It might not have the fanfare of the men’s basketball team’s Countdown to Craziness, but the Blue Devils, led by head coach Joanne P. McCallie, will hold their annual Blue-White scrimmage Sunday at Cameron Indoor Stadium at 1 p.m.
Duke enters the scrimmage as the preseason pick to win the ACC, with sophomore Elizabeth Williams tied with two other players for ACC preseason player of the year. The Blue Devils will look to improve on last year’s campaign, in which they reached Elite Eight for the third consecutive season before losing to Stanford.
“We pursue all championships. The regular season, the conference and also the NCAA championship,” McCallie said. “We want to pursue all those championships as hard and fast and aggressive as we can.”
Unlike most college teams, the Blue Devils were not forced to play against themselves all summer. Duke had the chance to take senior center Allison Vernerey home to France and play against several French basketball teams.
“Our team was truly blessed to be able to go on this trip,” junior guard Tricia Liston said. “It brought us closer.”
As Duke looks forwards to the Blue-White game and the upcoming season, the Blue Devils have a lot to be positive about, especially as a team returning four starters.
Liston, the team’s 3-point specialist, returns to action alongside junior guard Chelsea Gray, junior forward Haley Peters and Williams. Gray and Williams were both preseason All-ACC selections. Vernerey is the lone senior returning to the team and will be a strong force off the bench, playing in all 33 games last season.
“I really like our veterans. They’ve been around the block,” McCallie said. “They’ve been in many different situations.”
Duke’s team is not all upperclassmen. The Blue Devils boast three impressive freshman in guards Alexis Jones and Sierra Moore along with forward Katie Heckman. Heckman, however, is out for the season with an ACL injury, leaving Duke with only three forwards listed on their roster. Jones is the most highly touted of the crew as the No. 3 player in the 2012 recruiting class, according to ESPN.
“Sierra and Lex both bring a lot to the table defensively. Offensively they have talents as well,” McCallie said.
If Moore and Jones needed proof that college experience and age do not affect success, they need not look any further than Williams, who was named National Freshman of the Year after amassing 116 blocks—the ACC record—and averaging 14.0 points per game last season.
The Blue Devils will look for Williams to continue to dominate the paint this season as they work toward their third-straight ACC regular season title.
Looking past Sunday’s scrimmage, Duke will host Shaw and Queens in two upcoming exhibition games before opening the regular season in Durham against Presbyterian Nov. 17th.