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Duquesne Basketball

Inside The Dukes: Jimmy Clark and R.J. Gunn Step Up For the Dukes

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When Jimmy Clark III was looking to move back up after playing a season at the JUCO level, his eyes lit up when Duquesne came offering and ultimately the prospect proved more than intriguing.

Clark was previously a member of VCU’s roster but was initially assessed a university suspension and ultimately removed from the roster.

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All Clark wanted was a chance to face his former team, and with both programs Atlantic 10 members, the decision was a no-brainer.

Though Clark briefly shook VCU coach Mike Rhoades’ hand when offered, it was back to business and that came well before the opening tip.

This game meant everything to the guard, and he arrived earlier, put up a few extra shots and wanted to be ready.

All he did was set a career high with 26 points and match another personal best with five steals in 29 minutes in a 79-70 victory over VCU Wednesday night at the UPMC Cooper Fieldhouse.

“It was great to get the team a win,” he said. “As far as my emotions, I was ready to show that. Coming from VCU and having that chip on my shoulder, having to go to JUCO and then coming back to the same conference and be able to play my old team. All I can say is thank God.”

In this game, Clark accomplished exactly what he wanted to show the offensive ability that perhaps he was unable to completely fulfill at VCU. At Northwest Florida State, Clark had a different role that allowed his offense to better represent his skillset and that has continued at Duquesne.

Admittedly Duquesne coach Keith Dambrot is friends with Rhoades and when he considered making Clark a Duke, he asked for and received a clear stamp of approval.

“(VCU has) a team full of athletes and he looked like he was on a different level,” said Dambrot. “They could not keep him in front. Every time the game got close; he made an unbelievable play. When people go through some things in their life, that redemption factor is a big thing and that’s one of the reasons he came to Duquesne. He wanted to play in the Atlantic 10 again. He’s been a really good player. Most importantly, he’s been a really good guy. He’s been unbelievable to coach, fun to be around and loves the game. Him and Dae Dae (Grant) stay after practice every day, so he’s been a real pleasure for me.”

Clark could not have put a better bow on his evening then when he got a steal, lobbed the ball to himself and put down the dunk.

It was a play Clark practiced many times and stated afterwards he had hoped to make in the game. When VCU did not pursue him with enough proximity,

GUNN’S IMPACT BEING FELT

When Dambrot discussed keys to the victory, he of course brought up the quick start, specifically from three-point range, but also made a bigger mention of Duquesne being able to out athlete VCU from the post positions, which is something the Rams have frequently done to opponents over the years.

Duquesne did this because it was the fresher team, a testament to its depth, while VCU’s posts were battling to find touches and in Jalen DeLoach’s case stay on the court, as he fouled out after 11 minutes.

R.J. Gunn’s 13 points were a personal best in a Duquesne uniform, and he certainly made a huge difference. His performance allowed for Clark to find space and use his athleticism.

Gunn has played in six games this season and started against Rhode Island.

He missed last season due to a foot injury and was sidelines with another foot ailment this year after playing in three contests.

Instead of getting down on himself, Gunn took the positives and kept moving forward.

“I took it as an opportunity to see the game from a different perspective, going from DII to DI, he said. “I got to see the speed and physicality change and see where I fit in when I got a chance to play. This year I just took advantage of that.”

It is clear Dambrot is extremely proud of Gunn and that his hard work is starting to pay off.

“Last year when I said he was a good player everyone looked at me funny, but he is a really good player,” stated Dambrot. “He can do more than shoot, he’s strong, he prepares like a professional. I can’t be happier for him because that was a miserable season for him last year and he’s been through a lot of injuries. He got himself in unbelievable shape. His body fat is way down and even with the injury when he sat, he maintained it. That tells you a lot about his discipline, he probably has the most of anybody on the team.”

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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Eric payne
Eric payne
26 days ago

Go Dukes. Great win. Pittsburgh is lucky to have tWO TEAMS competing for a postseason tornament. The team has a lot of talent and I am excited to see the rest of the season unfold. WRONG again Radich.

Tim
Tim
25 days ago

Let go Dukes! Defense will win these next 3 road games. Lets see if they are up to the test. Its real bball in January for the Dukes!!!!

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