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SPORTSWRAP Editor: Jake C. Piazza Managing Editor: Max Rego Features Editor: Alex Jackson Blog Editor: Sasha Richie Assistant Blog Editors: Micah Hurewitz, Jonathan Levitan Photo Editor: Rebecca Schneid Associate Editors: Evan Kolin, Shane Smith, Glen Morgenstern, Jonathan Browning, Joe Wang, Cam Polo, Ramona Naseri, Em Adler, Christian Olsen, Nithin Ragunathan, Matthew Hawkins, Campbell Lawson, Eric Gim, Cameron DeChurch, Steve Liu Special thanks to Editor-in-Chief Leah Boyd, Evan Kolin, Max Rego, Graphics Editor Evelyn Founded in 2007, The Chronicle’s Sports Blog, the Blue Zone, features analysis on men’s basketball, women’s basketball, football and more to supplement regular daily coverage. It can be read at: https://www.dukechronicle.com/section/blue-zone Founded in 1983, sportswrap is the weekly sports supplement published by The Chronicle. Its content along with daily coverage of Duke’s 27 varsity sports can be viewed at: www.dukechronicle.com/section/sports To contact the sports department with tips or suggestions, please email Jake Piazza at: jp448@duke.edu

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Interested in writing for The Chronicle’s sports section? Email Jake at jp448@duke.edu 3 Nina King will officially

become Duke’s athletic direcor in September, and she gave her plans for the future of Duke athletics.

4

How will Duke men’s basketball line up this season? We break down this upcoming season’s talented roster.

5

Duke softball’s pitching tandem of Peyton St. George and Shelby Walters tore through Duke’s opponents this year, and did so while being best friends.

7

Duke women’s soccer had a season that spanned 293 days and capped it off with a near-upset of Florida State in the Elite Eight of the NCAA tournament.

8 Duke women’s golf made

a legitimate run at a repeat national title, but even after falling short, the squad is poised for success once again next season. Our Max Rego gets you up to speed with all things women’s golf.

9

Our Sasha Richie and Shane Smith were live from the scene of Duke men’s lacrosse’s Final Four matchup against Maryland, and despite an exciting season, the Blue Devils failed to reach their potential and lost to the Terrapins.

11

Duke women’s basketball welcomed six transfers to its roster for the next season, and our Em Adler tells you why that means the program is set up for a highly successful 2021-22 campaign.

What a year it has been. We have all learned how to live with COVID-19 in our lives, and the Chronicle Sports department has been no exception. Most of our coverage this past year was from our dorms and apartment buildings, but nonetheless we have remained committed to our goal of bringing quality, in-depth coverage of each of Duke’s 27 Division I sports. Despite each sport’s season looking vastly different than ever before, a number of Duke teams made impressive postseason runs that were Jake C. Piazza a thrill to follow along. Women’s soccer, women’s tennis and women’s lacrosse all went on to the Elite Eight in their respective NCAA tournaments, and women’s golf and men’s lacrosse found themselves in the Final Four. Softball didn’t make quite as deep of a postseason run, but head coach Marissa Young guided her fourth-year program to its first-ever NCAA tournament behind stellar pitching from Peyton St. George and Shelby Walters. Baseball ended its season on a scorching hot run, winning its first ACC title since the 1961 season. In shocking fashion, the men’s basketball program missed out on its first NCAA tournament since the 1994-95 season, but the team looks poised to reload with its incoming No. 4-ranked recruiting class. Across the board, Duke athletics had a year to be extremely proud of, with its seven ACC championships leading the conference. Thrown in the middle of all the sports action was athletic director Kevin White announcing his retirement, effective September 1. Duke named his successor in senior deputy director of athletics Nina King, and she will take over the reigns of an athletic department firing on all cylinders. There’s a whole bunch to look forward to in Duke athletics. How will Kara Lawson’s first full season as the women’s basketball head coach go? Will football have a resurgence? Can Duke stake its claim as the top athletic program in the ACC? I’m not sure what the answer to those questions are, but we’ll be here every step of the way bringing you coverage of all things Duke athletics.

ATHLETIC DIRECTOR

Nina King introduced as Duke’s next AD By Jake C. Piazza Sports Editor

Editor’s note: This article was published before Duke baseball won its ACC title, marking seven for the school on the year. May 19 marked Nina King’s official introduction as Duke’s Vice President and Director of Athletics. In a socially-distanced Cameron Indoor Stadium crowd, President Vincent Price introduced King to a room full of King’s friends and family, Duke coaches, athletic department staff and media members live on ACC Network. King spoke on a variety of topics pertaining to Duke athletics and collegiate sports in general, emphasizing her plans to continue making Blue Devil sports an area for student-athletes to flourish and how she sees Duke’s role in the landscape of college athletics. “First and foremost, we are going to continue to provide a world class experience for our student-athletes. A meaningful and enriching academic and athletic experience,” King said. “We are going to ensure that our student-athletes are performing in the classroom, graduating and are afforded every opportunity to be productive members of society once they leave Duke. “We’re going to continue to provide opportunities for competitive success, to win ACC and NCAA championships, build on the momentum of this historic year that we’re having—we have six conference

Courtesy of Duke Athletics

Nina King was announced as Duke’s next athletic director May 19, taking over for Kevin White after he held the title for the past 13 years. championships, unmatched—we will build on the incredibly rich traditions and our departmental strengths by being innovative and modern in our approach.” In terms of how King plans to lead the department, she intends to promote collaboration and teamwork to achieve the goals she wants to as athletic director. “My leadership style, you know it’s all

about teamwork and collaboration. We’re all going to sit around the table, discuss decisions that we need to make, get buyin from all of our key decision-makers, of course, embrace disagreements but all walk out of the room at the end of the day on the same page making decisions as I said, in the best interest of our student-athletes and our recreation community.”

King also spoke on the historic nature of her hire, with her appointment making her one of three Black women currently holding an athletic director title. She is also the first woman and first person of color to hold the office at Duke. “I do want to recognize the historic significance of my appointment. I am a female, Black athletic director. There are only a few of us around the country,” King said. “We’ve got work to do in our profession to continue to build the pipeline and ensure that deserving people have opportunities to grow and to lead. One of the biggest reasons that I am here today is to be a role model for little girls who look like me, and to tell them ‘dream big’ because your dreams can indeed be achieved. But I’m a boy mom, and my message is the same to little boys. To children of all races—aspire to achieve greatness, dream big, be passionate—with dedication and hard work anything is possible.” King was also asked about the rapidly changing landscape of college athletics, and the way she sees Duke playing a role. Six different states have name, image and likeness laws going into effect July 1, and although North Carolina is not one of them, it will have an impact on college athletics nationwide. “I think we should be a leader at the forefront of change. That is what Duke is all about.... Name, image and likeness is a See NINA KING on Page 14


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MEN’S BASKETBALL

A look into Blue Devils’ 2021-22 potential rotation By Max Rego

of playing time will shake out for Duke this season, so we are going to do just that.

Sports Managing Editor

Summer is almost upon us, which in the college basketball world means that the opening tip of the 2021-22 season cannot come soon enough. Patrick Baldwin Jr. committing to Milwaukee over Duke and Georgetown means that the Blue Devil roster is firmly set for the upcoming campaign. Alongside notable returnees such as Mark Williams and Jeremy Roach, Duke brings in the No. 3 recruiting class headlined by third overall prospect Paolo Banchero. With that collection of talent and positional versatility, the Blue Devil rotation may not be fully ironed out until ACC play. Despite that, it is always an enjoyable exercise to speculate about how the share

Point guard: Jeremy Roach…and then what?

Courtesy of Nat LeDonne/Duke Athletics

Jeremy Roach will likely be Duke’s point guard this next

There is fairly little doubt that Roach will be the starting point guard throughout next season. The Virginia native improved as the 2020-21 campaign went on, and could grow into the ideal floor general that this mixture of veteran and emerging talent needs. Look for Roach to garner roughly 30 minutes a night, directing traffic and getting the Blue Devils into the right offensive sets. The freshmen might come in with more excitement, but I truly believe that Roach taking the next step—does being a 12-point scorer and dishing out five assists per contest sound encouraging?—could be the line of demarcation come March for Duke. Behind Roach, the intriguing Jaylen Blakes enters the equation. The four-star prospect out of Blair Academy might enter Durham with less fanfare than his fellow classmates, but energy, defensive fire and a quick burst off the dribble define Blakes’ skillset. With those traits, coupled with the lack of a true point guard besides Roach on the roster, the New Jersey native will likely see the court for about 10 minutes a night in the early stages of the season. If Blakes becomes a reliable playmaker alongside his impressive defensive traits, his playing time could rise, but I would not anticipate a major role in the absence of injury for the young guard.

Wings: Welcome to the AJ Griffin and Trevor Keels show, co-starring Wendell Moore Jr.

The ancient debate lives on. Experience versus youth has constantly been a question for the Duke coaching staff in the oneand-done era, with the debate regarding the wings being more of the same this upcoming season. First off, let’s look at Moore, who has been somewhat of a Pandora’s Box during his two seasons as a Blue Devil. The North Carolina native started his sophomore year in disastrous fashion, going 1-for-21 during a four-game stretch in December. By the end of the year, though, the former top-30 recruit saw upticks in points, rebounds, assists and 3-point percentage from his debut season, while also suiting up for 27.6 minutes an outing. If he could push the envelope a little further than his 30.1% mark from distance last year, Moore could be the perfect creator and floor spacer that Duke needs, particularly with the action down low being dominated by Williams and Banchero. And then there’s AJ Griffin. For those of you who enjoy highlight reels, Griffin is your guy. The No. 27 recruit in the ESPN 100, Griffin has a knack for getting to the bucket and can jump out of the gym. Despite his freshman status, the New York native should have no issues being an immediate contributor as a slasher and flexible scorer. Whether he evolves from contributor to co-star a la Justise Winslow or RJ Barrett is a different story, but Griffin certainly is at the top of the list to start at the three. Moore may have the knowledge of the system that Mike Krzyzewski wants to run, but the upside with Griffin is too enticing to leave him on the bench late in games. Trevor Keels was a relatively late addition to the 2021 class, yet he still enters the fray with loads of scoring potential. The departure of DJ Steward to the NBA left an obvious void at offguard, which is a beacon for Keels to step right in alongside Roach in the starting backcourt. At 6-foot-5, Keels will be able to defend opposing shooting guards and can pick his spots at all three levels, making him a prime candidate for clutch moments in tight battles. The three guys I’ve already mentioned are the notable names on the wing, but let’s not forget about Joey Baker. If he can revert back to anything near the 39.4% clip he posted from deep in 201920, the senior can be a suitable 3-and-D role player that Duke so desperately yearns for. He won’t take the court for 20 minutes a night, but something in the low double digits makes the most sense for Baker.

Frontcourt: Banchero and Williams command the paint

Look, it should be no secret that Mark Williams’ return is a massive wind in the Blue Devil sails. The 7-footer took it to a second gear late in the ACC slate, including a 23-point, 19-rebound gem in the conference tournament against Louisville. That would be the last time that the IMG Academy product took the court though, as Duke saw its season get shut down due to a positive COVID-19 test within the program the next day. All that is now in the past, and Williams is poised to make a massive leap as a second-year player. Williams racking up roughly 30 minutes a night with Marquette transfer Theo John waiting in the wings is a reasonable expectation. Last on the docket is Banchero, who has garnered buzz as the potential top selection in the 2022 NBA Draft. The Seattle native, See ROTATION on Page 15


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TUESDAY, JUNE 1, 2021 | 5

SOFTBALL

Pitching duo of St. George, Walters leads Duke to program’s first NCAA tournament By Jake C. Piazza Sports Editor

Editor’s note: This article was originally published May 18 prior to Duke softball’s regional games. All stats are as of May 18. It’s rare enough to have two aces on a roster. It’s even more rare when both of these said aces are best friends who genuinely root for the other without jealousy, but this is the story of Peyton St. George and Shelby Walters. “Me and Shelby, it’s funny because we actually call ourselves yin and yang,” St. George said in an interview with The Chronicle. “We’re best friends, we got each other’s back all the way through, through thick and thin.” St. George was a freshman during Duke’s inaugural season, and Walters followed closely behind with her freshman campaign being the following year. Although the two arrived on campus at different times, they have always had a solid friendship, with their on-field chemistry only strengthening as they both evolved as collegiate pitchers. “What’s so special about what we have is the fact that, yes, we’re still competitive with one another but it’s not like an egotistical sort of competitiveness,” Walters told The Chronicle. “It’s more of like the competitiveness of wanting to do it for each other and wanting to prove yourself to the other person and say, ‘I got you.’” St. George and Walters have done their fair share of proving their talent this season, with both garnering First Team All-ACC recognition and the former ranking third in the ACC in total strikeouts while the latter is sitting fourth in the conference in ERA.

‘Failure as an opportunity’

In her final ACC game of the season, St. George came into the championship contest and notched a two-inning save to earn herself

the tournament MVP. Although her statline and accolades from this year are certainly things to gawk at, it was some tough lessons from her freshman season that set her up for success when the lights shined bright. “I think having a lot of, I say, ‘failure as an opportunity’ as a young pitcher has helped me be able to calm myself down in those big moments now because I know what it feels like to give up the gamewinning hit, and I know what it feels like to kind of disappoint my team,” St. George said. “But I think now I can really put myself in the shoes to just be like, ‘Do what you do, don’t make it bigger than it is.’” St. George hails from Mechanicsville, Va., and has made a habit of finding herself on most postseason award lists that you can think of throughout her career. She wasted no time making her presence felt throughout the ACC and capped off her freshman season with the fifth-best ERA in the conference on her way to a perfect 6-0 record in ACC play. Her sophomore year was just as dominant, and the COVIDshortened 2020 season showed all the signs of another signature St. Courtesy of the ACC George year. Where things really get fun is when you pull up her year- Peyton St. George and Shelby Walters both took All-ACC by-year statistics and look at the strikeout jump from her first season First Team honors after their season as co-aces for the Blue to now. St. George has racked up 184 strikeouts on the year, smashing the previous program record of 98, and broke her own wins record the ACC Championship and earned the win to improve her season with 18. record to a lopsided 17-3. ‘Holy crap’ The moment in Walters’ recent season that sticks out the most Walters comes from Cohutta, Ga., and after a rockier freshman is the program’s first-ever no-hitter she threw against N.C. Central, season, she has catapulted herself atop the conference leaderboards. but like St. George, she had lessons to learn prior to all her success Walters may not have the swing and miss stuff of St. George, but that this year. doesn’t mean she hasn’t mowed through lineups all year long. “Freshman year was definitely a humbling moment for me She leads the Blue Devils with her microscopic 1.30 ERA and because I was like, ‘Oh holy crap these girls can hit that pitch that I in her 129 innings pitched, she has only given up two long balls—a was getting swings and misses on in high school,’ and so you kind of testament to the down-ball pitching style that she has effectively have to reinvent yourself every year,” Walters said. used to navigate her way around hitters. In her last outing before See PITCHING DUO on Page 14 the NCAA tournament , she carved up Clemson for five innings in

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WOMEN’S SOCCER

In it for the long haul: A 293-day Duke season By Jonathan Browning Associate Sports Editor

Amidst all the negatives during the COVID-19 pandemic, there have been spots of light. And all the bad makes holding onto those bright spots all the more important. Duke women’s soccer was one of those bright spots. The Blue Devils endured a season unlike any other, doing it just for the love of the game. From the opening kickoff of the first game September 10 to the final penalty in the Blue Devils’ NCAA tournament run, 242 days elapsed—a long time in itself. But their season truly began July 21, when the team arrived back on campus.

A changed world

Let me set the scene: Friday, March 6, 2020, the beginning of Duke’s spring break. No one could have guessed what was to come. On March 10, Duke suspended in-person classes and extended spring break by a week. Two days later, all athletic activities were suspended and all residential activities were cancelled. And March 17, the ACC cancelled all athletic competitions and practices. In just one week, everything had changed. “When we got the email from President Price [that] we’re gonna have another week of spring break, everybody was like, ‘Oh, that’s great. Like, we’ll just come back in another week,’” junior Marykate McGuire said in an interview with The Chronicle. “And then once we got the notification that spring sports were canceled we were like, ‘Oh no, this is serious— we’re not actually going to come back.’ It was

kind of surreal.” McGuire was a sophomore at the time, but current Duke players weren’t the only ones affected, with the incoming first-year class also seeing its world turned upside down. For freshman Olivia Migli, who had committed to Duke when she was a freshman in high school, what awaited her was drastically different from what she had been looking forward to for most of her high school career. “When a lot of things were still up in the air, there was a lot of anxiety,” Migli told The Chronicle. “I was really excited to get to college and play the game, which I’ve been waiting for since freshman year when I committed. So there was a long build up for that. And then when COVID had hit, there was shock and anxiety about ‘would we be able to play, would we not?’” “When we heard that the ACC would still go on and play in the fall, there was a lot of excitement about that,” Migli added. “But still a lot of anxiety that COVID could come in and ruin your season with positive tests.”

Into the unknown

Fast forward a few months and we find ourselves in July. On the 21st, the team arrived back on campus for the first time since March, albeit a very different campus from the one it had left— something that was obvious right from the beginning. The players pulled up to Blue Devil Tower, the coaching staff outside and in masks, waving to them as they parked and got out of their cars. But the catching up would have to wait; before they could do anything else, the team had to get COVID tested—the first of

“We would just almost count our blessings after every day of training: ‘OK, we got another training in; we’re still playing soccer,’” Duke head coach Robbie Church told The Chronicle. “We felt like, ‘OK, we got to train again today. Hopefully we get one in tomorrow.’ And that’s all it was—hopefully we get one in tomorrow.” After the acclimation period, the players moved out of the Washington Duke Inn and into their permanent (or what they thought were their permanent) residences. The upperclassmen moved right to off-campus living, but the underclassmen moved three different times in those first few weeks before Courtesy of Reagan Lunn/Duke Athletics finally settling into the Swift Apartments. Olivia Migli was one of seven freshmen on this year’s roster. It’s happening! The team made it through the acclimation many. period and an exceptionally long preseason, The test by itself wasn’t enough to get going. and found itself in September with its first Before the team could get back into practice, game of the season finally right around the they had a two-week acclimation period living corner. Most games against Wake Forest aren’t in the Washington Duke Inn, which normally doesn’t house students. In that span, the Blue of particular importance—this one was Devils completed the required COVID-19 an exception. It marked the first time in quarantine protocol and worked with the six months that any Blue Devils from any trainers and strength coaches, but they could sport participated in official collegiate not begin regular team training until August 4. competition. On August 4, the team was able to have its Duke women’s soccer was back. “It was a really big moment and it was so first training. In a typical season, games would begin shortly thereafter, usually beginning in special, even though it was different,” McGuire mid-August. said about that first game back. “When you But this season, the Blue Devils weren’t got to step on the field and actually get to slated to begin their season until an away play for the first time, it was so exciting, contest against Wake Forest September 10. On because we never thought, honestly, it was the one hand, it gave the team a ton of time to gonna happen.” practice; on the other, that was a lot of time for See LONG HAUL on Page 15 things to go wrong.


8 | TUESDAY, JUNE 1, 2021

WOMEN’S GOLF

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PURSUIT OF E

Women’s golf, men’s lacros

A look ahead

By Max Rego Sports Managing Editor

SCOTTSDALE, ARIZ.—In a 36-hole Scottsdale Showdown, the Blue Devils sent their fellow Devils home in the morning. But the afternoon edition of this Wild West battle was ultimately won by a crafty group of Cowgirls. While No. 2 seed-Duke knocked off No. 7-seed Arizona State 3-1-1 in the quarterfinals at the NCAA Championship Tuesday, the Blue Devils fell 5-0-0 to No. 3-seed Oklahoma State in the afternoon semifinals. “We didn’t need to get this far for me to know how good they are,” Blue Devil head coach Dan Brooks said. “We could go out and have this championship, this match play day, again, and it might go a different direction and we might win them both. Hats off to Oklahoma State though, they played some great golf, that match was really something.” After Oklahoma State’s Maja Stark knocked off Gina Kim 4&3 and Isabella Fierro pulled off a 2&1 victory against Erica Shepherd, the Cowgirls were just a point away from advancing to the match play finals. As things were beginning to look dire for the Blue Devils, fans were congregating around the 17th green, with Anne Chen attempting to complete a furious rally from 2-DOWN with just two holes remaining. The freshman rolled in a birdie putt, to the delight of her teammates, to claw to just one hole back and seemingly extend Duke’s hopes for a little longer. But just when Chen was flying to the 18th tee, a loud cheer erupted from the 16th green and the news was radioed in to 17—Phoebe Brinker had just lost 3&2 to Rina Tatematsu of Oklahoma State, ending the Blue Devils’ title defense. Put simply, Duke just did not make enough putts in the afternoon to advance to the finals. The pins were in spots that required extreme precision to get iron shots close, an endeavor made more challenging by the presence of more wind than the morning. Plus, the severe undulation on the greens made matching the line and speed with the putter a tall task. “You can always pick out shots that weren’t great or putts that weren’t great,” Brooks said. “A lot of times, the reason those things aren’t dropping is because they’re feeling pressure, and that’s from the quality of golf that they’re playing against. And I think that’s what we ran into.” Looking for a tone setter out of the gate, Brooks turned to Kim against Stark in the first match out after lunch. Kim, never one to shy away from a challenge, had her hands full with the No. 7 amateur in the world, and the North Carolina native went bogey-par to Stark’s parbirdie to fall two behind walking off the second green. Not to be outdone that quickly, Kim would continuously claw her way to within a hole, unleashing her patented fist pump multiple times on the front nine. But Stark only had one blemish on her card, and consecutive birdies on 14 and 15 put the first Oklahoma State flag on the board. In the second match, Shepherd and Fierro duked it out for 17 holes, yet the Mexico native was unphased outside of a chunked wedge shot on 2 and a short miss on the 15th green. In addition, Shepherd’s distance control with her irons left

Courtesy of the ACC

Duke women’s golf won the ACC title before advancing to the Final Four of the NCAA tournament. more to be desired. The Indiana native fought back game out there to get by her.” As the morning was winding down, the Blue from a 3-DOWN deficit through eight, though, with a huge par on 12 bringing her to 1-DOWN. Devils already held a 2-1 lead against the Sun However, a costly three-putt on 14, coming after Devils. Kim and Chen had already wrapped up her approach failed to catch the ridge past the flag victories, while Boonchant was unable to claim and her par attempt lipped out harshly, gave Fierro the lead against Ashley Menne at any point and the cushion to close it out with some clutch putting fell 2&1. With matches featuring Shepherd and Brinker in Duke’s corner late on the back nine, the on 16 and 17. The Raptor Course at Grayhawk Golf Club, pressure ramped up. Although Shepherd could not convert a short with its fairway bunkers and unpredictable runouts, is certainly a course that can look much putt on the final green to clinch the morning simpler if a player can rip driver down Broadway. matches, back on 17, Brinker drove the green, That should have made it a perfect fit for leading to a birdie and a 2&1 victory against Brinker, one of the most prolific drivers of the Amanda Linner that officially moved the Blue golf ball to enter the Blue Devil program. But the Devils into the next stage of the bracket. Closing out the quarterfinals was aided by freshman’s putter would not cooperate from mida bit of prior knowledge from the 2019 NCAA range in the afternoon. The clinching match between Brinker and Championship in Fayetteville, Ark., an event that Tatematsu was even through seven holes, but the saw endless clutch moments by the Blue Devils— momentum clearly shifted on the par-three eighth. including Kim and Boonchant. “Arkansas showed us that we can be down and Brinker’s eight iron drifted just left of the hole, a very solid shot that reached the proper plateau of come back up right at the very end. That is a great the green. However, Tatematsu would one-up the experience to have had, because it leads to things freshman, stuffing her tee shot just past the flag and you can share with the present team and anything nailing a short birdie putt to take a lead that she can happen in both directions,” Brooks said. Chen got off to a blazing start in the morning would never relinquish. The final match featured Jaravee Boonchant heat against Alessandra Fanali, winning four of and Maddison Hinson-Tolchard, an accomplished the first five holes and never looking back. Even amateur from Australia. Boonchant, true to her when Fanali knocked it on the green in two at the extensive experience, was patient early on, staying par-five seventh, Chen reached the putting surface content with finding the center of the green and immediately after and rolled in a downhill eagle putt. A par on 13 was enough to secure a 7&5 two-putting for par. Yet when Hinson-Tolchard missed a near tap-in victory against her Sun Devil counterpart, with on 9 to give the Thailand native a 1-UP lead at the Chen putting the first Blue Devil point on the turn, Boonchant immediately gave the shot back board. “It doesn’t hurt for [Chen’s teammates] to on 10 when her approach found the green side bunker from the middle of the fairway. From there, see that [point],” Brooks said. “We’re gonna have the senior stayed a hole behind until Oklahoma people fight to the very end, whether they’re seeing State clinched the three points needed to advance the success on the board or not. We preach that all the time that you just fight to the end, and it doesn’t to the finals. Quarterfinals were quite a different story for the matter what you see.” Chen may have had the most lopsided victory Blue Devils, despite the talent that Arizona State presented with two top-20 amateurs in the world in of the morning wave, and Brinker may have Linn Grant and Olivia Mehaffey. Tuesday morning clinched Duke’s spot in the semifinals, but the most was dripping with intensity despite the extremely pivotal match of the quarters was between Kim and early start, with Kim matching up against Mehaffey Mehaffey. The urgency of the clash was obvious, as Brooks in the leadoff grouping on the first tee. “Olivia has so much experience, and there’s a and Arizona State head coach Missy Farr-Kaye lot for me to learn from her as well,” Kim said. “Her See W. GOLF on Page 12 game’s so solid, so I knew I had to bring my best

SCOTTSDALE, ARIZ.—Look, I get it. Once you reach the semifinals, it’s heartbreaking if you fail to win it all no matter the odds. It’s especially difficult to stomach when you’re a national No. 1 seed and the defending champion. So yeah, the Blue Devils will leave Arizona dissatisfied. They played brilliantly down the stretch against Arizona State in the quarterfinals, but could not mount the back-nine charge needed to snatch victory from Oklahoma State’s holsters in the semifinals. But a quick peek at 2021-22 reveals that Duke is not going anywhere. The Blue Devils will lose Jaravee Boonchant to the professional circuit, and believe me, that is a major loss. The four-time All-American was rock solid as a Blue Devil, churning out pars and seemingly never losing control of her golf ball. That level of dependability and experience is hard to replace, but Duke has what it takes to make up for Boonchant’s departure, albeit not with just a single player. Gina Kim and Erica Shepherd are still in the picture, meaning the Blue Devils could have their version of Kennedy Swann and Julia Johnson, the 1-2 punch that led Ole Miss to its first national title Wednesday. And don’t forgot about Megan Furtney, who brings experience and depth to the table as a rising junior. In other news, the younger crowd of Blue Devils has matured in a hurry. The freshman tandem of Phoebe Brinker and Anne Chen lived up to the hype and then some after decorated AJGA careers, as both rose to the occasion under the postseason scrutiny. Chen showed the potential to be a killer in match play situations, best evidenced by her miraculous comeback against Florida State’s Charlotte Heath in the ACC finals and her 7&5 blitzing of Alessandra Fanali in the NCAA quarterfinals. Brinker, while just a year removed from junior golf, has a refined skillset already. The Delaware native is excellent from tee to green, and now has a season of measuring her talents against the best college players in the country. As a whole, the program remains committed to the process under head coach Dan Brooks. That process was especially apparent during Tuesday’s matches, as Brooks marched alongside Shepherd during her crucial match against Linn Grant in the quarterfinals. Typically, Brooks tends to avoid specific instruction regarding his player’s games, opting to act as a form of support during challenging rounds. That happened to be exactly what Shepherd needed in her tug-of-war with the Arizona State star. “She thinks really well on the golf course, I was giving her an opportunity to voice some things.

Max Rego

See LOOK AHEAD on Page 12


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MEN’S LACROSSE

EXCELLENCE

sse make it to Final Four

Superteam falls

By Sasha Richie Blue Zone Editor

EAST HARTFORD, CONN.—Two conference champions, two Tewaaraton Award finalists, a laundry list of AllAmericans at both ends and a trip to the NCAA Championship Game on the line. It should’ve been a close game. But at Rentschler 14 Field in East Hartford, UM 5 Conn., Duke fell to DUKE Maryland 14-5 in the Final Four of the NCAA Championship as the undefeated Big Ten Champion proved to be unstoppable. As NCAA scoring leader Jared Bernhardt racked up goal after goal for the Terrapins, finishing with five, and goalie Logan McNaney tallied save after save, the Blue Devils couldn’t find an answer and went home empty handed. “I don’t know that it was so much that we didn’t play well. Maybe it was that Maryland played great,” head coach John Danowski said after the game. The Blue Devils knew it would be an uphill battle coming in. Between the Terrapins’ 14-0 record, Bernhardt and star Duke defender JT Giles-Harris playing through a knee injury he suffered in the first quarter, it would take the Blue Devils’ best team effort of the season to make it to the finals. But that didn’t happen, and Duke struggled until the final second to create chemistry and generate opportunities. “It was just hard to find that right balance and that right chemistry, very difficult. It was good enough to get to this point, but certainly [identity] was something that I think we struggled with all year,” Danowski said. Maryland opened scoring with a goal from none other than Bernhardt, but a flurry of turnovers kept the game going back and forth until an unbelievable save from senior goalie Mike Adler gave Duke possession. Once at the other end of the field, it didn’t take long for Dyson Williams to find the back of the net to make it a tie game. For the remainder of the quarter, turnovers and defense were the name of the game, as both teams played with physicality on their own ends, delivering on the tension promised by such a high-powered matchup. Then, after a late first-quarter goal from Bernhardt and an early second-quarter goal from Anthony DeMaio, it looked like Maryland might take over. That is, until ACC Freshman of the Year Brennan O’Neill picked up a sneaky ground ball near the crease and stuffed it past Terrapin goalie Logan McNaney to bring the Blue Devils back within one. However, shortly after the Blue Devils failed to capitalize on an extra-man opportunity, Bernhardt completed a hat trick to put the Terrapins up two. An individual effort from graduate transfer Michael Sowers with just five seconds on the shot clock kept the Blue Devils in the game, but three goals in under a minute from Maryland steepened the hill Duke would have to climb to a victory. Another goal shortly after made it

By Shane Smith Associate Sports Editor

Courtesy of NCAA Photo

Michael Sowers finished the season ranked second all-time in career points in Division I men’s college lacrosse history. 8-3 and gave the Terrapins an even steeper lead. At the end of the first half, it was clear the Blue Devils had their work cut out for them as Maryland seemed to capitalize on every mistake. Evading attempts at pressure in the middle of the field and dominating at the faceoff circle and in groundballs, the Terrapins were able to create offense in transition in the late stages of the half to establish a rock solid lead to start the third. Still, Duke would try their best to stay in the game and keep fighting. “Each team goes on runs, so we weren’t backing down when that happened,” senior defensive midfielder Terry Lindsay said. “We’re never going to give up. That’s an ethos of Duke lacrosse. Never give up.” Quashing the Terrapins’ momentum would prove even harder, though, as Roman Puglise scored the first goal of the second half for Maryland and any opportunity the Blue Devils found was immediately snatched up by McNaney, who finished the game with

17 saves. Maryland seemed unstoppable as Logan Wisnauskas scored the Terrapin’s sixth unanswered goal only for Bernhardt to score the seventh and his fourth of the day on another extra-man opportunity. Nearly all the Blue Devil third-quarter scoring attempts ended up in McNaney’s pocket or turned over and with eight seconds left in the third quarter, Duke barely avoided being shut out of scoring in the period entirely when Williams scored off a quick feed from senior midfielder Nakeie Montgomery. With just 15 minutes left for Duke to save its season, it was still struggling to find an identity to match Maryland’s strength. Instead, the only thing left standing between the Terrapins and a trip to the championship was Adler, who had largely been hung out to dry. Things got desperate after DeMaio scored his second to put Maryland up by eight with just over 10 minutes left in the game. Nothing short of a miracle would save the season for the Blue Devils. That miracle wouldn’t come. Instead, the Terrapins continued to rain shots on net, hassling the Duke defenders and midfielders and keeping the scoring opportunities coming. Though the wheels fell off the Duke wagon early in the contest, Bernhardt’s fifth goal of the day truly signaled the end of Duke’s season and the dominance of the Terrapins. A goal from Sowers with 20 seconds left couldn’t soften a very tough blow, and the Blue Devils were left with an early exit from Championship Weekend. “[Maryland] just outplayed us today,” Lindsay said. After the final whistle blew, emotions ran high as the Blue Devils put a wrap on their 2021 season. Courtesy of Reagan Lunn/Duke Athletics “I couldn’t be more proud of how we JT Giles-Harris won the William C. Schmeisser fought through everything this year,” Lindsay Award, given to the nation’s top defensive said.

EAST HARTFORD, CONN.—After surviving five one-goal wins since late March, the signs didn’t exactly point to a blowout loss for Duke on lacrosse’s biggest stage. The so-called “potential superteam” never seemed unbeatable throughout the year and was more than susceptible to losing in a Final Four that included all four of the tournament’s top seeds. But when the Blue Devils boast the National Defensive Player of the Year, a Tewaaraton finalist, eight total All-Americans and the winningest coach in Division I history—it was always championship or bust for Duke, who looked anything but super in the semifinals. The Blue Devils’ luck ran out Saturday at Rentschler Field as No. 3-seed Maryland, a team that rivals in talent, ended No. 2-seed Duke’s season with a display of a program peaking at the right time. Tewaaraton favorite Jared Bernhardt’s five goals and two assists from every angle on the field finally put an end to the Blue Devils’ quest for an all-time season. Now, there has never been more talent in college lacrosse than the 2021 season. With returning seniors and high-impact transfers all over the country due to new NCAA eligibility rules, hindsight is 20/20 for labeling just one squad a superteam. But as Duke refused to succumb to top-five team after top-five team over the course of the season, the sport’s landscape was just waiting for a click into gear that never came. “We made some plays that we didn’t pay attention to detail, which you need to do in a championship series,” head coach John Danowski said on his team falling flat. “You need to be on, every aspect of the game.” The wealth of talent amidst the Blue Devils this year was undeniable. How could you not have such high expectations? One of the greatest scorers in the history of the sport, the No. 1 overall recruit, the team’s 2019 leading scorer and 2020 leading scorer. Duke had former All-Americans at midfield and on defense. What seemed like the only big question marks coming into the season, faceoffs and goaltending, turned into strengths with who turned out to be some of the best in the country at those positions. “That’s a lot of respect to Duke and Notre Dame’s offenses,” Maryland head coach John Tillman said. “We kind of joked at the beginning of the week it was like getting ready for the NBA AllStar team, like the Western All-Stars. Just so many good players out there that were dangerous.” The puzzle box wasn’t missing any pieces, they just didn’t fit together in time. Things were especially gruesome offensively Saturday as the Terrapins flexed their superior athleticism to keep Duke’s stars at bay. Before a 10-2 Maryland run over the game’s final 33 minutes put a stamp on things, the Blue Devils continued to See SUPERTEAM on Page 12


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WOMEN’S BASKETBALL

Column: The rebuild is over for the Blue Devils When Kara Lawson was hired last fall, I wrote that Duke was “just a few good years away from returning to ACC title contention.” I figured that might be generous. Turns out I was too pessimistic. In just nine months, Duke women’s basketball has been born anew. The program that went to 11 Elite Eights in 16 Em Adler years between 1998 and 2013 had finished 10th in the ACC in 2018-19 and was picked to finish there again this past preseason. The talent that had powered a surprise run to a third-place ACC finish in 2019-20 left last summer, and tough times looked to be ahead. Lawson’s hiring instilled new excitement in the program, but it seemed that Courtney Banghart’s job at North Carolina was Lawson’s best-case scenario: a rough first couple of years while hoping the recruiting reaches the elite level ahead of schedule. A 24-point November loss to Louisville suggested that that first year was indeed going to be painful. That first season was soon cancelled, though, due to COVID-19 concerns, leading to the early start of a busy offseason. Just a week later, the team made a surprising addition of Nyah Green, a former five-star recruit and Louisville Cardinal. While six players transferred out of Duke by mid-March, all six were replaced by the end of April. Lawson added six new recruits during the month, including five more former five-stars, with the team upgrading massively across the board. In just nine months, the Blue Devils have gone

Courtesy of Reagan Lunn/Duke Athletics

Rising sophomore Vanessa de Jesus averaged 12 points and 3.8 assists in Duke’s four games this year. from an ACC cellar-dweller to an inarguable top- or forward (Lexi Gordon, Elizabeth Balogun, five squad in one of the toughest conferences in Green) and two who can play both forward and the country. For my money, Duke could be the center (Imani Lewis and Onome Akinbodesecond-best team in the ACC next year, making James), plus a combo guard in Vanessa de Jesus. this its best season since 2016-17. The rotation, likely to go 11 or 12-deep in the Let’s look at what Duke brings to the court regular season, features five great shooters, six next year. The first thing that jumps out about the excellent defenders and only a couple players who roster is how adaptable it is. are not definite two-way contributors. “We wanted to be aggressive in going after Duke’s backcourt next year features a former players that fit how we want to play,” Lawson told freshman phenom in de Jesus, a slasher in Taylor, a GoDuke.com. “There are a couple things that we standout defender and offensive enigma in Jordyn value highly. One is versatility. The other is two- Oliver and a 3-and-D star in Goodchild. With way players—players that can make an impact de Jesus able to play at either guard spot, pairs on both ends. All of these players can do that.” of them can be mixed and matched depending The Blue Devils go about two-deep at every on the opponent; de Jesus and Taylor can play position, including three players who can play together to emphasize creation at the expense of either guard or wing (Celeste Taylor, Miela some on-ball defense, Oliver and de Jesus can Goodchild, Lee Volker), three who can play wing play together to add passing if Lawson can afford

to give up size, or Oliver and Goodchild could play together to add balance and on-ball defense at the expense of pull-up shooting. Even more versatile is the Blue Devil frontcourt, consisting of Jade Williams, a top defender and offensive swiss army knife in Balogun, a versatile rim-runner in Akinbode-James, a midrange surgeon and elite rebounder in Lewis and a rim runner in Amaya Finklea-Guity. There are endless combinations based on the match-ups: Balogun and Williams can space and defend and hurt you from anywhere on the court, Lewis and Williams can be a great rebounding duo at the expense of defending in space, Balogun and Akinbode-James can play together in a five-out weave offense but give up rim protection or Akinbode-James and Finklea-Guity can share time in a supersized lineup. Combine each of those backcourt and frontcourt combinations, plus one of the remaining wings, and there’s no one the Blue Devils can’t be ready for. But a talented team can’t be maximized without great coaching, of course. Luckily for Duke, Lawson and her assistants have proven themselves as one of the dozen or so smartest crews in the country, even in just four games. There are few teams in the ACC whose positioning was more consistent than, whose cuts were as timely as, whose schemes were as advanced as the Blue Devils. Despite that staff taking over in late July, the team was running more professional schemes than most squads that had been together for years. In just four games last fall, Duke ran slips, See REBUILD on Page 12

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W. GOLF

SUPERTEAM

said regarding what he told his team after the semifinals. “Handled COVID really, really FROM PAGE 9 well, pulled together. Very selfless team. I just went with two of their stalwarts to kick things said, ‘Hold your heads high and be proud of scrap behind Mike Adler’s consistency between off. That importance was palpable from Kim the season.’” the pipes and sloppy play from Tillman’s squad. and Mehaffey’s play early on, as both managed Duke found offense early off broken plays and to roll in some crucial putts on the opening impressive individual efforts, though the score nine. became lopsided once Maryland realized the But what’s a Gina Kim match without lack of purposeful ball movement from its some late drama? The defining moment of opponent. the quarterfinals for Kim came at the drivable FROM PAGE 8 The Blue Devils rolled to success this season par-four 17th. Clinging to a 1-UP lead, the with a handful of effective scorers who worked North Carolina native elected to lay up with a And there were times when she was just talking, best as offensive initiators. Duke’s individual six iron to a comfortable yardage rather than thinking out loud,” Brooks said. talent pushed it to wins against a lot of great If you’re wondering whether Duke will add lacrosse teams, but the team ultimately didn’t go for the gusto and try to knock it on from 276 yards away. Mehaffey, hitting second, any newbies to the equation, well you’re in have the continuity to reach the next level. decided to put the peddle to the meddle and luck. Rylie Heflin and Sophia Bae will arrive “A lot of guys who come out of high school hit a high fade with the driver that finished in the fall, and the two racked up no shortage or different programs, they were good players right of the green. of accolades during their respective junior golf because they had the ball in their stick,” “I was itching to take out the driver,” Kim careers. Danowski explained. “Learning to play off said. “But you know, I told myself ‘I got two Combined, Heflin and Bae have posted the ball. We’re talking about Jared Bernhardt holes to play and I got a 1-UP lead, so I think 22 top-fives in AJGA events since 2016. Plus, and he’s a fifth year senior. He’s been in their I can make a birdie. I feel pretty confident in the return of a fall golf season, which Chen program for five years. He’s very comfortable my wedge game.’” and Brinker missed out on yet still filled in with his teammates, very comfortable with A wedge to short range led to a birdie, and a admirably for Ana Belac and Miranda Wang, those guys around him. They all feed off each subsequent Kim shriek of joy. Once Mehaffey will also pay major dividends for the incoming other. failed to get up and in from a gnarly lie in the freshmen. “You have someone like Brennan O’Neill, right rough, Duke moved to within a point of In a year’s time, the odds are high that we who is learning a new system, and Michael advancing to the afternoon semifinals. will see Duke among the favorites once again Sowers learning a new system. [Joe Robertson] Disappointing finish aside, the Blue Devils in Scottsdale along with Mississippi, Oklahoma coming off knee surgery and missing the first remain grateful for another chance at a State and Stanford. The setting will be familiar two games of the year. Midfielders, nobody postseason run and optimistic for the future. as well, with Grayhawk set to host the second of really out played each other in practice. So they The lack of a fall season, strict COVID-19 three straight NCAA Championships in 2022. were all good players, but we were searching for restrictions and Boonchant arriving to That being said, there is one area that is a little bit of depth. But at the end of the day, we campus in March made for a challenging year, going to require some improvement. Match couldn’t really run past anybody on Maryland.” nothing like any college golf team would have play so often comes down to putting contests, It’s a different kind of disappointment for so Duke will have to get dialed in to the green the Blue Devils to have the dream of a national envisioned even 15 months ago. The departure of Boonchant, who will speeds and roll in a few more 10-15 footers championship crushed in a game where the soon turn professional and seek to accomplish come next year. outcome seemed seldom in doubt, rather than her dreams on the LPGA, is going to hurt, At the end of the day, the Blue Devils are one that was heartbreakingly close. Yet behind but everyone else should return and the Blue built to contend once again. How that turns the shadow of the semifinal loss was a season Devils will add Sophie Bae and Rylie Heflin to out come next May is up the air, especially filled with accomplishments—from individual considering how unpredictable this sport can honors to an ACC title filled with all top-10 the mix as promising young prospects. “All the things that you would say to a be. But hey, all you want is a chance. teams to a return to Championship Weekend team that has worked extremely hard,” Brooks for a third consecutive season. FROM PAGE 8

LOOK AHEAD

Emotions were heavy as the clock wound down Duke’s season with a nine-goal deficit, though the team made it a point on the sidelines to keep fighting. “We brought it up that we’re never going to give up,” team captain Terry Lindsay emphasized. “That’s an ethos of Duke lacrosse. Never give up.” Some important Blue Devils will depart, some important Blue Devils are set to return and Danowski should have Duke back on this same stage in the near future. That time will only tell whether or not this painful loss was the necessary fuel to bring home a fourth national championship.

REBUILD FROM PAGE 11 staggers, pin-downs and veers. It perfected one set play, then executed two different counters of it against then-No. 2 Louisville. It ran high drop coverage against middle pick-and-rolls, and ICE against side pickand-rolls. Now, recruiting through the transfer portal might seem like only a temporary way to build a team. But Lawson and co. aren’t trying to keep reaching for transfers; three players (Williams, Gordon, and FinkleaGuity) graduate after this year, and are being replaced by at least three recruits, including two top-25 players in off-ball guard Ashlon Jackson and hybrid-forward Shay Bollin. And Duke is still a finalist for five top-30 prospects. Last summer, I thought the Blue Devils wouldn’t see an NCAA tournament until after I’d graduate. But now, I wouldn’t be surprised at all if I’m watching them in the Final Four next April.

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14 | TUESDAY, JUNE 1, 2021

NINA KING FROM PAGE 3 good thing. Change is OK. As an NCAA, as an organization we need to remain nimble and flexible. Need to be ready to provide our student-athletes greater opportunities and allow them to profit off of their name, image and likeness, with the appropriate guard rails.” Although King was an in-house hire, the job was by no means handed to her, as the search committee interviewed a number of candidates before ultimately landing on King. “The process was a typical standard search process. As I mentioned, we had a great search committee,” King said. “I went into it, not assuming anything, this was not a beauty contest, I wasn’t one of one, I needed to earn the job. And so I went in, of course I knew everybody on the search committee and had relationships with most, if not all, but I went into it again focused on winning and earning the job, and I was confident that I could do that, and clearly I did.” King has been under the tutelage of current athletic director Kevin White dating all the way back to her time

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at Notre Dame from 2005-08, and she shared some of the lessons he taught her. “Kevin [White] has taught me what it means to be a great leader, his leadership philosophy is that a great leader is passionate, empathetic, flexible and task-oriented, and I have taken that as we hire people in any position,” King said. In addition to speaking on some of her missions as the athletic director, King mentioned why Durham and Duke are places and communities she enjoys being a part of. “For me, the answer is simple. Duke is a magical place, the commitment to excellence is unmistakable. And most importantly, the drive and ambition amongst all the Duke students is inspirational. The people in this community are passionate and dedicated. I am proud that Duke athletics plays a significant part in making Duke University so special. Duke is a top-10 institution in the country, a top-25 institution in the world, a pinnacle player in higher education, why not Duke?”

PITCHING DUO FROM PAGE 5 “And I think from my freshman year to sophomore year I was on the verge of getting that reinvention but I think from sophomore year to junior year, and really having that time to sit and think about what kind of pitcher I wanted to be, who I wanted to be, what my role is gonna be on this team, I was really able to create the pitcher that I am today.”

‘You’re never going wrong’

Thanks to the performances of Walters and St. George throughout this season, head coach Marissa Young has been faced with a problem that you’d be hard pressed to find a softball coach complaining about: which of my aces do I start today? “We’re always looking at matchups. What we think the opposing team is gonna struggle with most and a lot of times it’s just a gut feeling,” Young said in an interview with The Chronicle. “I’ve gotten to know these two really well and knowing how to motivate them and what environment they’re gonna thrive in and really it makes it easy that if you start one and things don’t go well you know you’ve got another great one to bring in behind them and they’re gonna get the job done so you feel like you’re never going wrong.” In addition to the two pitchers complementing each other well as teammates, it would nearly be impossible for you to draw up two pitching styles that go better together. If the lineup Duke’s facing consists of hitters who key in on low fastballs, Young can opt to go with St. George and her up-ball that attacks the upper part of the zone all game long. In the event that the Blue Devils’ opponent feasts on high pitching, Young can look to Walters’ drop-ball and high velocity to eat up outs. “Me and [Shelby] it’s like, alright you’re starting, I’ll come in and finish behind you,” St. George said. “You do your job, I’ll do my job and I really think we’re so good together because we complement each other so well.”

‘All gas, no brakes’

For so many great athletes, it is the space between their ears that elevates them to the next level, and St. George and Walters are no different. St. George’s motto when she pitches is “all gas, no brakes,” and not just because it’s a cool catch phrase. Those four words are so important to her on-field success that she wrote them on her hotel room mirror with a bar of soap throughout the ACC tournament, just to serve as an additional reminder to give the “110%” that she strives for anytime she is in the circle. “I think I had to lose my confidence first to get this [all gas, no brakes] mentality,” St. George said. “So in the beginning of college I lost all confidence, I had no self-esteem. I might have been a good pitcher, I didn’t think I was a good pitcher then at least.” True to their yin and yang dynamic, Walters has a more relaxed mental side to her pitching, and she used the COVID-caused softball break to reflect and refine the type of player and person she wanted to be. “At the end of the day if I can say that I did my best then that’s all I’ll ask for myself and that’s all I’ll ask from anybody else,” Walters said. St. George and Walters may have a different mental approach to pitching, but one thing is glaringly clear about each of them: they love to compete. “Just the competition really, I mean you can go and throw a bullpen by yourself but you’ll never have that feeling like when you’re just staring down this other girl 43 feet away from you,” Walters said of what she missed most while COVID-19 shut down sports. St. George relishes her time in the circle as well, and when she is in her competitive mindset, her thoughts are “kind of violent” as she dissects the best way to carve her way through opposing hitters. The luxury of having two elite pitchers with full faith in each other’s abilities is that the one who is not in the circle can provide support in more ways than one from the dugout, and since the two have such good chemistry, all St. George has to do is mouth advice to Walters, and the latter understands without any sort of verbal communication. Sometimes the support comes in the moral sense, with the one in the dugout cheering on the one pitching. Other times, the support is more technical, especially when one leaves the game and the other enters. Walters and St. George are both able to share inside tidbits of what strikes the umpire is giving and which players are struggling with certain pitches, and that’s not something many college rosters can say they have. “[St. George and Walters] also have seen that the programs that are successful have more than one great pitcher in the circle and so they wanted to support one another and bring out the best in each other which they’ve really done a great job of doing,” Young said. Regardless of the way Duke’s season ended, it is already down in the Blue Devil history books as a success, and a large part of that is thanks to the right arms of St. George and Walters.


The Chronicle

LONG HAUL FROM PAGE 7 A week after their first game, the Blue Devils made their return home for a Thursday evening matchup with Virginia, marking the first time since March 11 that any Duke team played on its home field. “Once we got through the first weekend and we looked around and everybody was playing their games it was like, ‘OK, this is going to happen.’ Let’s be ready to play this game against [North] Carolina. Let’s be ready to play this game, because it’s going to happen now, unless something crazy [happens],” Church said. Duke made it through its fall slate of regular season games. Up next was the ACC tournament, where it took down Clemson in the quarterfinals before losing to Florida State in the semis. Normally soon after the conclusion of the ACC tournament would be the NCAA tournament, but this year all fall sports (excluding football) had their championships moved to the spring, so for the time being, all the team could do was wait.

Not done yet

Some teams that played in the fall made the decision to forgo playing in the spring, at least until the NCAA tournament. But the Blue Devils, knowing that a deep NCAA tournament run was their goal, wanted to get back in action. “We had aspirations of winning a national championship and we knew it was gonna be hard,” Church said. “And we knew we had to get better. So that carried us over to ‘let’s play in the spring.’” The team arrived back on campus in January, its next game not until March 6, giving the players plenty of time to get back into the groove of things after nearly two months away. And when March 6

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finally rolled around, the Blue Devils took a weekend trip down to UNC Wilmington and cruised to a 3-0 win. The Blue Devils were back once again. Outside of a brief scare when the university went into a week-long lockdown, the spring slate went on without a hitch and before you knew it, Senior Day had come and gone. All that was left was the very thing everyone had been working toward for the past 10 months—the NCAA tournament. On April 19, the Blue Devils received their seed, the ninth overall, giving them a first-round bye and landing their first tournament game May 1. For the team, making it to that point justified what it had been through in the past year. “It’s kind of crazy just how much time and how many different things we had to do, and all the obstacles we had to face,” Migli said. “And it came down to a single moment. It felt surreal to finally just have that [and] know we’re going to the tournament. We didn’t even know if there was going to be a tournament in the fall.” After winning their first two NCAA tournament games, the Blue Devils advanced to the Elite Eight and found themselves playing Florida State for the third time that season. Unfortunately, an incredible gameplan wasn’t enough to take down the Seminoles, as the Blue Devils saw their season end in penalty kicks May 9. And so, 293 days after the team had set foot on campus July 21, a season unlike any other was finally over. It may not have ended the way the team wanted, but that only serves as motivation going forward.

Reflecting and looking forward

They might make it look easy on the field but athletes struggle too, especially amid a

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pandemic. For Migli, when times got tough, she’d give her mom a call. For McGuire, she would lean on her teammates. Facing a challenge invites growth and both feel that they have grown a lot in the past year. With most social life on standby, a normally close team got even closer and after a tough year, there was a lot for Duke to be proud of. “I think I’m most proud of my team for just showing up every day,” Migli said. “We all showed up every day, ready to play. And I’m proud of myself for just making it through.” And so here’s to a more normal season for everyone: to the fans, a likely return to Koskinen Stadium; to the coaches, the chance to talk the team sans masks; to the team, a return to pre-pandemic routines; to McGuire, the feeling of walking into Koskinen with fans in the stands; and to Migli and all the other sophomores, the chance to have the true college experience they were robbed of this past season.

ROTATION FROM PAGE 4 despite his 6-foot-9, 235-pound frame, can do it all with the ball in his hands. Banchero can step out and knock down perimeter jumpers, possesses an ability to attack the rack and can even bring the ball up after snatching a rebound. If you are searching for a Blue Devil to be a candidate for ACC Player of the Year, Banchero is the one to keep your eye on. Anticipate the freshman to stay on the court in excess of 35 minutes, particularly against Kentucky, Gonzaga, North Carolina and March Madness opponents. Predicted rotation: PG: Roach SG: Keels SF: Griffin PF: Banchero C: Williams 6th Man: Moore Bench: Blakes Bench: Baker Bench: John

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