By Natalie Fiorilli | The Duquesne Duke
Fans of the Duquesne women’s basketball program are anticipating the start of the 2015-16 season thanks to their team’s superb effort last year. In honor of the season being right around the corner, the program offered its first ever “Dukes, Donuts and Dunks” event last Sunday morning.
The Dukes welcomed their fans to the A.J. Palumbo Center for a free breakfast along with the opportunity to view a practice session.
The event was a success, according to the team’s director of basketball operations, Melissa Franko, who hopes this is the first of many promotional events like it for the program.
“I think Dukes, Donuts and Dunks will become a wonderful annual event to kick off our season,” Franko said. “We are always looking for ways to deepen the connection with our fans and especially the students here at Duquesne.”
It wasn’t just fun for the fans watching, but also for the players, as it was a change of pace from their usual routine. Junior point guard Brianna Thomas agreed that it was a good chance to involve the fans.
“It was a good opportunity for us to interact with some of our season ticket holders, fans, family and friends,” Thomas said. “It gave them a little insight on what we do in practices and how we will develop throughout the season. After we scrimmaged, we went into the stands, thanked everyone and talked to them about their expectations.”
Coach Dan Burt was pleased by the attendance of the event, and explained that the team is still fine-tuning its game plan in preparation for the start of the season.
“The on-court product, the way we played [Sunday] was sloppy, but you can clearly see the talent and potential this team has,” Burt said. “We are still 20 days away from our first game, still mastering plays, still working on being in shape at the correct time. We are talented and led by a strong group of seniors.”
Considering the program’s success and rapid growth, attendance shouldn’t be a problem for the women’s basketball program. Last season, however, there were not nearly the same number of fans who attended the games in comparison to their male counterparts. During the 2014-15 season, Duquesne women’s basketball had an average attendance of 809 fans, while the men’s team averaged 2,270 per game, according to the NCAA.
Their attendance numbers don’t reflect their performances last season. Although attendance was lower than the men’s team, the women’s program went 23-11 overall, only losing two home games. The men’s team completed the season at 12-19, losing nine games at the Palumbo.
If their success alone doesn’t convince Duquesne students and fans to attend the games, maybe different events such as “Dukes, Donuts and Dunks” can contribute to the effort of promoting the team on campus. The women’s basketball program is alive and well, and it’s definitely looking for an NCAA tournament bid this season.
The Dukes will kick off their season Nov. 13 vs. St. Peter’s in New Jersey. Their first home game will be Nov. 24 against Howard.
On Wednesday, the Dukes were picked to finish third in the annual Atlantic-10 poll.