James Leo | Staff Writer
Jan. 23, 2019
You may have noticed a familiar face on the Duquesne bench this season.
Conor Richardson, who finished her playing days as a Duke in 2019, joined the women’s basketball staff as a graduate assistant for the 2019-20 season.
For those unfamiliar with Richardson’s amazing stats, she averaged over one steal per game in four seasons with Duquesne, and was a key member of the 2017-18 team that advanced to the third round of the National Invitation Tournament (NIT).
Thus far, she has had no problem transferring her playing abilities into coaching. The Dukes currently sit at 13-6 (3-3 in A-10 play) and are 7th in the A-10 standings. Keep in mind, this team was projected to finish 9th in the A-10 preseason poll, and now sit just three games out of second place in the A-10.
Duquesne has had stellar guard play; four of their top five scorers are guards. Junior Libby Bazelak, who leads the team in scoring, entered Wednesday night’s game shooting an incredible 47.4% from downtown (good for fourth in all of Division 1). Richardson, once a guard herself, has obviously had a positive impact on the team.
“The girls respect my new role and know I want to see them all succeed,” Richardson said. “I’ve played with all the girls on the team (except for the freshmen) and in my role they know I relate to their experiences and everything that they are going through because I have been through it all with them.”
No matter what the situation, Richardson preaches one thing to her players.
“The biggest lesson that I have learned as a player is to simply ‘figure it out.’ I use this philosophy when things get tough, when I’m unsure and in many other situations,” Richardson explained.
“There is always a better, more efficient way to do something and I have taken that lesson and transferred it into my current role with my day to day tasks.”
When this team has faced hardships, they have always fought back. For instance, after losing their first two games of the season, the Dukes rattled off ten wins in a row. Then, despite a slow start to conference play, Duquesne grinded out a close contest against St. Joseph’s on Jan. 18th.
Richardson, like the team, is no stranger to hardship herself. She suffered several injuries during her Duquesne career, and looked to a former NBA player for inspiration.
“I was inspired by Derrick Rose,” she explained. “He has been through so many injuries, and I can relate to the rehab journey and the dedication it takes to get back.”
“We have a special team this season. This team plays for each other and has a strong sense of togetherness,” Richardson said. “No one is worried about their stats or any personal, they love each other and want to win as one. Every (remaining) conference game will be a dog fight and this team is ready for it.”
While she is unsure what the future holds for her, Richardson seems open to coaching opportunities.
“I’m using this graduate position as a trial run to see if I want to coach, but I can also see myself working a 9 to 5 with my weekends off and freedom to do what I want.”
The Duquesne women’s basketball team will be back in action on Jan. 26 at Saint Louis. As
Richardson alluded, every conference game has major implications for the team.
They will have to approach each game differently to reach their ultimate goal of clinching a tournament berth.