Dishin & Swishin 11/15/12 Podcast: Duke’s Joanne P. McCallie talks getting healthy, going to New Orleans and a star recruiting class

No. 3 Duke opens their season against Presbyterian, Saturday, Nov. 17. Photo: Duke Photography.
No. 3 Duke opens their season against Presbyterian, Saturday, Nov. 17. Photo: Duke Photography.

All things considered, this has been a good week for Duke women’s basketball and coach Joanne P. McCallie. Yesterday, they landed four recruits that as a group is ranked number two nationally by Blue Star Report and number three by the Girls Basketball Report. This morning they had two people named to the Naismith Award preseason watch list. Finally, the team that has been fighting the remnants of injuries dating to last season will open their season on Saturday, having had some extra recovery time.

The key question surrounding the Blue Devils, however, is if that is enough recovery time. It is a talented but young team, with only one senior. The injured players will determine if this team will be making a trip to New Orleans come April.

Most notably, center Elizabeth Williams, one of those two Naismith watch list players, is still recovering from a stress fracture in her left leg. As McCallie said in the podcast, Williams would have been better off just breaking the leg outright, then at least it would heal and they could move on. Instead, dealing with a stress fracture, you can never tell when it is completely healed or what will bring it back. McCallie hopes to see Williams get around ten minutes per game on the court shortly, and then see what happens.

Amber Henson, Richa Jackson, and Chloe Wells are all nursing injuries with various return times, but McCallie hopes to have them back not too far into the season, or at least for the majority of the ACC conference schedule.

Where there are injuries, there are also opportunities. McCallie discussed the preseason performances of Haley Peters, Tricia Liston and freshman sensation Alexis Jones, among others. It is exciting to see the youngsters taking their opportunities and running with them.

The constant driving force behind the team though, is junior guard Chelsea Gray. Often overlooked in the “great point guard discussions,” in last week’s roundtable the panel discussed the fact that Gray should be included with names like Sims and Diggins in looking at the country’s elite floor generals.

Can this team make it to New Orleans and dance in the Final Four? If Williams and the others return strong and there are no further injuries, there is no question that this team has the potential to be one of the four best in the country.

In addition to the current and future Blue Devils, McCallie discussed the changes in the ACC, and the first year of the eighteen-game conference schedule and their effects on a loaded conference, including the geography and travel logistics as well as the new challenges.

The Devils have always had a strong out-of-conference schedule, and while reduced because of the conference load, the Maggie Dixon Classic in New York versus St. John’s and the annual battle with Connecticut are two of the very best games on tap that McCallie discussed.

It is a fun twenty minutes with one of the best coaches in the country, one that has high hopes of taking a very successful program even higher. With the strength of this team, and the fact it almost completely comes back and will be joined by a top recruiting class, the sky is the limit in Durham for “Coach P” and the Blue Devils!

Enjoy the podcast!

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