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Inside the Dukes: Keeping Strong Start Rolling

Inside the Dukes: Keeping Strong Start Rolling

MOON TOWNSHIP, Pa. — Through his first one and a half seasons as a guard on the Duquesne men’s basketball team, sophomore Sincere Carry has led by example and is someone that his teammates can depend on.

So when Duquesne’s 71-64 win over Davidson on Sunday  Davidson came roaring back from a 14-point deficit on Sunday, the crowed UPMC Events Center knew who Duquesne would turn to.

He did not disappoint.

Carry took six shots, but the guard involved his teammates early and often which was evidenced by 37:58 of playing time as well as five assists. Carry’s impact on this game made it impossible to give him much of a break, which is exactly how he wants it.

Perhaps Davidson wised up a bit as it was looking for Carry to call his own number with Duquesne’s advantage cut to one point, but instead he found a wide open Lamar Norman Jr who buried a three-point shot. Norman, playing through a sprained ankle, put everything he had on the court and in that moment and Carry’s selflessness paid dividends.

As the game neared a conclusion, Carry was the one at the free throw line securing the 71-64 win for Duquesne, its first ever over Davidson after seven previous losses and a streak which has the Dukes at its best start to a season since the 1971-72 campaign.

“I think I am the best point guard in this league so I am finding my teammates and looking for my shot last,” Carry said. “I’m taking what the defense gives me.”

Carry was one of four Duquesne players to achieve a double-figure point total, though all eight who played had positive plays which allowed for this win which represents the seventh consecutive home wins – wins which were earned in three separate gyms.

“We can be comfortable in any place we go because we come in together and as a family,” said Carry. “Our fans have done a good job traveling with us, so it makes everything better.”

Defensively, Carry had the unenviable task of guarding Kellan Grady, who is arguably Davidson’s biggest shotmaker since Stephen Curry, and he more than held his own in that department. For the second consecutive game, Carry had Duquesne’s highest plus/minus at plus-9.

Carry’s pressure on Grady set a standard Duquesne by in large matched across the court. Wildcats junior guard Carter Collins may be the only exception, as he scored 22 points on 7-of-10 shooting but at least a couple of those makes came with hands in his face.

While Luka Brajkovic had a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds, he was struggling early in regards to finding rhythm with his shot and even with positioning. He appeared out of position and not physical enough when matched up against Duquesne’s posts.

Last year’s Atlantic 10 Player of the Year Jon Axel Gudmundsson was held to a 2-of-14 performance from the field, including an 0-for-7 mark on 3-point shots, which stands a large credit to the defensive play of freshman guard Maceo Austin.

“Maceo guarded him and it was probably the best job he’s done all year defensively,” Duquesne coach Keith Dambrot said. “Maceo is one of the easiest guys I’ve ever coached and I think everyone on the team likes him. He’s a connector, an energizer, he is always positive.”

While Duquesne was tested by Davidson’s ability to string together possessions on both sides of the ball in the second half, it ultimately pulled away with the victory, moving to 79th in the latest KenPom ratings.

“We’ve taken a huge jump, we now for sure are competitive,” said Dambrot.

NAVIGATING THE DOUBLES

Early on, Davidson took what it thought was a calculated risk it probably thought would pay off, but instead may have sealed its fate early on.

Davidson decided to provide a double team into the paint leaving Duquesne’s guards often times wide open for three-point shots.

From an outsider’s view this game was perceived to be a three-point shootout with both teams having an affinity for firing from distance. It seemed as though Davidson was either challenging Duquesne in this manner or refused to get beat in the post.

This did not work for two reasons.

First off, Davidson appeared late getting into the doubles and by then Duquesne had established positions or were the more physical team.

Secondly, Duquesne viewed this as disrespectful towards its guards that they would be left so open and have an ability to make plays. Throughout non-conference play, Duquesne saw the post doubles and were clearly prepared for the possibility.

“Once we saw that, we knew it was time for the guards to take off 3-point wise and just getting shots in general,” Mike Hughes said. “I told Mace (Austin), ‘If they’re going to disrespect you and sit that far in then you just shoot their face off.’

“That’s the biggest thing, that these guards work hard and we know that and we need to trust them as much as they trust us down there. Getting them the ball was the biggest thing tonight.”

Not even a timeout could stop Duquesne’s momentum as Austin heeded Hughes’s advice and sank multiples threes and a deep two.

Duquesne played with a much quicker pace as opposed to Davidson’s more finesseful approach. Davidson had not played in six days and appeared overwhelmed early when nothing seemed to be working and then Duquesne would get a quick rebound or block before quickly racing to the other end of the court.

It all appeared too much for Davidson to overcome, even with such a close game in parts of the second half.

HE SAID IT

“We were more mature emotionally tonight. We’re ready to win on the road. We played two teams predicted to place high in the league and then play Saint Joe’s. They were tied at the half with Dayton and beat UConn. We have to be on it, we can beat anybody or lose to anybody.” – Dambrot

“When you play at La Roche, no disrespect, you look around and do you feel like you are playing at VCU or Dayton or Cal or Ohio State or Michigan. We’ve had to self energize. We’ve been in environments where we self-energize. Even the fans want a high-level experience and I think this is a good place here.” – Dambrot

 

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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