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Duquesne Basketball

Inside The Dukes: Circus Act For Steel City Kid

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As the Duquesne Men’s Basketball Team attempted to put the finishing touches against a resilient UC Santa Barbara, Dae Dae Grant had the ball in his hands, with the shot clock set to expire and fired up a prayer from beyond the arc.

On Grant’s release, his entire right side was parallel to the basket and the ball rolled around and through the basket.

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As the Duquesne fans erupted in approval, Grant briefly allowed himself to smile as he raced towards the other side of the court.

“My mindset was just to get it up and shoot it,” Grant recalled. “Shoot it like a normal three, I tried to do that, and it went in.”

 

Grant has consistently been able to put the ball in the basket, but between the Thanksgiving break and not feeling well, the Duquesne Men’s Basketball guard practiced one day leading into Tuesday night’s contest.

It did not matter.

Grant still scored 26 points on 9-of-14 shooting, burying six three-point shots as Duquesne won 72-61 over the Gauchos at the UPMC Cooper Fieldhouse.

The junior also had three steals for good measure and was a +15 on the evening.

“Dae Dae has been really coachable and we’ve been trying to make him more complete,” Duquesne coach Keith Dambrot said. “He’s done whatever we’ve asked him to do, and he’s been a good teammate. He’s consistently put the ball in the basket which is hard to do. He’s been scoring it at a pretty high clip, maybe the best that I’ve ever had as far as consistently scoring it in those mid 20’s.”

Grant’s 26-point effort was the fourth consecutive 20-point game, the longest streak since Micah Mason accomplished the feat over six consecutive games between Jan. and Feb. 2016.

As Grant answered for seemingly the umpteenth time why he chose Duquesne and echoed previous statements appreciating the loyalty Dambrot and his staff showed, a tattoo below the neck area displayed the words Steel City.

Indeed, Grant’s effort Tuesday was another gritty performance from a player shooting 55.4% from the field, and his 56.3% efforts from three-point range rank best in the Atlantic 10 after Tuesday’s play.

That tattoo does not reflect grit, but now at Duquesne actually has a double meaning.

“This Steel City (tattoo) is from Lorain, where I’m originally from,” he said. “I see Pittsburgh and they call themselves the Steel City as well. In Lorain, it’s the Steel City and we had the steel mill and they shut it down years ago. I represent that as far as being Steel City and I guess it was destined for me to be here because I’m repping two in one.”

RISING TO THE CHALLENGE

All season long, Duquesne has had to face adversity whether it was injuries, suspensions or even only being able to practice with seven players in one of the days leading up to Tuesday’s contest.

Grant was out and so was Matus Hronsky, but Duquesne really keyed in on its connection which has long been established since the summer and continues to grow.

With Duquesne having a couple of days off, many players got leave campus and celebrate the holiday, which was a big mental boost, that also allowed for a reset of sorts.

“Those couple of days were crucial,” Grant said. “A lot of people don’t get to go home to see our families and we really appreciated our coaching staff for letting it happen. We came back and really grinded and locked in focused on this game. We were not still on break and going home can be an asset or a cancer. We came back and dialed in on the defensive end, to focus on our gameplan and get this win.”

Executing with such precision during this stretch, only made Dambrot further praise Kareem Rozier’s efforts as a leader.

From telling Dambrot to blame a lackluster performance on him because practice was not up to standard to telling a teammate to come early to a game with him so they can go through the same pregame routine, Rozier’s fingerprints are all over the collective grit and togetherness this team has displayed.

“He just leads them every second of every minute,” said Dambrot. “They like him, they follow him. That camaraderie and enthusiasm are contagious. It could go the other direction when you don’t have that. So far our guys have been good together.”

Even with being shorthanded to an extent, this Duquesne team has displayed heart and also pounced on UCSB’s mistakes.

At game’s end, when there were 50-50 plays, it was Tre Williams ended up with a crucial rebound and providing those extra possessions that allowed Duquesne to remain steady, as he worked through a tough offensive performance, to find other ways to contribute towards the cause.

Duquesne will conclude its non-conference slate over the next month play exclusively at home which certainly can continue to build this confidence and refine areas of improvement when A-10 play commences.

“We’ll find out if we can win in the league,” stated Dambrot. “We’ve shown we can shoot the ball and pass the ball. That’s a pretty good defensive team and we still put the ball in the basket.”

REECE UPDATE

Once again Duquesne’s injured and in Kevin Easley’s case, suspended quartet of Dukes did not suit up. R.J. Gunn remained in his boot and Halil Barre also was unavailable.

Joe Reece was out of his boot though as Dambrot noted he had a bad ankle sprain. When asked about his availability for Saturday against Ball State, it was revealed that he has yet to do anything live and is unsure how much he can cut.

Though getting some run against Ball State’s leading scorer, Payton Sparks could help, Dambrot does want to be careful, as it does not make sense to rush and have the injury linger. He first stated 40/60 when asked for a figure and then retracted that to 30/70 before settling on saying he would not count on it.

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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Tommy
Tommy
1 month ago

Reece can sit out another game, dont rush back. Winning now is nice, but winning in the A10 is more important. Would like to see some of Barre soon. I wish Easley was back, Dukes need to reconcile that issue asap.

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