By David Borne | Staff Writer
Another season down, another impressive year for the Duquesne women’s basketball program and head coach Dan Burt. It was a season that ended with a first round departure at Drexel in the National Invitational Tournament, but it ended a lot more promising than it began.
Losing their two leading scorers to graduation could have made this a rebuilding year for Duquesne, but the Dukes proved that the program can maintain itself as a perennial contender in the Atlantic 10 conference.
Many expected the team to find success again this season, but with 11 underclassmen on the roster, it was impossible to say exactly how this team was capable of performing. The young team also met a relentless non-conference schedule, which included the likes of the Ohio State University, St. John’s, the University of California and the University of Maryland.
While the season had some downs, it showed Dukes fans that the only way to go from here is up.
The sophomore class continued to shine in their second season with the Dukes. Chassidy Omogrosso lead the team in scoring, with Julijana Vojinovic and Kadri-Ann Lass finishing third and fourth on the team in points per game. Conor Richardson also was able to provide quality minutes for Duquesne.
Vojinovic’s emergence was huge for the Dukes. After spending the majority of her freshman year on the bench, she was one of the team’s go-to scoring options in her sophomore season. After graduating April Robinson and Deva’Nyar Workman, somebody needed to step up to help replace their scoring, and Vojinovic did the job.
With Omogrosso and Vojinovic up top, the future of the backcourt is bright. The duo provides Duquesne with the flexibility of working with two primary ball handlers, who can not only run the offense, but can knock down long distance shots as well. Omogrosso had 66 3-point field goals this season, and Vojinovic was right behind her with 61.
Unfortunately for Duquesne, the end of the season means the team will lose senior Amadea Szamosi. Szamosi, one of the team’s two seniors, was an integral piece of Duquesne’s success on both ends of the court. Brianna Thomas, who was a valuable starter this season, has also played her final game as a Duke. Now, the Dukes must find a way to fill the gap left by the departure of the two key seniors.
Both Anie-Pier Samson and Paige Cannon saw limited minutes for Duquesne this season. Judith Sole also missed significant time with an injury, and was restricted to a limited role when she returned. All three are legitimate candidates to step into Szamosi’s spot in the starting lineup and bolster the front court.
Coach Dan Burt has been able to establish what any Duquesne basketball program lacked for years. A winning culture and tradition of excellence. The program saw success under it’s previous head coach with Burt on the staff as an assistant, but he has put Duquesne on the map since his promotion. After being named head coach prior to the 2013-14 season, he has won 89 games. His squad won 18 games this season, their lowest win total since the 2007-08 season, when they had just 15 wins.
At this point, postseason play has become an expectation. The team has qualified for postseason tournaments in nine consecutive seasons. Under Burt, Duquesne has participated in the WNIT three times (2014, 2015, 2017) and has one NCAA Tournament appearance (2016). I imagine the team wouldn’t be even close to satisfied with anything less than a playoff berth.
On a campus that is starving for some sort of success in a major sport, the women’s basketball program is able to provide that excitement for Duquesne sports fans. The team was arguably the most exciting basketball program to watch in Pittsburgh this season, and was definitely the most entertaining at Duquesne. With Burt in charge and a young core in place, Duquesne should be in a good spot for the foreseeable future.