After an up-and-down 2021-22 season, Duke returns to the hardwood this year with a handful of fresh faces and true grit. In this series, the Blue Zone analyzes the new signees’ film for the 2022-23 season, starting with Kennedy Brown:
As Duke heads into the forthcoming season, it’s clear that one thing this year must emphasize is learning to adapt. The tail end of last season saw struggles—not just in making shots, but also in preventing opponents from getting to the basket. Even with a winning start, the year slowly burned into a hot pile of lackluster. Head coach Kara Lawson has stressed she is not keen on repeating that.
When Lawson made postseason selections from the transfer portal, she looked to players who could keep her crew rooted. She also looked to those who already have the skill and stature to solve previous issues. Redshirt junior transfer Kennedy Brown is one of those athletes.
Standing at 6-foot-6, the forward is a former Oregon State starter who could be the answer to Duke’s defensive problems. During her second season with the Beavers, the Derby, Kan., native averaged 4.6 defensive rebounds, 1.1 blocks and one steal per game. She also provided on the offensive end, averaging 7.9 points per game on a 42.6% clip from the field.
Oregon State may not have ended its season the strongest, finishing 17-14 on the year, but Brown was nonetheless a big part of its successes, even when it lost. In the then-No. 16 Beavers’ first ranked match against then-No. 12 Michigan, the 2019 McDonald’s All-American was a leader for her team, tallying a double-double off 12 points and 10 rebounds. Her defensive IQ assisted with fulfilling those numbers, as seen in the following clip, in which she boxes her defender out of the paint and uses her length to grab a lob from Talia von Oelhoffen before making an easy layup.
Brown is not just a dangerous on-ball matchup in playmaking; her opponents must be careful when shooting around the tall and calculating forward. She was robust in the Beavers’ WNIT second-round matchup against Long Beach State, in which she totaled 15 points, 12 rebounds and two blocks. The following clip emphasizes the Naismith Trophy Honorable Mention’s capacity to remain on the girl with the ball to the basket.
As long as Brown, a player who returned hungry from an ACL injury suffered during her sophomore season and showed prowess on the defensive end last season, is on the court, Duke will certainly not have a shortage of capable veteran options.
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Ana Young is a Trinity sophomore and an assistant Blue Zone editor of The Chronicle’s 118th volume.