Duquesne men’s basketball coach Keith Dambrot may have channeled his inner Frank Sinatra admitting that as far as regrets from Monday’s season-opening loss to Little Rock, yes there were a few.
Dambrot felt that the 1-3-1 defense Duquesne practiced against didn’t provide a good enough look and also that he became a little bit too married to his strategy of playing a lot of team’s freshmen.
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But despite the play of the team’s youngsters in the season-opening loss, it was the returning players and especially the core of seniors that are expected to lead the Dukes this season, that Dambrot needed more from. After the loss to Little Rock, he let them know about it. Wednesday against UNC Greensboro, they responded.
“You don’t want to lose the first game of your senior year, so it just put some fuel into the fire for today’s game,” senior guard Tavian Dunn-Martin said. “[Wednesday], we had that it factor. I tried leading my teammates early and they just followed behind me.”
Dunn-Martin certainly led by example with his 21 points in an 81-68 victory over UNC Greensboro at.
“I’ve had lots of teams play poorly the first game of the year,” said Dambrot. “You can’t push the panic button and go back to the basics. The basics for us are taking care of the ball, throwing the ball inside, sharing the ball, playing good defensively. We didn’t do anything tricky it was like handing the ball to the halfback.”
Previous Duquesne non-conference schedules have felt light early and have grown progressively tougher. Already, Duquesne has faced its two toughest non-conference opponents in the Dambrot era and now have a win to show for it.
It was not just any ordinary win, but one that Dunn-Martin specifically stated would help his team in Atlantic 10 play.
“They remind me a lot of Rhode Island with a lot of intensity on the ball, a lot of pressure,” he said. “It was basically a warm-up game for the conference, so I feel like that was a good game for us.”
Now as Duquesne turns the page and tries to leave the Louisville bubble with a winning record, it will attempt to do so against a Winthrop team which Dambrot opines is better than the two teams the Dukes have already seen.
“I was a little nervous tonight, but they surprised me,” Dambrot stated. “We can play better than that too.”
WEATHERS SHOWS GRIT
Marcus Weathers had an anomalistic four rebounds Monday night. Just 48 hours later, he proved why he made the Atlantic 10 Preseason All-Conference Second Team.
Weathers was facing tall, lengthy UNC Greensboro players who were nearly half a foot taller and they could not figure out how to guard him.
Though Weathers scored 18 points and added multiple dunks to his highlight reel, it felt like more. Additionally, Weathers grabbed seven rebounds and drew charges, something which he has had a knack for in his time at Duquesne.
Something which also helped Weathers was that UNC Greensboro did not double post players, something which Little Rock consistently did. Dambrot stated that UNC Greensboro is not a team that doubles inside and when they did it,was not overly effective.
“That team reminded me of one of my finesseful Akron teams,” Dambrot said. “They’re big and we went right down their throat. The key is getting post touches, but eventually we’ll get double teamed, that’s next.”
LET’S GET PHYSICAL
Aggression always creates a fine line in basketball as you always want to have a physical presence on the floor but not wreak enough havoc that whistles become a factor.
After letting Little Rock get to the line frequently in a crucial second-half stretch, Duquesne managed to avoid stringing together fouls, specifically in the first half when the team was stuck on two team fouls for most of the opening 20 minutes. The Dukes ultimately settled for five, while UNC Greensboro hacked 11 different times during this stretch.
Dunn-Martin said that when Dambrot addressed the team, the biggest call to action involved being better on the defensive end and Duquesne responded.
“I feel like we played with more discipline on defense tonight,” Dambrot said. “We did a really good job on their big guy and around the basket. They made a couple of threes on us, but they shoot a lot of them so they’ll make some.”\
Duquesne never trailed in the game and by doing so and playing within itself, the team abided by some of Dambrot’s biggest tenets.
In his first season at Duquesne, Dambrot mentioned Energy Generated Behaviors (EGB’s) that were charted on the team bench and though some of those tenets can be charted, others are quite evident.
“The key for us is spirit, enthusiasm and having fun,” said Dambrot. “We’re more than capable because we are big and strong.”