Duke Women’s Basketball: Will Injuries Derail 2017-18 Season?

Duke basketball mascot (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
Duke basketball mascot (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) /

The Duke Women’s Basketball team has had several players out with injuries and just lost another point guard for the season. How will the Blue Devils regroup for ACC play?

Duke Women’s Basketball started the year with great aspirations in the ACC and NCAA this season. The Blue Devils had numerous players receive national preseason accolades, added one of the top players in the NCAA as a graduate transfer, added a highly-touted freshman class, and returned one of the top backcourts in college basketball. However, after recent injury news the team will have to overcome adversity to continue their success this season.

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Duke began the season without starting point guard Kyra Lambert, who tore her ACL in the first round of the NCAA Tournament last season. She played a key role for the Blue Devils last season, starting in every game averaging 7.8 points, 3.5 assists, and 3.7 rebounds in 30.1 minutes. Lambert was expected to return sometime this season, however now the 5-9 guard will redshirt and miss the entire year.

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Redshirt senior All-ACC guard Rebecca Greenwell missed the Blue Devils’ last game with knee pain. Fortunately, the injury doesn’t seem to be very serious. She’s listed as day-to-day and should return soon. Greenwell is the best shooter on the team forming one of the top guard duos with Lexie Brown. The 6-1 guard is averaging 14.8 points, 6.2 rebounds, and shooting over 45% from beyond the arc.

Recently, Duke Women’s Basketball announced that freshman guard Mikayla Boykin will miss the rest of the season after suffering a knee injury in their last game against Winthrop. Boykin was a key part of the backcourt rotation, starting in place of Lambert for 8 games. Boykin was one of the top prospects in the country, earning NC Player of the Year.

The 14th-ranked Blue Devils have three non-conference home games against Maine, Wyoming, and Liberty before starting the ACC. Duke should manage to stay afloat during these games without Greenwell, who will hopefully return soon. Redshirt senior Lexie Brown will play a much larger role due to the recent injuries, and thankfully she can handle it. She’s averaging 20 points, 5.2 assists, and 4.1 rebounds per game shooting over 50% this season. In their last game against Winthrop, Brown scored as many points as the entire Eagles team by herself with 30 points.

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These next three games will also be a great chance for freshman guard Jayda Adams to get reps now that Boykin is out for the year. The coaching staff could also play around with having wings Leaonna Odom or Haley Gorecki handle the ball more to spell Lexie Brown. Expect the team to play with bigger lineups as well due to their lack of depth at the guard positions.

Duke has a really tough schedule to start conference play. The travel to face Miami on the road on New Year’s Eve then head to No. 3 Louisville on January 4th. Their performances in the final three non-conference games will greatly impact how the Blue Devils handle the rest of the season after recent injuries.