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Duquesne Basketball

Inside the Dukes: Finding Ways To Win

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From the moment the basketball was tipped off, the Duquesne Men’s Basketball Team was ready to seek success together.

Sure, both Tevin Brewer and Kareem Rozier were both unavailable for this game, but the team’s connection never missed a beat defeating Winthrop 74-57 Wednesday afternoon at the UPMC Cooper Fieldhouse.

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Setting young men on the path to a better future.

Duquesne scored the game’s first 20 points, and it took nearly 10 minutes for Winthrop to convert a field goal and by that point the Eagles had already burned two timeouts.

A 10-assist first half on 16 made baskets showed just how connected this team was.

“When everyone is touching the ball scoring, everyone is involved and making good plays, that’s team basketball,” Quincy McGriff said. “Everyone is happy when everyone’s contributing for the win and that’s what we did. I feel that brought all of our energy up when it was not one or two people, but the whole five.”

Indeed, each player on the court served a purpose and advanced the level of play.

In the early going, Tre Clark had an opportunity to call his own number, creating separation for a three-point shot, but instead saw Joe Reece cutting towards the basket and went for the pass which led to an and-one play.

For as much as Dae Dae Grant gets credited as a scorer, his passing ability is often overlooked. The latest example of this was his eight-assist effort which matched a personal best.

Even when coach Keith Dambrot provided feedback that McGriff had missed an alley-oop opportunity for David Dixon, he took this feedback and later in the first half when the same play developed, the two were able to connect.

“We just trusted each other moving the ball,” said Grant. “We tend to harp on that in practice, just continuing to move it and trust each other. When we do, we’re really good and it shows. That’s how things open up and our mindset.”

When Dambrot talks about this year there is a clear excitement about what is possible.

He estimates that this group is 60% of what it could be down the line, a figure explained by numerous factors, most notably injuries, but this team continues to get healthy and in these 13 games have shown the ability to stay together and build connection.

“We’re so new but by mid-February or so we can be a force to be reckoned with if we improve, that’s a big if, he said. “What happens from now until the end of the year will determine who the best teams in the league are. I feel like we’re still a half-painted painting, we’re still figuring it out.”

BUILDING POSITIVE HABITS

Throughout his time at Duquesne, one of the concepts Dambrot has discussed is embracing an ability to be a front runner, going into any gym and expecting a positive result.

Previous teams displayed a certain nastiness and grit, but much of that was lost last year.

During his postgame press conference, Dambrot discussed coaches who have a down year or two but then are able to find success again because they are winners.

Perhaps intentionally or unintentionally Dambrot could place himself and building this program back to the level it was at earlier in his tenure.

His best team was the one during a COVID year where the Atlantic 10 Championship and season as a whole shut down, robbing everyone of the ability to see how things would end up.

One thing this team has much more of compared to that one is that connection and genuine bond with each other.

Its ability to overcome injury has also been prevalent throughout the non-conference slate and currently three of the top nine players in Duquesne’s rotation have been sidelined.

“We’ve missed a lot of games with a lot of people so the next man mentality with this group has been really good with this group,” Dambrot said. “Guys are developing and I thought we were really good in the first half and mediocre in the second half.”

Even with these injuries, those who have remained healthy for all of part of the season have pushed the standards forward and currently have 10 wins to show for it.

It would have been easy for those standards to dip with such a large lead, but Duquesne found a way to overcome several inconsistent second-half stretches.

Now Duquesne will have two days off to enjoy the holiday season with hopes that some of these injured players will be further along as Atlantic 10 play tips off Wednesday at Dayton.

DAMBROT COMMENTS ON EASLEY’S DEPARTURE

Earlier in the week, Kevin Easley (5.7 ppg/3 rebs) made the decision to transfer from the program.

Easley was suspended for seven games earlier this season and after graduating decided it was best to move on.

The forward was one of the team’s leading returners from a forgettable year mired with both injuries and losses.

“First off I like Kevin, he graduated and did what he had to do academically. At that point he has a choice to make, Dambrot said. “When you get suspended for seven games, it’s a grind to get back to where you want to be. I understand it. Young people have to make choices, that’s the choice he made, and I respect it. I don’t have to agree with it, I’m not saying I disagree or agree, but it’s up to him.”

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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Rob Radich
Rob Radich
1 month ago

“Under looked?”

Paul ZumFelde
Paul ZumFelde
1 month ago

I love Quincy Mc Griffs comments when everyone plays and everyone touches the ball and everyone is involved that is team basketball. Team basketball wins games . Forget about individual stats except personal rebounds, assists, most floorburns, and loudest cheering from the bench and it could be a great year. If anyone ever gets the idea that this is “my time to impress scouts, my girlfriend , or move to a higher level” that is when teamwork breaks down. Be a “part” of a 25 win Duquesne team and we will all stand up and cheer for all 13 players.

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