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Finished with college hoops, Southmoreland grad Abel looks overseas to continue career

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Vanessa Abel
By Bill Tissue
Wednesday, May 8, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

With her basketball career at Duquesne University completed, Southmoreland High School graduate Vanessa Abel will be trying to overcome even more adversity in her career.

After not being drafted by a WNBA team, she will now go overseas to follow her professional aspirations.

It won't be easy as she isn't “100 percent from a knee injury” that ended her 2011-12 season.

“Hopefully, one day I'll reach my full potential again and the opportunity comes across my way of getting into a tryout in the WNBA,” she said. “If not, I'll make my living overseas and enjoy the experience.”

She also explained that she will “sign with an agent in a couple of weeks.”

Besides losing Abel and other seniors, Duquesne lost its head coach Suzie McConnell-Serio, who was hired at the University of Pittsburgh.

“I wasn't too surprised about it,” Abel said. “Once I heard Agnus (Berenato) got fired it only made sense that Pitt would come after Coach Serio, because of her success at Duquesne in a short period of time.”

Abel believes the Lady Panthers could be competitive soon.

“Pitt already has a lot of talent on their roster” she said. “Their record doesn't tell how good they really are. By Coach Serio making the move to Pitt it allows her to recruit big-time players out of high school. She now can focus on the university's name and attract players to play at Pitt because they play in the ACC.”

“I give it two years before that program is turned around and back on the map; she's that good,” she said.

Abel had mixed emotions about McConnell-Serio's departure.

“It's sad to see someone I built a special relationship with leave me, But when an opportunity like that comes your way it's one you almost have to take,” she said. “Coach Serio is a competitor like me. She loves the challenge. She loves proving everyone wrong and Pitt is probably one of the biggest challenge she'll ever face.”

In Abel's eyes, Duquesne will stay strong.

“I believe Duquesne will continue to build,” she said. “Coach Serio has changed Duquesne into one of the top teams in the mid-major ranking. Duquesne has become a basketball school that will attract top coaches to want to be a part of a program like Duquesne.”

Bill Tissue is a freelance writer.

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