McCANDLESS TOWNSHIP, Pa. — You most likely know by now that the Duquesne men’s basketball team is off to an 8-0 start this season heading into their upcoming matchup on Saturday against Radford.
They started their season with a blowout against Princeton and most recently won similarly against Columbia.
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In the middle of their two clashes with Ivy League schools, the Dukes haven’t been completely clean with their play on the court. Like any college basketball team, they have had to learn to find cohesion and a sense of comfort out on the floor.
On Monday against Columbia, the Dukes had a season-high 24 assists, and the second most since head coach Keith Dambrot (third season) has taken charge of the program.
The Dukes have shown early on that they are at their best when they spread the ball around and make everyone a threat on the offensive end.
“When you share the ball, good things happen,” Dambrot said on Monday. “We have better comradery (now).”
The assists aren’t strictly coming from Duquesne’s guards. Against Columbia starting center Mike Hughes had a career-high five assists.
“We worked really hard on the post-double this week,” Dambrot said. “The numbers (six points and 10 rebounds) don’t indicate it, but I think that was one of his best games all year because he didn’t care if he scored or not – He had a passing inclination when the ball hit his hands.”
The Dukes connected on some outside shots from their big men kicking it out to shooters, but the majority of their ball movement resulted in easy buckets around the rim.
Duquesne currently is shooting 57.4% on two-point field goals this season, which is eighth-best in the country, according to KenPom. Against Columbia, the team scored 52 of their 90 points in the paint.
The Dukes had three starters score over 16 points against the Lions on Monday. Junior sharpshooter Tavian Dunn-Martin led them in the scoring column. He benefited the most from the unselfish play of his teammates. Dunn-Martin has been around the program and has played more many minutes than anyone on the current Dukes roster has noticed the difference in this year’s group.
“I just feel like we are playing more as a team this year,” Dunn-Martin said. “We are more family-oriented than we were last year. I feel like this team cares (about) winning more than last year.”
Dambrot saw his point guard show some of those same signs against Columbia.
(Sincere Carry) just cared about winning tonight,” Dambrot said. “He didn’t care about that stat sheet. He reminded me of LeBron.”
Carry had five assists in nearly 24 minutes of action without committing a turnover. As the guy who commands the offense the majority of the time, that stat proves not only his willingness to share the ball but that he has a certain sense of cohesion with his teammates.
Even more astounding with the Dukes putting up as many points as they have been this season (74.1 points per game) is the fact that the points aren’t coming at an alarming pace. Their average offensive possession length is 18.6 seconds, which is 301st in the country, according to KenPom.
Dambrot’s team seems to be getting the hang of playing off each other and focusing more on the team winning rather than induvial success.
“We have enough physical ability,” Dambrot said. “We just have to be emotionally engaged. It’s as simple as that.”