Women's team can reach new heights
Published: Thursday, November 1, 2012
Updated: Thursday, November 1, 2012 01:11
Following a frustrating season filled with more downs than ups, the Duquesne women’s basketball team plans to rebound this season.
The Dukes managed to go 20-12 and 7-7 in the Atlantic-10 last season despite injuries and disappointments across the board. The team advanced to the A-10 playoff quarterfinals at the beginning of March and made a WNIT appearance in the middle of March. Their struggles last season prepared them for this season.
Senior point guard Vanessa Abel was hurt last season and the team quickly learned what life after Abel would be like. Without Abel at point guard, the Dukes were forced to move a senior guard Jocelyn Floyd over the point guard position.
While she is moving back to her natural position this year, Floyd’s experience at point guard will certainly help the team this season. She now has a better understanding of the offense and has more of feeling for what her point guard is going to do.
Junior forward, Wumi Agunbiade will miss Abel.
“[Abel] is one-of-a-kind but I think our two new point guards that we brought in will both be good at filling in her role,” Agunbiade said.
Normally finding one extremely talented point guard is a challenge for teams, but, as Agunbiade pointed out, the Dukes have two. That depth gives them the flexibility to run different types of plays. Transfer, from Panola Community College, Oditte Odisho and true freshman April Robinson have been battling for the starting job. While one needs to be named a starter by the first game there will be no shortage of talent off of the bench.
Coach Suzie McConnell-Serio still hasn’t decided on the position.
“I go back and forth every day [on picking a point guard] because they each bring different things. I envision those two playing together as well,” McConnell-Serio said.
Odisho said she enjoys the competition.
“I don’t mind a challenge,” Odisho said. “Every day it goes back and forth and one of us just needs to snag that spot and hold onto it.”
Agunbiade had an offseason knee scope to make sure her knee was ready for the season. She has been rehabbing and recently returned to practice. McConnell-Serio said Agunbiade will be in the lineup for the first game. With a few preseason games under her belt, she should be back to top form in time to start the season and work on living up to her preseason All-Conference first team selection.
“[Agunbiade and I] have a little connection on the court … I’m very happy she is back because she contributes a lot to offense and defense whether she has the ball in her hand or not,” Odisho said.
The Dukes also lost guard Alex Gensler who was the second-leading scorer last season and holds the career 3-point record for Duquesne. The Dukes will look to sophomore guard Belma Nurkic, who made 21 3-point shots last season, to fill that void.
The Dukes also recently received news that senior forward Carly Vendemia suffered a stress fracture in her foot and will be out for a large portion, if not all, of the season. McConnell-Serio started preparing a sophomore center, Jose-Ann Johnson, for a bigger role.
“Jose-Ann Johnson has done a great job of [making up for the loss]. She has worked very, very hard in the offseason and up until now working on her game,” McConnell-Serio said.
The Dukes will have to work hard to be successful this season, but they look togain respect in the A-10. The Dukes are currently picked to finish fourth in the conference. While that doesn’t make them underdogs, it does mean they have a lot of work to do in order to come out on top. The Dukes will begin the season against North Dakota at the 1:30 p.m. on Nov. 21 in the A.J. Palumbo Center.