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Freshmen hope to make stories of their own

It's always the same old story.

It's the story of a new freshman class coming into a powerhouse program, forging relationships from day one, bonding and calling each other family.

Every year, and with every freshman class, the players talk about adjusting to college, growing close to their teammates and creating a perfect new life on campus. But despite all the silver linings, the drama, competition and rivalry have to find their way into the equation somewhere, right?

Maybe not. For Shay Selby, Kathleen Scheer and Chelsea Hopkins, the Blue Devils' newest additions, the same old story might actually be true.

"We're like sisters," Shelby said. "I always say I'm like the sister they never had. We're close, we get in fights just like siblings would, and we love each other and we always have each other's backs."

"You can see us around campus because we are always together," Hopkins said. "We have a few classes together and we all live in one big triple and it's great. I love those girls."

Talking with these freshmen about living, playing and going to school together makes it clear that they are not only friends, but genuinely consider themselves a family. The connection comes from a desire to get along with each other on and off the court, and also from the need to fill a void after leaving home for the first time.

Coming from Nevada, Missouri and Ohio, respectively, Hopkins, Scheer and Selby all have traveled thousands of miles to come and play at Duke. And despite the highlights of summer school, preseason and the Blue-White scrimmage, the trio also has faced its fair share of obstacles and challenges.

"It's a full-time job playing here," Selby said. "You have to practice, do your homework and also sleep so that you're ready to go the next day. There is a lot of reading that I didn't expect school-wise, and then as for basketball, it's just quicker-paced and more physical."

"You come to this school, which is a high-intensity academic school, and you don't really know what to expect," Scheer said. "You work out non-stop and play a lot, which is good because you get a feel for how it's going to be different than high school."

But despite all the adjustments that the players find themselves making, senior Carrem Gay said the freshmen are doing more than just a good job keeping up in practice. Constantly coming to the upperclassmen with questions about plays, defenses and basketball in general, Selby, Scheer and Hopkins have shown a level of interest and commitment to the team that Gay enjoys seeing on a day-to-day basis.

"Right now they are just trying to take care of the ball and understand their roles on the team, which is exactly what they need to be doing right now," Gay said.

Although it is still early, it is apparent that head coach Joanne P. McCallie has asked each of the players to seriously reflect on her role on the team. While Hopkins considers her position as point guard a vehicle for her to be a future leader of the team, Scheer hopes to use her experiences as a point guard, shooting guard and post player to create a unique role that will benefit the squad. Selby, also a guard, spoke enthusiastically about gaining her teammates' respect and eventually becoming one of Duke's leaders.

McCallie believes all three recruits could play key roles this year and in the future.

"[I see] different roles for different [girls]," she said. "I was impressed by the speed and quickness that [Hopkins] exhibited in Blue-White that allowed her to go coast-to-coast on her very first play of the game. [Selby] is very creative and confident offensively and she is very good off the bounce, as well as her three ball. And then [Scheer] picked up rebounds in Blue-White without even trying, just by being in the right place and getting there."

With the return of the powerhouse trio of seniors Chante Black, Abby Waner and Gay, it would be easy to cast the potential of the freshmen aside, at least for the time being. But McCallie said she is more than willing to give the players the time she thinks they deserve.

"I love playing the freshmen, because the more strength they get early, the better it is for them, and thinking in the long term it makes sense," McCallie said. "They certainly will have to work hard to get into that rotation, but it certainly doesn't matter what year they are. Playing time is up for grabs for everybody."

So while they sleep in an East Campus triple, write papers for their Writing 20 class and work hard in Cameron Indoor Stadium to master that one shot, play or defense, the three freshmen are doing so together-with no sense of competition, drama or hostility.

It's the same old story, with a little bit of a twist: It's true.

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