Wow, the past week has been such a whirlwind of accomplishments for DWB!
We finished up the conference season winning the ACC Tournament. We beat three quality opponents in NC State, Florida State and North Carolina in the championship game. All three posed different challenges in terms of style of play. Our coaching staff did a great job of putting the scouting reports and preparation together. After our win in Greensboro, I told our team to take a few days off, so that they can rest up and enjoy spring break before we start preparing for our “new” season!
During the time off I went to see my daughter, Maddie. Her team, Miami of Ohio, played in the MAC Tournament. As a coach, being a fan is something that I don’t experience as much so having this time to watch Maddie and the team compete is something I truly cherish. Unfortunately, our trip lasted only one night as they ended up losing the game, which means they are headed to the WNIT!
Also during spring break our All-America point guard Chelsea Gray underwent surgery to repair her knee. Chelsea is motivated to come back stronger than ever and her tremendous attitude and outlook on life is contagious. I visited her after surgery and that trademark smile was as beautiful as ever! We will need her energy and passion as we head into the tournament.
Friday was our first day back from break and it was a practice you would typically expect from a team that took some time off. It had low energy and I wasn’t too pleased. The next day I reminded our team the importance of being prepared and be willing to stand up and be a leader! I read them a few excerpts from Sheryl Sandberg’s new book “Lean In.” Sheryl is the COO of Facebook and is ranked in the top 50 of the most powerful women in business. Her book has some great examples on details we can work on to prepare.
Saturday’s practice was better, the players were moving well and the sense of urgency had come alive! Sunday’s practice was scheduled to be a little bit shorter; it was also the first time that we would watch clips from our ACC Championship game against UNC. Although we controlled the game, there were still many areas that we needed to address – all of which will help us play better moving forward.
Selection Monday was another step in our journey, we celebrated together as a family: our team, staff and fans came together to watch the show. It was an evening full of energy and anticipation for the Duke family. We are one of the hosting sites for this year’s tournament so we already knew that our first two games will be at home! After watching what seemed forever, the Norfolk bracket was announced and the last bracket had us matched up against a very good Hampton University team.
Tournament time is a “new” season for everyone. We have to let our players understand that all the teams are excellent. Everyone who is the postseason deserves to be there and Hampton, who went undefeated in a very competitive MEAC conference, will be a tremendous challenge for us! We will continue to prepare for this game like we have for every game this year. As always, it truly is all about “us” and our focus, preparation and desire is to become a special team.
Joanne P. McCallie