Friday, March 26, 2010

Duke coach calls on team to make changes

Duke women's basketball coach Joanne P. McCallie joked earlier this week that her players may be sandbagging when it comes to taking charges in recent games.

Freshman center Allison Vernerey took two in a game against Hampton, but no Duke players took a charge against Louisiana State on Monday in the second round of the NCAA tournament.

McCallie would like to see a few on Saturday when the second-seeded Blue Devils face 11th-seeded San Diego State in the regional semifinals at FedEx Forum in Memphis, Tenn.

"We've been passing the charge baton, it's been driving me bananas," McCalllie said. "Can't everybody take a charge? Are they against it? Is it against their religion? What?"

This season, after collecting only five charges in the first 11 games, the Devils have taken 27 charges over the past 23 games. Sophomore guard Shay Selby leads the team with ten, while Vernerey has seven.

McCallie said if a player takes two charges in a game, they can should respond with two more in the next.

"It's funny it's like they take a few charges and then they go a way for a while," she said. "You think about Shay taking a few charges and then it's like, 'When's the last time Shay took a charge?' You can't remember now."

Players want to remind their coach it's not that simple.

"It hypes the team for sure," Vernerey said. "It's cool, but it's painful sometimes. It's not the best feeling."

Duke's junior guard Jasmine Thomas injured herself last season taking a charge.

"When I got hurt last year for that little bit of time, it was from that take-a-charge drill," Thomas said. "So I was anti-charge for a while. I've gotten over that and I like taking charges, but I have to say to myself, 'Think about a charge.'"

Sometimes thinking about them is not enough.

"I think it's hard some times because I don't just fall," Duke senior Joy Cheek said. "You have to have a little art to it. ... I think all my charges I've gotten my whole four years have been accidental. They don't really work too much for me."

While at this time of the season, the Devils don't practice taking charges - to avoid injury - their coach certainly want to see more players sacrificing themselves during games.

"You just want to be attitudinal about your defense," McCallie said. "Charges show position, they show confidence. There sort of like gotcha. ... And you want to have those when you're playing somebody, gotcha, beat you to the spot, sorry, we got that. It communicates more than just a physical nature of what happens in a charge. It really electrifies the team that takes them."