BDN’s Sunday Quarterback – Duke gets much needed win

Only wins cure ills

Duke got a much needed victory on the road at Navy and nothing cures ills like a win.  Duke was in desperate need of a few plays going their way and that happened in a 34-31 road win.  The Blue Devils now know they can move the ball and that should bode well down the stretch.

Sean Renfree is back

What an amazingly effective performance from Sean Renfree where he missed a mere two passes and his receivers caught the ball for him.  Heck, even a drop went right through Conner Vernon’s hands, but no biggie for the wideout had another big game.  Renfree got his confidence back and we knew all along that he was a much better signal caller than he showed in recent weeks.  This is a performance which you can build on and expect the effort to carry over down the stretch.

Don’t knock Cutcliffe

Okay, Cut sat Sean Renfree late but one needs to look at the big picture before they complain.  Renfree had a great game and there was no way Duke would gamble and take a chance of him throwing an interception that would have thwarted the progress made with his confidence.  Instead, Duke ran down the clock behind Brandon Connette and it was the right thing to do when looking at the big picture.

Three and a half quarters

I will admit that I thought Duke was on the verge of putting together four full quarters and they almost did.  Navy rallied late and scored 24 points in the final quarter but had the defensive backs held on to sure interceptions and cut out untimely penalties that wouldn’t have been the case.  Navy picked on one DB all day long but we’ll not call him out and we hope he gets it together by the UVA game.

Speaking of the UVA game …

Duke should compete with the Cavaliers and have a chance at a much needed ACC victory which is the next step in closing the season on a positive note.  Fans need to turn out and help their Devils this coming Saturday for a two game winning streak is a possibility.  Before you get to confident though, remember how close the Cavaliers played USC on the road and of course, they took care of Miami this past week in a huge upset win.

Kelby Brown has a bright future at Duke

Duke linebacker Kelby Brown has been a pleasant surprise for this seasons team, despite the fact that he is but a true freshman.   Brown is showing early signs of being a leader for years to come and he simply has a nose for the ball.

Matt Daniels is a player

The Duke secondary has struggled this season but Matt Daniels has been a constant and his huge tackle for a loss versus Navy helped the Blue Devils claim their second victory of the season.  Daniels is a playmaker and I have a feeling he has some big ones coming before the season ends.

Renfree, Duke survive furious Navy comeback for 34-31 win

There is nothing better than a win for a struggling team and the Blue Devils held off a Navy rally holding on for a 34-31 victory and in the process spoiled  Navy’s homecoming.  Duke took control of the game early running out to a 24-0 lead at the half before the Middies knew what hit them.  Duke quarterback  Sean Renfree was on fire today hitting 28 of 30 passes for 328 yards rushing for two scores and throwing for another.  And his counterpart, Brandon Connette did his thing as well, rushing for a touchdown, gaining 34 yards on carries.

The Duke offense limited Navy’s time of possession with several long clock churning drives which helped them keep a lead until a late Navy charge which produced 24 4th quarter points.

Just when you thought Duke was about put together four quarters of football for the first time this season the defense buckled in the 4th quarter with penalties and Navy picking on a Duke defensive back.  But it was the absence of turnovers which helped throttle the Middies where Duke had not a single one on the day and that helped them to a much needed victory.

The Blue Devils will be at home next week against ACC foe Virginia who is coming off an upset win over Miami.  More to come …

Will top prospect Myck Kabongo re-open his recruitment? Yes, he will!

Myck Kabongo is a Texas commit but many are saying he might de-commit. BDN caught up to Kabongo after hearing he might be interested in Duke and North Carolina to get his thoughts.

The following interview was originally printed for BDN Premium members in September of this year .  This article, now free to the public shows that BDN Premium had the foresight to interview a kid openly interested in Duke.  So, check out Varand’s work and see for yourself that we saw this one coming.  Join BDN Premium today for full site access and stay ahead of the cvrve.

From Toronto to Findlay Prep in Henderson, Nevada, Myck Kabongo has been showing everyone that he is one of the elite players in the 2011 class.  The 2011 prospect displays a tight handle and great court vision, often making passes through tiny windows of space.  But what people really want to know is if Kabongo will open his recruitment back up as has been rumored and you can hear what Myck has to say about the Elite 24 event and more in our third premium interview this week.

BDN: We’re here with Myck Kabongo at the Elite 24 Midnight Run. Myck how’s it feel to be selected to the Elite 24?

MK: Oh man I’m blessed and I thank god first and foremost.  You know being selected as one of the top 24 guys in the country is something that every kid that plays basketball dreams of. I’m just happy to be here and I’m excited”

BDN: That is awesome, it’s a big honor.  It’s a big event going from the East coast in Rucker Park out to the West Coast in Venice Beach. Going into the game on Saturday is there anything you want to try to do?

MK: Really it’s just about giving them a good show because that’s what they came out for, but I just want to win, I’m so competitive, and at the end of the day I hope I win. As far as showing out, I’m just gonna try and do the best that I can do and hopefully I just come out on the winning end, that’s [private] all I really care about.

BDN: Definitely. Now something that we’ve got in common, you’re from Canada, I’m from Canada.

MK: (raises the roof) woot woot!

BDN: Yea! You’re from Toronto, right? I was from Hamilton.

MK: Oh yea right around the corner.

BDN: Yea I just moved out here a few months ago and am making L.A my home. So how is the transition from basketball in Canada to the U.S?

MK: Obviously I think the athleticism. You know it’s just a whole different ball park, guys are built like men at 15-16 years old, it’s crazy! You look at my body and I’m frail, and I got a long ways to go until my body fills out. Some of these guys just fill out so early and the game is so fast.  You know, it’s like they made it a culture, it’s their life. That’s what we’re starting to do in Canada now, that’s why you see the progress we have now. I’m just excited to be a part of it really.

BDN: I saw you earlier this summer at the Pangos camp and something I noticed is you were very vocal and it really impressed me.  You probably hadn’t played with most of those guys on the same team but you had no problem being vocal with them.  Is that something you’ve learned over time or did you always have it?

MK: I really learned over time but I’ve always had it in me. You know to see me teammates succeed like me on the court; the more vocal you are the easier it will come.  Not every outcome is going to be good but the more vocal you are it helps open up things on the court, like on defense, the helps side and on offense getting everybody involved. So you know that’s something I believe every point guard deserves to have.  You got to be vocal because they look at you like the leader, so I feel like it’s my job to talk to everybody on the team and make them comfortable.

BDN: So you are committed to Texas, you have a recent Canadian who committed to Texas in Cory Joseph.  Do you guys talk about playing with each other at all?

MK: Yea we always talk about it, but yet again they (Cory Joseph and Tristan Thompson) have a chance to do something special and have a chance to go to the NBA after this year given the minutes that they’ll play.  A lot is expected of them and I just hope the best for them. You know I’d love to play with them but if it doesn’t happen then you know I’ll be happy for my brothers to go to the NBA.

BDN: You’ve been committed to Texas for awhile, do you have a hypothetical list (he laughs) of schools that you’d be interested in if anything was to ever happen? 
 
MK: (laughs) Yea, yea of course. I’d look at Duke, North Carolina, Syracuse, Kentucky and Texas obviously. You always gotta think of them, those are the 5 teams I’ve always adored. Really, all those schools they’re all programs, they develop players and you know if anything was to ever happen like Coach Barnes left, or something crazy, or I just felt the best for me was to do that[decommit] I’d look at those schools.

BDN: Right, right.  Did you have a favorite NBA team growing up?

MK: Toronto Raptors really! (laughs) It’s right at home, I love the Raptors until the day I die. You gotta go with your hometown team, you just have to. And L.A [Lakers] is my second favorite team, so being out here I just feel like I’ve won the championship a couple months ago!

BDN: Thanks a lot for your time, Myck.

MK: No problem.

BDN Previews Duke’s Match up with Navy in Annapolis

Duke (1-6) travels to Navy (5-2) on Saturday to take on the Midshipmen in their Homecoming game in Annapolis. The game will be televised on CBS College Sports at 3:30 PM ET and will be called by Tom McCarthy and Randy Cross. BDN offers the following analysis of Duke’s last non-conference game of 2010.

Duke in Week 8

The Blue Devils fell last week in Blacksburg, 44-7 to Tyrod Taylor and the Virginia Tech Hokies. Taylor threw for 280 yards and 3 touchdowns, adding 47 rushing yards as the Hokies won their 6th in a row. Virginia Tech jumped out to a 27-0 halftime lead, holding the Blue Devils to under 100 yards of offense in the first half. Duke turned the ball over twice in the game (an improvement), as QBs Sean Renfree and Brandon Connette each threw an interception. The Blue Devils’ forced a fumble and held the Virginia Tech running backs to 112 yards on 33 carries. Jay Hollingsworth had his second consecutive positive effort on the ground, rushing for a 6-yard touchdown and an average of 6.5 yards per carry. Conner Vernon hauled in 6 catches, but failed to break open any big plays, totaling just 44 yards. Overall, the Duke offense managed just 10 first downs and 208 total yards in a forgettable trip to Lane Stadium.

Navy in Week 8

The Midshipmen defeated Notre Dame 35-17 in the New Meadowlands Stadium last Saturday. The Navy offense was led by senior Ricky Dobbs, who ran for 3 TDs and added another through the air, and junior Alexander Teich, who ran for 210 yardson the day. The Midshipmen totaled 367 yards on the ground and added 71 yards through their opportunistic passing game. Notre Dame managed just 3.5 yards per carry, threw for 257 yards and were slowed by two turnovers. The tone was set early in the game; the Irish were stopped on a 4th and goal from the 1 yard line on their first possession, after which Navy marched down the field with a 99-yard touchdown drive. Prior to 2007, the Midshipmen had dropped 43 straight games to Notre Dame, making Saturday’s rout all the more satisfying.

Analysis

The Blue Devils will have their hands full with the Navy option offense on Saturday. The Midshipmen rank 9th in the country in rushing, averaging 274 yards per game, while Duke’s defense ranks 107th in the country, allowing 207 yards per game on the ground. The Navy rushing attack will run the ball 50-60 times per game, with the majority of carries going to Dobbs and Teich. The backfield is deep, however, and opponents can expect a few carries to go to explosive sophomore Gee Gee Greene, who averages over 7 yards per carry, and possibly senior Vince Murray, who may return from injury this week. Dobbs has been opportunistic in the passing game, resulting in an impressive 17.8 yards per completion; his favorite targets have been senior Greg Jones and the aforementioned Greene. The effectiveness of the Navy offense is perhaps best demonstrated by the time of possession statistic, where they rank 5th in the country, holding the ball for an average of 33:40 per game. Navy’s efficiency in the option offense is further demonstrated by just 6 fumbles on the year, despite nearly 400 rushing attempts.

The Navy defense ranks 19th in the country, allowing just 18 points per game, but ranks 28th in the country, allowing nearly 330 total yards per game. With a lot of 2 deep schemes, it is a defense that primarily will bend but not break. They have forced 9 fumbles and 6 interceptions on the year, and hold opponents to 36.8% on 3rd downs. Senior rover Wyatt Middleton is the leader and captain on defense, with 44 tackles and 2 pass break ups. Senior LB Tyler Simmons leads the team with 58 tackles, followed by junior LB Aaron McCauley with 56, including 8 for a loss. Junior DE Jabaree Tuani anchors the defensive front with 43 tackles, 2 sacks, and 9.5 tackles for loss.

Keys to this game for Duke are:

  1. Field Position: the Blue Devils cannot afford to give the Navy offense a short field to work with, and therefore must avoid turnovers and cover kicks.
  2. Time of Possession: if the Blue Devils allow Navy to control the game with their offense, they will wear down the Duke defense and dominate the second half. Duke’s offense must take care of the football and consistently move the chains with a balanced attack distributed amongst their deep running back and receiving corps.
  3. Discipline: Duke must stay disciplined on defense, particularly in the secondary. They cannot allow the big plays through the air or on the ground that doomed them against Army earlier this year.

BDN Prediction

The Midshipmen are hitting their stride midseason, with an impressive win last week over Notre Dame. The Blue Devils are still struggling to put all three phases of the game together, but one gets the sense that they are inching closer each week. Could this be the week the offense puts the turnovers behind, the defense stops the option, and special teams wins the field position battle? If Duke hopes to win on Saturday, it will have to be.

Navy 30
Duke 21

Duke at Navy – Q&A Exchange with Navy Blog

BDN exchanged the following Q&A with the Birddog Blog in anticipation of Duke’s matchup with Navy in Annapolis.

BDN: Coming off a 9-4 season in 2009 and an impressive bowl win against Missouri, what were your expectations for Navy this season? How would you evaluate the season so far?

BB: My expectations don’t change much from year to year. A lot of people saw that win over Missouri as a springboard for a run at a BCS game in 2010, but most of those same people thought the team was doomed after losing to Hawaii and looking sort of sloppy against Army a few weeks earlier. So much can happen over the course of a season that I’ve always found predicting records beforehand to be kind of pointless. I generally expect the team to win more than they lose, and go from there. In that sense, Navy is right on track at 5-2. Losing to Air Force was definitely a disappointment, but other than that it’s been pretty much business as usual for Navy.

BDN: Some coaches and media members have been outspoken regarding cut blocking in college football. I have read some of your blog posts on cut blocking and defending against the cut block, and think that you raise some important points. Can you summarize your thoughts on this issue for our readers?

BB: Every team cut blocks, even the ones with coaches who complain about it. It’s the most effective way to get a defender on the ground. Blocking at the legs is no more dangerous than tackling at the legs, and I don’t hear anyone calling to make that illegal.
Nobody seemed to care about cut blocking when Navy was losing. Now all of a sudden it’s an issue.

BDN: From what I’ve seen, the Midshipman have struggled when they fall behind early, which was the case against Maryland and Air Force. How would you suggest a team prepare for Navy and the option offense? Is an early lead and a good offense really the best defense?

BB: Navy fell behind in every game other than Notre Dame and Georgia Southern. People seem to think that once an option offense falls behind, it’s impossible to come back. It just isn’t true.
The best way to prepare a defense to face an option offense is to focus on winning individual matchups and confusing the quarterback. There is no magic scheme that Navy’s coaches can’t adjust to. The most successful teams either beat their blocks and make plays behind the line of scrimmage, or they give the quarterback a variety of stunts and reads to force him into making a mistake.

BDN: Army was able to open things up with a few big passing plays against Duke. Ricky Dobbs is averaging over 17 yards per completion for Navy this year; what have been the keys to the success through the air?

BB: Option offenses tend to create a lot of one-on-one matchups in the passing game, especially since defenses are forced to involve their secondaries in run support. Navy doesn’t pass very often, but when they do it tends to be for maximum effect. That leads to the lofty per-completion averages you see from Navy QBs and receivers. There’s more to it than just scheme, though. Navy has thrown the ball fairly well this year, and I think it’s for a few reasons. First and foremost, Ricky Dobbs is just a better passer than a lot of people seem to give him credit for. Second, though, is that the Navy offensive line is playing better this year. Navy is always near the top of the list for fewest sacks per game, mostly because they also throw the fewest passes. If you measure the number of sacks per pass attempt, though, Navy has usually been terrible, averaging a sack for every 5-9 pass attempts over the last 5 years or so. This year, the line only averages a sack every 11.4 pass attempts. That still isn’t the greatest, but it’s a significant improvement over previous seasons.

BDN: Duke and Navy have played fairly even over their past few meetings. What do you expect from the 1-6 Blue Devils on Saturday?

BB: It’s hard to know how a team is going to react to being 1-6. Will they come out fighting, desperate for a win to break their slide? Or will they look worn out and beaten down, just puching the clock until the end of the season? Duke’s mental state will be as much of a factor in this game as anything.
Offensively, you know what you’re going to get out of a David Cutcliffe team; 30-40 passes and 20-30 runs per game, and lately, a couple of interceptions thrown in for good measure. Turnovers are especially damaging against a team like Navy that likes to control the clock (the Mids are 5th nationally at 33:40 per game). Teams get fewer possessions per game, making each one more valuable. It puts a lot of pressure on the opposing offense to make the most of the few opportunities they get.
On defense, Duke had a lot of success using the squeeze and scrape against Navy in 2008. The squeeze and scrape is when the defensive end “blocks” the playside tackle, preventing him from getting to the second level. That unblocked linebacker then would go on to make the tackle, usually on the quarterback. How well that plan works depends a lot on who the quarterback is; Navy ran all over Duke with their starter in the first half, then came to a grinding halt in the second half with the backup under center. Notre Dame tried the same thing last year and lost. I doubt Duke will use the same plan.

Duke Women’s Basketball Media Day Quotes

Head Coach Joanne P. McCallie

On freshman transition from high school to college.  What is one thing you are emphasizing?
“Just really keeping them attacking all the time on defense and on offense. I think they understand attacking on offense better than they understand attacking on defense. So we are really trying to get that aggressiveness up. It’s really important that they make aggressive mistakes versus passive ones. You know aggressive mistakes are ones that you can coach and live with.  Passive mistakes don’t get you very far and don’t allow you to develop. So that is the biggest thing I can say for our young players is to just to be really getting after it on both sides of the ball and to be understanding of value of both sides of the ball. In high school, often there is not that value simply because kids dominate with offense. But these young folk know that they are going to be going against junior and seniors, I mean that is pretty much what is going to happen.  So it’s important to be thinking like a junior or senior a little bit and trying to push yourself to take those steps.”

On team chemistry
“I think as a coach you can try and help it with the combinations and the different things you do but in reality I think that it occurs during game play and experiences together to. You have to let the team have experiences together, but I think we can help it along as coaches, different subbing patterns that we do at various times. It’s kind of an exciting part of developing a team because you, essentially you do start all over again. No matter what you did the year before, we had some really great experiences last year.  Those are terrific memories but you have to create new ones and your back to creating them all over again.”

On the skills of the freshmen:
“We hope they are going to be extremely aggressive, help us with our offensive rebounding. We also hope they are going to help us spread the floor a little bit with their shooting ability to — so [that will] give us more spacing relative to what they can do offensively. And we also hope that they enjoy playing together and finding what I call our shot — you know the best shot for our group at the moment. We are learning that as you can see from the Blue/White.  I mean we have rims in our eyes and springs in our arms and make no mistake about it, 40 three’s going up so I think we had to get that out of our system, which is I think I will just shoot at any time. That mentality, we’ve got to have a little bit of a plan behind what we do and we have to work together to create what I consider our shot and we haven’t done that yet.”

On the offensive priority:
“The priority is to play great basketball which is move the basketball — play inside out sure, get it into the paint. Paint shots are very important, as a matter of fact, championships are pretty much won on paint shots. Perimeter shots are very important to, so as I call it an equal opportunity, everybody on the floor, I think we’ve got five people in five different spots that can create and the judgment piece and the maturity piece is what will be needed as where the ball should be.”

On the post player’s condition:
“We are in great in three ways and not in great shape in one way. Haley Peters and Kathleen Scheer are really providing us with some quickness, some shooting ability and Krystal [Thomas] is rock solid. After Ali [Allison Vernerey] hit her head in practice you know — a couple of things; a hit to the nose and the next day [she] smacked her head pretty good on the ground.  We are taking it really slow with her. So I would say that we are not full.  We are not full but we have three folks with Karima [Christmas] as well dabbling in a floor spot also.”

Senior Krystal Thomas

How do you think you’ve evolved this season? Can you talk about your growth?
I’ve definitely made it a point to be in the best condition that I can. I’m just really making sure that I run as much as I can. I’ve also gotten a lot stronger, which always helps. So that, even when I’m out there, I’m not out there getting pushed around — I can fight back. Also, just working on my face up game, being able to pass better, as well as hit the open outside jumper.

What is this team’s identity? What do you guys do best?
Right now I am not exactly sure, come back and ask me in a few weeks. Right now we are just so balanced, so versatile, that it is hard to tell what is going to be our strength. Last year we were a very defensive minded team and that is something we definitely want to carry over to this year. We also want to add to that, we also want to add the offensive component so that teams can’t label us as a one dimensional team.  So that we can attack in many different ways.

What is your comfort level with Allison [Vernerey]?
It’s definitely grown a lot. The beauty of playing with Allison is that she is very easy to flow with. We complement each other very well because we are very opposite. She can get down there; run the floor with the guards, whereas I am much more the power, more physical post. I can play on the perimeter; she can play on the outside. We can complement each other. It works really well to have two bigs offensively and defensively in the lane.

Freshman Haley Peters

What skills do you think the freshman class brings to the offensive scheme this year?
I think we have a balanced class, in terms of offense. We definitely have some good shooters and an attacking mindset. We have two great point guards who can handle the ball and are great passers. As I said, it’s a great balance I think.

How do you see yourself working with Krystal and Allison, when she’s healthy?
I’ve grown a lot just in practice, playing against them, because they are so physical and strong. I think that I can add a little bit of outside shooting, but KT [Krystal Thomas] can really shoot the ball from outside now. I’ve just been learning from them every practice, what they do and the moves that they use.

Freshman Tricia Liston

Coach P said that all of the freshmen bring something different, what do you bring?
I think the ability to score and shoot outside.

Have you always been an outside shooter? Who taught you? How young did you start?
My dad taught me. I started as soon as I could hold a basketball because my three older sisters played and I was always tagging along and my dad always coached them.

Were you always a pure shooter?
Right at a young age I got the form down and that is usually the hardest thing for a young kid to learn, not using two hands. Once I got the form down I loved the game so much that it just kind of came when I was little.

You had option, why did you choose Duke?
It was competitive in the classroom and with athletics. Every year you hear about Duke Women’s basketball, Duke men’s basketball and the atmosphere here is centered on basketball. Everyone here is a huge basketball fan, which I have been since I was a kid — both watching and playing. Also, just being on a team that has the potential to do really great things and win a lot of basketball games.

When was the first time you can remember paying attention to Duke women’s basketball?
As a kid, every girl who plays basketball here is about Duke, UConn and Tennessee so it started off more as a dream to me, as a dream school.

Did your parents influence your decision?
They pretty much left it up to me. They knew that what made me happy, made them happy. Also, since I’m the last one, they are going to get to travel and see all of my games.

Shooting is your first skill; defensively did you have to do some work?
I definitely have had to do some work and I still have to continue to work.

What is the biggest difference?
The speed and also every girl that you are defending can potentially score. In high school, you can be guarding somebody that you can’t expect to put the ball in the basket even once.

Senior Karima Christmas
You have a difficult non conference schedule this year right off the bat. How will you prepare for that and the tournament in April?
I think really just playing your game. Not trying to change and do something different. A lot of players when they first come in try to do too much. It’s just do what you know how to do and do it to the best of your abilities. Anything that you do, and contribute is going to help us out in the long run.

What have you noticed about Krystal Thomas during workouts this year?
I think her conditioning, especially after being out as a result of her surgery. Just being conditioned is enabling her to stay out on the floor for more minutes. I can note it from last year to this year, how much more conditioned she is, how much longer she can stay out there and be a threat.

Have you seen her (Thomas) work at it? Passing drills and extra practices…
She’s definitely stayed after practice and put in extra reps — did extra agilities just to try and get back a little extra.

What does it mean to have her be able to stay in there for more minutes?
It’s about depth. Her and Allison will probably rotate in and out for each other. But her ability being able to stay out there more will allow them to play together more, giving us more subs to come in for them. Since they can stay in longer it won’t be a big deal to play them for long stretches of time together.

Freshman Chelsea Gray

On what she did this summer to prepare herself mentally and physically for college ball?
“Mentally, I just knew that I had to come knowing I’m going to be surrounded by great people.  I just had to come in here knowing that I had to work hard non-stop.  I just knew coming here that I had to adjust to everything — the speed, the tempo, everybody.  I had to come working hard every day.  In the summer, we came here as a collective group and did some things with our conditioning coach that really helped a lot.”

Junior Shay Selby

On recovering from injury:
“It still gives me a little bit of a problem when I do certain things, but it’s mostly back to normal.  The brace helped me back a lot, especially on defense and quickness.  It was hard to move, cut, stuff like that.”

On confidence:
“It’s alright…getting up there.  It’s hard coming off an injury and then being hurt for a while.   But right now, I’m healthy and I just need to focus on doing everything right.”

On the non-conference schedule:
“I think our schedule is pretty good this year.  We have a lot of teams we played last year and unfortunately lost to.  So, hopefully we’ll have a payback year and we can put everything together and make it all the way to the top. ”

On growth of freshmen on team:
“I think they’ve grown a lot so far.  Once we get into games and they have to deal with pressure situations, I think it will be good for them.”

Comparing this year’s team to last year’s:
“We have more offensive threats with the freshmen coming in.  A lot of them look to score and distribute the ball.  I think that it will be to our benefit.  Like last year, we struggled shooting and handling zones.  Having more threats from the perimeter will help us tremendously.”

Senior Jasmine Thomas

On the upcoming season and this year’s team:
“I’m excited.  Definitely losing B [Bridgette Mitchell], KJ [Keturah Jackson] and Joy [Cheek], you lose rebounding, you lose defense, and you lose scoring.  It’s good that we have five freshmen that can come in and fill all of the things that we lost.  It’s a very weird feeling to not have them around, but I’m also very confident in what we have on this team.  We have a bunch of scorers, we’re quick and strong, and we have the ability to defend just like we did last year.”

On Chloe’s [Wells] development under her guidance:
“I see a lot of myself in Chloe as far as how aggressive she is and how she can attack.  She shoots well which is something I admire about her and she can also set people up.  I’d like to take her under my wing if she’d let me.”

On her expectations for this year (personal goals):
“My personal goal is just to be the best that I can.  Whatever that takes me to — whether it’s another ACC Championship, a NCAA Championship, or All-America – that’s fine.  But I can’t focus on that because just because I get that doesn’t mean I’m the best I can be.  I don’t think I’ll ever get there, but that’s my goal – to keep trying.”

Freshman Chloe Wells

On adjusting to college ball:
“I’m having a lot of fun.  It’s a growing period for me.  I’m the smallest and the weakest so far, but I’m getting in the weight room.  I think the biggest difference is the pace of the game, but I feel like I’m learning that now.”

On how she was prepared to make this mental transition:
“Playing with my dad, he always had us play up.  Most of the girls I’m going to play against are juniors and seniors and I’ve already played up against different people, so I know that I need to bring it.”

On what she has learned from Jasmine [Thomas]:
“Her work ethic – whether we are on the court or off the court, she is always going hard.  She’s always first.  I admire that about her, especially on defense.  She’s just relentless, and that’s something I’m trying to do now.  And on offense, when she’s not looking for her shot, she’s looking to create for others.”

One thing that Coach P harps on?
“I have to talk.  I’ve got to lead.”

For more coverage visit GoDuke.com