Senior leader is leading
DURHAM, N.C. – Duke’s women’s basketball team is off to an inconsistent start this season. The Blue Devils are 4-2, but those two losses were large.
Duke was outmatched on the road by No. 6 Texas A&M, and then they were unexpectedly blown out at home by Northwestern. The loss to the Wildcats was the worst defeat to an unranked team the Blue Devils had suffered at home under head coach Joanne P. McCallie.
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It’s clear that Duke has some problems to solve and some kinks to work out before ACC play rolls around – but one thing that has been consistent, one area that doesn’t need fixing is the play of Haley Gorecki. The do-it-all graduate senior is averaging 18.2 points, 7.1 rebounds and 3.3 assists per-game through Duke’s first six contests. She’s been a big reason why Duke has won the games it has so far.
Gorecki was named ACC Co-Player of the Week on Monday after her performances against Idaho State and Troy. Against the Bengals, she dropped a career-high 30 points and went 13-of-15 from the charity stripe in the 19-point win for Duke. Then, three days later vs. the Trojans, she tallied 23 points, 13 rebounds and three steals in a 14-point victory.
And while it’s obvious that Duke can and needs to get better, Gorecki feels like she can too.
“A lot, I have a lot,” Gorecki said Sunday of her room for growth. “I don’t think I am even half way there. This team helps me out a lot. This group especially because we are young so it gives me a leadership role but playing with them has been great.”
Being named ACC Co-Player of the Week is the first for Gorecki in her career at Duke. She is sharing the honors this week with Beatrice Mompremier of Miami.
A native of Palatine, Illinois, Gorecki has long been a versatile player for Duke and is showing off her well-rounded game again this season. As of Monday, she ranked in the top 20 of the ACC in points, rebounding, assists, free throw percentage and blocked shots. A season ago, the 6-foot guard was the first Blue Devil ever to lead the team in scoring, rebounding and assists in a single season. She was a first-team All-ACC selection last year, and enters this season as a candidate for the Drysdale Award.
“Just smart decisions, very balanced, getting to the free throw line, that’s a sign of a great player,” McCallie said of her Gorecki’s play against Idaho State. “We know Haley’s just a very, very good player, but when you get fouled and you get to the line 15 times, that’s a separator and it’s very important for our team for that to happen.”
On getting to the charity stripe, Gorecki added: “Honestly, I just saw gaps, I like to drive so my teammates and I either saw a ball screen or I saw a gap and went for the rim.”
While Gorecki was 13-of-15 from the foul line against Idaho State, she went a perfect 10-for-10 from there against Troy. On the season, she’s making 86.4 percent of her free throws, which is a career-high.
As Duke continues to figure out what kind of team its going to be this season, one thing is clear: when Gorecki can impact the game on the boards, at the foul line, with her scoring and with her defense, she and the Blue Devils are hard to beat.
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