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Previewing Duke at BYU
Devils Survive BYU, 61-55
The Nutshell
Devils In Detail - November 2011
By Rob Clough
November 11, 2011

A Closer Look at Duke's Roster

Editor's Note: Devils in Detail is a periodic DWHoops feature that looks closely at Duke's roster. This November edition both looks back to 2011 and forward to the new season. We're also pleased to share Orin's player portraits taken at the recent Duke team media day.

Shay Selby

Key 2011 Stats: 3.7 ppg, 1.5 apg, 1.5 rpg, 39% 3FG

2011 Overview: Shay had an up-and-down season that featured lots of big plays along with some puzzling no-shows. She moved into the starting lineup after dropping 15 points on Pitt but got benched after going scoreless against Wisconsin. She hit some critical baskets against Texas A&M, including a late three with just a second left on the shot clock. Shay was also instrumental in Duke's comeback win against NC State as well as hitting some big shots against UNC in Cameron. My favorite stat from Shay this year was her 9 charges taken, giving her 20 for her career. It shows that she's committed to doing whatever it takes to help her team. Selby has both style and substance to her game.

2012 Outlook: With Jasmine Thomas gone, a starting guard slot is hers to lose. Her ability to shoot and drive makes her a nice complement to Chelsea Gray. What will be demanded of her is consistency. If she's not hitting open shots, then she needs to affect plays in other positive ways. Selby is in a bit of a tough spot because at heart she's an improviser, but she rarely gets latitude from the coaches when she makes a mistake. This sometimes leads to tentative and conservative play that essentially makes her ineffective. There were times when it seemed clear that she'd rather do nothing than make a mistake, with predictable results. When she relaxed and made something happen, she fed off of that energy. Hopefully in 2011 she'll get an extended chance to show what she can do at both ends of the floor, especially for a team that will need players who can penetrate the lane and attack the basket.

Shay Selby Shay Selby has both style and substance to her game.

Kathleen Scheer

Key 2011 Stats: 3.3 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 30% 3FG

2011 Overview: Scheer had a strange year that saw her playing time doubled. With a young lineup, she anchored the power forward spot through the end of December with three double-figure scoring outbursts. That included a 13-point, 8 rebound performance in the season opener against BYU. Her production tailed off once Duke started playing more physical opponents and she got benched. Midway through the ACC season, Scheer became a secret weapon of sorts for Duke, getting tough rebounds at Virginia Tech, making key shots & connecting plays against NC State and dishing out 4 assists against Boston College. Leener is still pretty much a tweener at this level; she's not quite strong enough to compete with the biggest and strongest players at power forward, nor is she quick enough to contend with most wings and guards. McCallie's offense has never been conducive to getting her open shots, because she requires multiple screens to get a good, open look in rhythm. Instead, she frequently has had to jack up shots off the dribble, which is clearly not in her repertoire. That hasn't stopped Scheer from being enthusiastic or working like crazy. She almost doubled her career rebounding average last year and doubled her total career assists, steals & blocks.

2012 Outlook: It's hard to tell where Scheer will be most needed as a senior. Elizabeth Williams, Haley Peters, Amber Henson & Allison Vernerey will likely lock down the post. The starting wing spot will be up for grabs, however, so Scheer should perhaps concentrate on ball-handling, agility and quickness in this off-season. Scheer will be valuable as a senior and will need to lead by example, especially at the defensive end. Her enthusiasm as a veteran could be very important for younger players who are struggling to find their way. There may well be times when Leener is brought in for extended minutes after not playing much for long stretches, depending on what kind of energy the team needs at the time.

Kathleen Scheer Kathleen Scheer will be valuable as a senior and will need to lead by example.

Allison Vernerey

Key 2011 Stats: 6 ppg, 4 rpg

2011 Overview: Alli fought through a relentless battery of injuries to post a number of solid performances, but her injuries also kept her from truly progressing as a sophomore. An offseason injury not only prevented her from representing her country, but also preempted crucial conditioning, skills training and weight training. A hand injury made her already awkward form on her shot even more of a knuckleball; there's simply no reason why a 6-5 center should be shooting as low as 48% from the field. The number of times she got great position on an offensive rebound only to miss a chippie due to a lack of strength & follow-through made this a frustrating season for her. To her credit, she never quit, and had a great run of games in February where she piled up double figures in scoring in six out of seven games. This was against teams like UNC (twice), Boston College's huge front line and Maryland. She used her quickness to score 10 key points in the ACC tournament final against the Heels. It was clear that her hand really started to bother her at this point, because she was pretty ineffective in the NCAA tournament. Still, she posted decent numbers off the bench and proved that she is happy to battle any opponent.

2012 Outlook: Alli will be one of just three upperclassmen and will be called upon to provide leadership, even if it's only by example. She will have a chance to start at center if she's up to the task physically, which would move Elizabeth Williams to power forward and give the Devils a highly imposing front line. More than anything, Vernerey simply needs to get healthy, get stronger and work on the form of her shot--especially at the foul line. She's just a 47% career shooter from the stripe, which simply won't do for a player who can get to the line quite often. As she builds up her strength and draws more fouls, she has to be able to cash in. Alli is a gamer who is self-motivated, and she may well be the player who's ready to make the biggest leap this season. Duke will need her ability to score, rebound and defend (especially in its zone, where he speed gives her incredible close-out ability).

Allison Vernerey Allison Vernerey may well be the player who's ready to make the biggest leap this season.

Chelsea Gray

Key 2011 Stats: 8.9 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 2.7 apg, 2 spg, 41% 3FG

2011 Overview: Gray overcame a foot injury to start the season and sickness in February to make a huge impact as a frosh. Her talent was obvious from the very beginning; simply put, she can be a game-changer. The bigger the stage, the bigger the impact she can make. She was key down the stretch in Duke's wins over Charlotte, Wisconsin and Texas A&M. After a couple of weak performances in December, she bonced back in the ACC, hitting the game-winning basket against NC State, dropping 20 on UNC and cutting up BC for 13 and 7 assists. Her sickness wiped out nearly a month of useful play, but she bounced back with a strong showing in the ACC tournament and big games against Marist and DePaul in the NCAA tourney.

2012 Outlook: It's time for Gray to take over, because this is pretty much her team. Now that she no longer has to defer to Jasmine Thomas, Gray can be The Closer all the time now. Chelsea has a huge bag of tricks, ranging from a floater to a baffling head fake to a deadly crossover to a silky pull-up jumper. She can get by virtually any opponent thanks to her elusiveness and got fouled thanks to her reach & aggressiveness. She's a fine shooter and opportunistic defender who can play on the ball or take a charge (8 on the season). Chelsea must change her approach to reflect a player who needs to constantly attack instead of picking her spots. Over the summer, Chelsea got leaner and stronger after recovering from ankle surgery. This leaner physique will no doubt help with her foot problems and also allow her to go to the line more often. Having a highly inviting target like Elizabeth Williams in the low post along with more experienced teammates could lead to a situation where everyone makes each other better.

Chelsea Gray Guard Chelsea Gray has a huge bag of tricks, ranging from a floater to a baffling head fake to a deadly crossover to a silky pull-up jumper.

Richa Jackson

Key 2011 Stats: 3.4 ppg, 2.5 rpg

2011 Overview: Richa's injuries made this a frustrating season for her. Still, she showed flashes of being a dominant scorer and rebounder. In late January, the game clearly started slowing down for her a bit. She dominated Miami with 13 points and 9 rebounds in one of just three starts but was rarely called upon after an 0-8 performance against UNC. She recovered a bit in the postseason, averaging 7 ppg in the ACC tournament (including 19 against Wake Forest) and 4 ppg in the NCAA tournament. Jackson is a very good shooter, especially from mid-range, as well as a player who loves to attack the offensive boards. Her per-40-minutes rebounding average is 10 a game, including 3 offensive.

2012 Outlook: Richa is an ideal candidate to take over at wing, if she can get healthy and get in slightly better shape. She has a lot of natural strength and power, but she needs to get a better-defined physique, especially in her upper body. Most aspects of her game need refinement to go along with her aggressiveness & quickness. A dependable floater would make her tough to stop off the dribble. She needs to work on her defense, both on and off the ball. Ball-handling and decision-making must be improved. All of this will simply take time and practice. The talent and hunger is already there, as is a willingness to take & make big shots. Duke will be losing its starting off guard and wing, so Richa has two different ways she can get into the starting line-up, if she puts in the work.

Richa Jackson Richa has two different ways she can get into the starting line-up, if she puts in the work.

Tricia Liston

Key 2011 Stats: 5.6 ppg, 2.2 rpg, 39% 3FG

2011 Overview: Of all of Duke's young players, I feel like Liston is the one who can improve the most. She has three important qualities for a player: she has a lethal long-range shot, she has great size at 6-1 and she is a gamer. She came in overwhelmed by the speed and physical nature of the college game but rsponded by working harder. While it was too late to get much stronger, she instead worked on getting quicker with a number of agility drills. Following some positive minutes against Kentucky, she was in double figures against Maryland, Florida State and Virginia Tech. She was also grabbing rebounds and attacking the basket in those games, getting to the foul line. Her playing time dropped for the next few games (a puzzling phenomenon described as a player going from "MVP to DNP" in the span of a game or two) but she moved into the starting lineup with a masterful 19 point performance against Virginia Tech. She played well against Virginia and UNC but then went back to the bench in teh ACC tournament. Tricia's season was an up-and-down one, but she never stopped fighting.

2012 Outlook: Over the summer, Tricia improved simply by working on her body. Getting quicker, stronger and leaner were her top priorities, and it showed in her play at the Greater NC Pro-Am, where she was MVP of the championship game. She'll never be a speed burner, but she's smart enough to play good position defense. Getting quicker will allow her to defend more efficiently, preventing opponents from simply blowing by her. Getting stronger will help her rebound and draw fouls, as well as with her shooting--stronger arms and legs will mean hitting more shots late in the game. Getting leaner will allow her to play with more energy for longer bursts of time. In terms of basketball, Liston should work on a pump fake and a jab step in order to give herself more room to shoot. Combining that with a quicker release would make her a truly deadly offensive player. At the moment, she's poised to be a starter.

Tricia Liston After a summer of intense conditioning work Tricia Liston is poised to become a Duke starter.

Haley Peters

Key 2011 Stats: 6.4 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 32% 3FG

2011 Overview: Haley is a plugger. The college game overwhelmed her at times with its speed and physical nature, like many young players, and she certainly came up against the "freshman wall" more than once. Each time, however, Haley simply found a way to work harder and get back into the rotation as a productive player. She started the year with an impressive 13 rebounds against USC and then recorded three straight double digit scoring games. Slugfests against Texas A&M and Xavier proved she had work to do. She bounced back over winter break and had great games against Maryland and Florida State. From there, she was up and down--great game against Miami, goose eggs against NC State, UConn, Boston College and Maryland. She regained her confidence with a double-digit outburst against Virginia, was a difference-maker against UNC and averaged 10 ppg and 4 rpg in the ACC tournament. She kept that rolling in the NCAA tournament, scoring 12 points in Duke's tight win over Marist. What was most impressive about Peters is that her strengths started to emerge ahead of her weaknesses; her alertness on the boards and size made her tough for small forwards to stop, while her shot made her a difficult matchup for power forwards.

2012 Outlook: I have a sense that Peters' ceiling is lower than that of the other players. Certainly, she can continue to work on agility drills and try to get stronger, but she seems to be a finished product, more-or-less. This isn't a bad thing, but what it means is that you may well see her role on the team change depending on how quickly her teammates develop. A starting spot seems to be hers to lose, based on her late-season performances, and I think she'd be a nice complement at power forward for either Allison Vernerey or Elizabeth Williams. That said, more upper-body strength would benefit her shooting and help her get to the line. Quickening the release on her shot and extending her range just a bit would also make her even more efficient on offense. It won't be long before Peters is so dependable that it will be difficult to take her out of the game for long stretches of time, even if her contributions aren't always immediately obvious on the scoreboard. Haley worked hard to make shorten the timing of the release on her jump shot over the summer while staying in tip-top shape.

Haley Peters Haley Peters contributes to the Duke team in important areas that are not always obvious on the scoreboard.

Chloe Wells

Key 2011 Stats: 3.6 ppg, 1.7 apg

2011 Overview: Chloe was a pleasant surprise as a frosh, beginning the season as a starter due to the injuries of others and continuing to contribute in smaller ways as the season progressed. Coach McCallie wasn't afraid to give her big minutes in important games at times, and she responded with some key plays in Duke's close victory over Kentucky, a streetfight with Georgia Tech where she came up with 6 steals and a key basket & assists in the ACC title game against UNC. Chloe did quite nicely in protecting the ball, especially after the early part of the season. Ten of her 40 turnovers on the season occurred in the team's first six games. Wells is generously listed at 5-7 and this proved to be a problem at times, as she struggled to get good shots or get a comprehensive view of the floor.

2012 Outlook: Of all the players on Duke's team, I think Wells suffered the most from the highly loose structure of its offense. When she was handling the ball, she was frequently on an island with little help or specific plays being run that she needed to simply execute. That led in part to her occasionally odd shot selection and tendency to pound the ball with her dribble instead of finding an open teammate. She simply wasn't accustomed to improvising on offense, and especially not with an entirely new group of teammates. The problem with her approach, which she discovered on the job, was that her quickness was no longer sufficient to get to the basket against good opponents that could match her movement. Without that physical advantage, Chloe at times struggled to act decisively. She improved as the season progressed as she registered multiple assists in six of her last nine games. In the offseason, she worked on maximizing her assets as a player: quickness, speed, and pressure. Duke may well run a two point guard system where either player can shoot or pass, and Chloe's role will include applying constant ball pressure. Whether or not she becomes a consistent starter will depend on how productive she can be as a scorer, how well she contains her opponent and how well she takes care of the ball.

Chloe Wells Chloe Wells' role will include applying constant ball pressure.

Amber Henson

Consensus Recruit Ranking: #10

Freshman Profile: Like her brother, UNC player John, Amber is a long and athletic forward who possesses a number of different skills and abilities. Henson is very quick & fast and a great leaper. This allows her to be effective on the boards and block shots. She's especially talented at the latter due to her great sense of timing. On offense, she's just as likely to set up from 15' and shoot as she is to pound the ball inside. In this regard, she will be a great complement to Elizabeth Williams and could set up some nice high-low sets. Look for both of those players to jump high in order to finish lob plays. Henson's quickness will also make her highly effective in Duke's zone, given that she should be able to close out on shooters. She'll also be able to come out and guard any bigs who can happen to shoot the ball. At 6-4, Henson will have the height to intimidate many opponents but will need to get stronger. Given the presence of Williams & Vernerey on the team, Amber will have the luxury of being guarded one-on-one, which was unusual in her high school career. Henson is graceful and agile, always showing control and balance. The next step will consist of adjusting to a higher and more physical level of play while generating and sustaining consistent aggressiveness at both ends of the floor. The one concern with her is that she has chronically sore knees after sustaining injuries in high school. The staff will monitor that situation closely throughout the year and will give her lighter periods of practice as a result.

Amber Henson Amber Henson is graceful and agile, always showing control and balance on the court.

Ka'lia Johnson

Consensus Recruit Ranking: #58

Freshman Profile: Johnson committed to Duke back in 2008 and backed up that commitment with a fine high school career as well as an excellent academic record. The 5-10 guard played a lot at point in high school, but is no stranger to playing any number of roles. Playing with Elizabeth Wiliams on the Boo Williams AAU squad, Johnson was the team's defensive stopper; she frustrated the #1 player in the class, Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, in a key AAU game this past year. At Duke, she will need to find a spot to fit into but has the skills to carve out a role. Her defense could earn her time at wing, especially if her improved three point shot translates at this level. Her ability to handle the ball and create could earn her time at either guard slot, where her height could prove to be a big advantage. With the starting two guard slot in flux, there's certainly an opportunity to make a name for herself. Johnson, a long-time fan of Duke thanks to the brilliance of Alana Beard, has the quickness and strength to become a solid contributor and possibly more than that. She's worked hard to make herself into a legitimate three point threat, and her size helps compensate for a slow release. What she needs to learn now is how to handle ball pressure at this level and protect the ball. She's a bit of a tweener who needs to pick up skills at both guard slots in order to contribute quickly.

Ka'lia Johnson Ka'lia Johsnon became a Duke fan in the early 2000's thanks to Alana Beard.

Elizabeth Williams

Consensus Recruit Ranking: #2

Freshman Profile: The 6-3 center is one of the highest-ranked players to ever commit to Duke. Ranked #1 by two services and #2 by two others, there's no question that she's been a dominant presence throughout her career and on the All-Star game circuit. She was MVP of the McDonald's All-America game as well as MVP of her team in the WBCA All-American contest. Williams is a game-changer who possesses a wide range of abilities. First, she's fast running baseline to baseline--she can finish fast breaks with ease. Second, she's a remarkable leaper with pogo sticks for legs. Third, she already has considerable physical strength, especially in her legs and lower body; as a result, it's difficult to move her.

Williams has shown that she can harness these attributes for basketball purposes. Her timing and balance, along with that leaping ability, makes her a terrifying shot-blocker. Her strength and balance make her a dominant rebounder. Her speed and quickness can overwhelm slower bigs. She also shows nice touch from the perimeter; don't be surprised to see her trailing a break and taking the occasional three. Still, it's her relentlessness on the boards and her touch around the basket that make her so hard to stop. The best equivalent I can think of is Tim Duncan--a fundamentally sound, athletic player with nice touch who does the same thing over and over no matter what an opponent attempts. Having someone like Chelsea Gray getting her the ball will bode well for both players. She does need to work on her foul shooting and finishing in traffic against bigger opponents. Getting stronger will help with the latter, especially since it's clear her frame can add more muscle. Williams, like Henson & Johnson, is also an outstanding student. She is interested in medicine, and I wouldn't be surprised to see her enroll in the CAPE mentorship program at some point. This is a self-motivating player who will simply go after the ball. I would be stunned if she didn't start immediately.

Elizabeth Williams Elizabeth Williams is likely to start her first collegiate game, and the rest of them as well.

Jenna Frush

Freshman Profile: Frush is the first walk-on in the McCallie era, a multi-sport athlete at local Northern High who quite literally got straight "A" marks throughout high school. She was a team leader who helped Northern win three straight conference titles. Frush was all-conference her last two years, a tribute to her leadership despite modest overall stats. As a senior, she averaged 9 ppg and 5 apg. At just 5-6, she still demonstrated excellent court vision and a fine shooting stroke. All of her three older siblings are either currently at Duke or recently graduated; both of her parents graduated from Duke's medical school. Expressing a desire to walk on to the team, she completed all of the team's rigorous qualifications this summer. Frush is quite spirited and funny, and it's clear she's the sort of person who's able to keep her teammates loose. She's immediately bonded with her fellow freshmen and they coined the "EJAK" (Elizabeth, Jenna, Amber, Ka'lia) moniker for their class upon their arrival on campus this fall. Frush obviously won't be getting a lot of playing time, but she will undoubtedly be a crowd favorite. She wore #2 for the exhibition games because her #35 jerseys were still on order.

Jenna Frush Jenna Frush is the sort of person who's able to keep her teammates loose, and will undoubtedly be a crowd favorite.

Devils in Detail will return in late December.

Previewing Duke at BYU
Devils Survive BYU, 61-55
The Nutshell

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