Throughout his time as Duquesne Men’s Basketball Coach, Keith Dambrot has explained that he has preached and counted them in games Energy Generated Behaviors.
When those behaviors were missed Wednesday night, he called them out and Duquesne turned it around winning by the palindromic 75-57 score over Alabama State.
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Duquesne’s biggest culprit was not crashing the boards hard enough. The Dukes lost the rebounding battle by a 45-37 count, which was a rally from being doubled up at halftime.
“They’re scrappy always hustling to the glass,” freshman forward David Dixon said. “It was tough in the first half; we weren’t really expecting all of that. In the first half I feel like I wasn’t trying to box out, I was just trying to get the rebound and feel that I could outjump everybody, that’s me being a freshman, I’m still learning things. They keep getting offensive rebounds and I am thinking to myself that I have to match their intensity and go to the glass and be scrappy.”
It has gotten to the point where the Hornets had more offensive rebounds than Duquesne did as a team and despite post injuries, Dambrot did not make excuses, rather challenged his Dukes to do something about it.
“When the ball goes up you have to hit,” said Dambrot. “They have some quick guys, so if you allow them to run to the rim without hitting them, you’re going to get outhustled. We hadn’t gotten crushed much, except maybe a little against South Carolina State but we’ve got to do better.”
DIXON, MCGRIFF DISCUSS LESSONS LEARNED
McGriff has certainly showed an ability to shoot the basketball. It was this ability that he showcased in a closed scrimmage which originally earned him a spot in the starting lineup.
When he missed shots and let that affect other aspects of his game, Dambrot made a change, which also coincided with Tevin Brewer’s return to the court as he tries to get back into a consistent scorer and passer.
McGriff saw a crucial three-point basket go in Monday, made multiple defensive plays and had a good no-look post-entry pass which led to an unguarded score.
“In the beginning of the season, I was not really making my shots but seeing the ball go in was really a confidence booster for me,” he determined. “The last game I hit a couple of shots and it gave me some confidence coming into here. It was also finding my teammates and moving the ball helped my confidence and my team.”
Dambrot has long known this potential was there, although there still is plenty more to uncover.
“We’ve been hitting hard on quit worrying about whether the ball goes in and hunt EGB’s,” the sixth-year coach remarked. “He’s more than a shooter, he can pass it, can handle it, he’s big, guards the ball pretty good. If you quit worrying about that, I think the ball does go in. I think he’s a good shooter his numbers aren’t going to stay down forever. He just has to be a little bit more businesslike on a daily basis, but he’s a talented guy.”
Dixon has started the last two games since the post depth has dwindled and this has allowed him to gain crucial experience and confidence.
Dambrot has lived with some of the mistakes, something he hinted he was willing to do in the preseason. Perhaps his willingness to consider this when the team was at full strength provided confidence on both sides in this case, but regardless the promise which was hinted at has been displayed.
“Coach D is a very demanding person, I will say that, but I feel that I am up for the challenge,” Dixon confidently replied. “I’m willing to do anything in order to have a spot on this team, to be in the mix. I feel like I’m just ready for that role.”
Dixon played 15 minutes because of foul trouble, ultimately disqualifying himself from the game with his fifth whistle, but before that set his career high with five blocks and paired that with five rebounds.
While Dambrot will continue to work to minimize mistakes, Dixon has this opportunity and appears poised to run with it.
Dixon likely will be having plenty more looks in the post as Dambrot’s vague updates concerned Halil Barre, R.J. Gunn and Joe Reece do not make it seem like any of the trio will be dressing Tuesday against UC Santa Barbara.
Reece is closer to returning and the report was one which could have been considered worse. Gunn is a “touch-and-go” situation. It appears Barre is a ways away from returning.
“I think we’ve missed Reece since he got hurt,” Dambrot explained. “He’s so experienced. (Austin) Rotroff is playing so well because he’s experienced, knows what he’s doing and what he’s good at. I think we miss R.J. because he can fling them in. We miss those those guys… If we can get one of them back it helps us, two of them makes it hard on me, three of them makes it really hard on me.”
Duquesne now has two days off so it can celebrate Thanksgiving and eat some turkey, but Dixon believes his team will be prepared for Tuesday’s test.
“We’re going to use this time to rest and relax,” he said in finality. “We’ll get in the gym, do some running and rehab and use this time to get some R&R and come back stronger than ever. I feel like we’re going to be ready to play UC Santa Barbara. I feel like we can win that game, will be prepared mentally and physically.”