It was a hectic eight days for the Duquesne Men’s Basketball Team, but in a time when nothing was easy, a 26-point advantage nearly midway through the second half, it seemed that everything was going right.
48 hours removed from an emotional loss in which Duquesne felt it had let a winnable game against Princeton which would have loomed large for a potential NCAA Tournament at-large resume, slipped away. That however was the past and it turned out the Dukes had one more task to overcome.
Rider, was being pesky. While Duquesne became stagnant offensively, the Broncs still have a couple of plays up their sleeve, cutting the deficit to 12 points with just under five minutes to play.
That was when Duquesne relied most on its impact players in Dae Dae Grant and Jimmy Clark III. The duo would score the Dukes eight next points putting the game out of reach, before both were subbed out and given the opportunity to enjoy what became a 77-58 victory.
“Keep chopping wood,” Grant reflected on the mentality. “We know that we are playing against ourselves at the end of the day. Don’t get me wrong that was a tough team and well coached, but at the end of the day we compete against ourselves to make the game easier for us. We know if we’re in practice it will be harder than the game. Fighting through that mentality and knowing that we are who we are. We know what we do, so sticking through that realm and sticking together to gel and keep our mental strength.”
Despite the victory, Duquesne coach Keith Dambrot understands that his team is far from a finished product, claiming his Dukes are 60% of what they can be.
All told, Dambrot was constructive with what he liked and felt the team could grow on.
Positively, Dambrot is pleased with his team’s transition game. His challenge is to try and find ways to raise the rate that Duquesne is in transition. He also was pleased with the defensive strides taken in that game and desires consistency in that area.
Conversely, he has a desire for the halfcourt game to improve.
As Chabi Barre and David Dixon continue to get reps and gain confidence, their development in addition to other post players will prove critical.
“How great we can become will be determined by how we can score the ball inside before we’re done and who’s going to do it,” stated Dambrot. “Right now, we’re hit and miss a little bit there. If we can improve there and continue to improve our knowledge and system knowledge, I think we can get a lot better. If we don’t, we’ll still be formidable but not as good as we should be.”
Barre and Dixon’s breads were respectively buttered on the defensive end with shots altered and more shots blocked.
Duquesne set a season high with 14 blocks as Dixon had four swats and Barre set a career high with three.
“I take defense very seriously,” Dixon explained. “I’ve been out six months with the knee surgery and I’m trying get back into the offense and how the team plays. I have things to figure out still but I’m always going to take defense seriously. Nothing ever changes with that. I take it upon myself to be the anchor the team needs in the frontcourt. I’m happy I was able to do my job tonight and do it well.”
The numbers of blocks fell off the page with how noticeable they were and drew a reaction from both Dixon and Grant.
It also could be interpreted as a sign that the post duo is closer and these several games in a row may have served them well.
As Grant broke down, seeing that effort on the defensive end was motivating in helping Duquesne generate energy and build upon that success offensively.
“Really just seeing their tenacity and energy, their extra efforts to get those blocks and rebounds makes me and I’m going to guess our other guys work harder,” determined Grant. “Just working on the defensive end to just gel and make that defensive end a havoc for those other teams.”
PLUSSES AND MINUSES
After nearly a half dozen games, it is time to bring back an old PSN ITD staple of tracking Duquesne’s plus/minus. Below is where each Duke currently stands.
Fousseyni Drame +86
Dae Dae Grant +71
Kareem Rozier +37
David Dixon +31
Jakub Necas +30
Jimmy Clark III +27
Andrei Savrasov +9
Chabi Barre +7
Hassan Drame +7
Kailon Nicholls +4
Andy Barba +2
Tre Williams 0
Lucas Perusek -1
Seamus McDermott -2
Jake DiMichele -18