Women’s basketball: Duke picked to win ACC, UNC picked fourth

CorrespondentOctober 23, 2013 

ACC North Carolina Duke Basketball

Duke head coach Joanne P. McCallie, right, is lifted by Ka'lia Johnson, left, as they celebrate after an NCAA college basketball game against North Carolina at the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament in Greensboro, N.C., Sunday, March 10, 2013. Duke won 92-73.

CHUCK BURTON — AP

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    Preseason picks

    1. Duke

    2. Notre Dame

    3. Maryland

    4. UNC

    5. Georgia Tech

    6. % Florida State

    7. Syracuse

    8. Virginia

    9. Miami

    10. N.C. State

    11. Boston College

    12. Wake Forest

    13. Virginia Tech

    14. Clemson

    15. Pittsburgh

    % Tied for fifth with Georgia Tech in coaches’ poll.

    Preseason All-ACC team

    * Alyssa Thomas, Maryland

    Chelsea Gray, Duke

    Tricia Liston, Duke

    Elizabeth Williams, Duke

    Xylina McDaniel, UNC

    Tyaunna Marshall, Georgia Tech

    Kayla McBride, Notre Dame

    Ataira Franklin, Virginia

    @ Diamond DeShields, UNC

    @ Jewell Loyd, Notre Dame

    # Chelsea Douglas, Wake Forest

    # Natalie Achonwa, Notre Dame

    * Preseason player of the year

    @ Coaches’ team only

    # Panel team only

    Newcomer watch list

    Diamond DeShields, UNC

    Oderah Chidom, Duke

    Kaela Davis, Georgia Tech

    Taya Reimer, Notre Dame

    # Kendall McCravey-Cooper, UNC

    # Lexie Brown, Maryland

    @ Morgan Jones, Florida State

    @ Coaches’ team only

    # Panel team only

— It’s been a long time since the ACC started a women’s basketball season without Sylvia Hatchell.

But that will be the case for the first time in 27 seasons as UNC’s Hall of Fame coach gets treatment for recently diagnosed leukemia.

Still, with the No. 1 recruiting class in the country, the Tar Heels – who will be guided by Hatchell’s long-time assistant Andrew Calder – were picked to finish fourth in the conference at the ACC’s annual women’s basketball media day on Wednesday at Grandover Resort.

Duke was picked first by both the conference’s Blue Ribbon Panel and the coaches, followed by newcomer Notre Dame and Maryland. N.C. State, in its first season under Wes Moore, was picked 10th in the 15-team conference.

The top four spots are important, because those teams will not have to play in the first two days of the ACC tournament March 5-9 at the Greensboro Coliseum.

“We’re still going to play Carolina basketball,” said Calder, whose team went 29-7 last season and will host the first and second rounds in the NCAA Tournament this time. “We’re going to play hard, we’re going to play smart and we’re going to play together, rebound and execute.

“We’ll have an aggressive, attacking mentality – Coach Sylvia Hatchell basketball right there. We’re going to attack on offense and defense, play with high energy and have a lot of fun.”

Duke’s outlook

Duke (33-3 last season), generally considered to have the second-best freshman class in the country, has five seniors who have played and lost in regional finals each of the past three years. The Blue Devils lost that regional final to Notre Dame last season, falling 87-76 in Norfolk.

“We’re just going to do what we do,” Duke coach Joanne P. McCallie said. “All in all, I think this is a great group. We’re having a lot of fun getting better and challenging ourselves.

“We have to say goodbye to last season, but we’re very motivated by what we missed out on, and we missed out on a lot. … We have a highly motivated team for a lot of reasons. I think we’ll be versatile and a lot of fun to watch.”

N.C. State’s outlook

The Wolfpack is in its first season under long-time Chattanooga coach Moore (558-169 in 24 years including the last 15 seasons with the Mocs).

“The things I hope we can do to tilt close games our way start with a lot of fundamentals,” said Moore, who replaced Kellie Harper after the Wolfpack went 17-17 last season. “We’ve got to take care of the basketball offensively.

“I think rebounding is the most important aspect of the game. We’re going to have to do a great job on the boards, limit our opponents to one shot and then try to get that second and third opportunity ourselves. We want to be more aggressive defensively – still man-to-man, halfcourt – but really try to get after people a little bit more and maybe create some offense off our defense.”

Maryland’s Alyssa Thomas was named preseason player of the year on both the Blue Ribbon Panel and coaches’ teams.

Duke placed three players on both panel and coaches’ teams in Chelsea Gray, Tricia Liston and Elizabeth Williams. UNC’s Xylina McDaniel made both teams, while freshman Diamond DeShields made the coaches’ team. Wake Forest’s Chelsea Douglas made the panel’s team.

DeShields and Duke’s Oderah Chidom were each selected to both the panel’s and coaches’ “newcomer watch lists,” while Duke’s Kendall McCravey/Cooper was named to the panel’s watch list.

Nine players from Wake or Durham counties will play for ACC teams this season. Senior guard Chloe Wells (Apex) and walk-on junior guard Jenna Frush (Northern Durham) are at Duke. Senior center Markeisha Gatling (Athens Drive), junior guard Breezy Williams (Northern Durham) and freshman guard Ashley Williams (Green Hope) will play for N.C. State.

Freshman guard Mykia Jones (Millbrook) is at Wake Forest, junior guard Chelsea Lindsay (Durham Hillside) at Clemson, and freshmen forwards Bria and Briana Day (Millbrook) at conference newcomer Syracuse.

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