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Duquesne Basketball

Inside the Dukes: Keith Dambrot Will Fight for His Team

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MCCANDLESS TOWNSHIP, Pa. — Wednesday, before Duquesne’s comeback win over Rhode Island, Duke head coach Keith Dambrot lit into his team at halftime for their first-half performance.

Saturday afternoon in what became a home loss to St. Bonaventure, there were three individuals which got the treatment: the officials.

It can be a dangerous game yelling at officials, something Dambrot found out the hard way when Duquesne faced Penn State in 2018, not to mention the 14 whistles he earned in his first season coach at Tiffin University.

“The official called the foul on the floor before the tip in,” Dambrot said. “Then they tried to change it, he counted it after he already pointed to the floor. At that point I’m not going to let him change his mind. I lost my mind but it helped us because he didn’t change the call.”

Dambrot consistently shouted “bullshit” at an official. He had multiple staffers and guard Tavian Dunn-Martin holding him back.

When Dambrot got back to the huddle and the original call upheld, the entire team loudly applauded their approval.

“I’m going to fight for them, you know that,” said Dambrot. “They have to know you’re going to fight for them, we’re in this thing together. I crossed over the line but I knew I was right. I knew how far I could go, I knew I was right, so that’s why I went as far as I did. If I hadn’t I think they would’ve counted the basket and we might have lost the game right then. You have to pick and choose. What I try to do is not complain much so when I do complain then generally they know I’m upset about something.”

AN ADDED WRINKLE

Dambrot cautioned that St. Bonaventure was a different team without Osun Osunniyi on the floor and that was put to the test when the Bonnies’ acclaimed center picked up two fouls before the first media timeout of Saturday’s contest.

Duquesne has found success against Bona when Osunniyi is not on the court but there were two factors that prohibited that this time around.

For starters, Duquesne was ice cold from the field going scoreless for 7:14 of game action and were 1-of-15 from the field. Regardless of how good the team’s defense may be, when the ball is not going in the basket, that does not often breed success.

Something else Duquesne did not factor in was that Jalen Shaw would play his best half in a St. Bonaventure uniform.

“He played well for them which surprised me a little bit because they haven’t played him as much,” Dambrot said. “They got good minutes out of him and that might have been on us. They have good maturity and strong guys that can play a lot of minutes.”

Though Shaw did receive a technical foul, he scored seven points in 16 minutes. Whether it was due to the technical or other reasons, he did not see the floor in the second half.

LOOKING FOR ACCOUNTABILITY

Chad Baker was unable to follow up his career best performance he achieved Wednesday against Rhode Island but Dambrot still discussed his performance Saturday night, albeit for different reasons.

With 3:11 remaining in the first half, Baker was whistled for a flagrant foul, where it appeared he tackled a St. Bonaventure player.

The officiating crew all reviewed the play and the flagrant one served as the final decision. It would one thing if this was Baker’s first such infraction, though not only would that be false but when his technical fouls were added in it was his third in as many games.

Of course Baker may still be going through a tough time considering his one of his best friends from high school passed away earlier in the week but it is hard to ignore so many whistles that prove consequential to a team..

Dambrot was asked the question about Baker at the end of the press conference and it was clear that these mistakes agitated him.

“He’s got to do better, he’s got to hold himself accountable,” he said. “He’s got to grow up and put those big boy pants on and leave that crap alone. He has to compete as hard as he can with his mouth shut and make good decisions. I like Chad but he’s got to do better. He doesn’t have to play better, if he plays poorly I’m good with that, I may not like it. He just has to do better with his maturity and his emotions.”

One thing Baker may benefit from is having Mike Hughes as a mentor. Hughes has had some technical fouls in the past but this season has embraced being a leader, particularly since following recent program departures.

Like Dambrot, Hughes came to Duquesne from Akron and understands the expectation which could help Baker grow and earn more trust.

“I think that helps but I think it’s mostly going to be on me,” said Dambrot. “I think I can get to him, I have a good relationship with him but I’m going to teach him a lesson if he does it again. It’s just not acceptable. He’s so competitiveness which is great but you have to channel it. You can’t cross the line. I’m competitive too but I’m not going to cross the line, most of the time.”

 

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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