After exceeding expectations a season ago, Duke women's basketball is bringing in an elite group of talent from the recruiting trail and the transfer portal. The Blue Zone will analyze film on each of the newcomers for the 2023-24 season. We've already seen Camilla Emsbo, Jadyn Donovan, Delaney Thomas, Oluchi Okananwa and Jordan Wood. Next up is Taina Mair.
Despite the loss of three starters at the end of the 2022-23 season, head coach Kara Lawson has brought in a wealth of talent through the transfer portal and recruiting trail. Arguably the most significant addition is point guard Taina Mair, a sophomore talent coming from Boston College who will likely fill the vacancy in the starting lineup caused by the departure of Shayeann Day-Wilson. The 5-foot-9 guard will bring elite playmaking skills, along with an ability to bother opposing ball handlers on defense that is matched by few others.
Mair’s primary utility to this year’s group of Blue Devils will be her ability to distribute the ball. She ranked ninth in the country in assists per game last season with the Eagles, tallying an average of 6.6. Take a look here, as she dishes it out to forward Ally VanTimmeren down low.
Here is another example of Mair’s ability to deliver the ball. She is operating with limited space in the paint as defenders crash in around her, and still manages to find a teammate open with a no-look pass for a straightforward bucket.
While her passing ability is strong, the Boston native is also an excellent scorer. Mair is unafraid to pull up from midrange or behind the arc, like she does here as she steps into a smooth triple.
On the defensive end, Mair has an uncanny nose for the ball. She averaged two steals per game and haunted opposing guards. Take a look here, as she snatches the rock for the easy score.
Mair is probably the most proven incoming transfer talent for Duke. She is comfortable playing against tough ACC competition and is defensively versatile. Most importantly, she is a scorer. The Brooks School product can generate offense either through her own shooting or by creating opportunities for others. For Lawson’s group, which was one of the best defensive squads in the country but often struggled to put points on the board, Mair’s ability to create offense will likely make her a key piece.
One of the few points of weakness for Mair right now is efficiency from behind the arc. While she averaged 1.4 3-point makes per game for the Eagles last season, she did so at a below-average 29.4% clip. If Mair can pick up just a few percentage points from deep, she could become an even more potent offensive threat.
For a Blue Devil squad that will be looking to build on an impressive 2022-23 season, Mair will be essential in a guard room that at times can seem a little bit lacking. Between Day-Wilson’s departure and a season-ending injury to senior point guard Vanessa de Jesus, the transfer will likely see a lot of minutes in the coming campaign. It is also true that Mair is just a sophomore, and could develop into a bona fide star as Duke aims for another successful year.
Get The Chronicle straight to your inbox
Signup for our weekly newsletter. Cancel at any time.