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Five observations from Duke women's basketball's Blue-White exhibition

For their first game since bowing out of the ACC tournament last March, the Blue Devils returned to action, coming out playing aggressively and showcasing a balanced scoring attack in their annual Blue-White intersquad scrimmage Sunday afternoon.

In the first half, the White team, made up of the starters from a year ago, took on the Blue team, which featured three of the Duke freshmen, at Cameron Indoor Stadium Sunday afternoon. The 2019 edition of the Blue-White exhibition resulted in the White team taking the victory 89-71, with the men's scout team playing as the Blue squad in the second half.

Player of the game: Haley Gorecki

Gorecki, assuming a leadership position for the second year in a row, attacked the basket relentlessly Sunday. She finished the first half with 12 points, three steals and three rebounds. The Palatine, Ill., native knocked down all five of her free throws and dished out a pair of assists.

After being double-teamed four minutes into the second half, she dribbled out and continued the team’s ball movement and eventually got the ball back, resulting in an open triple.

Gorecki ended up scoring seven points in 13 second-half minutes and picked up a pair of assists and rebounds.

Leaonna Odom holds down the point guard position

Odom began the game as the White team’s point guard and pushed the ball off made baskets in the opening quarter. When she came out of the game, Goodchild assumed the point guard responsibilities until Odom returned.

Duke head coach Joanne P. McCallie noted after the game that Goodchild “could not run the point last year,” but will be taking the reins this season at times.

Odom and freshman Azana Baines will see the majority of the point guard minutes until graduate student Kyra Lambert and Mikayla Boykin return from their respective injuries sometime during the season.

Goodchild scored seven points in the first half and then six in the second with three made 3-pointers on the afternoon.

In the second frame, Odom continued to look comfortable as floor general and looked to get the ball inside to junior Jade Williams on a few different occasions. With the clock winding down in the first half, Odom drove past her defender and was fouled. She drained the pair of shots from the charity stripe to finish the first half with five points.

“She’s getting comfortable with that role,” junior Jade Williams said regarding Odom’s point guard play. “I just know to run the floor and she will find me. She’s very good at drawing defense and creating openings and gaps.”

Forty seconds into the final period, Odom pushed the ball down the floor and completed an and-one to put her team up double-digits. She scored a team-high 10 points in the second half on a perfect 4-for-4 shooting.

Emily Schubert shows a veteran presence

In the first half, Emily Schubert teamed up with freshmen Jaida Patrick, Jada Claude and Azana Baines on the Blue team. As the only returning player on that team, Schubert looked for the ball on both the fast breaks and the half-court offense.

“Emily’s a special person,” McCallie said. “A complete team player…. Never complains, always leads.” 

Schubert, a team captain alongside Gorecki and Krya Lambert, drained a midrange jump shot in the first quarter and received an outlet pass as she ran down the floor on the next possession. She ran the floor again and was open for a pass underneath the basket, but the ball was just out of her reach. At the end of the first half, Schubert finished with eight points on 4-of-7 shooting and three rebounds.

Schubert scored two points and notched a steal when she came back in for the final two minutes of the game.

“Now she’s settling down in her complete game,” McCallie continued. “In the past, I thought she shot it quick all the time... today, you saw a very mature player.”

Jade Williams attacks the basket

In the first half, Williams situated herself near the 3-point line and would take her defender to the basket repeatedly. She finished the first half with 12 points on 5-of-10 shooting and six rebounds, three of which came on the offensive end. Williams was also the recipient of one of Odom’s inside passes when she pushed the ball off a made basket.

Williams dropped in seven points in the second half and brought down two rebounds. The Colony, Texas native also went one-for-two from behind the arc.

First-team defense comes out strong

McCallie emphasized strong defense and the White team racked up a multitude of steals and blocks. In the first half, Gorecki’s three steals and Onome Akinbode-James’ two led the way.

In the second half, the Blue Devils mixed up their defensive sets and utilized some looks that the freshmen trio had not practiced this fall.

“That was actually funny because it confused the offense and the guys generally turned it over,” McCallie said. “But the bottom line was nobody knew what they were doing.”

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