DURHAM, N.C. - The preseason second-ranked Duke women's basketball team officially opened practice on Friday morning as the Blue Devils hit the court for two and a half hours in the Michael W. Krzyzewski Center.
Head coach Joanne P. McCallie enters her sixth year with the Blue Devils with one of the most talented and strongest teams she has ever coached.
"I think the aggressiveness, transferring our great work in the weight room," commented McCallie on what she wanted to accomplish the first week of practice. "I believe we are the strongest team that I have coached in a very long time, if not my career. We need to transfer that strength and conditioning and get into a basketball flow, while dictating the physical side of the game. We will also try to get the rhythm of the offense and establish that a little bit. So it's a little bit of everything. It is definitely very busy, but we are having a good time and it is great to be out here."
Duke will be back on the court tonight as the Blue Devils will be introduced at the men's basketball Countdown to Craziness, which kicks off at 6:30 p.m. Tickets to the event can be purchased by heading to GoDuke.com or calling the Duke Ticket Office.
The Blue Devils have been picked to win the ACC in 2012-13 as members of the Blue Ribbon Panel gave Duke 29 of 47 first place votes earlier this week at ACC Media Day. Both Elizabeth Williams and Chelsea Gray were also named to the preseason 10-member All-ACC team.
"This is a pretty savvy and smart basketball team," said McCallie. "This team plays extremely well together. We are balanced on offense and can put up a lot of points, but defensively we are becoming much more serious about what we dictate on that end. We played inconsistently last year defensively. We were sort of young and relied on our offense a lot. That couldn't always bail us out like against Stanford in the NCAA Tournament. I think we are learning and maturing about the value of rebounding and defense and how consistent it needs to be."
As a team, Duke returns four starters and 10 letterwinners from last year's team that posted a 27-6 overall record and advanced to the NCAA Tournament Elite Eight. The Blue Devils return 88.7 percent of their scoring from a year ago, including All-America selections Williams and Gray.
Only nine days after opening practice, Duke will feature the sixth annual Blue/White game on Sunday, Oct. 28 at 1:00 p.m., in Cameron Indoor Stadium. The Blue Devils will then play two exhibition games on Tuesday, Oct. 30 against Shaw and on Sunday, Nov. 4 at 2:00 p.m., versus Queens.
Duke will open the 2012-13 campaign on Saturday, Nov. 17 against Presbyterian. The Blue Devils will feature three straight home contests to kick off the season.
All home games are played in historic Cameron Indoor Stadium. For ticket information, contact the Duke Ticket Office at (919) 681-2583 or 1-877-375-3853. You can also purchase tickets online at www.GoDuke.com.