Inside The Dukes: Has Duquesne Finally Earned Respect?
Whether it desires to channel Aretha Franklin or Rodney Dangerfield, the Duquesne Men’s Basketball Team has not garnered the amount of respect it feels that it deserves.
Duquesne will continue to turn some heads with a 76-62 victory over Saint Joseph’s as the team picked last in the Atlantic 10 Conference is one game behind a three-way tie for second place and a double bye which would come with it.
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The team’s head coach, Keith Dambrot may not need the amount of motivation that his players do, but he certainly was willing to allow himself to be irritated.
“If somebody else had that kind of year I don’t know if they would have picked them last,” he said. “People probably thought I stunk, or I lost it. I can’t coach anymore. All that did was reinvigorate me into working like I did when I was 25. The main reason you win is because you have pretty good players, the staff did a great job of bringing in good players and people.”
What Dambrot currently has is arguably his most talented team from top to bottom and that was once again showcased Wednesday night.
A selfless Duquesne overcame Joe Reece fouling out, Dae Dae Grant and Tre Williams having varying degrees of foul trouble and David Dixon getting injured and being held to four minutes. This does not include Halil Barre continuing to be sidelined.
While other teams may struggle with these obstacles, Duquesne thrived and largely found ways to push and become better.
“There’s a lot of teams that have good talent that don’t win, they refuse to play together,” said Dambrot. “(This group) all wants to win, a lot of them haven’t won. If you want to win and you have reasonable ability, then you have a chance to win.”
Every day in practice, Duquesne toes halfcourt with coaches reminding the players that every play, every day can make this team championship quality and help get the team achieve its collective end goals.
That has started by strengthening a defensive identity that was lacking in the early stages of this season. The standard is back to where it was in past seasons, where you will not be on the court if the defensive effort is lacking, or complacency becomes consistent.
Take Tre Williams for example.
Dambrot mentioned defensively putting Williams in the post, and ever since the George Mason game his defensive game has become more of a focal point.
It was a challenge, and to date, Williams has passed.
“He said he was going to switch it up,” Williams recalled. “I took pride in the matchups I have been going against and then trying to get stops and help my teammates get wins. It’s definitely a huge compliment from him knowing the type of guy he is and the level he has coached at. I have taken pride in the defensive end first.”
It is clear that Duquesne has decided to go all in and now for the first time since the 1970-71 season have started February off 4-0.
HOPES FOR CLARK TO RECEIVE POSTSEASON ACCLAIM INCREASE
While Dambrot admitted he was irritated by the above criticism, one thing would potentially irritate him, and that is if at season’s end Jimmy Clark III is not voted to the Atlantic 10’s All-Defensive Team.
One recent broadcaster, Tim McCormick displayed his list and Clark’s name was noticeably absent, something which was the most consistent complaint online.
Clark leads the conference with his 63 steals and with Williams’s play of late, two Dukes may warrant consideration for the honor.
Such a snub has happened before as Michael Hughes led the A-10 in blocks once and did neither made the regular season awards, nor preseason team the following season.
“If a guy leads the league in steals and is ninth in the country and 10th in steals per game and he’s not on the all-defensive team, then there’s something wrong,” Dambrot said. “I don’t think he’s a lock just because we’re Duquesne. I’m going to be mad if he’s not on there, I’ll take that personally. Will we get two? Hell no. Will we get one? 50-50. If a guys in the top 10 in steals and he’s not on the all-defensive team, then I’ve got to throw my hands up.”
Clark did have nine assists, a career high in Wednesday’s game as Dambrot has attempted to allow for Tevin Brewer to find more space and create his own shot.
This shift has only shown how coachable he has been this season.
“I just think Jimmy wants to be a good player, he spends a lot of time at it,” said Dambrot. “To be a complete player, you have to make other players better. He has that ability to get into the lane, now can he consistently make the right play, which he does more times than not. That’s my job to get him to make the right play every time.”
DIXON’S POSITIVE STEP CUT SHORT
David Dixon was poised to have a career game as he scored seven points in just under four minutes of work, already at a +11 on the evening, before a knee injury ended his night.
“I thought he was great, I thought he really helped us,” Dambrot said. “You’re talking about a superior athlete, he reminds me of one of those 800-meter runners, he’s so quick-twitched and lean, he’s like a greyhound. He changed the game when he went in there because he can run and get to the rim.”
Dixon had already had two and-one plays, as he maintained possession of a Clark pass he would have bobbled earlier in season and the second such occurrence was when heavy contact on his basket led to the leg injury.
His status for Saturday evening’s contest at Saint Louis is undetermined.
“He’s got a bad knee, he landed a little funny today,” said Dambrot. “I don’t know if there’s something wrong in there, but we need him, especially with Chabi out too. It’s a shame because he’s starting to play pretty good.”
How many years did Duquesne not only lose, but they didn’t even have their own home floor to play on. Now , not only do they have a great facility to play in, but they have a coach who is determined to return them to their glory days. As they continue on this road, they should get they deserve.
As usual your monosyllabic nonsense has no factual basis. The year Duquesne played entirely on the road they won 21 games. The next year, they finished .500.
Duquesne played for more than 40 years without a home court. Despite the fact that they have more than a 600 million endowment. That is not nonsense. Your 2 year history is known by everyone. I will be happy to match my intelligence against you, ANYTIME you say.
Dambrot is the City’s best Coach. No doubt
Just a thought for you. Better to remain silent and be thought of as a fool, than to open your mouth and remove ALL doubt. Try enjoying the fact that Pittsburgh is blessed to have 2 great coaches
I’m good skippy.