With Michael Hughes dealing with foul trouble against first-place Saint Louis on Wednesday night, the Duquesne men’s basketball team needed to count on Marcus Weathers.
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He gave them his best game this season.
Weathers played with a needed aggression and embraced moving to center for the first time this season, playing with the right mixture of aggression and desperation.
In Duquesne’s 77-73 victory, Weathers tied his career high with 19 points, a mark set when he played at Miami-Ohio and his 32 minutes were one off a season high.
Earlier this season, Duquesne head coach Keith Dambrot said he felt Weathers was trying to take on too much, but Wednesday night, had a different tone.
“Marcus Weathers has taken a huge jump, which has helped this team,” Dambrot said.
Sure, Weathers trying to run the floor for a transition layup was not what Dambrot was looking for at the time but in the second half with Duquesne rotating the ball, the forward established position, went up strong with the basketball and earned several foul calls.
Early on this season, Weathers was trying to find the form that gave Dambrot belief that he was Duquesne’s best option at forward, and there may have been some mental hurdles in there, as well.
For example, Weathers entered play on Wednesday a 54.7 percent free throw shooter, but was 11 for 13 from the free throw line, something which certainly made a difference in the final score.
“I don’t think too much about it, I know I am a free throw shooter,” said Weathers. “The early free throws were me finding my way, it has been so long since I played. Now I’ve settled it in and it’s not much of a factor.”
At halftime, Dambrot told his team it had to be tougher than the opponent and Weathers certainly embodied that, even grabbing a 50-50 rebound and landing hard on his head. As Weathers grabbed at his head, the 3,011 in attendance all applauded at his effort.
Weathers would play on after the media timeout.
What made the effort even more respected was that Saint Louis is the top rebounding team in the Atlantic 10 and on the offensive glass, all five players tend to converge on the basketball.
Hughes’s foul trouble made Duquesne even more undersized than it already was which created some problems for the closing seven minutes in the first half.
This was why Dambrot sought more toughness and Weathers was certainly ready to step up.
While Duquesne did coast a little bit at the end of the game, missing some free throws and entertaining a student section which chanted “overrated” to a disinterested Saint Louis bench, the effort was certainly there and it may have been the most committed the team has been all season, with Weathers leading the way.