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Versatile Aussie fills multiple roles

Whenever Jessica Foley hears her teammates laughing behind her back, she knows not to be offended.

Four years ago, the 6-foot Australia native came to Duke with a good attitude, an impressive shot and an accent that quickly became the source of chuckles during team practice.

"A lot of people had a hard time understanding me freshman year, and so people were giggling at everything that I said," Foley said. "Every time I said something I'd turn around and half the team was sort of snickering at me-it was funny."

Since then, however, the Blue Devils have relied on Foley for more than a laugh or two over lexical differences like calling her jersey a "singlet" and her locker a "cupboard." In fact, the senior has evolved into an all-around player that can-and does-fill any gaps the Blue Devils may have on the court.

Last season, Foley played in several positions for a Duke team that struggled with depth, including the point guard spot.

"We needed her last year," Goestenkors said. "We didn't have much depth, and we didn't have the numbers. She's such an intelligent basketball player. She knows all of the positions on the floor, and she's willing to do whatever we need her for, whether it's start, come off the bench, play a lot of minutes, play at the point, play at the post-she's kind of become a jack-of-all-trades for us."

This year, the senior has logged less playing time because the Blue Devils have a deeper bench. Fewer minutes, however, have not kept Foley from putting forth her best effort.

"You just make the most of your minutes when you get in there," Foley said. "I mean, we're so deep I think even without an injury I was never going to get the sort of minutes I got last year. So, you just need to make the most of the time that you're out there and give 100 percent and go until you're absolutely dead tired."

This attitude is part of what has made Foley an asset to the team, not only as a player but as a leader. Goestenkors said the senior guard is a calming force on the court and a teammate that every player can relate to because she has taken on so many different roles.

"Jess is probably the team favorite," Goestenkors said. "She's always been able to get along with everybody, and she's someone they all know they can turn to to help them out if they have a problem."

Foley has even become close friends with her coach-Goestenkors and Foley started a book club this year after sharing a common passion in reading.

On the court, however, Foley was not always so versatile. Although the guard has always boasted the ability to hit the open shots-she made a buzzer-beating three-pointer to knock off No. 1 Connecticut her sophomore year-Goestenkors said Foley struggled with her defensive play as a freshman and had to work to improve it.

"When she came here, she could just shoot," Goestenkors said. "Her defense was not good at all, and she knew it. She wanted to guard Alana Beard, and the first season it was not a pretty sight, but it made her better. That's why she came here, because she knew she would really be challenged every day in practice to become the best player she could be, and I think she has."

Foley will continue to challenge herself on the court after graduation, when she said she will return to Australia and begin playing professionally in the Australian National League. And although the senior said she does not feel Australia is much different than the United States, she will miss the Blue Devils.

"It's definitely gone really fast," Foley said of her time in Durham. "Freshman year felt like it took about four years, then the last three years have just absolutely flown by. I think it would feel a lot different if I didn't have other basketball to move on to, but it definitely will be sad to leave Duke in a couple months."

When No. 1 Duke (23-1, 10-1 in the ACC) travels to Coral Gables, Fla., to take on Miami (15-9, 5-6) Sunday, Foley will make an important contribution for the Blue Devils-regardless of where and how much she plays.

"I've always known that Jess was very accepting of any role that she's been given," Goestenkors said. "We knew that she would be okay with whatever came along. She obviously wants to start and play a lot just like any player does, but she wants what's best for the team more than anything else."

Notes:

Goestenkors was named as an assistant coach for the USA Women's World Championship Team, which will compete in Brazil Sept. 12-23.

"I love USA Basketball, and I love the opportunity to learn and grow," she said. "You must test yourself, day in and day out, to be a better coach. I'm always striving to improve, and USA Basketball has helped me to hone my skills and get better."

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