Pittsburgh, PA — A 69-50 loss Saturday afternoon to Saint Joseph’s which ended a 17-game home winning streak may be enough to silence many, but Duquesne women’s basketball coach Dan Burt certainly did not take that approach in his postgame press conference.
Burt admitted he was frustrated with the loss and even after the press conference ended went through the seats and apologized to all of the Duquesne fans who saw the game.
“We don’t play with any sort of energy or toughness, especially when things don’t go correctly on the offensive end,” he said. “We let them make every pass they wanted. We are definitely fake tough. We think we’re tough and we think we’re good but we certainly didn’t help our cause. There are people out there who have called us soft and we are, we are. If you can’t sit down and guard after you miss the shot, you’re soft. As a coaching staff we didn’t do anything to help them. This was embarrassing. Saint Joe’s is a really good basketball team and this is the first time they have been healthy but not so much that they can dominate a game like that.”
Duquesne’s loss came to a Saint Joseph’s team which was playing at full strength for the first time this season.
Even when Duquesne did get something to go right, Saint Joseph’s quickly would respond, something which put the Dukes in an even bigger hole.
“I liked the way we came out today, aggressive and assertive,” Saint Joseph’s coach Cindy Griffin said. “We’re obviously very happy that we have a full roster and can go a little deeper than we have in the last 5-6 games. I thought our defense was really on point today. Duquesne is a very talented team and well-coached. I thought our kids bought into our game plan and they executed it very well.”
To illustrate how things went for Duquesne, Hawks junior guard Alyssa Monaghan took a couple of dribbles as the third quarter game clock was set to expire and tossed up a three-point shot, just shy of half court which went in.
The already silent Palumbo Center appeared as if it had been knocked out while Saint Joseph’s celebrated the make on its sideline.
“It happens to me a lot at the end of quarters,” Monaghan said of the shot. “I figured just take a couple of dribbles in and maybe I would make it. It felt good leaving my hand. I haven’t made one and I always take them, so they don’t usually go in.”
Monaghan tied teammate Sarah Veilleux with a game-high 17 points.
Saint Joseph’s was pleased with how it played when playing Duquesne in January despite a 61-42 loss. It tried to build off its defense which surrendered 61 points in the first meeting and make some shots on offense with the team now healthy.
Burt spoke to reporters for 12 minutes after the game and was the team’s only voice after the defeat. He certainly had a lot to say although even he admitted that postgame that there is a fine line, especially after a loss.
“I try to keep postgame analysis to a very bare minimum whether we win or lose and I should have kept this press conference the same way,” said Burt. “It’s an emotional time and you don’t want to get caught saying something that may not be correct. I think our players are stunned but they shouldn’t be.”
Duquesne is now 20-5 overall and 10-2 in Atlantic 10 play.
1. It is clear how much this team misses Conor Richardson as it often looked lifeless on both ends of the ball.
Though Burt would not officially designate the injury due to the HIPAA Law he did state that as of Sunday she likely will have passed all medical tests.
“Conor will be back at Saint Louis and not a moment too soon,” Burt said. “People don’t see the energy and leadership she brings until something like that happens. I can’t tell you how embarrassed I am. Our effort in front of our alumni was embarrassing.”
2. Burt was clearly frustrated with his guards, naming them all at one point or another in the press conference
“When you look at our first seven or eight, we didn’t execute in any sort of way,” Burt said. “We don’t cut hard, we don’t set screens but as soon as we’re out of practice, I’m out the door because we’re pretty good and I’m in double figures every day but I won’t sit down and guard. If you can’t tell, I’m really ticked off at our guards.”
A lot of the frustration was directed towards Julijana Vojinovic who played her second-fewest amount of minutes this season at 22.
The reason was not due to foul trouble as she only picked up one, but more so because of her defense.
“Juca doesn’t want to guard anybody, she just wants to shoot the basketball,” said Burt. “Either she has to guard people or we’re going to have to sit her.”
This is the first time Burt has brought this frustration into the media room though he previously eluded to both himself and Chassidy Omogrosso challenging Vojinovic in the locker room at halftime.
Defense has been a bigger priority for Duquesne this season, but Saint Joseph got just about every look it wanted which certainly did not make Burt happy.
“If you can’t do it, I don’t care if you average 17 points a game in late February, you will sit down and I will play Kiersten Elliott who is a freshman, because she’ll sit down and guard people and rebound the ball,” Burt said. “We may go and lose to Saint Louis because Juca, Chas and Libby, Paige and Kadri if they don’t want to sit down and guard people, I will put our next kids in and we’ll take another L. I am not going to go down soft like that again. Not going to do it. We’ll figure it out one way or another within the next week.”
3. Burt did not keep himself exempt from blame citing the shootaround earlier in the day and how he noticed his team’s sloppy play yet did not call them on it.
“I didn’t think our shootaround was great,” he said. “We can be good for 25 minutes but then the next 25 minutes we can’t sustain that. I saw a little of what happened today at shootaround a little bit and you know what? I blame myself for that because I should have gone after them but I didn’t because they understand the importance of this and what this game means. That’s my biggest regret, that I didn’t get on them in shootaround. They did whatever they wanted against us.”
4. Duquesne has now lost three of its five games in similar fashion. Eastern Tennessee State got off to a quick start against Duquesne, Dayton did the same and Saturday was the latest example of this.
Duquesne has been a team which has taken pride in fast start has had to play behind quite a bit of late and been able to come back, but this time that certainly was not the case.
“We talked about that and we knew a veteran team would start fast,” Burt said. “We knew they were going to go at us, especially creating mismatches with our guards. We got punked, simple as that. We’re soft, that’s the theme for this whole press conference. If our kids don’t like it, too bad, because that’s what we are, soft, until proven otherwise.”
MBB loses too
The Duquesne men’s basketball team led off the doubleheader with an 80-57 Saturday afternoon loss to Fordham in which the Dukes shot 31.7% from the field.
“That was a very poor performance which ultimately falls on me,” Duquesne coach Keith Dambrot said. “If we can’t play any better than that, I have to take the hit for it. I knew it would be a trap game, we just didn’t have it. I feel bad for our guys, I knew things never would be easy and that we would have potholes. We have had a good year and then we laid a lemon. Then people all of a sudden think they stink. We just picked a bad time to go through it.”
Fordham did not defend its homecourt when Duquesne beat them 64-41 Jan. 6 but faced little resistance in breaking back.
“Our team certainly did a good job of following a simple game plan,” Fordham coach Jeff Neubauer said. “We wanted to get better value with the ball this game. We had 16 turnovers but some of those were deadball turnovers which didn’t start their fastbreak. Defensively our guys were really locked in. A big part of basketball is whether the ball goes in. When Duquesne played at our place, they shot the ball very well. We were just a little more fortunate today.”
Duquesne has had its biggest challenge finding consistent post production and with Fordham’s defense providing offensive opportunities, Dambrot started Marko Krivacevic in place of Tydus Verhoeven but the experiment failed after two turnovers and a foul.
Krivacevic played four minutes in this game.
Fordham had nine players healthy with Joseph Chartouny unavailable due to an ankle injury. Chartouny made the trip wearing a suit and supported his teammates from the bench.
“I met with the nine guys that were all healthy yesterday before practice and told them they would all play tomorrow,” said Neubauer. “I told them to go out their and play their role as well as they could. We certainly had a lot of guys that accomplished that.”
This loss puts Dambrot in a tough spot as he admitted he felt his team has not had “it” for the last week to 10 days. Still, he has already cut practice as much as he can.
Duquesne (15-11/6-7 Atlantic 10) will now have to go back to the drawing boards in this week off and hit a reset button. Dambrot believes this consists of being harder on the guys than he has in the past 2-3 weeks but while not being nasty.
1. Kellon Taylor’s 13 points were a career-high. Taylor reached the record by making a three-point shot, his second of the season in the later stages of the second half.
2. Both the men’s and women’s games served as alumni games which meant that the former players saw what each team likely would call its worst effort of the season.
Dambrot was apologetic for the performance and Burt had to recover from his postgame rant of sorts for an alumni gathering.
3. It is clear that this was a tired Duquesne team on many different levels. A team which ranked ninth in three-point field goal defense allowed Fordham to shoot 44.4% and Ivan Raut made two open looks to open the second half and erase the momentum Duquesne had built just prior to halftime.
On offense, each of Duquesne’s guards were faceguarded and when there were open looks, they were mostly missed well right and off the backboard.
This is a break which no one will complain about as Duquesne looks to find the magic which allowed it to find success.
Atlantic 10 standings
After a day off practice, the Duquesne women’s basketball team will have a couple of days to prepare for a road test at Saint Louis. Saint Louis won at Rhode Island Saturday afternoon. The Duquesne men’s basketball team will also take to the road Saturday when it faces Saint Joseph’s.