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Opinion

Vukovcan: Duquesne’s Response to Key Loss Could Define Otherwise Strong Season

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Entering Saturday night’s game at Richmond, the Duquesne Dukes were rolling.

Keith Dambrot’s team entered the game with a record of 12-5 (2-2 in the A-10) and were winners of five of their last six games.

The Dukes looked like they were going to keep the good times rolling as they held a 22-point lead over Richmond, however, things imploded in the second half, and the Spiders hit a game-winning 3-pointer with seven seconds left to stun Duquesne.

Losing is one thing, but losing in that fashion is crushing and has the potential to demoralize a team.

The questions now are how this Duquesne team responds and will that loss to Richmond be a blip on the schedule or will it be the start of a season-crushing stretch for the Dukes? And although this is mostly a different group of players, remember Duquesne finished last season on a 17-game losing streak.

We’re going to get answers to that question tonight as Duquesne returns to the court to take on St. Joe’s.

Despite what happened against Richmond and the fact that this is a road game, the bottom line is that Duquesne is a better team than St. Joe’s and this is a game that they should win.

For a large stretch of this season (minus the game against Marshall), Duquesne has looked like and played like a basketball team that is really good.

Guard Dae Dae Grant is averaging 16 points per game and has performed like one of the best players in the A-10. As of late, Jimmy Clark has provided Grant some help on the offensive side, as he’s now averaging 12.5 points and 3.9 rebounds, and when healthy, RJ Gunn, Tevin Brewer and Joe Reece have been really productive.

For the second straight game, Tre Williams will be sidelined with an injury but aside from that, Dambrot will have everyone else on his roster available.

Having a bench that can potentially go 11 deep will be important as we move into the second half of the season. Injuries, fatigue and foul trouble will crop up, so guys like Quincy McGriff, Austin Rotroff, David Dixon, Matus Hronsky, Kareem Rozier and Halil Barre will be needed to provide valuable minutes and production off the bench.

St. Joe’s enters tonight with a record of 6-9, losers of three straight games (Saint Louis, Dayton and Fordham) and only one of their wins is against a team with a winning record (85-80 over Penn).

In no way should Duquesne enter this game overconfident, but on paper, they are the better team.

Now it’s a matter of the veteran leaders on this team getting everyone to forget about Richmond and to remind everyone that they’ve won 12 games and have the potential to win a lot more. By the way, those 12 wins are tied with Dayton and VCU for the most wins in the conference.

I’m not one of these guys that labels games as ‘must win’, however if I did, tonight would be one of them.

I believe that Duquesne is a good team, one that has the potential to win 20 games this season, but if they can’t take care of St. Joe’s tonight maybe I’m wrong and they aren’t who I think they are.

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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