It seems hard to believe, but Kara Lawson is heading into her fourth season as Duke’s head coach.
She arrived at an inauspicious time - the Covid pandemic hit in her first season and the team voted to stop playing after four games. Year II was a middling 17-13 and last season saw Duke go 26-7 and get back to the NCAA tournament.
We’ll see how this year goes but Lawson has set up a big game and, therefore, a big opportunity: South Carolina is coming to Cameron as part of the Jimmy V Classic.
Two problems for Duke in that matchup: first, Vanessa deJesus is out for the year with a knee injury. And second, former Duke assistant Winston Gandy now works for South Carolina’s Dawn Staley, and he knows exactly what Duke wants to do.
Still, playing a team like South Carolina is a huge opportunity. A win would be huge for Duke of course, but even a loss can be helpful. South Carolina has become one of the measuring sticks of the women’s game. At an absolute minimum, playing the best tells you how far you have to go to get there yourself.