Category Archives: Duke Basketball

Kara Larson Named Duke Women’s Hoops Coach

The news started to break yesterday morning that Duke was close to signing Kara Lewis as the new head coach of the Duke Women's Basketball program. Blue Devil Nation was tipped off that the two parties were closing in on an agreement as Duke A.D. Kevin White was completing the deal behind closed doors.

DURHAM, N.C. – Former WNBA and Olympic Champion Kara Lawson has been named Duke University’s fifth head women’s basketball coach, announced on Saturday by Vice President and Director of Athletics Kevin White

“I am delighted to welcome Kara Lawson to Duke as our next women’s basketball coach,” said Duke President Vincent E. Price. “Kara has proven herself as a skilled coach and a committed mentor, whose passion for education is demonstrated by her service on her alma mater’s board of trustees.  I am thrilled that she will be bringing these talents to Duke, and I know that she will support the continued success of our women’s basketball student-athletes both on the court and off.”

Lawson, a 2003 Tennessee graduate, brings her decorated basketball career, both on and off the court, to the Blue Devils after spending last season as an assistant coach with the Boston Celtics. She had helped Boston to a 43-21 record and into third place in the Eastern Conference prior to the stoppage of the 2019-20 NBA season due to COVID-19. Lawson was the Celtics first female coach in the franchise’s 73-year history.

“A highly-seasoned champion at multiple levels within the basketball landscape, Kara Lawson is the ideal fit for Duke University,” commented White. “Throughout the process, it became abundantly clear that her authenticity, passion, contemporary vision and unwavering commitment to the student-athlete experience align seamlessly with the values of the institution. With her high degree of emotional intelligence, Kara’s astute ability to connect with future, current and former student-athletes, as well as the passionate and dedicated supporters of Duke women’s basketball, will have an immediate and profound impact on the entire program.”

“Well, it is a dream come true for me,” said Lawson.  “I have wanted to be a coach since I was a kid. To have an opportunity to lead a group of young women at a prestigious university like Duke – I have run out of words; it is unbelievable and very exciting.  I am thankful for the path that led me here and thankful for the belief of President Price, Kevin White, Nina King, Coach Krzyzewski, Coach Cutcliffe and everyone surrounding the program. Everybody I spoke with and had a chance to interact with, I immediately felt a great connection.  It wasn’t a decision based on emotion, but there was a lot of emotion involved in it because of how excited I am and how ready I am to get started and to work with the players.”

Following an exceptional playing career, Lawson spent two years as the primary television analyst for the Washington Wizards while also broadcasting games for ESPN Radio.  In addition to her role covering the Wizards for NBC Sports Washington, Lawson served as a game and studio analyst for men’s and women’s college basketball and the NBA for ESPN. On January 12, 2007, she became the first female analyst for a nationally-televised NBA game.

Recently, Lawson has assisted efforts for USA Basketball’s 3x3 teams in preparation for the Tokyo Olympic Games.  She has helped USA Basketball 3x3 teams to six gold medals since 2017. With Lawson on the sideline, the USA U18 women have won three straight titles (2017 & 2019 FIBA 3x3 U18 World Cups and 2018 Youth Olympic Games) while the U18 men captured gold at the 2019 FIBA 3x3 U18 World Cup. Additionally, Lawson helped guide the USA 3x3 men’s and women’s teams to first place finishes at the 2019 Pan American Games.

In 13 WNBA seasons, Lawson averaged 9.8 points, 2.6 rebounds, and 2.5 assists in 377 career games with the Sacramento Monarchs, Connecticut Sun and Washington Mystics from 2003 to 2015. In addition to her WNBA career, which included a championship with the Monarchs in 2005 and an All-Star appearance in 2007, Lawson was a member of the Team USA roster that captured the gold medal at the 2008 Summer Olympic Games in Beijing.

A four-time All-SEC selection and two-time All-America choice at Tennessee, Lawson played for the late Pat Summit and led the Lady Vols to three NCAA Final Four appearances during her collegiate career. Lawson appeared in 143 games, making 137 starts, and helped Tennessee to a 126-17 overall and 54-2 mark in the SEC over her four seasons. Lawson guided the Lady Vols to four straight SEC regular season and tournament crowns, as well as 2000, 2002 and 2003 NCAA Final Four appearances.

Lawson currently ranks third all-time at Tennessee in three-point field goals made (256), second in three-point field goal percentage (.415) and also ranks third in career free throw percentage (.847).  Lawson averaged 13.6 points and 4.3 rebounds per game while closing her career ranking sixth in career points with 1,950.  Lawson also was stellar in the classroom and was a 2003 CoSIDA/Verizon First Team Academic All-America selection. 

In 2003, Lawson was one of seven recipients of the prestigious Torchbearer Award given by the University of Tennessee. 

Along with her participation with the 2008 USA Basketball gold medal winning squad, Lawson has extensive international experience.  She played with the 2007-08 USA Basketball Women’s National Team and was a member of the 2007 FIBA Americas Championship Team.  Lawson was invited to play with the 2006 USA Basketball Women’s National Team during their spring training.  She played five games with the 2003 WNBA Select Team that participated in the FIBA Women’s World Cup, was the captain of the gold-medal winning U.S. World University Games Team in 2001 and was a member of bronze-medal winning U.S. Women’s World Youth Games Team in 1998.

As a senior at West Springfield High School, she was selected the 1999 Naismith High School Player of the Year while earning All-America accolades from USA Today, Parade and the WBCA.  Additionally, she was the 1998 and 1999 Gatorade Player of the Year in Virginia and led her squad to two state championships.

Lawson, who is married to Damien Barling, graduated from Tennessee in 2003 with a degree in finance. 

The fifth Duke women’s basketball coach in program history, Lawson joins Emma Jean Howard (1976-77), Debbie Leonard (1978-92), Gail Goestenkors (1993-2007) and Joanne P. McCallie (2008-20) that have led the Blue Devils.

Blue Devil fans can purchase 2020-21 season tickets and submit season ticket deposit for the 2021-22 season here.

The Kara Lawson File

Hometown:  Alexandria, Va.

Education:  Tennessee, 2003 (Finance)

High School:  West Springfield High School

Husband:  Damien Barling

Birthday:  February 14, 1981

Coaching Experience:

2020-present:  Duke University (Head Coach)

2019-20:  Boston Celtics (Assistant Coach)

2017-present:  USA Basketball 3-on-3 Team (Head Coach)

USA Basketball Highlights:

Preparing USA Basketball 3-on-3 Team for 2021 Tokyo Olympics

Helped lead 3x3 teams to six gold medals since 2017

Led U18 3x3 teams to three straight titles

Led 3x3 men’s and women’s teams to gold medal at 2019 Pan American Games

2009 National Team Training Camp

2008 National Team (Gold Medal)

2007 FIBA Americas Championship Team (Gold Medal)

2006 National Team Spring Training Team

2001 World University Games (Gold Medal)

1998 World Youth Games Team (Bronze Medal)

WNBA Highlights:

Surpassed 3,000 points, 800 rebounds and 700 assists over her 13-year career

Led nine of her teams to the playoffs out of 13 seasons

2009 Kim Perrot Sportsmanship Award winner

2007 WNBA All-Star

Led Sacramento Monarchs to WNBA Title in 2005

Drafted in the 2003 Draft, No. 5 overall, by the Detroit Shock

2003 WNBA Select Team that played in FIBA World Cup (2nd)

Tennessee Highlights:

Guided Tennessee to a 126-17 overall and 54-2 SEC record

Led Lady Vols to four straight SEC Tournament and regular season titles

Made 2000, 2002 and 2003 NCAA Final Four appearances

Ranks sixth all-time in scoring (1,950)

Four-time All-SEC First Team (2000-03)

Two-time Naismith Player of the Year finalist (2002-03)

Two-time U.S. Basketball Writers of America All-America honoree (2002-03)

2003 Kodak All-America

2003 Associated Press Second Team All-America

2003 Arthur Ashe Jr. Female Student-Athlete of the Year

2003 CoSIDA/Verizon First Team Academic All-America selection

2002 Associated Press Third Team All-America

2001 Associated Press Honorable Mention All-America

2001 CoSIDA/Verizon Academic All-District honoree

2000 Women’s Basketball Journal Freshman All-America and SEC All-Freshman Team

Duke Women’s BB Coach, McCallie Steps Down

DURHAM, N.C. – Following a storied 28-year head coaching career that includes 646 victories, 22 seasons with 20-plus wins, 21 NCAA Tournament appearances and eight conference championships at three institutions, Joanne P. McCallie announced Thursday she will step away from the head women's basketball coaching position at Duke University, effective immediately.  McCallie spent the last 13 seasons at Duke, leading the Blue Devils to a 330-107 (.755) overall record while earning ACC Coach of the Year honors three times.

“Here at Duke, Joanne’s extraordinary passion for excellence produced championship-level success and provided many timeless, captivating moments for both our student-athletes and fans,” said Duke Vice President and Director of Athletics Kevin White. “To be sure, Joanne’s unwavering commitment to leadership and service has had an enormous impact on the development of countless young women over the past three decades.”

In addition to her 330 overall victories with the Blue Devils, McCallie guided Duke to a 150-54 (.735) ledger in ACC action with four consecutive league regular season titles in 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013 and three ACC Tournament championships in 2010, 2011 and 2013.  As well, McCallie’s tenure in Durham included 10 NCAA Tournament selections with four straight Elite Eight appearances from 2010-13.

During the 2018-19 season, McCallie became the quickest coach in ACC history to reach the 300-win plateau at a member institution.  The season before, she became the 15th-fastest coach in NCAA history to reach the 600-victory mark, doing so in just 821 contests.

At Duke, McCallie mentored seven All-America selections, 15 All-ACC choices and five WNBA first round draft picks.

In addition to her 13 years at Duke, McCallie also served head coaching stints at Maine (8 seasons; 1993-00; 167-73 [.696]) and Michigan State (7 seasons; 2001-07; 149-75 [.665]).  She was named the National Coach of the Year in 2005 after leading the Spartans to the Big Ten title and an appearance in the NCAA Tournament championship game.  Prior to becoming the head coach at Maine, McCallie was an assistant coach at Auburn from 1988-92.

Overall, McCallie’s head coaching record stands at 646-255 (.717).

McCallie became the first NCAA Division I head coach to capture a conference championship in four different leagues.  In addition to her three ACC Coach of the Year citations (2010, 2002 & 2013), McCallie was named the league’s top coach in three additional leagues: North Atlantic Conference (1995 & 1996), America East Conference (1999) and Big Ten Conference (2005).

Duke will begin its search for McCallie’s replacement immediately.

Football Players Return to Duke on July 12th, August 6 for Hoops

DURHAM, N.C. – Beginning with members of the football program on July 12, Duke University student-athletes will commence a phased return to campus.

The Blue Devil women’s soccer team is scheduled to return to campus on July 21, followed by volleyball (July 27), field hockey (July 29), men’s and women’s cross country (July 29) and men’s soccer (July 29). Members of Duke’s men’s and women’s basketball programs are tentatively scheduled to return on August 2.

Upon arrival to campus, all student-athletes will be tested for COVID-19 and will be required to follow health and hygiene protocols established by Duke and national medical experts. These measures are consistent with the procedures for all Duke undergraduate students.

Caleb Houstan Gets Duke’s 1st 2022 Offer

While it seems like the sports world is on pause due to the COVID-19 outbreak, one thing remains the same, that being Duke Basketball never stops.

The Blue Devils men's basketball staff has been active throughout the process of seeking to get back to normal in that they have been active on the recruiting trail.

Duke sent out its first offer in the class of 2022 to Canadian Caleb Houstan who hails from Mississauga, Ontario which is just outside of Toronto. If that sounds familiar it is because that is where former Duke standout and current New York Knick R.J. Barrett is from.

The Duke staff led by head coach Mike Kzyzewski have been able to contact players since June 15th and we can expect to see more offers in the coming days.

Houstan who is known for his good footwork on the court may have gotten that from playing soccer. During the FIBA games for under 16 players, Houstan averaged just under 23 points per outing to go with five boards where he helped lead Canada to the Silver Medal.

Houstan has supposedly grown an inch and is no 6-8 and there is one other thing to keep an eye on here. Houstan may look into entering the class of 2021 when the dust clears on the summer, so stay tuned for more on that.

A sleek scorer, Houstan has the attention of many schools to date but the Blue Devils have made their move here to enter the fray.