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Inside the Dukes: Duquesne Working on Finding Right Combinations



As Duquesne Men’s Basketball coach Keith Dambrot went to the podium he offered a refrain similar to that of late NFL coach Dennis Green, one that Cleveland State was who he thought it was, but the difference was that the Dukes did not let them off the hook.

Sure Duquesne won, but it weathered a storm in which a veteran team made at a rate higher than expected against a Dukes team that knows who it is, but still has a lot to figure out.

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Admittedly Dambrot knows his team is a work in progress, a combination of players returning from injury and possibly the deepest squad he has had.

“(We’re) not quite sure yet who should be in when,” Dambrot stated. “It has to be straight feel and who’s playing well. Obviously, Dae Dae and Tre Clark are going to play but everyone else pretty much is battling to play. They’re all good players which is hard to play like that.”

Duquesne did rotate its lineup and had some advantages but could not seem to put Cleveland State away.

Even so it was some plays down the stretch that pulled the win out.

Kareem Rozier did not have his best shooting performance from the field but battled for a crucial rebound and it was his pass into David Dixon that led to a crucial rebound.

“Really giving Reem props for the gonads he carried,” Dae Dae Grant remarked. “He got heart, and it shows in those two plays that he’s got the heart of a freaking lion.”

When Cleveland State could not come away with a basket, it was Rozier who pulled down the rebound. Dixon pulled his sophomore guard from off the ground an acknowledgement that Duquesne found a way to start the season off the way it needed to.

“It was big-time plays made in crunch time and winning the game is not easy against that kind of caliber of team and we’re just appreciative to win this game and win it with our brothers,” replied Grant.


Both Grant and Jimmy Clark were asked which lineup combination worked best for the team, a query answered very quickly.

It was the twins, referring to Fousseyni and Hassan Drame.

“Their impact was obvious,” Grant analyzed. “I really liked their tenacity, their knack of going for the basketball, going for the rebound every single time. That’s not easy to do after taking multiple forearms and jabs.”

Both Drames are accustomed to starting throughout their career, but neither got the nod Monday night.

If it affected them in any way, it certainly did not show, rather their play and tenacity built upon those who were on the floor.

Duquesne's 2024 March Madness Tournament coverage is sponsored by Leon's Billiards & More, Moon Golf Club and Archie's on Carson! Their contributions have allowed us to cover the Dukes run in Omaha, Nebraska. We appreciate their support!

In the past, Duquesne has had some inconsistencies in the post, breaking down an opponent sending a double team, but Monday there was a clear sense of urgency in finding the open player through the increased physicality. Though some of those shots were not made, it was a clear improvement that the Drames were involved in.

“It was a blessing,” explained Grant. “When you’ve got your bigs who want to play hard, go out there and play for you, it makes you want to just go out there, play harder and produce. It makes you want to make your minutes positive as soon as you get out there. It’s knowing we all have each other’s back.”

Clark liked what the Drames brought defensively as their energy and length made it more difficult for Cleveland State.

“It would have been shown more if we stayed solid on a couple more plays through the clock,” Clark said. “Those lineups will bring a great defensive presence.”

The way Dambrot saw it, these two in addition to Tre Williams another player used to starting, provided a boost both in play and unselfishness.

Dambrot admitted that he thought Fousseyni would play a lot but with Hassan nursing a knee injury he was not as sure about the latter’s playing time.

Fousseyni’s late three-point basket allowed Duquesne to control the end game and was the loudest the fans were all evening.

“You can say they’ve been in a lot of games and there’s no one that will play harder than them,” explained Dambrot. “They play hard and fearless. Fousseyni bopped that three in and it changed the game.”


Clark was able to find success putting the ball in the basket and was someone when there were lulls that displayed a willingness to call his own number, but the growth he showed was in a different area.

Sure, Clark did make some defensive gambles, with three steals to show for it, but it was his ability as a distributor which most pleased Dambrot.

For Clark to battle foul trouble and come away with eight steals against three steals bodes well for Duquesne and gives the team a true point guard.

Two years ago there were several games where Duquesne may not have compiled eight assists as a team, but Monday Clark did so by making the right reads throughout his 28 minutes, including the aforementioned Fousseyni Drame triple.

As Duquesne faces College of Charleston in the first game of the 2023 Veteran Classic at 6 p.m. Friday it does so as a side which faced adversity and found a positive result.

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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