During Media Day on October 22, 2013, the Atlantic 10 Conference released their preseason women’s basketball predictions in Richmond, Virginia.
The A-10 Women’s Basketball annual preseason rankings are based solely on an A-10 coaches poll and I beg to differ! They don’t know everything!
Having followed the Dukes WBB team since relocating to Pittsburgh in 2011, I have witnessed some remarkable things for the price of admission.
I have attended dozens of Duquesne home games at A.J. Palumbo Center in Pittsburgh. Most games were very exciting — almost nail-biting — while some were pure blowouts! And, as with many sporting events, others were great come-from-behind games with spectacular plays — performances by players that landed several of them in Europe playing professionally.
Dukes women’s basketball is always fun to say the least!
The Duquesne University Dukes are capable of winning the A-10 Championship and my top three reasons why will follow shortly…first let’s briefly review the poll.
Top five A-10 head coaches’ picks
Reigning A-10 tournament champ Saint Joseph’s University managed to land in second-place behind the defending Atlantic 10 regular-season powerhouse, Dayton. The Dayton Flyers secured 12 first place votes (out of 13) for a total of 168 points.
In third-place, the Duquesne Dukes received a semi-respectable 136 points and thankfully edged the A-10 tourney runner-up, Fordham, and George Washington — which had 135 and 115 respectively.
Why I disagree with the poll
1. Coaching Staff. With head coach Suzie McConnell-Serio handling the clipboard and screaming from the sidelines for years, and Dan Burt expertly assisting her, the Dukes consistently improved. The Dukes have won 20-plus games each year since 2009 — finishing 24-8 (11-3 conf) last season. But as Coach McConnell-Serio moved on, she left behind some important pieces.
Now, after six years under McConnell-Serio, Dan Burt has taken over control of the clipboard and promoted Rachel Wojodowski to assistant from Director of Basketball Operations. Between the two, they have a combined 11 years on the Dukes WBB staff. Familiarity is a fantastic thing.
Coach Burt has a wonderful relationship with the players, as well as a deep understanding of fundamental basketball — and is capable of sharing his experience(s) with them. Dan was named one of the nation’s top assistants in March 2013, by Kenny Kallina of Florida Girl’s Basketball. This translates to a great opportunity for wins.
2. No. 10! In my opinion, Wumi Agunbiade has been the Dukes’ anchor since joining the team. After starting 32 of 33 games her freshman season, and recording a team-high seven double-doubles, Agunbiade was named Atlantic 10 Rookie of the Year in 2011. She hasn’t looked back!
Starting 95 (of 97 games played) contests, Wumi averages more than 200 rebounds each season (6.9 rpg), and has amassed 1263 points during her career with Duquesne. Let’s not forget her shot-blocking abilities either.
The 6-2 senior from Ontario, Canada recently earned her second consecutive College Sports Madness A-10 Preseason All Conference honors. A force to be feared in the paint and respected for sure.
3. Orsi Szecsi. Plauged by a nagging shoulder injury last season, the former Rookie Of The Year will return to her formidable self on the court. I firmly believe the Hungarian native will once again play in every game, barring another injury, even if she doesn’t start. Orsi Szecsi (6-3) has averaged more than 25 mpg in her career with Duquesne. Additionally, Orsi has more than 500 rebounds, 131 steals, and is a 74% free-throw shooter.
When Szecsi is hot, she will provide 20+ points per game, double-digit rebounds, and toss in a few blocks and steals. She isn’t afraid to sacrifice her body one bit and this is her year for a comeback.
Giovanni Badalamenti closely follows Duquesne Women’s Sports. Giovanni lives in Pittsburgh’s Mt. Washington section — just feet from the bluff! Follow Giovanni on Twitter @DotmanGio.
Personal experiences and opinions
University Of Mass. Official Athletic Site: “Atlantic 10 Hosts Women’s Basketball Media Day”
St. Joseph’s University Official Athletic Site: “St. Joesph’s Picked Second In Atlantic 10 Preseason Poll”
Duquesne University Official Athletic Site: “Women’s Basketball Picked Third In Atlantic 10 Preseason Poll”