His journey started in a barn in Washington, Pennsylvania, however today it was made official: after over a decade Dan Burt was going to get his first head coaching job as he was hired to lead the Duquesne University women’s basketball team.
“I grew up playing basketball in a barn on my parents property in Washington, PA,” Burt said in his introductory press conference. “My grandfather built a basketball barn back in the ‘60s with a real wooden floor. We played basketball in the barn and it was appropriate for two-on-two and three-on-three.”
The press conference was held in the Power Ballroom at Duquesne University and Duquesne University President Charles Dougherty and Athletic Director Greg Amodio.
Dougherty made sure to let Burt know that ‘he’ll have our full support going forward’.
Amodio mentioned the job search and how several names were mentioned, however everything was going back to Burt because of his connection and interaction with the players. In addition, most of the players on the roster were recruited by him. A final determining factor was as Amodio put it, ‘his passion for who we are as an organization’.
At 10 p.m. Friday, Amodio extended the offer to Burt asking if he would be the next head coach and the crowd was told the response was ‘absolutely no question’.
From there, players were called individually by Burt to tell them that a familiar face that had been with the team for six seasons would be back after two weeks as an assistant at Pitt.
“Belma [Nurkic] is my roommate and he called Belma and told her to put the phone on speaker,” sophomore center Jose-Ann Johnson said. “He said hi and then said he wanted to have a meeting with us the next day. I was wondering why he would have a meeting with us since he was at Pitt and he said that he was going to be our next basketball coach. Belma and I stopped, looked at each other and started screaming. We were really happy.”
A similar sentiment was expressed by junior guard Oditte Odisho.
“I heard through the grapevine that he was applying for the job and we were all pulling for him,” Odisho said. “When he called me he asked me where I was and I told him I was at home. He asked if I was ready to invest in him as a player and I told him yes most definitely. Then he told me that he would be the next head coach. I was really happy.”
During this time though, Burt called the players individually and it resulted in the team failing to listen to their coach right out of the gate. This time though, he would let it slide.
“When I called them around midnight individually, I first asked them not to post anything on Twitter or social media or call them so I could deliver the message to each one of them,” Burt said. “Well that’s the first thing they didn’t follow and it probably won’t be the last. I was talking to people who were very excited at 1 AM in the morning. I feel like the kids are very excited and I love them dearly. They are a really big reason why I’m here.”
Burt is really happy to be back at ‘his last job’ at Duquesne and he has high hopes for his team.
“I really appreciate the opportunity to lead the charge and be the leader of this women’s basketball team,” Burt said. “Our core values will not change and our expectations will not change. Our expectation is to be in the NCAA Tournament. We are excited about where this program is going and very simply, I’ve been given the keys to a Corvette. It is my responsibility to get us to that NCAA Tournament.”
The team is prepared to play quicker on offense and wants to play ‘March defense in November’.
“We’re going to play an exciting brand of offensive basketball. Defensively we’re going to look to press 40 minutes a game. I can’t promise that but that’s what we’d like to do.”
The schedule will not be released for a few months, however Burt hinted that there would be a game that would ‘raise some eyebrows’. In addition, the annual City Game against Pitt will be played as planned.
The coaching staff has one addition in Rachel Wojdowski who for the past three seasons was the director of basketball operations. She was promoted to assistant coach. The remainder of the coaching staff are expected to be added over the next two weeks.