Nov. 20, 2012
By Gary Ozzello
FORT COLLINS, Colo. - Caitlin Duffy said it was the hardest call she ever had to make.
The 5-foot, 11-inch freshman guard from Rapid City, S.D., was being recruited heavily by Colorado State and her home state University of South Dakota.
Following a recruiting trip to CSU, Duffy made the call to USD's coach, informing him she had committed to become a Ram.
"I was being recruited by both USD and CSU. It was the hardest call, by far, I've had to make, to tell him I was not coming to USD," she explained.
Good fortune soon shined on Duffy and CSU's program.
You see, the coach on the other end of the USD phone was Ryun Williams, who months later would become Colorado State's first-year women's coach in 2012-13.
"I got to know him at USD," Duffy said. "I can remember when I called him at USD to say I was coming to CSU, he made some joke about it. But he was so nice."
Now, it's the best of both worlds for Williams and Duffy. Williams is coaching a player he originally recruited in South Dakota, and Duffy is playing for a coach and a program she thoroughly enjoys.
"When the coaching change took place at CSU, I didn't know what to expect. When he (Williams) called, I never thought that was going to happen, and I was so excited," she said.
Duffy saw her first action of the season Saturday, when Colorado State entertained Seattle University in Moby Arena. She recently had a cast removed from her left hand - her shooting hand - as a result of a fall in practice in which she fractured the distal radius.
Playing with a club-like wrap around the cast, she participated in most team drills, and spent time shooting shots including free throws right handed.
Duffy led her St. Thomas More team to the school's first state title last year, earning first-team all-state honors. As a senior, she averaged 19.5 points, 6.8 rebounds, nearly four assists and 3.3 steals per game, and was a four-time all-conference selection.
She'll bring those same talents to Colorado State's lineup beginning with this week's game. She also brings a pedigree of outstanding basketball talent from Rapid City.
The most recognized women's player in CSU history - Becky Hammon - was a childhood idol of Duffy's, and likewise a native of Rapid City.
"I think any girl growing up in Rapid City and even throughout South Dakota - Becky Hammon was like an idol. She was for me. I went to her basketball camp as a third- and fourth-grader. I'd go extra hard in the drills, just so she would notice me," said Duffy.
"Everyone talked about her. South Dakota, the state, has a small-town feel. When you see her and what see did, and how she did it, it makes you want to play at that level."
Duffy heard the stories of Hammon, competing against boys in games at the local gym.
"I tried to aspire to do things like she did, and play against the boys," Duffy said. "She's had such a great career, and still does."
Duffy hopes to continue the South Dakota legacy at Colorado State.
"This is very special for me. She (Hammon) left a legacy."
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