While the men wait until tomorrow to open their season against a cupcake in Abilene Christian, the women open their season with a quality game on a neutral floor against Cal Poly. Cal Poly, fresh of their NCAA appearance for winning the Big West Tourney last year, is projected to win the Big West again, garnering 17 of the 20 first place votes in the preseason poll. The Mustangs finished the 2012-13 with three top 50 wins, #75 in the RPI, and have their top three players returning from last year. The Dukes could have their hands full in the Maggie Dixon Classic first game to open the season.
The Big Three Returners for Cal-Poly (and what I remember from watching the Cal Poly-Pacific game last year):
Scouting Cal Poly:
- Mar 24, 2013; Baton Rouge, LA, USA; Cal Poly Mustangs center Molly Schlemer (43) shoots over Penn State Lady Lions forward Talia East (5) in the first half during the first round of the 2013 NCAA womens basketball tournament at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
Molly Schlemer Sr. C 6-5. The heart and soul of the team, particularly in the postseason. She took the team on her back in both the Pacific game (16 boards) as well as the first round NCAA Tournament game against the Nittany Lions. The Schlemer vs. Wumi matchup will be a very fun one to watch, as you are seeing two of the top couple of non-BCS centers in the country.
Jonae Ervin Sr. G 5-3. The PG for Cal Poly is more of a traditional one, as Ervin is more of a dribble drive-kickout PG than a scorer on the offensive end judging from at her game against Pacific. She was lightning fast into the lane though, and Ervin was able to successfully get a lot of teammates open on the dribble drive. Despite playing undersized at 5-3, Ervin defends the perimeter well from three also. Ervin has been in the top four in the country each of the last two seasons in assist to turnover ratio, including leading the nation as a sophomore in that category.
Ariana Elegado Jr. G 5-6. The undersized shooting guard can be lights out from three, finishing second in the Big West in threes for the 2012-13 year. Ariana was on fire in the Big West title game, as she recorded 22 points on only 11 shot attempts.
With those as a big three returning, Cal Poly will certainly be a team that can compete for a top 50 spot in the RPI.
Other player to watch: Nwamaka Ofodu, senior guard. I know, she was only 12th in minutes for Cal Poly last year. The reason she is mentioned here is because of the defense that I saw her play. She will be hard to score against for whoever is at SG or SF for the Dukes as long as she’s in the game.
The last comment I have on Cal Poly is the defensive style they employed in the Pacific game. They did not gamble much if any (including going for blocks inside), but rather played solid man-to-man defense. It was extremely hard to get a good look off against the Mustangs.
Possible key players for the Dukes
PG – April Robinson. Made the Atlantic 10 All Rookie team last year running the PG for the Dukes. She has a bright future playing here as she continues to grow as a player…
SG – Oditte Odisho. Came on strong at the end of the regular season. Similarly to the men, it often takes at least a half of a year if not a full year to transition from JUCO ball to A-10 ball.
OG – Belma Nurkic. As the season wore on, her shot struggled each of the last two seasons. If Belma can find a way to shoot better down the stretch, she’ll be hard pressed to not start all year for Coach Burt.
SG – Raegan Moore. Per Coach Burt, Moore was one of the most improved players on the team and got the start in the scrimmage. She didn’t show much last year, but if she’s improved enough to start the depth on this team may be the best ever at Duquesne on the women’s side, and that’s not an exaggeration.
PF – Orsi Szecsi. Finally a senior, Orsi’s defense will be needed a lot this year. If Orsi can finally gain some consistency on the offensive end, she has the capability to become a top five player in the conference.
PF – Wumi Agunbiade. Also a senior, will be a contender for A-10 player of the year if she stays healthy.
C – Jose-Ann Johnson. A player who quietly improved last year, Jose-Ann could see a good bit of time this year if Burt wants to play big. Contrary to popular belief, I could see Johnson starting depending on how Burt wants to arrange the lineup.
The Dukes should be in for an exciting season. Their initial matchup is a solid one against a likely top 75 – if not better – team on a neutral floor at 6:30 today to start.