Finding answers in the frontcourt

Courtesy of Athletic Department
Courtesy of Athletic Department

Saúl Berríos-Thomas | Layout Editor

The Duquesne women’s basketball team is in transition.

The loss of the top two scorers, Wumi Agunbiade and Orsi Szecsi, will be the biggest change to the team. College sports are tough in that way because as the most experienced players leave, there is a hole left behind that needs to be filled. For the Dukes that is evident throughout the entire roster. Only seven of the players on the current roster made a field goal last year.

Head coach Dan Burt plans to figure out who will fill that hole on the fly.

“Literally any of the posts could start,” Burt said. “I think early on we are going to go by committee and the players will sort it out as to who is going to be the go-to.”

There are three young players who hope to have a chance at playing lots of minutes for the Dukes and getting a chance to prove they are worth investing in. Those three are Kyasia Duling, Amadea Szamosi and Brianna Thomas.

Thomas is smaller at 6-foot, but in the preseason work the Dukes have done, Burt has found success putting Thomas at the four. Thomas, a 20 year-old sophomore, had a lot of success in high school in Ajax, Ontario, her hometown. She played on the same AAU team as Agunbiade, Jose-Ann Johnson and Oditte Odisho. Thomas has a unique skill set because she is stronger than many A-10 opponents she will face.

Szamosi is an interesting in between player who will provide matchup issues for opponents all season. At 6-foot-3 her size allows her to shoot over many of the smaller players guarding her on the wing. She has been working on a more efficient outside shot that will help her stretch the defense. As a freshmen last year she had success in a limited role and the Dukes’ plan is for her to expand on that with added playing time. She played in 28 games last year. On New Year’s Day she had her first career double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds against Saint Bonaventure. The Dukes’ hope that is the first of many. Szamosi spent the offseason playing for Hungary in the FIBA Under-20 European Championship. She averaged 16.9 points and eight rebounds during the event.

Duling is likely to have an impact early on in the season while the Dukes sort out the rotation. Duling is also 6-foot-3 and she is from Zanesville, Ohio. She played in 17 games last season. Her skill set and play style most closely resembles that of Agunbiade. She shot .583 last year from the field, which was the highest percentage of anyone wearing Red & Blue in the 2013-2014 campaign. She has the versatility to present multiple threats to players guarding her. She averaged a double-double in high school and got national attention for her play. Coach Burt feels like she made a “big jump” in the offseason and he expects her to have a good season.

Duling believes her mental improvements are important.

“My biggest offseason improvement was mental toughness. Being able to step on the court and compete everyday will help me step out and do what I can do,” she said.

These players will not immediately fill the hole left by the seniors that graduated last year, but they will need to take steps towards accomplishing that this year. They represent the best chance for the Dukes to establish a culture of winning and continue to build the program towards A-10 titles.