Season of ‘rebirth’ for Duquesne women’s basketball
Out the door went nearly 4,000 career points and four players who graduated and signed with pro teams. And while Duquesne women’s basketball might not be fully reloaded, coach Dan Burt said this is no rebuild.
“The level of talent is not quite what we had in terms of scoring the ball, but what we have is a lot of length. And I can promise you we won’t be finishing ninth,” Burt said, referencing his team’s place in the Atlantic 10’s preseason poll.
Among the players who left are Chassidy Omogrosso, the Dukes’ No. 3 all-time scorer and No. 2 all-time shot blocker Kadri-Ann Lass, but Duquesne again has a nice mix of homegrown talent and foreign players who Burt believes will mesh to record the program’s 12th consecutive winning season after going 19-13 (11-5 A-10) a season ago.
“It’s a rebirth of our program in a sense,” Burt said. “But I really like the team, and we feel good about the direction it’s going.”
Players to watch
Libby Bazelak — The junior point guard from Ohio was the only Duquesne player to average more than 30 minutes last season, and she is the team’s returning leader in scoring (7.4) and assists (2.9). At just 5-foot-9, she also managed to pull in 5.5 rebounds, and her do-it-all skill set allows her to fill a variety of roles in the lineup.
Laia Sole — The 6-2 Spaniard was a key reserve behind Lass last season, her first year eligible after transferring from Maine. Now, the junior is poised to be the focal point on the low block. She averaged 4.3 points and 3.0 rebounds in less than 13 minutes per game last season, so expect her production to boom as she takes on a 25-30 minute workload.
Amanda Kalin — A Pine-Richland graduate and former PIAA Player of the Year, Kalin enters her junior season having made 13 starts a season ago and averaging 5.8 points. As with Sole in the post, Kalin will have more shooting opportunities coming her way with Omogrosso graduated.
Season will be a success if …
The scoring can keep up with the Dukes’ defensive ability. Burt seems confident in his team’s depth and ability to make things difficult on opponents, but Duquense lost a lot of top scorers from a team that struggled to make baskets at times, scoring less than 55 points in nine games a season ago. “They’ve bought into the program, but they’ve never played a lot of minutes,” Burt said. “The schedule is favorable, still challenging but not unrealistic. We just have to find experience early on without too many mistakes.”
Season will be a flop if …
No one elevates their game to a leading level. In Lass, Omogrosso and also-graduated Julijana Vojinovic, the Dukes had senior players who could take games over. While many of the Dukes with playing experience are proven role players, someone such as Bazelak, Sole or senior forward Paige Cannon needs to emerge as an on-court leader. A candidate could be junior guard Nina Aho, a talented player who has appeared in just five games the past two seasons because of injuries.
Predicted record: 18-11 (9-7)
Matt Grubba is a contributing writer.