For the past week, Duquesne’s Women’s Basketball Team has been watching and taking notes, waiting for Thursday’s Atlantic 10 Championship contest against Saint Joseph’s as its so-called third season tips off.
Duquesne lost at the buzzer after coming back from a double-digit deficit at La Salle and then Saturday on its senior day, had a relatively flat performance that by all accounts was a step backward at an inopportune time.
Then Tuesday afternoon the Atlantic 10 released its all-conference teams as voted on by coaches and two names were noticeably absent.
For starters, Tess Myers did not receive recognition on a conference team. Myers paced Duquesne with 12.6 points per game and made 86 three-point field goals, leading the A-10 by a healthy margin and shot 39.6% from the field in those attempts.
Myers was such a threat from deep that opposing coaches made it a point to face guard her, which Duquesne had to counter with top-of-the-key screening action.
In addition to that, Megan McConnell, who led the conference with her 71 steals was absent from the all-defensive team. McConnell’s nose for the basketball has made Duquesne’s coach Dan Burt call her “a pest” all season long.
As a program Duquesne was one of three teams not to receive any recognition.
Duquesne also will face a Saint Joseph’s team which has less than an hour’s drive to get to Chase Fieldhouse in Delaware, which is where the conference tournament is being contested this year.
So, it only makes sense that during the last week, that Duquesne is quite the motivated side.
“I think it’s just giving us motivation because we know we can win, we know we have a really good team and we all want it really bad,” graduate student guard Libby Bazelak said. “This is my last time playing basketball, so I want it more than anything.”
Of course, actions speak louder than words and Duquesne has admitted to underachieving this season as far as its record goes.
Saturday, Duquesne not only lost the game but the high energy it had for senior day quickly subsided and was replaced by poor body language.
At one point when there was a battle for a rebound, a Duquesne player turned away dejectedly and when a whistle came, the individual dropped her shoulders, not aware that the whistle was against the opposing team.
“It was disappointing to see players turning and retreating and we had a fair amount of that,” said Burt. “There were multiple times where I subbed to hopefully affect that change and the people that I subbed in didn’t understand the importance of it either.”
After Saturday’s loss, Burt who frequently thanks fans and does a postgame interview quietly retreated to the locker room, clearly frustrated at the results and for the team’s several seniors not being sent out on a better note in its home finale.
“This is really the first class that they probably walk away with disappointment, and I understand why,” Burt said. “We’re used to success here. I’m not putting that on them. There’s so many things that have happened and they’ve tried to battle through that, but at the end of the day you are measured on wins and losses, and we didn’t do that this year.”
Duquesne ended regular season play with an 11-17 record, with 14 of the losses coming by 10 points or less.
Several times the team hoped for a tipping point but would trade results in an attempt to find progress.
This is a Duquesne team which lost several potential starters before the season with multiple other players battling through injuries in an effort to contribute.
Duquesne has had to adjust its offense during the season, which has experienced mixed results and with that inconsistency came some panic as sets became stagnant and a mad dash at the end of a shot clock to force up a shot, which led to added frustration.
Despite these hardships, Duquesne has also displayed some promise.
Duquesne’s 67-48 win over La Salle in the first of two meetings may have been the best team effort all season and on the road at St. Bonaventure, an electric second half led to 99 points being scored.
The Dukes also played three of the four top-seeded teams to within 10 points, which included giving then-unbeaten in conference play Dayton a serious scare before falling victim to an offensive lull late in the fourth quarter.
All season long, Burt has expressed optimism that Duquesne is a dangerous team to face and now it is the time of the year where the Dukes will be looking to prove his words to be true.
Burt is hopeful that the seniors can depart on a better note and that these past few days can lead to success in Delaware.
“I believe that we can win the Atlantic 10 Championship, and I know there’s going to be a lot of players in that locker room that are going to play that believe that also,” he said. “We won’t do that, and we won’t win a game if we are not the aggressor from the tip on defense and offense.”