To anyone who saw Chassidy Omogrosso play in high school, it probably wasn’t a surprise she started her first game as a freshman at Duquesne. Omogrosso was, after all, a starter from the time she put on a Blackhawk uniform.
She was a scoring machine who played fearlessly at 100 mph, as apt to wind up knocked to the floor as she was to knock down 3-pointers.
But Duquesne coach Dan Burt wanted more. She was, Burt said, “pretty complete” from a skill standpoint. Being successful in college, however, required more than an aptitude for scoring.
So halfway through Omogrosso’s freshman season, Burt converted her to the sixth woman, a role she remained in for the rest of the schedule.
“That’s a kid that started everything in her life. That was hard for her to take at first,” Burt said. “But she had to go outside of her comfort zone and understand that if she was going to be a leader, she had to leave her comfort zone and had to take care of others.
“The growth between her freshman and sophomore year was tremendous.”
Omogrosso, now a senior, has grown into a two-year captain and one of the best players in the Atlantic 10. She was first-team all-conference last season after averaging a career-best 17.3 points and shooting 41.6 percent from 3-point range (22nd in the nation).
This season, she leads a team that, for the first time, was picked to win the Atlantic 10. She has a chance to graduate as the Dukes’ No. 2 all-time leading scorer, though that seems to concern her less than winning the program’s first A-10 Tournament title.
“That’s my goal when I go anywhere, even when I was in high school, to go there and make the program better and win a championship,” she said.
Omogrosso acknowledged her maturity as a basketball player. She said she has developed a full understanding of what it takes to be successful, of the need to do all the little things necessary to win.
What hasn’t changed is her all-out approach to practices and games. It has helped her remain productive in college despite often being the smallest player on the floor.
The secret? Omogrosso’s 5-foot-4 frame carries a competitive streak that is 10 feet tall.
“I grew up with two older brothers that I think made me and pushed me to be this competitive,” she said. “I always lost to them, and they always wanted to beat me.
“I would do anything, whatever it takes to win. … Honestly, my competitiveness to win, playing for my teammates, that’s what drives me.”
Burt said Omogrosso has talked about going into coaching when her playing days at Duquesne are finished. Burt, however, is trying to encourage her to take at least a year to try to play professionally overseas, something he believes she is more than capable of doing.
Even now, “pro” is a word he uses to illustrate how Omogrosso has conducted herself as a member of his program.
“I always say she’s the easiest good player I’ve ever had to coach,” said Burt, in his sixth year as the Dukes’ coach after six seasons as an assistant. “She doesn’t have bad days. She’s always a pro when she comes on the floor.”
Omogrosso has a chance to leave the floor at A.J. Palumbo Center in style. Duquesne is hosting the Atlantic 10 Tournament, which means the women could play the last game in the building, the A-10 championship, before renovations turn it into UPMC Cooper Fieldhouse.
For a player who has prided herself on giving everything for the sake of winning, Omogrosso can’t think of a better ending than closing the current building by leading the Dukes to an A-10 title.
“That’s with anything in life,” she said, “try to bring something to the table and make it the best.”
Chuck Curti is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Chuck at [email protected] or via Twitter @CCurti_Trib.