By Natalie Fiorilli | The Duquesne Duke
Just in time for the start of classes, the Duquesne women’s basketball team is back on campus after a 12-day foreign tour in Europe.
The tour, in which NCAA teams are only eligible to participate every four years, offered competition against European teams, along with the experience of touring Hungary, Croatia, Serbia and Paris. Head coach Dan Burt, known for his international recruiting ability, found the trip beneficial in terms of conditioning and team-bonding.
“The tour was a great chance to work with different lineups and to build cultural awareness within our program,” Burt said.
For some members of the group, an overseas tour meant a rare opportunity to head home.
More than half of the 2016-17 roster consists of international players, with six student-athletes representing European countries (Hungary, Spain, Estonia and Serbia) and an additional three hailing from Canada.
Three members of the Duquesne squad call Hungary home: freshman guard Nino Aho, sophomore forward Eniko Kuttor and senior forward Amadea Szamosi. Sophomore guard Julijana Vojinovic hails from Serbia.
The Dukes visited Szamosi’s home in Pécs and Kuttor’s home in Székesfehérvár, where they enjoyed home-cooked meals and spent time with the families of Aho and Vojinovic.
“This world-wide tour exceeded my expectations in every way, shape and form,” Vojinovic said. “Besides beautiful Dubrovnik and Paris, as well as spending these magical moments with my team, one of my biggest treats was having my family joining us in Budapest.”
The Red & Blue matched up against three teams: Bajai Női Kosárlabd (Hungary), Pinkk-Pesci 424 (Hungary) and Zenski Kosarkaskio Klub (Serbia), topping all three. The Dukes proved they are once again going to be vying for a spot in NCAA Tournament as their smallest margin of victory in the three contests was 28 points.
The experience of competing against European A and B Division teams allowed a young Duquesne squad, composed of 11 freshmen and sophomores, to better evaluate its new players.
“From the games, to daily fun activities, to cliff jumping, we strengthened our team spirit and built stronger relationships that will last a lifetime,” Vojinovic said.
Each day included different conditioning workouts, whether it was running along the beach, or other intensive sessions focused on swimming, climbing and balance. Off the court, the Dukes spent some time sightseeing, including touring the Eiffel Tower, Cathedral Basilica of St. Peter and St. Paul in Pécs and visiting a setting for the HBO series, Game of Thrones in Dubrovnik, Croatia.
Duquesne returned to Pittsburgh Tuesday, and will now look forward to the start of a new season. Coming off of the most successful year in program history, Duquesne will need to find new leadership without the presence of former seniors April Robinson, Deva’Nyar Workman and Emilie Gronas.
The Dukes will work to continue the same momentum they set last season, after finishing as a top contender in the Atlantic 10 and competing in their first-ever NCAA Tournament.
“It was simply an incredible trip with incredible people,” Burt said. “Our student athletes represented Duquesne University across Europe very well. Their engagement with the local populace was outstanding.”