The Duke women’s basketball team took a devastating blow on Monday when news broke that senior guard Chelsea Gray had a fractured kneecap and needed surgery, thus ending her career at Duke. Last February, the Blue Devils had to hear the same news about Gray.
Tweets were coming in all night on Monday, from former players across the country, to former Blue Devils, to opponents:
When Gray got hurt last season, she was playing her best basketball, maybe better than anyone in the country. She was so good, the coaches voted her the Co-ACC Player of the Year. She busted her butt to get healthy and started all 17 games for Duke this season.
Prior to getting hurt in Sunday’s win (she still scored 11 points in 16 minutes), she seemed to be struggling. Whether it was the wear-and-tear of the season or her right leg was bothering her, we will never know. But she wasn’t slashing to the basket the way we are accustomed to seeing or stopping on a dime with frequency. She was settling for outside jump shots.
Even ESPN’s Kara Lawson talks about Gray.
What does Gray mean to Duke?
She is the floor leader and a huge part of the nation’s top recruiting class four years ago. However, this Duke team weathered the storm last season, losing just two games without her (Miami in the regular season and Notre Dame in the regional final).
This year’s team may be even better to weather this storm.
Duke only lost one player to graduation from a year ago, and that was Allison Vernerey. This year, Coach P brought in one of the top recruiting classes and now have two bigs coming off the bench (Oderah Chidom and Kendall McCravey-Cooper). Fellow starting guard Alexis Jones is no longer a freshman and knows how to handle the pressure. Fellow seniors Tricia Liston and Richa Jackson have stepped up in the past (as have Haley Peters and Elizabeth Williams). This team knows what it needs to do to win without Gray. But the pressure will be on and it won’t be easy.
Gray could have seen her jersey hanging in the rafters inside Cameron Indoor Stadium following a stellar four year career at Duke. However, injuries will make that almost impossible (but you never know).
She finished her career with 1200 points (a 10.2 points per game average). She fell 35 assists shy of becoming the program’s all-time assists leader (she is number two). Gray already owns the single-game record for assists with 15 versus Clemson (1/10/13). She is also the single-season record holder for assists with 201 (2011-2012 season). She is the only player in Duke history to record TWO triple-doubles: 14 points, 11 rebounds, and 13 assists versus Pitt on 12/4/11 and 18 points, 11 rebounds, and ten assists versus Boston College on 1/6/13. Despite an injury-shortened season last year, Gray had the most double-figure assist games in Duke history (four).
Gray‘s nine steals versus Clemson on 1/24/13 is number two in the program’s history. Her three charges taken versus BC on 1/6/13 is second all-time. Last season, she took a total of 18 charges, which ranks her fourth all-time in a single season. During the 2011-2012 season, Gray had 93 steals, putting her in fourth place all-time for a single season. Last season’s steals total of 89 is ranked fifth.
She made 85.1% of her free throws last season, which is ranked ninth. Gray’s assist-to-turnover ratio last season of 2.06 (136 assists to 66 turnovers) is ranked seventh.
Going into her senior season, Gray was ranked third all-time in free throw percentage at 82.7% and she had made 38-of-51 this season. She was ranked ninth at 39.3% from three point range (she made 10-of-30 this season).
Gray ends her career with 298 steals, which puts her in third place all-time. She has 545 assists (which is second), compared to 298 turnovers. Her career assist-to-turnover ratio is now 1.82, which puts her in third place.
While it will be tough not to see Chelsea Gray play for the Blue Devils again, it sure will be fun watching her cheer on her teammates to hopefully a Final Four (or even National Championship) appearance. It has been a great ride watching her for four years at Duke.
Here’s hoping for a speedy recovery!