With matchups becoming an increasingly crucial part of college basketball, it is imperative that a team’s starting point guard presents problems for an opposing defense.
By moving Leaonna Odom to the point guard spot, Duke head coach Joanne P. McCallie has given the Blue Devils an elite athlete at the position who can create her own shot and take advantage of smaller defenders. With Odom’s unique skillset, it is clear that the senior is the best choice to be the primary ball-handler for Duke.
In her junior year, Odom started 29 games and was the perfect complement to scoring machine Haley Gorecki. Odom averaged 13.1 points per game on 50.6 percent shooting from the field, with a solid outside shot complementing her playmaking ability. Odom has improved her distributing each year at Duke, averaging a career-high 2.5 assists per game in 2018-19.
This shows her comfort level within Duke’s motion offense. At 6-foot-2, Odom can give her defenders issues when attacking the rim and moves without the ball effectively off of backdoor cuts. Odom’s versatility and athleticism gives the Blue Devils the flexibility to send out different lineup combinations depending on the situation, and also excel in the open court. An elite finisher, Odom has shown a knack for taking the ball coast-to-coast dating back to her days at Chaminade College Prep. This will give Duke’s offense a transition component that will wear down opposing defenses.
Odom also consistently displays an array of moves out of the high post, and smaller point guards guarding her will allow for easy turnaround jumpers when Duke needs a basket late in games. Alongside a talented scorer in Gorecki and a marksman from deep in Miela Goodchild, Odom presents a difficult matchup when she attacks the basket. Help defenders will double her to compensate for the matchup issue, leaving Gorecki and Goodchild open on the wings.
Odom presents the most promising option for the Blue Devils at point guard. Her physical tools and versatile skillset will allow Duke to play an up-tempo brand of basketball. With Odom at point guard, McCallie will have the ability to trot out lineups with significant length to take advantage of favorable matchups offensively. Odom’s ability to create for her teammates, her abilities as a pure scorer and her athleticism all make her the clear choice to run the Blue Devil’s offense in 2019-20.
This is a part of our point/counterpoint series of who should run point guard for the Blue Devils this year. Read Em Adler's point arguing for a point-by-committee here and the rest of our Duke women's basketball here.