By Joedy McCreary, Associated Press
The do-it-all duo - they can score, rebound, block shots and create turnovers on defense - has the Blue Devils (6-0) near the top of the national rankings heading into their Atlantic Coast Conference opener Thursday night against Georgia Tech.
"I tell her she knows where I'm going to be and what I'm going to do most of the time," Gray said of Williams.
Gray is third in scoring in the ACC, averaging nearly 16 points a game; Williams is not far behind at almost 15.
But what makes this pair special is everything else they do.
Both had triple-doubles last season, making that Duke team just the fourth in NCAA history to have teammates do it in the same season.
Gray, a junior point guard, leads the league in assists and assist-turnover ratio - and if no-look passes were an official statistic, she'd rank high in those, too. She is second in steals.
"She's able to find me when I'm open, so that makes me look good because I can hit an easy shot,'' Williams said. "And then I think I make her look good by running the floor and always expecting those passes."
Williams, a post player who was last season's ACC rookie and defensive player of the year, leads the league this year in blocked shots. That's despite a stress fracture in her lower right leg that bothered her during the NCAA tournament last March and continues to heal.
Even though she's not yet back to 100 percent, she makes the Blue Devils tough to stop.
"We're really trying to grow and focus on details early - playing hard and some of the technical stuff can come later," Williams said.
Duke entered this season as a favorite to reach its first Final Four since 2006, and Gray and Williams are the two biggest reasons why.
"As a point guard, I have to direct with the other four players on the floor, but she's had a bit more of a comfortability with me," Gray said. "We just communicate a little better with our eyes and signals."
They began to develop that bond when Williams arrived on campus before last season knowing all about Gray's reputation for distributing the ball.
"She's such a great passer and she'll throw a lot of no-look passes, and I always was expecting a pass from anywhere,'' Williams said. "Even when she gets deep in the lane, she looks to dish. ... She's the type of player where if you block a shot or get a steal, she'll try to reward you at the other end, so I'll sprint the floor and expect the ball."
Said Gray: "A lot of times, I don't look at her when I'm passing, and it surprises a lot of people. But she's always ready and usually finishes the bucket."
Their personalities differ but blend together well, with Williams' sarcastic sense of humor contrasting with the ebullient Gray, who is known in the locker room for her impersonations - including one of coach Joanne P. McCallie.
On the court, Gray has been a vocal leader from Day 1 while Williams - who generally prefers to lead by example - began to step up and speak more often while she was hurt.
"They constantly told me, even last year, what you say is going to matter,'' Williams said. "You're one of the leaders regardless of your class. So I've really tried to soak that in - especially with Chelsea, knowing how vocal she can be."