On Tuesday night, Duquesne opens its 2022-23 basketball season with a non-conference matchup against the Montana Grizzlies at home at the UPMC Cooper Fieldhouse (7 p.m. tip-off).
Ahead of game one, let’s take a look at what head coach Keith Dambrot is working with in year six at the helm.
Duquesne basketball on Pittsburgh Sports Now is sponsored by The Summit Academy: setting young men on the path to a better future.
KEEP THE RETURNERS HEALTHY
Although last year’s team struggled mightily to generate any positive momentum, Dambrot still brings back a solid group of returners, headlined by big man Tre Williams.
Williams started 26 games a season ago, averaging 10.8 points and 5.7 rebounds per game along the way. He will once again provide a physical, skilled presence inside for the Dukes this season, but keeping him healthy will be a must. Williams missed the last four games of last season with a knee injury, but appears 100% heading into his junior campaign.
— Duquesne Basketball (@DuqMBB) February 13, 2022
Kevin Easley Jr. also returns to the floor for the Dukes. The 6-foot-7 wing posted 10.7 points per game last season, shooting 40% from the field and 33% from three-point range. Along with Easley and Williams is 6-foot-7 RJ Gunn, who Dukes’ fans have yet to get a taste of. Gunn missed last season with an ankle injury, but is projected to have a starting role for the Dukes in year two with the program.
Then there is Austin Rotroff, the 6-foot-10, 240-pound center who missed time last season with a foot injury. Rotroff should hold down the inside for the Dukes and provide a nice tandem with 6-foot-8 Joe Reece, the Bowling Green transfer.
TRANSFER CONTRIBUTIONS WILL BE BIG
Dambrot and co. brought in an impressive transfer class to address several problems with last year’s group. The Dukes added forward Joe Reece (Bowling Green), as well as guards Dae Dae Grant (Miami OH), Tre Clark (Northwest Florida State), and Tevin Brewer (FIU).
Brewer, an electric 5-foot-8 guard, recently suffered complications from an appendectomy, which will most likely keep him sidelined for the season opener and some more time. When he is back, Duquesne will add more depth to the back court with his exceptional quickness and creativity.
Tre Clark, a guard out of Northwest Florida State (JuCo) and formerly VCU, is questionable for game No. 1 with an injury as well. However, once he is healthy, expect Clark to play a heavy dose of minutes at the point, which will allow playmaker Dae Dae Grant to fit in a more natural position at the two. Alongside those two, look for JuCo wing Quincy McGriff and freshman forward David Dixon to also crack the rotation.
Freshman forward Halil Barre is also listed as questionable for the Dukes for game one, per Busting Brackets’ Tristan Freeman.
ATLANTIC 10 OUTLOOK
The Dukes were projected to finish No. 15 (last-place) in the conference at A10 media day in October.
The Almanac projects Duquesne to finish at No. 11 in the Atlantic 10.
On Monday night, the Atlantic 10’s Dayton, Davidson, St. Bonaventure, Richmond, George Washington, Loyola, Fordham, UMass, St. Louis, and VCU advanced to 1-0 on the year, and George Mason, Rhode Island, and La Salle falling to 0-1.
The Dukes have a tough opponent on Tuesday night, as Montana brings back leading scorer Josh Bannan, Mack Anderson, and other talented Grizzlies.
Montana also added Dischon Thomas (Colorado State transfer), Aanen Moody (Southern Utah transfer), and others in an attempt to turn around the squad from last season.
Tuesday night’s game will tip off at 7 p.m. from the UPMC Cooper Fieldhouse in Pittsburgh, PA.