It’s time for another year of the Kara Lawson era.
Since its surprising loss in the second round of the NCAA tournament, it has been a long eight months this offseason. But Monday morning, another chapter of The Sisterhood will begin.
Despite finishing an incredible 2022-23 campaign with a 26-7 record and a second-place regular-season conference finish, the Blue Devils head into 2023-24 with several question marks. Preseason polls do not believe that Lawson will be able to replicate the same success this season, as the Blue Devils were picked to finish seventh in the conference.
The main storyline of this season will undoubtedly be the changing of the guard in terms of the roster, as Duke only welcomes back five players who were on last year’s impressive squad, with one of them in Vanessa de Jesus already out for the season due to injury. This comes on the heels of a mass exodus from the 2022 team, both to the transfer portal or due to the loss of eligibility. Most notably, star Celeste Taylor elected to leave the program after her excellent season, darting for Ohio State. This leaves the Blue Devils without a defined go-to player, presenting opportunities for newcomers and returners alike to step up.
In order to rebuild The Sisterhood, Lawson turned both to the transfer portal and the high school ranks to retool the roster. Yale transfer Camilla Emsbo was brought in to complement returner Kennedy Brown down low, while former Boston College point guard Taina Mair will be tasked with running the offense. These two, in addition to the four-player recruiting class highlighted by five-star Jadyn Donovan, bring the roster to ten active players, prompting people to question if Lawson’s style of high-pressure defense will be able to operate as efficiently.
While these questions may persist all year, Lawson will have to figure out the answers quickly, as the Blue Devils will be tested early and often. Outside of the always tough ACC, Duke will welcome the powerhouse South Carolina Gamecocks to Cameron Indoor Stadium, while also taking road trips to Stanford and Georgia. In addition, Lawson’s team will also get the opportunity to take on the best players in the nation, as Duke will scrimmage USA Basketball in early November, allowing the Blue Devils to garner national attention and hopefully boost attendance.
To learn more about the characters who will make or break Duke’s chances in the early non-conference slate — and the rest of the campaign — also be sure to check out the Blue Zone’s player preview series.
A new season of Duke women’s hoops is beginning, and it is sure to be an interesting one. Stay up to date by following @chroniclesports on X and check back with the website regularly for updates all season long.
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