By Jeff Milby —
College students spend their summers in any number of ways: Internships, traveling abroad or honing a certain skill.
This summer, women’s basketball junior Asia Durr did all three by being apart of the U23 USA National Women’s Basketball team. Coached by Louisville’s Jeff Walz, the team won the Four Nations Tournament in Japan.
“It was a great experience,” Durr said. “Especially to be playing with some of the best players in college basketball.”
The roster included AP Preseason Ohio State’s All-American Kelsey Mitchell, as well as Baylor’s Kalani Brown and UCLA’s Jordin Canada, both of whom also received All-American votes.
“That’s what I was excited about, to compete against them and play with those girls,” Durr said. “To travel across the world, it was a great experience. It was so much fun.”
Durr led the USA in scoring in the Four Nations Tournament, averaging 12.3 points per game. She scored a team-high 16 points in the final game over Japan.
“I thought (Durr) did a really nice job,” Walz said. “Our last game against Japan, I told her, I thought she looked the best that we had played the entire time.”
Despite competing on the same team as Mitchell, Brown and Canada, Durr did not receive any votes from the AP for the Preseason All-American team.
Named Preseason ACC Player of the Year, Durr was one of six players from across the country to participate in Women’s Basketball National Media Day in Connecticut.
She was also named to the preseason watch list for the Ann Myers Drysdale Award, given annually to the best shooting guard in Division I women’s basketball.Coming off of a strong sophomore campaign, the recognition for Durr is deserved.
At 19.2 points per game in 2016-17, Durr led the Cardinals in scoring on their way to a Sweet 16 in the NCAA Tournament. Her four 30-point games led the ACC, including a career-best 36-point effort against Syracuse. which tied for the ninth-highest scoring game by a player in the program history.
Still, Durr is always trying to push her game in a new direction, and she spent her summer trying to round out her game.
“I’ve been trying to watch some film, focus on rebounding more and getting in shape more,” Durr said. “I’ve been in the weight room with our strength coach, trying to push some weight and get stronger.”
After Louisville’s season-opening win over Southeast Missouri St., Walz said that he expects teams to “beat up” on Durr, so adding strength was a priority in Durr’s busy off-season.
“Coach Walz called me weak last year,” Durr said. “And I didn’t like it.”
One skill that doesn’t require any work is Durr’s shooting stroke. A career 39 percent 3-point shooter, the lefty holds the school record for most consecutive games with a made three, at 40 and counting. She ranked second in the nation in 3-pointers made last season with 119.
Walz has expressed concern, though, that Durr relies on her scoring ability too much, and he wants her to get her teammates more involved.
“She scores the basketball extremely well,” Walz said. “Now it’s going to be, ‘Can you get your teammates involved?’”
Walz announced that he has challenged Durr to reach the 100 assist mark for the season. With 107 career assists entering this season, that might be a tall task. Walz says, though, that Durr has the work ethic to make it happen.
“She’s an extremely hard worker,” Walz said. “She’s in the gym first and leaves last.”
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File photo / The Louisville Cardinal