Sitting in Joanne P. McCallie's fourth-floor Schwartz-Butters office, you can't help but shift your eyes to the desktop computer sitting behind the basketball coach's desk.
As McCallie talks, her computer's screensaver begins to play, and it's suddenly obvious why No. 3 Duke is 17-1, including big wins over Stanford and Maryland.
At first, a picture of Chante Black celebrating on the court fades in. Then, a shot of the Cameron Crazies. Then, the team in a living room donning Duke T-shirts. McCallie's kids. Some players doing work in the community.
The montage is a subtle backdrop to the 40-minute conversation I had yesterday with McCallie in anticipation for Thursday night's conference clash with No. 18 Florida St. in Tallahassee.
A year and a half's worth of memories flashes in and out. Not all of them, particularly those from last year, are good ones. McCallie admits that.
But the pictures on the screen tell a story much like the tale that's playing out on the court these days-one of growth, success and happiness. So, too, does Coach P herself.
So, instead of paraphrasing our talk, I'd like to share with you directly some of her responses to questions about this year's team and last year's transition as a sort of mid-season reflection:
>>"I'm not any different than I was last year. I am the same person. But I am enhanced by the experience I went through. And I feel the team is, too."
>>"There is a process of working through adversity-and having a new coach. When your beloved coach leaves, you can't exactly get over that in a day or six months. It takes everybody their own time period to work through and process that change.
As a coach, I just had to focus on my staff and the players and do the best I could to work with them and move forward. There's nothing magical.... There's a natural process of time that just has to go on-a healing time. Recognizing that things go on and things work out, and trying to learn how to handle things.
Handling adversity all started in Year One. We won a lot of close games in Year One. We were down a lot in Year One. But again, I don't think there was enough attention paid to what was going on. It was still sort of like a shocker for everybody to adapt to, which actually makes sense considering Gail's longevity and the success she had here."
>>"I was completely stunned about a lot of folks around here when we got here because none of us controlled what happened. You know, when somebody chooses to leave-these poor kids, I call them kids because I have kids, but they're not kids-you just got to give them their time.
There were questions like, 'Well, they don't look happy.' Of course they're not happy. And they're not happy because they have to deal with something that they've never had to deal with before in their whole life."
>>"It was late. It was the ACC Tournament. There was some clicking going on there. Now there wasn't clicking enough yet to get to the championship, but to play in the tournament championship in Year One, under the circumstances, to me, was a very remarkable thing."
>>"Right now, these women, these 12 that you're looking at, are the best defensive team in the history of Duke Women's Basketball.
That is mind-boggling considering who has come through this institution if you think about Monique Currie and Alana Beard and Lindsey Harding and a 6-foot-7 Ali Bales. These women have a lot to hang their hat on and a lot to grow with. And I want them to do that. I want them to be proud of what they're doing.... Those teams were laced with All-Americans. So these women are able to do something spectacular. And I think the sky is the limit. I think this team could beat anybody."
>>"If you look at us, we can find a way to be successful and win, but we're interested more in how we're playing. You can be outcome-driven, but for us, it's more about what it looks like, feels like, "that's it, that's it right there" when you watch the film reviews.
To me, we've got to play at our highest potential, and that means everybody firing off. We haven't had too many of those games. That's the good news. We haven't had too many of those games where four or five people have really fired off together, and that's going to be the thing we look forward to.
>>"I feel it coming. Is it going to come Thursday night? I don't know. I feel more confidence. I feel more poise. I feel a little bit more connectiveness. Watching them in practice, coaching them, watching them on film, it's starting to click on a higher level."
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