PITTSBURGH— Duquesne went into its season-opening road to Texas with high hopes and the intent of helping its NCAA Tournament resume should it need to go the at-large route but departed with no wins to show for it.
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In the two setbacks, there were consistent themes which seemed to hold true and be main contributors for the losses, which came to TCU and a nationally ranked Texas team.
This plagued Duquesne a lot last season and even when it was able to come back, it had to use a lot of energy to do so.
Against TCU, Duquesne allowed 10 points before it scored and was unable to knock down shots or recognize this and make efforts to shoot free throws.
“You’re going to go through starts like that, shots were ones we knock down at a good percentage,” Duquesne coach Dan Burt said after the TCU loss. “Not going to free throw line and secondly we feel like they didn’t box out well and we did not pursue at the level we needed to, we stood around a lot. These were the same problems we have last year. Common theme with having an edge.”
Duquesne’s offense also suffered stagnant starts opening each quarter in what ultimately was a 61-48 loss which may not have been as close as the final score indicated.
Things did not get any better two days later at Texas when Duquesne was trailing 24-7 after the first quarter and had 12 points at halftime.
“We didn’t shoot the ball with any normalcy,” Burt said of that game. “That’s how you get to 24-7. We are a team that will not out-athlete or out-size people. Have to be able to shoot the ball better than 21 percent, which we did in the first half. It was a rout and there are not a lot of good things to take away from this.”
Some senior struggles
Duquesne started three seniors in both games in Kadri-Ann Lass, Chassidy Omogrosso and Conor Richardson and another Julijana Vojinovic was one of the first off the bench.
In the first game, the quartet of seniors, all of whom received some form of preseason recognition shot 4-for-29 on the day at TCU.
“I know that our four seniors were 4-29 from the field,” Burt said. “Four seniors that are all-conference. At some point you have to make some shots or get to the line. We only got there eight times with four seniors.”
Lass was able to score 12 points against Texas, but the other three seniors did not find the scoreboard with Vojinovic playing just five minutes, her lowest such total since freshman year when she was used as a complimentary bench role.
Omogrosso played 19 minutes at Texas and was 0-for-5 from the field, her lowest minutes total Dec. 19, 2015 against St. John’s. Her scoreless performance was the first since Dec. 1, 2016 against Fordham.
Richardson played 13 minutes against TCU and had 18 against Texas but went 0-for-6 from the field in that game.
It is clear that these seniors have a lot of pride in what they do, but against TCU, the bench outscored the starters by six points, and the majority of those starters of course were seniors.
While Lass now leads the team with her nine points per game, the remaining trio are well below their scoring and minutes averages.
The story of Duquesne?
Following the team’s loss to TCU, Burt used his opening statement to assembled media to describe his team’s story
“The story of Duquesne basketball is we win 20 games and go to the WNIT every year,” he said. “We’ve done it for 10 years, save one year when we went to the NCAA Tournament and that team had an edge. We have a bunch of really good students and high-level people and we will end up in the WNIT and win 20 games if we don’t have an edge. We’ll be a good basketball team but we have to have a little bit of nastiness and until we do that, we’re just good.”
To some this may come off as harsh but it has defined his team. Some of that in the past came to scheduling whether it was a bad loss or even an opposing team having an RPI which did not help Duquesne’s case.
This is another reason why Duquesne scheduled both TCU and Texas. TCU has a similar RPI to Duquesne and of course Texas is ranked.
Burt believes Duquesne is a good team and it is most certainly not because of the Atlantic 10 Preseason Poll which placed it first, but rather because he has seen what this team is capable of and it returns essentially everyone from last year’s roster.
Still, Duquesne has plenty of time in its non-conference schedule to correct some of the errors which were made, many of which could be more noticeable given the higher level of opponent which exposes every mistake and provide a different standard of play.
As Burt spoke in Texas, he still did mention a positive which certainly puts things into perspective. Sure, the first two games were tough pills to swallow, but they certainly will not define the season.
“A couple of years ago we started 0-3 and got to the NCAA Tournament,” said Burt. “It is good that we are challenging ourselves.”