Duke and Vanderbilt have only played each other three times in their histories. But for some Blue Devils, Cameron Indoor Stadium will play host to familiar faces tonight.
When the No. 11 Commodores (8-0) battle the No. 4 Blue Devils (6-0) at 7 p.m., Abby and Emily Waner will greet an old friend in Vanderbilt junior Liz Sherwood.
Growing up in Colorado, Abby Waner first played against Sherwood while the Duke sophomore was in fourth grade, and they have been together on the court ever since. The pair played on the same travel team and completed their high school careers at rival schools-Waner at ThunderRidge and Sherwood at Highlands Ranch.
"On road trips we would room together," Waner said. "When we were in high school, I played against her for two years, and the Highland Ranch-ThunderRidge games were always the biggest matchups of the year."
Since then, however, the two have not had many opportunities to play against one another, and their paths to success have taken different routes.
While Waner had the fortune of helping Duke to a national title game appearance last year as a freshman, Sherwood has played for two schools in three seasons.
A McDonald's All-American out of high school, Sherwood committed to Connecticut after leading Highlands Ranch to back-to-back state titles. After her freshman season, in which she made the Big East all-freshman team, Sherwood transferred to Vanderbilt, where she won the "Sixth Woman of the Year" award from the SEC coaches in 2006 after sitting out a season.
"I'm really happy she's doing well out in Vanderbilt," Waner said. "It's really fun to have those kind of relationships in middle school and high school and then to be able to play against her again in college."
Sherwood, however, will not be Waner's responsibility tonight. Instead, Waner and senior Lindsey Harding must deal with Vanderbilt senior Dee Davis, who Duke head coach Gail Goestenkors said is one of the best point guards in the nation. Davis is also a player that Harding knows well-the pair were roommates at a past adidas All-American camp.
"She's great at passing and she sees the floor so well," Harding said. "We're going to try and limit her vision."
Dee's court vision directs Vanderbilt's high-octane offense, which has scored more than 80 points in all but two of its games. The Commodore offense-ranked ninth in the nation for scoring-is also ranked third for its 51.3 field goal percentage.
"Most teams we play have a great inside game or a great outside game," Goestenkors said. "We're really going to have to use our pressure and try and make them uncomfortable."
Goestenkors said the Blue Devils will try to switch up their looks on defense to confuse the Commodores, changing from the 1-3-1 zone they used against Rutgers Monday to a man-to-man style at times. The Blue Devils' defense has been stingy all season, as only one team has reached the 50-point mark against them.
"Our defense has almost been stifling the past couple of games," Waner said. "Our defense is really what generates our offense."
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