The Blue Devils kicked off the 2018-19 season with their annual intrasquad scrimmage on Sunday in Cameron Indoor Stadium. The White team prevailed against the Blue team 84-50 thanks to a barrage of three pointers in the first half. Here are the five biggest takeaways from the first look at this year’s Duke squad.
Gorecki ready to fill the Splash Sisters’ shoes
After graduating their two stars Rebecca Greenwell and Lexie Brown, Duke desperately needs someone to step up and fill their roles as playmakers. Redshirt junior Haley Gorecki answered that need within the first few minutes of the game, as she led off with a perfect 4-for-4 mark from downtown. The guard finished with 24 points and six assists, but was also able to push the offense from baseline to baseline with five rebounds.
"I’m a shooter, so Coach is always telling me to just keep on shooting. It’s easy when my teammates pass me the ball in a perfect position, so if I’m open, I’m going to shoot it," Gorecki said. "We have weapons.... We did lose great players last year, but I think we’re more than capable of doing the same work this year."
Blue Devils look to push the pace
The Blue Devil offense came out with a rapid pace and looked to push the ball down the court after every make or miss. Gorecki repeatedly pulled down rebounds and found junior Leaonna Odom with an outlet pass to start the fast break. The White team scored 12 points on fast breaks and 29 points after forced turnovers.
"I think the emphasis with this team is we have more people handling the ball and hopefully we’re getting up there faster on the pass a little bit," head coach Joanne P. McCallie said. "[We] definitely want transition, uptempo, more people stepping up. There’s a lot more work we can do in transition with different screening and stuff, but we’ll get to that.”
Newcomers not afraid to be playmakers
The Blue Devils brought a talented freshman class into Durham that features two top-100 recruits in Onome Akinbode-James and Rayah Craig. Akinbode-James played an active game while Craig controlled the offense for a struggling Blue team. The Scottsdale, Ariz., native contributed eight points while making the biggest impact on the glass with 12 boards.
Perhaps the biggest contribution came from Australian Miela Goodchild, who looked to score early and often. The freshman connected on shots from downtown for 17 points and also dished out a game-high eight assists.
"I thought that Rayah played well, I thought that Miela played well," McCallie said. "But in terms of being young, I think it’s inspiring, and I think it doesn’t really matter. Any age you are, you can compete. I thought that Rayah really competed.”
Depth could be an issue
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Like previous years, Coach McCallie featured the projected starters on the White team for the first half. The starting lineup featured four returners in Gorecki, Odom, Faith Suggs and Jade Williams, as well as the highly touted freshman Akinbode-James. From the opening tip, the Blue team was overmatched and found themselves in a 17-2 hole early.
The projected reserves were unable to create anything offensively going up against the White team’s zone defense with the exception of Craig. Obviously they will benefit from playing with players like Gorecki, who can space the floor, but unless they begin to improve, the starters could be worn out when the thick of ACC play gets going.
4th quarter pits the whole squad vs. the scout team
After three quarters and the White team leading 73-32, Coach McCallie brought the two teams together to play against the scout team made up of volunteer Duke students. The scout team won the quarter 18-9.