Grace Heidinger | Staff Writer
March 2, 2022
“Chaos. Chaos and madness.”
That’s what Head Coach Dan Burt expects as the Duquesne women’s basketball team embarks on the Atlantic 10 Conference women’s basketball tournament. The Dukes will travel to the Chase Fieldhouse in Wilmington, Del., where they’ll take on seventh-seeded Saint Joseph’s in the tournament’s second round on Thursday.
“Everyone’s really looking forward to this event because it truly is March madness this year, where every possession is going to have to be valued because it’s going to be important,” Burt said. “Every game should be a close game. From Wednesday through the end of the tournament, it’s going to be great basketball.”
The Dukes closed out their regular season with a 73-68 loss against SJU at the UPMC Cooper Fieldhouse on Saturday, but Burt feels that the familiarity of facing the Hawks for the second time in five days give his team the best draw possible.
“What they did to us on Saturday was run those sets really effectively, while being incredibly aggressive, especially trying to draw contact with driving it to the basket,” Burt said. “So that has allowed us to have a better understanding of what we’re going to have to do when we play them on Thursday and some of the changes that we’ll have to make.”
In preparing for Thursday’s matchup, Burt acknowledged that the Hawks were the aggressors on both sides of the basketball in Saturday’s contest.
“We’ve got to understand that we’re going to have to take charge on Thursday because this is a team that is just really aggressive and trying to create that contact,” Burt said.
When reflecting on the season, Burt felt that the way the team lost some games was difficult, but they have made positive strides that didn’t necessarily always result in wins.
“We didn’t play up to our potential against Saint Joe’s, and then the UMass game (an 89-59 loss on Feb. 13). If you take away those two games, we were really happy with the way that we played, dealing with what we had to go through [numerous injuries] to get to this point,” Burt said.
The mentality has always been to make it to March, but a key focus as the season progressed was building consistency and confidence with each new game. For Burt, close losses to second-seeded Rhode Island and top-seeded Dayton showed that his team can compete with the conference’s elite, so long as they have the right game plan.
“I think on Thursday, we can go out and play well and get a victory. And then coming back the next day and playing, we can get through that,” he said. “But then our depth is going to have to help us in that second day. We’re going to have to have our depth come through for us and give us quality minutes.”
With the regular season now in the rearview mirror, it’s now all about surviving and advancing.
“Our record is not indicative of what Duquesne women’s basketball has been during the 15 years I’ve been here. But this group has never given up, and their spirit is fantastic,” Burt said. “We will see what happens in a very evenly matched, wide-open Atlantic 10 women’s basketball tournament. It’s going to be a great time and a great ride in March.”