It is finally time for the members of the top-ranked recruiting class in the nation to show everyone what they are made of.

No. 14 Duke kicks off its exhibition schedule against Pfeiffer Thursday at 7 p.m. at Cameron Indoor Stadium before playing its final tune-up against Saint Leo Sunday at 1 p.m. The exhibition games give head coach Joanne P. McCallie an opportunity to shape her squad’s season depth chart for opening night. Eight months after top-seeded Maryland knocked the Blue Devils out of the Sweet 16, Duke will finally find itself back in a game environment—this time with plenty of new faces.

“It’s just a blast to finally have a chance to play,” McCallie told GoDuke.com. “I know this team is ready to play against somebody else besides themselves.”

Pfeiffer concluded last season with a 6-21 record in Division II play. The Falcons struggled to put points on the scoreboard, as they averaged 60.4 points per game on 36.6 percent shooting. Junior forward Meg Pritchard led the team with 15.2 points, 7.0 rebounds and 1.7 steals per game a year ago and returns to lead Pfeiffer's offense.

Saint Leo, another Division II program, finished with a 9-18 record, and also could not find ways to score the basketball, averaging 61.9 points per game. Second-year head coach Missy West is no stranger to Cameron Indoor Stadium—she was a two-time ACC tournament champion as a player under head coach Gail Goestenkors and a member of the team that advanced to the 1999 national championship game.

Chachi Guzman is the Lions' returning leading scorer, posting 12.2 points per game last season. Saint Leo is a guard-oriented team with no player taller than 5-foot-11, which could create a serious advantage for the Blue Devils, who boast six players 6-foot-3 or taller.

Both Pfeiffer and Saint Leo should allow Duke to utilize different lineups and get its freshmen acclimated to the college game. With a lot of options regarding matchups and lineups, McCallie should be able to mix and match to discover each player’s strengths in game action.

Senior Mercedes Riggs and junior Kendall Cooper are expected to return to the floor during exhibition play after both players were sidelined for the annual Blue-White scrimmage. Riggs and Cooper were involved in a minor crash and were held out of competition while undergoing concussion protocol, but are now healthy and ready to play.

Last season, the Blue Devils walloped their exhibition opponents, outscoring them by a combined 122 points. Redshirt sophomore Rebecca Greenwell starred in the tune-up games, averaging 27.5 points per game. The Owensboro, Ky., native handled the ball often last season, but should be able to spot up around the perimeter more this year as the ball-handling duties shift to newcomers Angela Salvadores and Kyra Lambert.

Since the Blue-White scrimmage Oct. 24, Duke has spent a lot of time in the film room looking to identify and rectify its problems on the practice court.

“What I’ve seen in practice is a higher urgency for team defense, and understanding everybody’s role, so that’s been great. I’ve seen a higher IQ relative to decision-making—attacking the foul line better, executing broken plays better and certainly a familiarity to really execute and run all the offense as well,” McCallie said.

Defensively, Duke will look markedly different from last year. The 2014-15 Blue Devils, due to their overwhelming size, rarely pressed. Instead, they opted to defend their opponents in the half-court and used their size to bully opposing offensive players into poor shots. This season, though, Duke will utilize the press defense much more often in order to take advantage of its speed up and down the lineup. The top-ranked recruiting class is full of athletic guards, perfect for implementing multiple variations of a press.

The two exhibition games will leave the Blue Devils with five days before the regular season starts on the road against Pennsylvania Nov. 13. Duke's first true early-season is likely to come Nov. 18 at home against No. 13 Texas A&M.

“For this team, it’s really important to get out there and just have an opponent and really just be treated as a team where they can rely on each other," McCallie said. "They can be in a bunker together and really attack."