Blue Devils Picked No. 1 in Preseason ACC Poll

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Photo courtesy Duke Photography

GREENSBORO, N.C. – The ACC released the 2012-13 preseason women’s basketball poll on Tuesday at the annual media day in Greensboro, N.C., with the Blue Devils tabbed No. 1 in a vote by the Blue Ribbon Panel, which consists of national and local media, as well as school representatives.

Duke received 29 of 47 first place votes on its way to earning the top slot, while Maryland received the other 18 first place votes.  Rounding out the preseason poll was Georgia Tech, Virginia, North Carolina, Miami, Florida State, N.C. State, Wake Forest, Clemson, Virginia Tech and Boston College.

The Blue Devils have now been selected in the top three of the ACC Preseason poll for the 12th straight year. It marked the eighth time Duke has been tabbed No. 1 in the preseason ledger since the league started producing the polls in 1991 – 2010, 2005, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000 and 1998.

Head Coach Joanne P. McCallie, who enters her sixth year with the Blue Devils, is coming off leading Duke to its third straight ACC regular season title and the first outright crown since the 2006-07 campaign.

Members of the Blue Ribbon Panel also voted on a 10-member preseason All-ACC team with Duke junior Chelsea Gray and sophomore Elizabeth Williams listed on the squad.  Other members of the team include Alyssa Thomas (Maryland), Tyaunna Marshall (Georgia Tech), Natasha Howard (Florida State), Tianna Hawkins (Maryland), Laurin Mincy (Maryland), Ataira Franklin (Virginia), Marissa Kastenek (NC State) and Stefanie Yderstrom (Miami).

Maryland’s Thomas was also selected as the preseason ACC Player of the Year.

The ACC Newcomer Watch list highlights freshmen, true and redshirt and transfers that are expected to make an immediate impact in the league. This year’s watch list includes Blue Devil rookie Alexis Jones, Malina Howard (Maryland), Jonquel Jones (Clemson), Xylina McDaniel (UNC), Uju Ugoka (Virginia Tech).

New in 2012-13, the ACC coaches voted on a preseason poll, All-ACC team, player of the year and newcomer watch list.

With nine first place votes, Duke was selected No. 1 with Maryland second along with three votes.  Georgia Tech, North Carolina, Miami, Florida State, Virginia, N.C. State, Wake Forest, Clemson, Virginia Tech and Boston College closed out the poll.

The league coaches selected Duke’s Williams and Gray to the All-ACC team, while Thomas (Maryland), Marshall (Georgia Tech), Howard (Florida State), Hawkins (Maryland), Mincy (Maryland), Franklin (Virginia), Kastenek (N.C. State) and Yderstrom (Miami) earned honors.

There was a three-way tie for the preseason player of the year by the coaches with Thomas, Williams and Gray.  On the Newcomer Watch List was Jones (Duke), Howard (Maryland), Jones (Clemson), McDaniel (UNC) and Ugoka (Virginia Tech).

As a team, Duke returns four starters and 10 letterwinners from last year’s team that posted a 27-6 overall record and advanced to the NCAA Tournament Elite Eight.  The Blue Devils return 88.7 percent of their scoring from a year ago, including All-America selections Williams and Gray.

Other returning starters include Tricia Liston and Haley Peters, while Allison Vernerey, Richa Jackson,  Amber Henson, Ka’lia Johnson and Jenna Frush lettered in 2011-12.  Wells, who is out of Colton, Calif., returns for the Blue Devils, after missing the second semester last year.

Duke welcomes a solid recruiting class that includes McDonald’s All-America selections Sierra Moore and Alexis Jones along with center Katie Heckman.

Blue Devil fans will have their first opportunity to see Duke in action on Sunday, Oct. 28 at 1:00 p.m., in the annual Blue/White contest in Cameron Indoor Stadium.

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Blue Ribbon Panel Preseason Poll (first place votes in parentheses)
1.     Duke (29)
2.     Maryland (18)
3.     Georgia Tech
4.     Virginia
5.     North Carolina
6.     Miami
7.     Florida State
8.     NC State
9.     Wake Forest
10.   Clemson
11.   Virginia Tech
12.   Boston College

Blue Ribbon Panel Preseason All-ACC Team
Alyssa Thomas (Maryland)
Elizabeth Williams (Duke)
Chelsea Gray (Duke)
Tyaunna Marshall (Georgia Tech)
Natasha Howard (Florida State)
Tianna Hawkins (Maryland)
Laurin Mincy (Maryland)
Ataira Franklin (Virginia)
Marissa Kastenek (NC State)
Stefanie Yderstrom  (Miami)

Blue Ribbon Panel Preseason Player of the Year
Alyssa Thomas (Maryland)

Blue Ribbon Panel Newcomer Watch List
Alexis Jones – Duke
Malina Howard –  Maryland
Jonquel Jones – Clemson
Xylina McDaniel – North Carolina
Uju Ugoka – Virginia Tech

Coaches Preseason Poll (first place votes in parentheses)
1. Duke (9)
2. Maryland (3)
3. Georgia Tech
4. North Carolina
5. Miami
6. Florida State
7. Virginia
8. NC State
9. Wake Forest
10. Clemson
11. Virginia Tech
12. Boston College

Preseason Coaches All-ACC Team
Alyssa Thomas (Maryland)
Elizabeth Williams (Duke)
Chelsea Gray (Duke)
Tyaunna Marshall (Georgia Tech)
Natasha Howard (Florida State)
Tianna Hawkins (Maryland)
Laurin Mincy (Maryland)
Ataira Franklin (Virginia)
Marissa Kastenek (NC State)
Stefanie Yderstrom  (Miami)

Preseason Coaches Players of the Year (3-way tie)
Alyssa Thomas (Maryland)
Elizabeth Williams (Duke)
Chelsea Gray (Duke)

Preseason Coaches Newcomer Watch List
Alexis Jones – Duke
Malina Howard –  Maryland
Jonquel Jones – Clemson
Xylina McDaniel – North Carolina
Uju Ugoka – Virginia Tech