Duke has depth at all positions—and Tuesday’s exhibition game against Shaw in which seven Blue Devils scored 15 or more points certainly proved it.
With Duke returning to the court for the team’s final exhibition game against Charlotte, N.C.’s Queens University, head coach Cheryl Nix and her Royals know what they are going to face at Cameron Indoor Stadium Sunday afternoon.
“Our kids are realistic. They know what they’re walking into,” Nix said. “We talked about representing our program well and going in ready to compete. We’ve tried to put a lot of pressure on them in practice to prepare them. Our game plan is to limit turnovers, get easy baskets and box out.”
Queens has a tall task ahead of it with Duke coming off a 138-32 rout against Shaw. Despite the Blue Devils’ early success on the court, head coach Joanne McCallie plans to focus on improving various defensive aspects of the team’s game.
“We have to work defensively on a number of different things, including our communication on screens, getting over screens and being aggressive there,” McCallie said. “From the standpoint of our defense: more pressure on the ball. We have to work on denying the ball better and our help side has got to be better.”
Queens will look to its lineup of veteran players to exploit any lapses in the Blue Devil defense. The Royals return junior post players Shonice Pettaway and Sarah Myatt who averaged 17.7 and 11.6 points per game last season, respectively. The duo racked up 12 double-doubles as Queens went on to 10-16 record overall.
Senior guard Dyonna Battle, who averaged 10.1 points per game, will also play an important role for the team. With five newcomers, Queens hopes to play well in Conference Carolinas’ play throughout the upcoming campaign.
As the Royals prepare for their upcoming matchup against Duke—and their debut in the South Atlantic Conference next season—Nix has stressed the importance of better defense and rebounding.
“We’re trying to focus on stepping up our defense and being a more aggressive team, more fast paced in transition,” Nix said. “We’re really working on our full court defense, our transition. It’s also important that we block out and rebound the ball because that is something our program has struggled with in the past.”
While Queens certainly has a tall task ahead of them against a team ranked third in the AP preseason poll, McCallie has stressed that the Blue Devils need to focus on what they need to improve.
“There is always more,” McCallie said. “You thought you played the greatest game. Once you watch film, you realize it wasn’t so great.”
Despite losing some players to unhealed injuries from last season, the Blue Devils know that they have the pieces to play well on the court.
“We’re trying to make something special and it’s just going to come at different times,” McCallie said. “That’s the hand we drew.”