition at the Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya. The games will be played in the ballroom at the resort’s convention center. Duke is coming off a hard-fought win against Army Sunday, but a sudden press release just hours after the game announced that graduate student Amber Henson is taking an indefinite leave of absence from the program.

Henson started 17 games last season and the season opener against Pennsylvania this year, but her minutes sharply decreased against Winthrop and No. 10 Texas A&M before not seeing the floor at all against Army. Still, she provided valuable depth and experience in the frontcourt for this young team.

Although the Blue Devils (3-1) are losing Henson for the time being, redshirt freshman Lyneé Belton is finally healthy and ready to take on a bigger role in Cancún. After tearing her ACL early last year, the 6-foot-3 Belton played for the first time in almost a full year Sunday, registering four points in 10 minutes. Her presence in the post could help fill the void left by Henson’s departure.

“Lyneé’s tough out there, and she’s very confident offensively. She makes great moves. She’s a pure five. You just love when people love the block as much as Lyneé does,” Duke head coach Joanne P. McCallie said after the Blue Devils’ 72-61 win against Army Sunday. “She’s going to be factoring in pretty quickly here and hopefully [we] can just get her more minutes.”

There are also plenty of question marks in the Blue Devils’ freshman-laden backcourt as they prepare for this weekend’s tournament. Haley Gorecki had a banged-up ankle and did not play against Army, but McCallie hopes to have her available in Cancún. If Gorecki plays, she will have to improve on her performance in her first big game against the Aggies last Wednesday, when she turned the ball over three times and missed her lone shot attempt in four minutes of play.

Lightning-quick point guard Kyra Lambert will also be looking to explode after she was held scoreless with just one assist in 35 minutes Sunday.

“[Kyra’s] going to have to learn how to play against different defenses. [Army] just sat in that zone all game long, and you have to learn how to penetrate and kick to get those assists,” McCallie said. “She does better when people are up on her and she can go by, and that’s not what it was…. And a lot of people will play zones. We’ve got to become much more efficient and know how to attack it better and better.”

Angela Salvadores is one freshman that is starting to find her groove. After a slow start to the season, the Leon, Spain, native has scored in double figures in each of Duke’s last two games as her minutes have increased. She made the first two 3-pointers of her college career against Army and also provided the highlight of the game with a scintillating behind-the-back assist to redshirt sophomore Rebecca Greenwell.

“She’s always trying to find me out there, and she’s always making eye contact with me because I know that she’s trying to get the ball to me,” Greenwell said Sunday. “She’s just a great player and she’s really coming along.”

In Cancún, the Blue Devils will look to continue improving against three unranked opponents who are not receiving any votes in the AP poll, though Idaho (2-0) blew out both of its first two opponents. The Vandals have five players averaging double figures in scoring through two games, led by sophomore forward Geraldine McCorkell with 14.5.

Iowa State (1-1) has not played since losing to Drake November 15 after its game against New Orleans scheduled for Sunday was snowed out, so it will bring a very fresh team to the Cancún Challenge. Duke will have its hands full Friday containing freshman guard Bridget Carleton, who is averaging 19.5 points per game.

Texas State (2-1) lost 87-50 to Texas A&M—which beat the Blue Devils in overtime last Wednesday—in its first game, but has rebounded to defeat St. Edward’s and North Texas in the last week. The Bobcats’ tallest player is 6-foot-1 sophomore Ti’Aira Pitts, which should allow Duke forward Azurá Stevens to continue her dominance on the boards. The 6-foot-6 sophomore now has at least 14 rebounds in three straight games, but McCallie would like to see more players contribute to the team’s rebounding totals this weekend.

“I need our guards to rebound more. We need to have two [in] double figures, so we’re a work in progress and I think that we have to be a little more able to handle adversity in an upbeat fashion,” she said. “We’re still working on that…. It’s a good November for us. We’re learning a whole lot.”

Ben Feder and Drew Johnson contributed reporting.