New experiences for Duke's Liston as she preps for senior season

Jul. 01, 2013 @ 08:37 PM

Tricia Liston’s life and basketball experiences are growing as she prepares for her senior season at Duke.

Coming off the most productive season of her Duke career, the 6-1 guard is traveling with USA Basketball to Russia this week for the World University Games.

Liston averaged 13.1 points and 5.1 rebounds last season, making a school-record 80 3-pointers as the Blue Devils went 33-2 and reached the NCAA Tournament Elite Eight for the fourth consecutive season.

Her 3-point shooting percentage of 46.5 was third-best in Division I women’s basketball. Her 93.1 percent success rate on free throws set an ACC record.

When the U.S. opens World University Games play on July 8 against Mali in Kazan, Russia, Liston will be playing on a different level. This is her first international competition experience and just her second time outside the United States.

“I think this is one of the biggest things in my career so far,” Liston said.

Last summer, Liston traveled with Duke’s team on a tour through France and Italy for exhibition games that allowed then-senior Allison Vernerey of France to return to her home country.

This year, Liston and Duke classmate Haley Peters were invited to try out for USA Basketball’s team in May. From those 33 invitees, Liston is one of 12 to make the final roster.

The team left the USA Basketball Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo., on Monday to fly to Russia.

Duke coach Joanne P. McCallie said the international experience will be invaluable for Liston.

“It’s just an experience you can’t get any other way,” McCallie said. “It’s game experience you just can’t get in the summer. You can’t get that quality of experience. She’s; got terrific coaches and a terrific team. I think Tricia has always been pretty amazing with the intangibles. I think this will grow her game even further.”

Over her first three seasons with Duke, Liston has played important roles on three very successful teams. She averaged 5.5 points per game, getting two starts as a freshman on the 2010-11 team that won the ACC Tournament.

As a sophomore, starting 17 times, her production jumped to 12 points per game on an ACC regular-season championship team that also made the NCAA Tournament regional final.

Last season, Liston was a second-team selection to the all-ACC and the all-ACC Tournament teams. Accustomed to spending her summers in Durham working with the Blue Devils, Liston has been away from campus since the middle of May. In this case, that’s a good thing.

“I’m really excited about playing with new people outside of my team,” Liston said. “I miss my teammates. But you can tell from day one to where we are now that we (Team USA) have grown a great deal.”

Oklahoma coach Sherri Coale, who has led the Sooners to Final Four appearances in 2002, 2009 and 2010, is heading up the USA team. Among Liston’s teammates are Bria Heartley and Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis from NCAA champion Connecticut, Shoni Schimmel from NCAA runner-up Louisville and Baylor’s Odyssey Sims.

McCallie said Liston can improve her already strong offensive game even more against such high-level competition by mastering shooting over screens, shooting quicker over screens and tightening up her ball-handling to make her a more effective player off the dribble.

This month’s games in Russia are a great place to do it.

“It’s playing at that elite level that sets her up well for her senior year and to be a pro basketball player,” McCallie said.