Blue Devils shine in first-ever Blue-White game

With seven minutes left in the inaugural women's Blue-White scrimmage, Abby Waner stole the ball from her older sister, Emily, and seemed poised for a breakaway.

The elder Waner hustled back and tripped up the junior to force a jump ball. After the whistle, the two sisters joked, playfully pushing each other before resuming play. The moment was emblematic of the game, which was not only a means to seriously evaluate the team but also a day to enjoy Duke Basketball.

Head coach Joanne P. McCallie said Sunday's intrasquad scrimmage in Cameron Indoor Stadium was essential to both popularizing the women's team and creating a stronger link between Duke's two basketball programs.

"The connectiveness is so important," McCallie said. "To share passion with people is really what this is all about. Basketball is basketball, but to be able to take part [in this weekend] meant a whole lot to our program."

McCallie and her coaching staff also used the scrimmage as an opportunity to try different combinations of lineups for the Blue Devils. The game was played in four 10-minute periods, and the 12 players were switched between the Blue and White teams during the breaks. White defeated Blue 61-50, but the shuffling of lineups shifted the focus from teams to players, and several shined in their season debuts.

Freshman center Krystal Thomas made her presence felt immediately on the defensive end as she blocked t he first shot of the game. She finished with four blocks and added seven rebounds, garnering praise from her teammates.

"I was afraid to go in the lane because I didn't want to get embarrassed [by Krystal]," Abby Waner said. "She is going to be such a presence inside for us."

The rest of the Duke frontcourt also played well, particularly center Chante Black and forward Carrem Gay. Black, who played for the first time after sitting out last season with a torn calf muscle, showed little sign of fatigue after playing all 40 minutes. Her 16 points led all scorers, and she also grabbed eight rebounds-the second-highest total of the afternoon.

Gay pulled down 14 rebounds, a feat that caught her coach's attention. McCallie said the Blue Devils have four post players who could potentially start but that the decision will come down to who shows the most toughness and strength on the boards.

"I make such a big deal about who finishes," McCallie said. "Those rebounds are going to be rewarded."

The ultimate prize the coaching will dole out is a spot in the starting lineup. Although the starting five for the Blue squad -Abby and Emily Waner, Black, Gay and Wanisha Smith-is a potential combination for Duke, McCallie said the coaches will look at tape to evaluate each player's contribution in the Blue-White game.

But the Blue Devils downplayed the individual aspects of the contest, instead choosing to focus on the increased attention and energy surrounding their program.

"The atmosphere was great," Smith said. "We were really excited about how many people showed up. We just hope that they continue to support us."


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