Yesterday, I had a sit-down interview with head coach Joanne P. McCallie. In the 40 minutes we spoke, McCallie had a lot of interesting things to say—a lot more than I had room to print in my column this morning. Here are some other highlights from our question-and-answer section.
On her team's 17-1 record and ability to win close games:
"This team has come together very well. We’re very comfortable relying on each other and there’s a lot of trust that goes into that. Focusing on our execution and focusing on our poise is a very important concept. We’ve talked about it ever since last year all the way through this year. Basically, you want to be a team to control the tempo. You want to be a team to operate in each situation. It’s just really kind of fun. It’s fun to be poised and to execute down the stretch, maybe make the extra pass, maybe slow down a little bit and take note of where the ball should go. And I think this team, through process of experience, is chipping away at the sort of mindset that it takes to do well down the stretch."
On the Blue Devils' depth:
"It’s like every person on the team, I could give you a situation and you’d be like, 'Yeah, she’s was pretty good.' And I think that’s a sign of a very good team, if there’s always somebody to step in."
More on the differences between her first and second seasons at Duke:
"The time just allows you to know much more about each other. You can joke more. You know more personal stuff—habits, just different things you can communicate about. You know families better. The communication piece is enhanced a great deal. I think that there’s a nice settling kind of feel that you just unfortunately [pause] I’m not any different than I was last year. I am the same person. But I am enhanced by the experience I went to. And I feel the team is, too. And with that, comes great energy from that growth and some of that is now spilling over into this year where you essentially have a group of 12 that are committed to finding out what they can do. And that’s a neat thing. It’s neat to watch. I think that’s why we feel the energy. I think that’s why the crowd’s excited. I’ve just been enjoying coaching them. It’s a big thrill for to coach them and be demanding and play whatever role I need to play to make them the best."
On senior Abby Waner's broadcasting work on ESPN:
"I watched all the ones for football. For basketball, I was here for Maryland, so I told her I could only watch across the gym and see her stand the entire time. I didn’t like that. We had a game the next day. I’m like, Abby—she just stands in heels for an entire game! But, she’s fabulous. There’s a warmth. She’s genuine. Obviously, very articulate and bright in her stories. And I tell her the same thing off-court that I tell her on-court. She laughs at me. I say, slow down. Enjoy it.... She’s intense and she’s trying to do really neat things out there, but it’s that pace, it’s that balance, it’s that deep breath."
On the future of Duke Women's Basketball:
"I’m still [holding] steadfast to sell-outs of 9,000, and yes, that’s what I want for Duke. And I’m still believing, that, yes, that’s going to happen. I don’t know that I can target the year, but I believe we can be the very best in everything: attendance, certainly record, banners, whatever you want to say, I think Duke can be the very best, overall, over a period of time. It’s tough. It can’t happen overnight. But I think this team has done incredibly well. When Lindsey Harding graduated, there was no backup at point guard."
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