Duquesne women’s basketball coach Dan Burt admitted that for once he was not a man of many words at the start of his Zoom press conference, following an 80-78 loss Sunday afternoon to Richmond and that certainly was not a good thing.
The team had just lost another close game, once again not being able to get over the hump, this time squandering career efforts from Diamond Bragg and Megan McConnell.
That being said, this is not a normal year and not just because of the pandemic but also due to many serious injuries which have been noted.
Approaching the locker room, Burt decided to limit his words and by no means was he going to be overly critical but instead focus that energy address things which caused breakdowns that cost Duquesne Sunday’s game.
In order to win, Burt believes that you need several players that are ready to play and can produce. To date, Duquesne has largely had a couple at a time. As Burt chose his words, he explained that if this were a normal team of him, one which is veteran laden then he would have been unhappy but now it is about avoiding falling into what he calls the “mountain of excuses”.
“We can’t go negative and we can’t belittle,” he said. “I told them we have this mountain which is very high and incorporate many different things. For us to get over the hump it has to be several players together playing with their best effort. All we can do is remain positive, teach and continue to grow. I do believe our best basketball is ahead of us. Growth is sometimes hard and does not feel good and that’s what’s happening right now.”
None of this is normal for Burt who paused after each question as if it was a police interrogation.
“Right now, I’m frankly not in a good space, I’m not used to growing, I’m used to winning,” said Burt. “This is tough.”
From a player standpoint, Laia Sole expressed happiness that her team has fought harder than before but also believes that at the end of the game, for whatever reason the desired outcome has not occurred.
Sole sees this as a double-edged sword.
“You can see it as a good sign or frustrating,” she said. “It is frustrating we can’t figure out how to close a game but it is a good sign that there is not a huge difference between us and the other teams. We’re right there, we are just missing something and I’m sure it’s going to come. I have confidence in my teammates and we all want the same thing.”
With Duquesne now 2-6, it would be easy to be critical of though Burt not only maintained confidence in his team, he doubled down.
“I’m not embarrassed, I’m not ashamed, I’m not disappointed,” said Burt. “I’m proud of my team, the women that I coach. In a results-oriented business, I’d love to have more wins no doubt about it. What we’re fighting to overcome, there’s nobody in America and women’s basketball that has the situation that we have. Nobody. If people want to judge me because we are 2-6 and I say that, oh well. I know what we have and I know what we are and I know what we will be so I don’t have an issue. We’ll get there and I’m 100% confident in that.”
A CLEAR LEADER
All season long Burt has looked for a leader and it appeared that Amanda Kalin had embraced that role before she got injured. With Kalin now out, it was up to someone else to take on that position.
Normally actions speak louder than words, but both spoke volumes Sunday.
Meg McConnell played all 40 minutes and was able to score a career-high 18 points, while also providing consistent vocality.
Not bad for someone who originally was set to redshirt this season.
“Meg is our point guard, this is her team,” Burt said. “Meg McConnell is going to play 40 minutes a game, I don’t know how she won’t at this point. She is most communicative kid on the floor even when you have upperclassmen on the court. She is an incredibly valuable piece and she’s not going to come out of the game. I can assure you she’ll play all 40 Friday unless something crazy were to happen. It will be good when we continue to grow and Meg will have some pieces around her that will be a little more consistent.”
. Duquesne defensively struggled at the start and it could be argued that despite the two-point difference on the scoreboard, had the opening seven minutes been more clean, then it is a happy locker room.
“Sometimes you have to give credit where it is due,” Burt said. “I didn’t think this was uninspired but it was a defensive performance that had lapses that were critical to our winning the basketball game that were frankly hustle plays and we didn’t achieve them.”
. Sole scored 17 points and appeared to find some footing after being held in check the previous two games.
When discussing his graduate student center, he reveals that she has had a pretty serious injury that remains undisclosed but affects her basketball performance.
“She’s given us nothing but good effort and is a good teammate,” he said. “We’re going to need Laia when we make our run.”