It is often said that money cannot buy happiness.
But maybe, a wad of cash can buy some excitement, temporary consolation and possibly even a little extra food for one lucky Cameron Crazie.
Despite a team-high 22 points Wednesday night from redshirt sophomore Rebecca Greenwell, the Blue Devils suffered their first loss of the season to No. 12 Texas A&M, 72-66 in overtime. Following the back-and-forth affair, No. 14 Duke will return to the floor at Cameron Indoor Stadium at 2 p.m. Sunday to take on Army. Just more than a month ago at Countdown to Craziness, Blue Devil head coach Joanne P. McCallie announced that the wildest and craziest fan at Sunday’s game would receive a cash prize of $1,000.
Ahead of the occasion, McCallie detailed her judging criteria.
“Obviously, we love Duke fans, but, we are Duke women’s basketball number one,” McCallie said. “So, I [will] be looking for something quite personal to Duke women’s basketball and understanding who we are. You know, a fan can’t just paint themselves blue and win one thousand dollars. It’s going to have to be creative and it’s going to have to be that they understand our team, they know our team, and it’s evidenced by how they dress.”
Blue Devil fans certainly have a reputation as one of the most loyal and boisterous college basketball fan bases in the country. A crowd of nearly 4,000 watched Wednesday night's contest and the energy is something that the ninth-year coach would like to make a permanent thing.
And for most college students, money is a pretty good draw.
“In my head...I just came into marketing and said, ‘Let’s do a giveaway. Students will appreciate money,’” McCallie said.
Although Duke (2-1) fell to a talented Aggie squad, the night provided a lot of positive trends in a season that has gotten off to a sluggish start. As a team, the Blue Devils shot nearly 40 percent from the field and made four their six first-half 3-point attempts. Sophomore Azurá Stevens also dug in on defense yet again, tallying four blocked shots and 12 defensive boards.
Still, putting up just three points in overtime and committing 20 turnovers—bringing the team’s turnover average to 22.3 per game—is something that needs to change going forward.
[Offensively, we need] better passing, finding our teammates more quickly, more assists—assist-to-turnover [ratio] is very important and it’s been very poor the past couple of games,” McCallie said. “Just showing an IQ that we know each other, that we know how to pass to each other and find each other and building from there.”
The Black Knights (3-0) visit Durham guided by head coach Dave Magarity and senior guard Kelsey Minato. A year removed from a 25-8 2013-14 season that saw them reach the NCAA tournament before losing to Maryland in the first round, Army posted another successful season in 2014-15, finishing with a 23-8 record—good for second place in the Patriot League.
Minato, a Huntington Beach, Calif., native and one of the Black Knights’ captains, was named an All-American Honorable Mention last year. As a junior, she averaged 22.3 points per game and her 90.8 free throw percentage ranked eighth nationally. Already this year, she is on pace to break her own scoring mark, averaging 25.7 points per game in Army’s first three contests.
The Black Knights, though, do lack size, something Duke should be able to exploit Sunday afternoon. They list just three players at six feet or taller, whereas the Blue Devils’ roster has just four players below that mark.
With a holiday tournament in Cancún, Mexico, an ACC-Big Ten Challenge clash and a pair of road games against nationally ranked opponents coming up, Sunday will be a critical game for Duke to get back on track and find its footing on both ends of the floor.
“You want players to fulfill what they can do on both sides of the ball, but it’s November and we’re not there yet,” McCallie said. “Some people play on one side of the ball more than the other, and we need to grow and change in [some] ways and I think we will.”
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A junior from just outside Philadelphia, Mitchell is probably reminding you how the Eagles won the Super Bowl this year and that the Phillies are definitely on the rebound. Outside of The Chronicle, he majors in Economics, minors in Statistics and is working toward the PJMS certificate, in addition to playing trombone in the Duke University Marching Band. And if you're getting him a sandwich with beef and cheese outside the state of Pennsylvania, you best not call it a "Philly cheesesteak."