The Blue Devils hit the floor Sunday afternoon at Cameron Indoor Stadium for their annual Blue-White scrimmage. The White team won the intra-squad scrimmage 76-58 against the Blue team, with rosters fluctuating throughout the game. Regardless of which team she was on, redshirt junior guard Rebecca Greenwell dominated the action, leading the team with 26 points, seven rebounds and four assists.
Here are some major takeaways from the scrimmage, with Duke’s first exhibition game against Charleston less than a week away:
Kyra Lambert shows off improved jumper
After making 23 starts in an up-and-down freshman campaign, point guard Kyra Lambert looked much more comfortable offensively Sunday. The sophomore shot just 32.1 percent from beyond the arc and 38.0 percent from the field last season, but spent much of the summer focusing on her outside shot.
That work showed, as she scored 18 points on 8-of-16 shooting—including a deep buzzer-beating 3-pointer to end the third quarter—to go along with five assists. The Cibolo, Texas, native brought energy on the defensive end as well, forcing five steals. Her potential emergence as an offensive threat and a distributor as part of a star-studded backcourt that includes All-American Lexie Brown and Greenwell is an encouraging sign for the Blue Devils.
“Kyra had a great summer,” Duke head coach Joanne P. McCallie said. “She was looking for her shot more and looking to create more off the bounce. She really benefits from playing alongside Becca [Greenwell] and Lexie [Brown], in terms of that the defense really has to honor some great 3-point shooters. I’m just very pleased with the summer that she’s had and the direction in which she’s moving.”
Impressive frontcourt performances, but foul trouble concerns emerge
With few established post scoring options heading into this season after Azurá Stevens’ departure, a big key for Duke heading into the season is finding a consistent threat in the post.
But the Blue Devil frontcourt impressed Sunday, with four players scoring in double figures.
Redshirt sophomore Lyneé Belton was a force offensively after a torn meniscus derailed her season last year, contributing 17 points and 10 rebounds, and freshman Leaonna Odom and senior Kendall Cooper both chipped in 14 points. However, the biggest surprise might have been the play of junior Erin Mathias, scoring 13 points for the Blue Devils a year after making just three starts and averaging 1.8 points per game.
“Erin had an especially great summer,” Greenwell said. “Just playing pickup with her, you could tell she was improving offensively and defensively. She’s one of the better screeners on this team, so she’s really versatile out there.”
Although Duke’s forwards impressed, foul trouble looks to be a concern for the unit going forward. Both Odom and Cooper would have fouled out of the contest had it been an official game—the duo combined for 13 fouls.
Greenwell in midseason form
With so many potential offensive threats emerging, one was left to wonder if Greenwell was being overlooked. But she left no doubt about her status as the Blue Devils’ best offensive player with a dominating performance.
The Owensboro, Ky., native poured in 26 points and scored in a number of different ways. Greenwell was her trademark self from beyond the arc, knocking down five 3-pointers, including a spectacular four-point play, but also was willing to drive to the basket and finish at the rim. When the defense collapsed on Greenwell, the second-team All-ACC guard was a willing passer, finishing with four assists.
“I’m just trying to take the right shots,” Greenwell said. “Playing with Kyra and Lexie makes it really easy.... We ran our offense well and there’s a lot of openings for me to take shots.”
Starting backcourt limits turnovers
Turnovers have traditionally been a problem plaguing the Blue Devil offense the last few seasons, but they took better care of the ball Sunday. The White team, which had the probable starting guards in the first half, committed just two turnovers in that period, as Brown, Lambert and Greenwell kept the offense running smoothly.
The Blue team, which lacked a traditional point guard, was not as successful, turning the ball over 16 times in the first half. However, the unit was playing without a traditional ball-handler, forcing sophomore wing Crystal Primm into primary point guard duty.
“The turnover differential shows that Blue had difficulty with [turnovers],” McCallie said. “It was a little bit a product of how the teams were set up, but it would be great if we could stay at eight or less once we start playing real games.”
Brown struggles with her shot
Expectations are high for Brown after sitting out a year following her transfer from Maryland. She averaged 13.3 points and 4.5 assists for the Terrapins and was a third team All-American as a sophomore, but struggled to get her offensive game going in the scrimmage.
The Suwanee, Ga., native was ice-cold from the field, going 2-of-13, including 0-of-6 from 3-point range. Brown did end up with six assists and four steals, finding ways to contribute even without scoring. But Duke will need her to emerge as an offensive scoring threat to keep defenses honest throughout the season, so her perimeter shooting will be an area to watch moving forward.
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Managing Editor 2018-19, 2019-2020 Features & Investigations Editor
A member of the class of 2020 hailing from San Mateo, Calif., Ben is The Chronicle's Towerview Editor and Investigations Editor. Outside of the Chronicle, he is a public policy major working towards a journalism certificate, has interned at the Tampa Bay Times and NBC News and frequents Pitchforks.