Saturday, December 8, 2007

Dukes play poorly, lose 92-68

That look says it all

Box Score

Game Wrapup

-- Joe Alexander was off the hook tonight for WVU, no one had any chance of stopping him.

-- Alexander scored a career high 26 points

-- WVU totally dominated the glass tonight

-- Kojo Mensah was benched by Ron Everhart for the entire 2nd half

-- Reggie Jackson had a nice offensive showing, (season high 13 points) taking Mensah’s minutes in the 2nd half

-- The Dukes seemed unable to create any offense unless it was through Shawn James

-- Shawn James responded with another strong game on offense for the Dukes. James ended the game with 18 points

-- Coming into the game Duquesne led the nation in blocked shots per game, however the Dukes were unable to create many blocked shots tonight

-- Kieron Achara was no where to be found - 5 points, 3 rebounds

-- Damian Saunders has looked lost since the game against Drake, Saunders was hurt late in the game

-- Huggins refused to take out his starters until there were only 36 seconds left in the game regardless of a late game 24 point lead

-- Jamie Smalligan was thrown out of the game early in the first half for a flagrant foul on Bill Clark

-- The WVU students were on the Dukes all night, calling Reggie Jackson "Gary Coleman" and taunting Jason Duty

-- The only good thing to come out of this game was the fact that Dukes Court got a nice link from MASN the TV home of the Orioles and Nationals

-- Watching the Dukes play so badly has drained me of the energy necessary to write anymore

Joe Alexander freaking killed us tonight

Dukes vs. WVU tonight at 7pm

Game Preview from Duquesne
PG Preview
Trib Preview

The Dukes Court preview can be found below.

Rumor has it that Direct TV customers with the Sports Package will be able to watch the game tonight on Fox Sports Pittsburgh.


You can try watching the game on the internet via this site.
The Dukes game is listed 3/4 of the way down the page.

Friday, December 7, 2007

The City Game to continue

well duh.
the PG has the article

Of course Duquesne and Pitt will continue to play each other, this isn't Pitt and PSU football!

Pitt and PSU won't play football against each other until this man dies

For now the City Game will alternate between the A.J. Palumbo Center and The Petersen Events Center, however the two universities may consider moving the game to the new hockey arena once it is built.

Center Avenue view of the Penguins planned hockey arena

Dukes visit Huggy Bear and his Mountaineer's

I wish this was Photoshop, but it isn't

Duquesne will travel to West Virginia to play WVU Saturday evening. WVU represents another formitable Big East opponent for the Dukes who lost their last game to nationally ranked Pitt on Wednesday. The Mountaineer's have a new coach, Bobby Huggins, you may have heard of him before. Huggins has his squad off to a 6-1 start, 4-0 at home. WVU's only loss was to Tennessee in the StubHub Legends Classic 74-72. WVU is coming off of a 88-59 home victory over Auburn Thursday night. Yes, 88-59.

The Mountaineer's are led by 6-6 Alex Ruoff (#22 pictured right) and 6-7 Joe Alexander. Ruoff leads the team in scoring with a 16.7 ppg average, and is 22-47 from beyond the arch for a 47% 3 point percentage. Yes, he shoots 47% from 3 point land, pretty scary. Alexander is averaging 14.3ppg and 7.1rpg. Ruoff and Alexander present a difficult combination for the Dukes.

The Dukes pressure man to man defense tends to allow for open 3's which are Ruoffs specialty. Alexander (#11 pictured left) is going to be tough on the Dukes because I just don't know who will guard him. Shawn James and Kieron Achara are both too big and slow to cover Alexander on the outside, however none of our smaller quicker players are tough enough or tall enough to cover Alexander underneath. I'd say that Phillip Fayne would be a good matchup for Alexander, but he barely played 10 minutes against Pitt. Coach Everhart will know what to do. Actually maybe Bill Clark can do the job for the Dukes against Alexander.

The WVU game calls for another strong performance from Shawn James. The Mountaineer's have only one player over 6-8 who sees any amount of significant minutes, 7-0 265 pound senior Jamie Smalligan (#43 pictured right). Smalligan originally a transfer from Butler, plays an average of 14 minutes per game for WVU and is basically just a body down low. I've seen Smalligan play before and he doesn't really do much, he is big though.

I like Shawn James's and Kieron Achara's changes against Smalligan.

I said before the City Game that if the Dukes win one of their games against Pitt and WVU I would be VERY happy. We came up short against Pitt, it is time to put it all together against a tough WVU team.

Coach Everhart and "Hugs" are friends according to the PG

The always handy Game Notes

For the WVU side of the story check out this WVU Blog - Bastard Sons of Pinfall Marks

One random note:

WVU's Alex Ruoff and Kieron Achara were both on the 2006-07 ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District 2 Basketball Team

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Dukes get 3 signed National Letters of Intent

3 more pieces added to the puzzle for the 2008-09 season.

Duquesne and head coach Ron Everhart received NLI from:

5-11 180-pound guard Eric Evans (Detroit, Mich./Northwestern) - (pictured right)

6-7 180-pound forward Shawntez Patterson (Detroit, Mich./Northwestern)

6-8, 225-pound forward Ali Djim (Chad, Central Africa/Hampton (Va.) Bethel Christian School)

They join 6-1, 185-pound Johnny Higgins (Baltimore, Md./Notre Dame (Mass.) Prep) who had already signed and submitted his NLI weeks ago.

Eric Evans is generally considered a 2 or 3 star recruit by all of the major scouting services. I would assume that Evans will be groomed to take over the PG duties after Kojo Mensah graduates following the 08-09 season. Evan is considered one of the top players coming out of Michigan this year. Evans is also being considered as a candidate for Michigan's Mr. Basketball. Evans' teammate Shawntez Patterson also committed to the Dukes.

Patterson is an athlete with a lot of potential. Patterson is rated as a two star recruit by most major recruiting services. An athletic 6'7 player would be an ideal swingman for the Dukes.

Ali Djim (pictured above) has project written all over him, he isn't rated on any of the recruiting services, and there just isn't much information out there about him. Even coach Everhart's comment about him spells project "He's the type of wide-bodied player we feel we need in our program." Djim is a native of Chad, Central Africa. Things didn't work out too well with Duquesne's last African big man Simplice Njoya (pictured right in a Memphis uniform where he transferred after several lackluster seasons with the Dukes.) I am hoping for a better future for Ali Djim in a Dukes uniform. Djim will have big shoes to fill in the paint after Kieron Achara and Shawn James graduate.

We still don't know what's going on with Schenley High School senior guard Deandre Kane. Kane gave Duquesne a verbal commitment this summer, but there has been no word of him submitting a National Letter of Intent. We are still in a wait and see mode with Kane.

My overall evaluation of the Dukes class:

I love it when we add teammates, it adds instant chemistry to the team, and it doesn't hurt that both Evans and Patterson are rated as solid athletic players. The Dukes need a PG to replace Kojo, and Evans seems to fit that bill, and what team doesn't need an athletic 6'7 forward? I have read a lot of good things about Higgins which I have discussed previously on the blog. I may have sounded harsh about Djim, but it can't hurt to bring in one big man project every other season, I wish he was bigger than 6'8, but let's hope for the best with this kid.

props to CLK from the Duquesne Dukes Basketball Fans Message Board for the Ali Djim picture

The Day After

While I attempt to recover my voice from screaming at the refs and Jamie Dixon last night I will give a day after perspective on last night's City Game.

First things first I need to give a lot of credit to the Pitt team. They came into the game confident, prepared, and most importantly they executed. At the start of the game Pitt took advantage of their experience in big games and hostile environments and ran to a 14-0 lead. Sam Young (pictured right) in particular deserves credit for Pitt. Young hit every open shot he was allowed and made the Dukes pay for their mental mistakes. Early in the game Young hit a big shot and flexed for the crowd, essentially taunting the Duquesne fans at the A.J. Palumbo Center. This upset me at the time, but Young backed up his cocksure attitude with strong play and a Pitt victory.

Levance Fields (pictured left) may not have had a great night statistically for Pitt but his ball handling skills were invaluable. Duquesne applied full court pressure on Pitt the entire game, and Fields dribbled the ball up the court on most possessions. His superior dribbling skills forced Aaron Jackson into foul trouble, and helped Pitt eliminate the type of costly turnovers that the Dukes prey upon. Fields also helped seal the game with 4 consecutive points in the final minute of the game.

Keith Benjamin impressed me. He came off the bench for Pitt and provided strong defense. The fact that Kojo Mensah and Gary Tucker shot a combined 3-18 from the field last night had a lot to do with the great defense played by Pitt's guards. A young Gilbert Brown also showed flashes that he will be a key part of Pitt's future with confident mistake free play in limited action.

Duquesne head coach Ron Everhart abandoned his two platoon system last night. During a post game interview Everheart admitted that he decided before the game that Pitt's bench was too deep for the two platoon system to be effective. Everhart leaned heavily on Shawn James, (pictured below left) who played 38 minutes, and Kojo Mensah who played 32 minutes. James responded well to the tough Pitt team, and the adversity early in the game with huge blocked shots that got the crowd into the game. James also, for one of the first times this season, was a major force on the offensive side of the floor, especially in the paint scoring on the younger and less experienced Dejuan Blair of Pitt. Blair got into foul trouble midway through the game and seemed hesitant the rest of the way on the defensive end of the floor. Kojo Mensah had a tough game for Duquesne, he was 2-12 from the field, and was called for traveling late in the game on a crucial possession for the Dukes.

Kudos to Dejuan Blair, an 18 year old true freshman who scored 10 points and had 9 rebounds, 5 on the offensive glass for Pitt last night. Blair also led Pitt with 3 steals. Clearly Blair is going to be a major contributor for Pitt this season. Cracking the starting lineup of a top ten team as a true freshman and giving effective minutes is a rarity and deserves to be mentioned. It is also nice to see a local kid play so well for a local school.

All in all the Dukes played valiantly, but could not overcome their mistakes and poor shooting against a tough highly ranked Pitt team. I'll say it again though, if Pitt is a top ten team, and the Dukes only lost by 5 after making a lot of mistakes, I like Duquesne's chances for a strong season in 2007-08.

Starkey's article includes this prediction:
"Let's make a prediction right here: Duquesne (6-2) will finish with a winning record, a feat they haven't accomplished since 1993-94 under John Carroll. Don't be surprised if they wind up in an NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1977, either. "

I like the way Starkey thinks

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Dukes fall short

James is exhausted after playing 38 minutes tonight

The Dukes played their hearts out tonight but mental mistakes and 2-20 from beyond the arch was too much for the Dukes to overcome, not to mention starting the game off in a 14-0 hole. The Dukes lost to Pitt 73-68.

#21 Shawn James (pictured righted) played like a man possessed, especially in the first half, ending the game with 20 points 9 rebounds and 5 blocks.

James had to make up for poor performances from Kojo Mensah who was 2-12 from the field, and Gary Tucker who also shot poorly going 1-6 on the night. Kieron Achara was 3-12 from the field and missed several key free throws down the stretch for the Dukes.

Sam Young played what seemed like a flawless game for the Panthers dropping 23 to lead all scorers. Young made every open shot he was given, secured a clutch rebound at the end of the game, and seemed to make all of the clutch shots except for a sweet runner scored by Levance Fields in the closing minute to seal the victory for Pitt.

I have never seen a more packed house for a Duquesne game in my entire life, the crowd was crazy tonight at the A.J. Palumbo Center.

The Duquesne crowd was especially tough on Pitt's Levance Fields, chanting "Taser" every time he touched the ball throughout the entire game. The Duquesne crowd was referencing Field's arrest this summer when he assaulted a police officer, attempted to steal his gun, and then was shot in the chest with a taser.
Taser! Taser! Taser!

I have never seen a coach whine more than Jamie Dixon did tonight. I mean, who does he think he is, Coach K? Dixon was assessed a Technical foul in the first half.

The Great Whiner.

The Dukes made a lot of mistakes, fell WAY behind early, and shot 38.5% from the field, shot 2-20 from beyond the arch, yet still only lost by 5. If Pitt is ranked in the top 10, I like the Dukes chances for the rest of the season.
For a counter view check out The Pitt Blather

Achara Named Candidate for Lowe's Senior CLASS Award

College Basketball needs more scholar athletes like Kieron Achara

Because being a great basketball player isn't enough, Kieron Achara has been named as a candidate for the Lowe's Senior CLASS award. The award honors the attributes of college basketball seniors who remain committed to their university and pursue the many rewards that a senior season and complete college education brings.

I still remember when former head coach Danny Nee brought Kieron into the program back in 2003, I figured here is another 6-10 bum, another Chris Clark or #00 Derek Ahern (pictured right, getting stuffed). Well i was wrong. Kieron has had a strong career at Duquesne which has not seen significant contributions from a big man in a LONG TIME.

Here are some Kieron Achara achievements:

  • Atlantic 10 All-Defensive Team for 2006-07 season

  • Atlantic 10 Chris Daniels Award winner in 2004-05 (most improved player award)

  • Has led the Dukes in field goal percentage and blocked shots in each of his first three full seasons.

  • Member of the 2004-05 and 2006-07 Atlantic 10 All-Academic Teams.

  • Is the only Scottish player currently competing at the NCAA Division I level.
  • Played for the Scottish National Team.

  • Kieron is 2 points shy of 1,000 on his career going into the Pitt game tonight.

The Official Dukes Court Prediction

Surprise surprise, I like the Dukes in an upset over nationally ranked Pitt.

Shawn James will disrupt Pitt's interior game. Kojo Mensah will lead the Dukes' offensive attack, and Duquesne's two platoon system will stifle and disrupt Pitt's half court offense.

Don't make me eat my word Dukes!

The X Factor?

#21 Shawn James - Tonight's X Factor?

Shawn James is the X Factor in the 2007 version of The City Game. The 6-10 James will tower over his opponent at center for Pitt, 6-7 DeJuan Blair, and continue to provide a major defensive presence in the paint for the Dukes. Through the first six game this season with James' help Duquesne is ranked seventh in Division I in field-goal percentage defense, at 34.5 percent. There is more than just a height difference when considering James and Blair. Blair is a true freshman with less than a half season of college experience, and only 18 years old. James is already 24 years old, and has played two full seasons at Northeastern before transferring to Duquesne. James is in the first of two years of eligibility with the Dukes.

DeJuan Blair, (pictured right) is off to a fabulous start with Pitt. Blair is averaging 10.3 ppg, (2nd on the team) 8.3 rpg, (also 2nd on the team), he leads the team with 16 total steals, and is shooting .569 from the field. Blair does most of his damage in the paint using his massive frame and soft hands. While James has a significant height advantage, Blair has the bulk advantage. Blair weights in at a stout 265 pounds, James is only 225.

Pitt would be wise not to challenge James in the paint, Oakland tried that earlier this season and Shawn James had 12 blocks breaking Duquesne and Atlantic 10 records for blocks in a game. Engaging James and then passing around him may be a Pitt strategy for The City Game tonight. If James leaves his man to go for a block he will also be leaving Blair open, which is a scary thought for Dukes fans.

The fight down low does not stop with Shawn James and DeJuan Blair. The 2nd half of the twin towers for Duquesne is 6-10 5th year senior Kieron Achara (pictured left). Achara is averaging 13.9 ppg and 5 rpg for the Dukes this season. Achara and James rarely play together, alternating time on the floor under Ron Everhart's two platoon system. James and Achara played together at the end of the Niagara game earlier this season, and their time together on the floor helped seal the victory against a tough Niagara team which had been in the NCAA tournament last year.

Pitt's front court depth includes 6-8 240 pound junior Tyrell Biggs, and 6-10 270 pound junior Cassin Diggs. Biggs sees regular time off the bench for the Panthers while Diggs has only seen limited action this season.

Needless to say there is going to be a fight in the paint tonight, and for the first time in many years I like Duquesne's chances down low. All hail the twin towers Shawn James and Kieron Achara.

The most anticipated City Game in nearly a generation

more commentary to come later today

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Kojo vs Levance - Who is the better PG?

They are both from Brooklyn.

Their teams have 1 loss between them this season.

Both are off to strong starts individually.

The Duke's take:
Pitt may be ranked in the top 15 in the country but at least Kojo hasn't been arrested for assaulting a police officer.

Monday, December 3, 2007

The City Game continued

The last time the Dukes won the City Game at the Palumbo Center was 1988 when Tony Petrarca and Clayton Adams were leading the way for Duquesne.

(If anyone can find a picture of Petrarca or Adams I would be impressed, I spent a good 15 minutes looking and found nothing)

Duquesne last defeated Pitt, regardless of venue, on December 21, 2000, 71-70 at the Civic Arena, (yours truly was in attendance.)

I'll be at the big game on Wednesday, digital camera in tow.

Dukes add 2 more games to TV schedule this season

Official announcement

Having the Dukes on TV is a big step forward for the program.

CSTV and the Atlantic 10 come to a long term agreement on TV broadcasts of A-10 games.
The Story

I feel like the last time I saw the Dukes on TV I was watching on my old console

As if losing wasn't bad enough

10 plus hours on a bus? Sheesh!!

Duquesne had to take a bus home from Des Moines, Iowa following their first loss of the season to the Drake Bulldogs due to inclement weather. If that wasn't bad enough, the bus was involved in an accident on the way back to Pittsburgh, fortunately for Dukes fans, it was nothing serious.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

The City Game

Duquesne's next opponent will be Pitt in the classic City Game 7pm Wednesday at the A.J. Palumbo Center

Our poll shows that many Dukes Court readers feel the Dukes have a strong shot of upsetting nationally ranked Pitt this week. Joe Starkey, host of Pittsburgh Game Day on ESPN Radio 1250, has officially predicted a Duquesne upset, he predicted the upset at the end of his show yesterday.

ESPN Radio 1250 host Joe Starkey likes the Dukes on Wednesday night