Duquesne women not taking anything for granted in Atlantic 10 tournament
March 4, 2016 12:00 AM
Chassidy Omogrosso, left, and the Duquesne Dukes women open Atlantic 10 Conference tournament play Thursday against Fordham in Richmond, Va.
By Sam Werner / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Duquesne point guard April Robinson knows nothing is certain when it comes to the NCAA tournament.
She remembers her freshman year in 2013, when the Dukes were considered a likely tournament team, but were left out of the field. That’s why, even though most experts have Duquesne (25-4, 13-3) safely in the tournament heading into Atlantic 10 Conference tournament in Richmond, Va., Robinson isn’t taking anything for granted.
“We sat in that room [watching the selection show], and it was just awful not hearing your name,” she said. “I don’t want that to happen again.”
The safest way to avoid that, of course, is to earn the Atlantic 10’s automatic bid by winning the league tournament. The third-seeded Dukes will open play in the quarterfinals at 7 p.m. today against Fordham (14-16), a 73-62 overtime winner Thursday night against Massachusetts (12-18).
Duquesne heads to Richmond with losses in two of its past four games, both on the road against Saint Louis and St. Bonaventure — teams the Dukes could face in the semifinals and championship, respectively, of the league tournament.
“The two road games, they were tough,” guard Deva’Nyar Workman said. “They weren’t easy games. We’ve got to just refocus our minds, get back to Duquesne basketball, how we’ve been playing all season.”
Coach Dan Burt also wasn’t overly concerned with his team’s form heading into the conference tournament. One more win down the stretch would’ve given the Dukes the outright Atlantic 10 regular-season title, but they also are happy to be co-champions for the first time in program history.
“We need to celebrate that,” he said. “But that’s over now and now it’s a three-game season. It’s really a one-game season with three on the horizon.”
As for the NCAA tournament, Burt was cautiously optimistic about his team’s chances to earn a bid, but pointed out that if they lose tonight, that would add a “bad loss” to the resume and potentially ding their NCAA chances.
“We cannot have a loss this late in the season to a sub-100 [Ratings Percentage Index] team, in my eyes, and still have a high probability,” Burt said.
ESPN women’s bracketologist Charlie Creme is more bullish on the Dukes’ chances, calling them a lock to make the field regardless of what happens in Richmond.
“There aren’t a lot of teams available for the spots that are available,” he said. “Duquesne [is] going to have no problem getting into the field.”
The A-10 tournament results could impact the Dukes’ seed. Creme currently projects the Dukes as a No. 7 seed, but an early loss could drop them into the 8 or 9 range, which would mean a potential second-round matchup against a No. 1 seed.
“That seems to be the refrain of a lot of coaches of teams in that mix,” Creme said. “ ‘Please, please don’t give us an 8-9 game.’ The best way to remedy that is to just to win as many remaining games as you possibly can.”
Sam Werner: firstname.lastname@example.org and Twitter @SWernerPG.
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