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DWHoops Retired Jersey - Chris Moreland

In its early history, Duke had a few very good players. Tara McCarthy was the first, averaging 11.7 ppg in her career. Barb Krause was just 2 points away from 1000 points in her three seasons. Stacy Hurd and Jennifer Chestnut were also fine players and 1000-point scorers in the early 80's.

Chris Moreland
Chris Moreland
Images courtesy Duke SID
However, one player came along in 1985 who rewrote Duke's record book so thoroughly that as of this writing she still holds eleven school records -- and is in the top five in nine other categories. We are speaking, of course, of the great Chris Moreland. We believe that she deserved to be Duke's first women's basketball player with a retired jersey hanging in the rafters of Cameron, and believe this is warranted when one weighs her statistics, impact on the program, and the way her team won. As such, we are "retiring" her number here at DWHoops, honoring Moreland until such time that her jersey actually does get retired. Moreland's coach at Duke (and the original architect of the program), Debbie Leonard, had this to say about her career:

"There is no question that Chris Moreland was the first impact player in Duke Women's Basketball history. Most often outsized, Chris Moreland used intelligence and tenacity to be the best overall post player in the history of Duke Women's Basketball."

Let's start with the accomplishments of her teams first. In the years prior to Moreland's arrival, Duke had just two winning seasons out of eight -- a combined record of 82-116 (25-49 in the ACC). In Moreland's four years, Duke went 76-38 (28-28 in the ACC). The Devils earned their first postseason bids as well: a WNIT bid in 1986 and an NCAA bid in 1987 (with Duke's first NCAA victory, over Manhattan). Duke did not make the NCAA again for eight seasons, during Gail Goestenkors' third season. The Devils posted just three winning seasons until Goestenkors started Duke on its streak of thirteen straight NCAA appearances. Duke's overall record was just 85-82 during that span.

Moreland's teams did not win like Alana Beard's teams did, but there's no question that Beard had more talented teammates. The fact that the players in Beard's era had amenities and opportunities available to them that the players in Moreland's era could only dream of was certainly a factor as well, but let's put intangibles aside. Beard played with four fellow and/or future Kodak All-Americas: Iciss Tillis, Monique Currie, Georgia Schweitzer and Lindsey Harding. Beard also played with 1,000 point scorers Mistie Williams, Sheana Mosch, and Alison Bales.

Moreland's most talented teammates were the dynamic Katie Meier and efficient Sue Harnett, both Hall of Honor members whose careers were somewhat hindered by a litany of injuries. The only other 1,000 point scorer that Moreland got to play with was Connie Goins; most of her other teammates were solid role players, but most were no match for ACC powerhouses like NC State, Virginia and Maryland. Meier and Moreland made each other better; indeed, the '88 Duke team was 12-0 and ranked #8 in the country when Meier tore her knee. Moreland went on to have a fine season and led her team to a winning record, but the Devils simply didn't have enough other horses to really achieve their goals as a team. The year after Moreland graduated, Duke went just 12-16 with Harnett and Meier.

Moreland's teams may not have won like later Duke clubs, but they blazed a trail that others followed. Their third-place ACC finish in 1986 was the team's best until a decade later. The difficulties of that '88 team show how close the difference between building a perennial NCAA team and missing the tournament can be -- and should never be taken for granted.

Moreland's teams won like no Duke team had before, and like none would for nearly a decade. That's in large part because of her stunning statistics. She left Duke as the leader in points in a game, season and career; scoring average, field goals made and field goals attempted; rebounds in a season and career; free throws made and attempted; rebounding average and double-figure scoring games. Moreland didn't just break the career scoring record, she shattered it by 1,000 points. She crushed the rebounding record by 500 and no Duke player has come within 250 boards of her even today. In the history of the ACC, Moreland is the only player who averaged 20 points and 10 rebounds for her career. She's still #6 in scoring, #4 in rebounding, #5 in ppg and #2 in rpg.

Moreland's one of just six players in ACC history with 2000 points and 1000 rebounds. Moreland was going up against the ACC superpowers with very little help and still was good for a double-double in every single game. Not until Beard came along did a player have this kind of statistical impact on the program. Moreland excelled not just in terms of what her team did, but at the highest reaches of conference play. Quoting Leonard once again, she observed,

"Rebounding is an art. Since 1977, I can think of no better 6-1 artist that has played in the Atlantic Coast Conference."

A player's measurable accomplishments and what their team did during their career should, in my opinion, be the most important categories in determining whether or not they deserve the ultimate honor. While Moreland was not national player of the year (a pre-req that was ret-conned in just recently), she received more than a few honors. Not only that, she was the first Duke player to receive any significant honors. She was the program's first ACC rookie of the year in 1985 and the program's first ACC player of the year in 1987. She was a first-team All-America by the Women's Basketball News Service and a Kodak District II All-America in 1986 and 1988. Not only was she Duke's first All-ACC performer, she is one of only three Duke players to make the team four times, along with Beard and Currie. Moreland was twice named to the first team. Duke would not have another first-team All-ACC player until 1996 and wouldn't have an ACC player of the year until 2001. Moreland was also a fine student and was twice named to the ACC Honor Roll.

There is no question in our minds that Moreland deserved to have her jersey retired when she concluded her Duke career in 1988. While her jersey may never actually hang in Cameron, we at DWHoops are dedicated to honoring the history of the program, and so her number will forever be "retired" in the main banner of our website.

Editor's Note: Sadly, we have no photographs of Chris Moreland to publish with this article. If you have snapshots of Chris (or memories for that matter) that you'd like to share, please contact us.

DWHoops Chris Moreland Retired Jersey

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