Once again the Duquesne men’s basketball team gave Dayton a game but were unable to maintain its pace in the second half, this time falling by a 72-63 count Wednesday night at UD Arena.
“It’s clear that we have some issues right now that we need to get through,” Duquesne coach Keith Dambrot said. “We’ve got scoring issues, we just don’t have enough pop. We held Dayton to 43% which should be right in the game to win and we can’t make free throws either. There is nothing more deflating than missing free throws and we’ve missed them pretty much all year.”
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Duquesne went five-for-10 from the free throw line Wednesday.
Normally, Duquesne has found multiple ways to use its offensive actions to create shooting opportunities, but currently that is just not happening.
Of course Duquesne has lost three starters in the last week-plus but a lack of conditioning certainly showed as Dayton was able to close the game and prove to be rude hosts.
“The biggest need is somebody to break down the defense and create opportunities for other guys to shoot open shots,” said Dambrot. “Last year we could do it two ways through Sincere driving it and through Weathers and Hughes kicking out. Right now we’re not doing a very good job of either.”
. Duquesne’s offense appears to have a metaphorical help wanted sign across it right now having scored 48 points in the previous two outings and then shooting 33.3% from the field in the second half which included an 0-for-7 mark on its three-point shots.
For each of the past three games, Duquesne has had one double-figure scorer and while others have shown flashes it has not turned into points.
Part of the sluggish nature that current is Duquesne’s offense may also be that the team is in a position where it does not yet have an identity.
Frankly, Duquesne is still trying to find the right blend on how it wants to play and is not quite there yet.
From a player perspective, Dambrot mentioned that Tavian Dunn-Martin has had challenges adjusting to being a point guard admitting he is more of a shooting guard. It has become clear that opposing teams will try to wear him down and then he will have to guard, play at least 35 minutes a game and handle the ball, similar to what Sincere Carry did before him.
In describing all of those characteristics, he stated that was what Duquesne is trying to do with Tyson Acuff which may hint that Dunn-Martin could shift back to being a shooting guard.
Though Marcus Weathers scored Duquesne’s first 10 points and appeared to have things going, it was clear he got tired as the game continued and really it seemed that the team followed that lead. Granted, it is hard to blame them with Duquesne having multiple shutdowns.
The offensive piece may come quick or may not but Dambrot was not as optimistic about conditioning.
“It’s going to be later than sooner but I could be wrong,” he said. “The problem is it’s hard to condition them during the season other then getting them in game shape during the game. Am I supposed to condition them tomorrow and then they’re not worth a darn against Saint Bonaventure?”
. It is clear that Dambrot had high hopes for one freshman in Acuff but there were similar expectations that seem to be placed upon Toby Okani.
Dambrot stated that he has to have a Scottie Pippen style mindset.
“He has to be able to guard the best players, rebound, get assists, block shots, take charges and not worry about scoring,” he said. “He got indoctrinated in the first half, (Jalen) Crutcher beat him up a little bit but that’s what’s going to happen until he does that on a daily basis. To throw a freshman on him, to guard the best player every single night is going to be a learning experience for him but I think he can be good at it before it’s over.”
Okani had a rounded game consisting of five points, eight rebounds and five assists. Crutcher was held to four points in 18 minutes during the second half, a clear sign that he understands the new expectations placed upon him, though time will tell how he responds.
. Duquesne’s road ahead does not get easier.
For starters, it takes on a Saint Bonaventure team on ESPN2 that has impressed early on in Atlantic 10 play, which includes a road victory against Richmond.
Duquesne will be back in Pittsburgh around 2:30 Thursday morning, than has an early evening practice where it will not be so much work as doing a scout and walkthrough before boarding the same bus they barely got off of.
“It’s a good learning experience, we just have to bite the bullet, take our hits, put our big boy pants on and just try to get better every single day,” Dambrot said. “We’re just not consistent enough to win at a high level yet.”
HE SAID IT
“They were in much better condition than us. I’ve never felt more helpless. There’s not a lot I can do about it other than keep pushing them, still love them and just try to get them better.” – Dambrot