PITTSBURGH — As Duquesne men’s basketball coach Keith Dambrot entered his team’s locker room following a 66-61 Atlantic 10 win over Fordham, there was a quietness that appeared to confuse him.
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“They just won a game and you can’t tell if they won or lost,” he said. “When you win, you should be happy, I guess I have to learn that as well. You have to have some kind of emotion. That’s something we really have to work on.”
Just a few days prior, Duquesne struggled down the stretch on the road against a Davidson team which won the Atlantic 10 Championship a season ago.
(We just had to) take care of the ball and be smart,” sophomore guard Eric Williams Jr. said. “There are only so many possessions at the end of the game, you have to be wise. I think we got a lot better even though we have younger players. We are more used to it in some cases.”
Dambrot mentioned that missed free throws played a role in Saturday’s setback and though
“We guarded at the line a little bit and Eric Williams made some good plays. We clutched up a little bit It wasn’t championship type of preciseness. Something’s gotta give. I am not used to not playing at championship quality so it is my job to teach them and they have to get on board.”
One such play for Williams occurred when he grabbed an offensive rebound and then despite being fouled was able to make a dunk and the subsequent free throw.
Williams recorded his 16th career double-double and fifth of the season with his 16-point, 13-rebound effort.
KELLY HAS CAREER GAME
In last year’s game at the Palumbo Center between these two teams, Dambrot elected to start Marko Krivacevic, a move specifically made for matchup reasons.
Two minutes and just as many fouls later, he was on the bench and would not be a factor.
Duquesne knew that to win this game against Fordham and its junk defense, it would need post contributions from several players.
Michael Hughes was sick and was unable to provide as much as desired in terms of minutes or offensive pop.
Marcus Weathers was able to contribute 12 points, seven of which came in the first half, but it was Amari Kelly who provided a lift, scoring a career-high 11 points on five-of-seven shooting in 23 minutes.
“My teammates found me in the right spot and I trusted the offense,” Kelly said. “I got the ball and just put it in the basket.”
Kelly is the latest Duquesne player to give his team a lift with just about everyone on the team being able to fill that role at one point in the season.
“He did some good things,” said Dambrot. “We’re force feeding him. He has to understand what high level college basketball is. He’s got to relax, make free throws and make plays when it matter.”
Despite those free throw inconsistencies, Kelly does believe this will help him not just for Saint Joseph’s on Saturday, but beyond.
“My confidence is gradually getting better, I just have to keep progressing,” he said.
PLUSSES AND MINUSES
Since Duquesne likes charting the plus/minus statistic, this will become a staple of the Inside the Dukes piece. For those not familiar this statistic is charted based on how many points are scored for a player’s team when they are on the floor as opposed to those conceded under the same circumstances.
Of course this statistic is not the end all, be all, but it is one of many factors the team considers.
Kelly actually charted out to be the most effective Duquesne player in this statistic, with a +15 final total, with Sincere Carry (+9) and Tavian Dunn-Martin (+8) the next highest. Given his illness, Michael Hughes’s -11 total in 13 minutes certainly makes sense. Hughes was one of three Dukes with negative +/- totals Wednesday.
HE SAID IT
“We’re capable, when we want to play, we can play. We need to fight through when things don’t go well. It’s commitment. Commitment is a lost art and we have to get better than that.” – Dambrot
“We have to learn how to care about others,” he said. “The more you give, the more you get. The more committed you are from people, the more you get from them. If you think about yourself more than the group, then sometimes you are emotionless, that’s how I see it. If they don’t win it’s on me, if they don’t have emotion it’s on me. I take total responsibility.” – Dambrot