With the college basketball season right around the corner, it's time for the Blue Zone to take a look at the 2023-24 Duke women's basketball roster. We previously looked at Emma Koabel, Oluchi Okananwa, Delaney Thomas, Jordan Wood, Camilla Emsbo, Kennedy Brown, Jadyn Donovan and Ashlon Jackson. Next up is sophomore guard Taina Mair:
Last year’s stat line: 36.7 MPG, 11.1 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 6.6 APG (Boston College)
Game breakdown: Taina Mair, a transfer from Boston College, is a steady, pass-first point guard who also has elite scoring ability. She averaged a remarkable 6.6 assists per game in her freshman campaign — good for second in the ACC — while totaling a league-high 217. The flip side to this passing ability is a high turnover rate, as she held the undesirable position of turnover leader in the ACC. Nevertheless, Mair anchored a struggling Eagles team and was second in points and steals for Boston College. She will fit well in head coach Kara Lawson’s notoriously stingy defense, as she averaged roughly two steals per game last year by pestering opposing guards.
Mair demonstrated her ability to score in bunches, as she recorded more than 20 points in three games last season and consistently put up double figures. She is able to score from all three levels of the court, with crafty finishing around the basket and a smooth jump shot. The Boston native connected on 47 3-pointers; however, her shooting percentages last season were relatively low. This is understandable because she shot a high volume as one of the primary scorers for the Eagles, but this is still an area of improvement for Mair coming to Duke.
Role on the team: Mair will presumably be the starting point guard on a team which is thin at that position. After losing former starting guards Shayeann Day-Wilson to Miami and Celeste Taylor to Ohio State, the Blue Devils needed to reinforce their guards. This was exacerbated when senior Vanessa de Jesus, the other point guard on the team, injured her knee in the summer and will be out for an extended period. Therefore, Mair’s facilitating ability will be vital for Lawson, and her ACC experience is invaluable. Mair will likely play a lot of minutes, so her conditioning will be of utmost importance. Duke struggled last season to produce offensively, and Mair will be tasked with setting the offense and running through sets. The Brooks product will also have the challenge of facing some elite guards in a stacked ACC. However, if Mair develops a more consistent shot and takes care of the ball, she has the basketball IQ and playmaking ability to evolve into one of the best point guards in not only the league, but the country.
Projected stats: 28.5 MPG, 11.5 PPG, 3.1 RPG, 5.8 APG
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Ranjan Jindal is a Trinity sophomore and an assistant Blue Zone editor of The Chronicle's 119th volume.