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Duquesne MBB’s Game Versus Loyola Pivotal In Bounce Back



The Duquesne Men’s Basketball Team has been here before, losing two consecutive games and displaying disappointing effort and body language.

It was just last month when the team lost to Marshall and a troubled New Mexico State program before going on and winning four of the next five games.

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This included a home victory against VCU, which is the Rams lone Atlantic 10 blemish to date.

Following Saturday’s 65-58 setback to Fordham, coach Keith Dambrot admitted that his team was disrespected and had a 19-for-62 effort from the field to show for it.

“The numbers don’t lie, it’s there on the paper, the guards couldn’t get past the bigs,” freshman guard Kareem Rozier said. “When we went down low, the bigs couldn’t finish. Getting back at it and hitting the reset button. It’s time to reset. Two tough losses I don’t think we should have lost, and from playing bad.”

Duquesne got victimized by an 8-to-10 minute stretch where Khalid Moore had his way, this after a less than desirable first half at St. Bonaventure.

About 35 minutes after the loss, Dambrot came into the press conference, with Rozier and not much had to be said.

“We played two rotten games and we played the price for it,” Dambrot said. “Emotionally we have to get our head out of our ass and play better than that.”

Rozier did take plenty of accountability for the loss, saying he will have to make more hot calls, actions which he intended to begin with Sunday’s practice.

He believes his already vocal leadership needs to be more present, where perhaps he would have the players on the line running instead of the coaches.

There were benefits to Duquesne having a week before heading to St. Bonaventure. For one, it would allow Tre Williams to get healthy, and the Dukes clearly had him in the first half game plan, though his shot was not falling.

Having so much time off, especially for a team which clumped a lot of games together in a short time during non-conference also could lead to more focused practices, but when two consecutive games are lost coming out of that break, it certainly leads to trying to regroup and correct.

Once again, Dambrot was very matter of fact, when he was asked what the team’s temperature was after this game and where he hopes it will be for Wednesday night’s test against Loyola Chicago.

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“You go from beating one of the best teams in the league, and beating their ass, to that you can’t be very happy,” said Dambrot. “We’ve been pretty good most of the year, now do you have enough discipline to fix it and do you have enough confidence to fix it. We’re going to determine how much resiliency and confidence we have.”


Loyola is actually quite familiar with Pittsburgh as it was here for the NCAA Tournament, dropping its first contest to Ohio State.

Despite the season-ending setback, coach Drew Valentine found plenty of stock in the trip and enjoyed his time in Pittsburgh, especially as his team prepared to transition into the Atlantic 10.

“It was great for our fans to get familiar with another A-10 city and see that it’s not that hard to get to,” he said during Atlantic 10 Men’s Basketball Media Day. “Anything that’s new for your program, fans or alumni it can be a little foreign but getting an opportunity to know that we were making this transition and then tell our fans last March that this is a city that we’ll be playing in. It was crazy because we actually practiced at Duquesne two of the days and see their arena and it was beautiful.”

Fans that were at that NCAA Tournament game saw Valentine’s passion on full display and that energy is something he actively seeks on the recruiting trail. When a player makes a positive play whether it be a defensive stop or a dunk on an and-one play, it is commonplace for them to beat their chest and scream to the crowd, which he is fine with because that was who he was as a player.

“If you don’t play with the same passion to get a defensive stop as a dunk, that’s where it becomes more about you and it’s a frontrunner kind of thing,” said Valentine. “Our practices are really high energy and passionate because we celebrate everything the same way.”

To date, the Ramblers have underachieved based on their fourth-place preseason selection in the conference poll with a 1-6 mark. That one victory was a Saturday home triumph over a St. Bonaventure team which has struggled on the road this season.

Loyola has two double-figure scorers led by Cal U transfer Phillip Alston, who in his move up to NCAA D-I has 14 ppg and shoots 49.2% from the field.

While some have viewed Alston as a surprise, Valentine is not in that camp as he knew about his touch and ballhandling skills.

“He can be a beast on the defensive glass,” Valentine remarked. “I think he’s a guy this time next year that A-10 people talk about preseason, he could be an upper-level guy and he’s just scratching the surface of what he can be.”

Preseason All-Conference Third Team selection Braden Norris is the second double-figure scorer with his 10.5 per game.

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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