Duke's Greenwell ready to go after sitting out season

Jun. 17, 2014 @ 04:24 PM

Becca Greenwell was ready to play in January.

The former Owensboro (Ky.) Catholic High School basketball star was midway through her first year at Duke, sitting out the season with a medical redshirt and six months removed from surgery to repair a torn meniscus, when she was first able to practice with the Blue Devils.

It didn’t take long for Greenwell to get back into the swing of things, but the decision had already been made, and it was for the best — the 6-foot-1 guard would sit out the entirety of her freshman campaign, able to play or not. By taking a redshirt, it meant Greenwell could sit out a season while still retaining four years of college eligibility.

The 2013 McDonald’s All-American could practice with the team once healthy but couldn’t play in games without forfeiting her redshirt season.

“It was really tough,” Greenwell said. “Especially practicing every day, running with the team every day and not being able to play in games — it was really hard. I still got to practice though, and that was enough for me, considering I sat out nine months with an injury.”

Greenwell missed her junior season of high school with an ACL injury and played hurt throughout her senior year, yet managed to average 23.1 points, 8.9 rebounds 3.6 assists and 2.6 steals. Already committed to Duke, she hurt her knee again later in the year while playing in the McDonald’s All-American game.

Greenwell wasn’t deterred.

“My senior year, I was playing 50 percent with a busted-up knee,” she said. “I didn’t really get to go out the way I wanted, so I’m definitely ready for my freshman year. I want to prove people wrong and show them that I am a good player, so I want to come out strong.”

Now, fully healthy, Greenwell feels more prepared than ever.

“Last summer going into school I was injured, so I couldn’t work out or participate,” she said. “This year, it’s totally different. I’m trying to push myself. I want to get back there and be better than I ever have been. I want to be in the best shape I can be.”

Greenwell’s summer training began in early May with a return to Owensboro, where she works out at least five days a week, alternating between lifting weights and conditioning as per instructions from the Duke coaching staff. She also fits pick-up basketball games into her schedule when she can.

“I’ve been doing that religiously because I know what preseason is like,” Greenwell said. “I know what to do, what to expect, and I know I’ve got to do it or it won’t be pretty once I get back (to Durham).”

Greenwell will return to Duke campus at the end of June, where she will rejoin teammates for offseason workouts.

For Blue Devil coach Joanne P. McCallie, having a healthy Greenwell will be a big boost to a squad that lost five guards from last season.

“It was interesting, because she was playing in full practice very early on,” McCallie said, adding that the coaching staff was tempted to play Greenwell after Duke lost three of guards — two to injury, one to transfer — during the season. “Now she has a wonderful opportunity to be a special first-year student athlete, a newcomer to the league. She has a huge skill set, and we are very excited.”

According to Greenwell, her main point of emphasis during the offseason has been improving her ball-handling skills to give the Blue Devils another option at point guard if needed. Even if Greenwell stays at her desired position on the wing, she said, adding another dimension to her game can only help.

For Duke to be successful, McCallie said, Greenwell will need to step up as one of the squad’s top perimeter threats despite being one of the younger players on the team.

“Absolutely,” McCallie said. “It’s early to tell. But Becca has set herself apart in a lot of ways. She has the great shot, of course. She has gotten better off the bounce to create her own shot. She has great court vision. She can play the 2 or the 1 for us.”

After practicing for several months last season against then-Duke guards Chelsea Gray and Tricia Liston, who were later selected back-to-back in the WNBA Draft, along with intense summer workouts, Greenwell said she is ready to shoulder the burden for Duke.

“I’m really excited for it,” Greenwell said. “That’s the kind of role I want to have. That’s the role I prepared for, and I’ve wanted to be that kind of college player ever since I was younger. I’m really excited and happy for the future.”