Do you go into the year with a preconception as to what your strengths are going to be?
"Yea, I think we always assess at the end of every year how we did and then we look to the future and see what are we going to be really good with next year, what might potentially be are weaknesses, what are things that we need to do as a staff over the summer to really enhance our strengths and hide our weaknesses and help the team work on our weaknesses. Then we talk to the players individually as well and the things they need to do over the summer to help strengthen us."
Can the preconception change?
"[The freshmen] are the unknown entities. When you last see them in high school it may be the summer after their junior year. So sometimes they're the biggest surprise and they may change what we think."
Ability to shoot the three
"Lindsey [Harding] and Monique [Currie] were the two that we talked to last year about becoming better three-point shooters. We need for them to feel comfortable from the three, they've both worked very hard in that area and they're much more comfortable in that area as you can already see."
"Laura Kurz is an incoming freshmen at 6'1 plays the wing who will be one of the best shooters on the team. So we feel like we have some players who will really step up and help us in that area."
"I think [having a young team] is an advantage. We're young but we have good experience and the experience comes from, I think, some really important positions. Our point guard Lindsey Harding has been to the Final Four-- she knows what it takes. I think you always want to have experience in the backcourt and we have her there. We've got Monique Currie at that wing slot and then we've got Mistie [Williams] down at the low block so we have three starters back at different areas-- a point, a wing and a post and I think that's really important so although we're young I think we've got some really good experience. The fact that we're young is very encouraging to the players because they know we're just going to continue to improve through this season and next season as well."
"This season we've had little nagging injuries that have kept players out for days at a time but nothing that's really kept players from getting back in the swing of things and we're all healthy right now."
What can you expect from freshmen class
"I'm really excited about this freshmen class. They're all going to help us and they're all going to help us immediately. We lost a player at the point, the wing and the post and that's what we signed. Wanisha Smith is a very strong, athletic combo guard; she'll play the one or the two for us. She makes things happen, she'll get to the basket, she has a real flare for the game, so she's going to help us at that point position. Then, Laura Kurz at 6'1 reminds me a little bit of Michael Dunleavy his freshmen year. Kind of long, lanky, can shoot the three very well, understand the game and needs to get a little stronger. And then Chante Black is going to be, in my opinion, one of the best post players ever to wear a Duke uniform. She's outstanding. I told her I expect her to break all of our rebounding and shot blocking records here at Duke. She will have and immediate impact at Duke, she is very good."
Loss of Brittany Hunter
"Yea that was a tough loss for us, Brittany was an exceptional player and we wish her the very best. I think her heart was always at Connecticut, that's where initially she wanted to go. I think it was a struggle for her and when she did have the knee problems I think it reinforced that her heart was somewhere else."
Set-back in post game
"With Brittany we were going to have probably the best post combination perhaps in the country, if she was healthy. But we were planning on red-shirting her this year anyway because of her knee. I think down the road we were thinking we could have this dominant post game. I still think that, it's just not as deep as it was, because Chante Black is going to be a force to be reckoned with. Mistie Williams has already proven she can play against the very best. Alison Bales-- I don't think people will recognize her. Her [Bales] body type has changed, she's worked real hard, she's much stronger, much more athletic looking and more aggressive than she's been in the past. And then I think everyone's forgotten about Wynter [Whitley]. She's had probably two of the best practices of her career these first two practices so she gives us somebody we weren't necessarily planning on in that post spot."
"I think its perfect for us. The pre-season WNIT-- hopefully we'll go far enough that we'll run into a team like Notre Dame. If we could go further we'll probably run into an Ohio State or Arizona, those are all teams that are top-20. Going to Purdue, potentially playing Kansas State in the Bahamas, going to Tennessee; its not an easy schedule by any means."
"All of the players are so excited about the opportunity to contribute more and to feel more needed this year than they were in years past. So although they're young and some are coming back from injury I think they're all very highly motivated and very excited about the opportunities in front of them."
"I think I'm a positive person anyway, but I think I'm more positive this year, at least early on. I'm more patient than I've been, I think there's a level of comfort that I feel now that maybe I haven't in the past. If I'm patient and just continue to do things the way we're doing things we will win a National Championship. But just to let it happen, kind of relax and let it happen and not force it-- you can't force something like that to happen. So I guess I am just feeling more relaxed than I have in the past. Not that I'm less demanding but that I'm a little more patient and positive."
On Alana Beard
"It was her time to go. I would love to have Alana for the rest of my life. I think I was just very fortunate to have her for four years. When you have someone that special to get to spend four years with, while helping them learn and grow, it is special. It was her time to go and it's someone else's time to shine. I don't think its one person in particular but maybe just this team in general."
"I think this team already, and if you asked them I think they'd agree, they're closer right now than any team we've ever had. They've really made the effort, they know that for us to be as successful as we want to be that they must have great chemistry and work together and trust one another."
Good to not have as high expectations
"It really is, and I think for the team as well. It's been a long time. We know we'll still have a target on our back but we don't have the number one ranking going into the season this year and it kind of feels nice. We know that people aren't expecting as much from us so I think this team has the attitude that they want to prove people wrong."
"I know they're the same as they always are. To win the ACC Regular Season, win the ACC championship, go to the Final Four and win a National Championship. We have the same goals every year. I think when you get to this point with a program anything less would really be a disappointment as far as goal-setting."
More teams in ACC
"The two teams coming in are NCAA tournament teams so all the sudden our league becomes a much better league and I think that's good, I think we need that."
Monique Currie as leader
"Mo's become a great leader for us. That was something we told her we needed from her this year and that was my big question mark, was who is going to lead this team. Mo, Caitlin [Howe] and Lindsey were selected captains by their teammates and I think it's a great group because they all lead in different ways. Mo has always been the tough one on the team and she leads by example with her toughness but this year she's become a much better communicator with her teammates because she knows we're young and she needs to be very positive with them as well. All of the players have remarked that she's become a great leader for us. She really wanted to become a great leader and now that those three seniors are gone she has the freedom to lead a little bit more than she felt she had in the past."
"I think Maryland is really ready to break through, they have some outstanding sophomores and they've signed some great freshmen as well. So I think they're young but they've got all the pieces so I think they'll be a team to be reckoned with in our conference. And of course Carolina is always, always good and they have just such great experience coming back from last year that I think they'll be a team that could do great things this year"
"We're running more motion this year. Three-out two-in motion with the post in the high-low post area and really have been working on our post game and passing the ball inside."
On no longer being considered favorites
"When you are at the top you are constantly being fought because you are number one, but now that we are the under dogs, we can go after those people that are ranked above us. It [being ranked low] gives us an opportunity to show our worth, that we know we have lost incredible players but we still have incredible players, [players] ready to fight, ready to win."
On Chante Black: "She's very athletic; she can post, she can rebound. She's got long arms and she is going to be amazing. She is like a sponge; the type of player that works on every aspect of her game, no matter what anybody has to say whether it is positive or negative she just takes it in. I think that's the mark of a great player, when they want to become better, and absorb everything that everyone has just to get better and if she keeps doing that there's is no limit to what she can do."
On Leadership role this season
"This year I am going to have to be more of a leader, more so than I was last year; I am going to have to be more vocal and also leading by example."
On Team's targets this year
"The aim is always to win a National Championship, but for a start there's the ACC; we have to take it game by game. But I think we definitely still have a chance to win a National Championship, we have great freshmen coming in, and everyone has been gelling really well."
On Closeness of team
"Sometimes most teams; whether in college or professional always contain little cliques but with this team I can always call anyone and we are good to go, I have no idea why but chemistry is not an issue. They [freshmen] came here in the summer; at one point we were all here in the summer so we got a chance to get to know them."
On Team identity after losing key players
"We are a different team, we have new players and people coming into their roles, so it's all about coming together and finding that connection, finding that niche that we have; that's definitely what we are looking for."
On preference between being pre-season favorites or underdogs
"In my mind I think that we are the best and that we have a great chance of winning it all, like I think every year. So it doesn't really matter what the polls say to me."
On making it her team this year
"Definitely, I am a senior and have been here for a while, I think I know the roles pretty well, I have been to the Final Four twice, and I think I am really ready to step up into that role and carry the team."
On lessons learned from going to Final Four
"Freshman year it was hard because there was a lot of hype and it was so surreal. When we got back the following year, I didn't play that year. It's not really about which team is the best on paper, but which team performs on the day...there's no turning back once you lose in a tournament, so you just have to go out there and give it your all and good things should happen.