MCCANDLESS TOWNSHIP, Pa. — As the Duquesne men’s basketball team was finishing off its second-least offensively efficient performance in the Keith Dambrot era, Marcus Weathers was two feet from Tavian Dunn-Martin but a Davidson player saw the forward telegraph a pass and easily intercepting it, a summation of how the final 20 minutes went for the home team in a 61-48 loss.
“We had offensive issues and the reality of it is we just aren’t a good team right now,” Dambrot said. “We were good enough defensively for three quarters of the game and we weren’t good at all on offense.”
Dambrot referenced the team’s 15-for-52 shooting mark, which was the second lowest in his time at Duquesne and offered that not even a CYO game could be won shooting with a mark that low.
Offensively Duquesne stood around at times and currently Dambrot believes the team is more set reliant versus just playing which led to bad offensive fluidity.
Now Duquesne will go back to the basics for the remainder of the week in practice while challenging, supporting and remaining accountable.
“Do we have the fight to fix it,” asked Dambrot. “I know I do. We have to want to fix our issues and if we don’t we’re going to have a long year. If we do, we can be one of the better teams. We’ve got to fix our issues or we’re going to have a tough time of it.”
CONDITIONING A POINT OF EMPHASIS
From the beginning, Dambrot said that conditioning was an issue with this team and if anything held true with the three games over the past four days, the conditioning still is definitely a work in progress.
Duquesne showed an inability to finish inside the post and when it got to the free throw line shot 57.1% and it took 21 free throws, meaning the opportunities were there.
“It’s hard because you talk about time off and if you crush them, their body breaks down,” he said. “We just weren’t prepared to play three games in four days. We gave it what we had and then we went (raspberry noise). Now it becomes mental. We’re going to have to win ugly for another next week-and-a-half or so until we can play ourselves into game shape. Obviously we are not in game shape and we paid the price for it.”
It appeared as though Davidson treated Tuesday’s game as a marathon, allowing Duquesne to sprint out to the early lead and even, a 12-point advantage but the Wildcats never permitted the game to get out of control.
Davidson got a feel for Duquesne’s aggression in the first half and offensively struggled shooting at a 27.3% mark but the tide began to turn when Sam Mennenga buried a three-point shot in the first half.
“We just died on the vine really,” said Dambrot. “We tried, you’re going to play defense against Davidson for 28 seconds a possession and if you relax they’ll make you pay the price with all of the motion they do.”
Was scheduling three games in four days a mistake knowing the team lacked conditioning? A lot of people would certainly say yes right now, but the true answer will not be known until March assuming there are minimal-to-no cancelled or postponed contests.
Duquesne cannot blame fouls either as it had eight total for the game and no player had more than two although it is quite possible that such a low number of whistles illustrates that the Dukes flat out were not aggressive enough. Instead it fell victim to watching and missing assignments as Davidson showed a clear standard in the second half of taking a leading and closing the game.
In the short term, Duquesne played two games in 300 days and then played three in four days and a 1-2 outcome will certainly leave the team wanting more in all aspects heading into Saturday’s nationally-televised contest against Fordham.
DAMBROT DISCUSSES NORMAN TRANSFER
As PSN’s Mike Vukovcan reported earlier Tuesday, Lamar Norman Jr announced his transfer from Duquesne.
When asked about it following Tuesday’s loss, Dambrot did not expect it to occur and wishes it would have happened at the end of the season, though did compliment his now-former guard.
“I don’t think he looked emotionally engaged over the last couple of weeks, I thought he was going through some tough things,” Dambrot said. “I like Lamar, he’s a nice quality kid. Guys have to do what is best for them. The hard part is you will see a lot of this in college basketball this year and at the end of the year you will see the most transfers you’ve seen in your entire life. Lamar’s one of the best kids in our program so I can’t say anything bad about him.”
In terms of replacing Norman, Dunn-Martin took his starting spot and played 24 minutes. Austin played 21 minutes, though he was out for an extended period of time due to a first-half injury. Freshmen Toby Okani and Tyson Acuff played 18 and 17 minutes respectively while Ryan Murphy was right behind playing 16 minutes.
For his part, Norman who ends his Duquesne career with 42 consecutive games played, 22 of which were starts, offered the following remarks on Twitter.
i would like to thank duquesne university for all the good years here and also the fans , my teammates and coaching staff for welcoming me with open arms but with this being said , i have entered my name into the transfer portal .. thank you !
— 11 (@lamarnormanjr_) January 5, 2021
Photo credit: David DeNoma/Duquesne Athletics