Sam Fatula | Arts & Entertainment Editor
With the presence of the dynamic duo famously known as “The Wo-Show” last season, it was easy to overlook the rest of the talent on the Duquesne women’s basketball team. The reliance on Wumi Agunbiade and Orsi Szecsi continuously made the squad an annual conference threat, while role players contributed to the cause.
Now that Agunbiade, Szesci and Raegan Moore have all graduated, the young, developing team must look for another source of leadership and experience on the court to maintain its strong reputation in the Atlantic 10 Conference.
Fortunately returning to the Dukes this season is star point guard April Robinson. Robinson finished the 2013-14 year as the third leading scorer on the team with 10.8 points per game, shooting 40 percent from the field along with a team-high 3.8 assists per game. She has the potential to make her junior year her most successful yet.
Starting nearly every game since her freshman debut two years ago under the tenure of both former coach Suzie McConnell-Serio and coach Dan Burt, Robinson is capable of adjusting to the role as the main scorer while also maintaining the initial responsibility as the facilitator. As a freshman, she was named to the Atlantic 10 All-Rookie team after being named Rookie of the Week on three different occasions. Although she is willing to take on more shots per game, Robinson knows that she can trust the women around her as well.
“We don’t have Wumi or Orsi who you know you can count on,” Robinson said. “But all 14 of us can score the ball, so I’ve been gaining confidence in each person on this court.”
With confidence comes the task of being able to communicate well, and according to Robinson, one of the toughest parts of her game has always been improving on speaking to her fellow mates whenever necessary.
“Something that I really had to learn to be better at was communication,” Robinson said. “My first two years here, both with Suzie McConnell, Dan Burt and everyone else has helped me communicate better not only on the court, but off the court as well. That has been one of the biggest things for the team in terms of progression.”
Robinson’s emphasis on communication will be tested all season long. The Dukes are welcoming a handful of new talent to the rotation this year, and will require a strong sense of leadership, especially from a fairly new starting five that has not tested the waters of conference play. Although Robinson acknowledges the team’s inexperience, she remains confident about the squad’s raw talent and immediate chemistry. Gone are Agunbiade and Szecsi, two goofy characters away from the court, but the upbeat attitude that’s become a staple of the women’s program in the last four years still remains.
“We are really young and inexperienced, but all 13 or 14 of us know how to score,” Robinson said. “I think we can go as far as we want to. We’re really family-oriented, which really stands out. Everyone does stuff with each other, no one is left behind, so I think that is really going to help us out on the court.”
In conjunction with necessary veteran leadership and a bond to work together, Robinson’s eyes are focused on one thing; finally placing Duquesne’s name at the top of the A-10 by the end of this season. Seniors Belma Nurkic and Olivia Bresnahan will provide excellent outlets for Robinson on the wings, while Jose-Ann Johnson, Kyasia Duling and Stasia King will look for the junior point guard to find them in the paint as well.
When Robinson was a freshman, the Dukes advanced to the quarterfinals of the Atlantic 10 Championship at the Hagan Arena in Philadelphia. They lost in a tightly-contested game to the host Saint Joseph’s Hawks. Now a veteran to the program a full season later, Robinson said the goal remains the same: winning the A-10, which would give the team an automatic bid to the Big Dance in March.
“It’s the biggest thing we haven’t done yet,” Robinson said. “We want to make history and go to the NCAA Tournament.”