Saturday, December 15, 2007

T.J McConnell: Wunderkind!

I am sure I wasn't the only person who thought it was odd to offer 5'8 - 135 pound sophmore point guard T.J. McConnell a scholorship, but it appears Ron Everhart knew what he was doing. McConnell, the son of coach Tim McConnell is off to a great start to his sophomore season, here is a write up from the Trib

Courtesy of the Trib:
Sophomore guard T.J. McConnell enjoyed his second consecutive strong shooting performance Friday, scoring 23 points and leading Chartiers Valley to a 65-46 victory against East Islip (N.Y.) in the semifinals of the KSA Holiday Classic in Orlando, Fla.
McConnell, son of coach Tim McConnell, hit five 3-point shots. He has 47 points and 11 3-pointers in two games. Chartiers Valley (7-1) will play St. Francis (Ontario) in the tournament's championship game at 8:15 a.m. today.

This is what College Hoops Update has to say about McConnell:
Son of a coach and deadly from long range; high hoops IQ with good anticipation and quickness; diminutive size and will have to bulk up before college.


if anyone has a picture of McConnell on the court please pass it along to me.

It's official Baldonado is good

Baldonado with the Miami Tropics

It looks like Baldonado is the kind of player that would have really helped the Duquesne program. Stuard dropped 10 points and 9 rebounds in just his second game with the Tropics.

The Trib article
Miami Tropics recap of the game

Friday, December 14, 2007

Shawn James going pro?

Dukes fans everywhere are hoping that "I'm Back" means James is "back" for his senior season updates their Mock Draft board throughout the season and as of December 10th Shawn James is not listed in their first round projections. The real problem is that he isn't listed in their 2nd round projections either. Is this a case of a player from a lesser known school like Duquesne not getting noticed, or of Dukes fans getting too excited about having a legit post player for the first time since Derek Alston?

Drake Bulldogs now 8-1

I guess this dog does pack a big bite

All of a sudden that loss to Drake doesn't look so bad. The Drake Bulldogs got some props from Storming the Floor as a part of their Auto-Bid Watch: The Surprises.

Here is a blurb from that post:
Drake Bulldogs, 8-1 (Missouri Valley) - A loss at St. Mary's doesn't look bad at all on this surging Valley upstart. They've also won at Wisconsin-Milwaukee and downed the Big 12's Iowa State at home by a bitch-slapping 35-point margin. They test themselves again, at big-brother Iowa, tonight at 8pm. They have another alliterative Korver brother - in this case Klayton - but the scoring comes from perimeter-threat guards Josh Young and Leonard Houston. Junior Forward Jonathan Cox is a good defensive rebounder, which always helps.
The Dukes also got a mention from College Hoops Journal
I just saw this:
Kieron Achara was named 11th best player in the A10 by College Hoops Net, Shawn James was listed as "Next in Line" after the top 20 players in conference. CHN formulated these rankings back on November 1st.

The recruits that got away

This is one who won't get away, potential Michigan Mr. Basketball Eric Evans (pictured above) is locked up to come to Duquesne

The ones that got away:

Marvell Waithe - 6'8 - 190 pounds - Did not qualify for Loyola Chicago

Luis Colon - Kansas St - 6'10 - 270 pounds - 1 pt and 1 board in 8 minutes per game this year as a freshman.

Danny Nee claimed to have Colon locked up to come to Duquesne, but then Nee was fired for being an awful coach. Ron Everhart went head to head with his friend Bobby Huggins in a recruiting battle for this monster. Huggins won, and then took the WVU job leaving Colon and some other highly regarded recruits high and dry at K-State.

This seems to be where Colon does most of his work this season: the bench

Lawrence Blackledge - Marquette - 6'8 - 185 pounds- 3.8 minutes per game -- (below in yellow)

Blackledge had two years of eligibility remaining when he transferred from Southwestern Illinois College to Marquette. Needless to say he has not become a contributor.

Jonathan Rodriguez -- Campbell - 6'5- 200 pounds - 21.1 pts 12.4 rebounds. Suffice to say this is one that really got away.

Campbell is a Division I school playing out of the Atlantic Sun Conference

Tyler Kepkay - Utah- 6'0 - 185 pounds - 10.1 pts a game .448 from behind the arc

Kepkay was a JC transfer from Eastern Utah, go figure he ended up signing with Utah and not Duquesne. Tyler has started every game this season for the Utah, and has an 18/9 assist to turnover ratio. Anyone else think we could have used one of Kepkay's threeballs in the Pitt game?

Steffphon Pettigrew - Western Kentucky - 6'5 - 220 pounds - 4.3 pts and 3.6 rebounds a game, he also has a 1/2.7 assist to turnover ratio and has yet to hit a three pointer. Clearly he isn't lighting it up in his freshman season with the Hilltoppers.

Pettigrew finished high school by being named Kentucky’s Mr. Basketball. I like his tie in the picture below, classy.

Sean Carter - Oregon State - 6'9 - 225 pounds - 5.3 pts a game and 3.6 boards in 18 minutes a game as a freshman.

Carter has the type of build the Dukes could really use in THIS year's recruiting class.

That is quite a grin Carter is sporting

Jeremy Price - Georgia - 6'8 - 270 pounds - 7.9 pts and 4.4 boards in around 20 minutes

Was rated as a 4 star recruit yet only got offers from Georgia and Alabama, hmm anyone else think he wouldn't qualify academically at Duquesne?

Nope, no relation to former Dukes standout Kevin Price.

Imagine this monster lining up next to Luis Colon

Steve Swiech - Akron - 6'9 - 250 pounds - He appears to be redshirting, Akron's website says he is "still recovering from a stress fracture in his left foot that he suffered during his junior year of high school."

Swiech is one of the very few Division I calibre prospects to come out of Pittsburgh, he played at Elizabeth Forward where he averaged 24.6 points, 12.0 rebounds and 3.0 blocks during his senior campaign.

The Pittsburghers get two pictures each.

Steve McNees - Akron - 6'0 - 170 pounds - McNees had committed to Duquesne but decided on Akron after Danny Nee was fired. Steve redshirted last year but is seeing a lot of minutes this season for the Zips. McNees is averaging 22.3 minutes a game with 6.6 ppg.

Like Swiech, McNees is a Pittsburgher. McNees went to Shenango in New Castle.

Mad props for the headband


Steve19981 from the Duquesne Dukes Forum contributed to this article.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Dukes have 2 more scholarships to give

Last night on the Ron Everhart show RE announced that the Dukes still have 2 scholorships to give and they are looking for a shot blocker and a post player who can play outside. Bringing in another guard was not mentioned, which begs the question what is going to happen with Kane from Schenley?

Here is how the Dukes recruiting class is shaping up so far:

Eric Evans - 5'11 - 180 pounds

Johnny Higgins - 6'1 - 185 pounds

Shawntez Patterson - 6'7 - 180 pounds

Ali Djim - 6'9 - 225 pounds

Eric Evans a point guard from Detroit, (who at this point seems to be the star of this year's recruiting class), had a monster game this week scoring 30+ points. Eric Evans is listed as the #1 combo guard in Michigan by Shawntez Patterson was ranked as the 11th best small forward in Michigan by the same site.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Where are they now - The Danny Nee recruits

When Danny Nee left the Duquesne program so did almost all of his players. Here is an update on some of the players:

Devario Hudson - 6'7 - 210 pounds

Devario is one of the few players I actually wanted Duquesne to hold onto when Everhart took over. Hudson is extremely athletic, and had mad hops, much like Gary Tucker in that respect. Hudson transferred to Division II Valdosta State in his home state of Georgia. Hudson became an immediate starter and had solid averages with 11.2 ppg, 9.4 rpg, with 60 blocked shots. Hudson is off to a nice start this year, his senior year, with 15.5 ppg and 8.5 rpg.

Sean McKeon - 6'10 - 250 pounds

McKeon was supposed to be the Dukes' savior in the post when Danny Nee recruited him. McKeon was redshirted and had two forgettable seasons with the Dukes. Sean was a legit 6'10, but he just wasn't a Division I player plain and simple. The coaches seemed to work so hard with McKeon to get him ready to play in the A-10 but it just never happened. McKeon transferred to Division II Kutztown where he became an immediate starter.

McKeon averaged 14.8ppg and 8.6rpg last year at Kutztown as a junior starter and is off to a strong start this year averaging 10.2 ppg and 5 rpg.

Ronnie Thomas - 6'8 - 220 pounds

Good old Ronnie Thomas. Ronnie was one of those kids who you saw during warm ups and thought to yourself, "how is this kid playing Division 1 basketball." The funny thing about Ronnie is that he is one of the few kids who left Duquesne and accepted a scholarship at another Division I school, I guess it pays to be 6'8 and a good student. Ronnie sat out last season after transferring to Wright State. Wright State plays in the Horizon League. Ronnie now in his sophomore season of eligibility has only appeared in 1 game this season playing 7 minutes.

Brian Kelly - 6'7 - 215

Kelly transfered to Division II Clayton State where he saw limited action last season before breaking his leg. As a senior this season Kelly has started every game and is averaging 9.9 ppg and 9 rpg. Clayton State plays in the Peach Belt Conference. (no picture of Brian Kelly is available)

One of good things about bringing in a new coach is that he can trim the fat and get rid of a lot of bad scholarships, guys like McKeon and Thomas who just were not going to be competitive in the Atlantic 10.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Stuard Baldonado now playing pro ball for the Miami Tropics

Baldonado at Tropic's practice this week

After being suspended indefinitely by Duquesne Stuard Baldonado has signed with the Miami Tropics. After playing in the ABA last season the Tropics are now playing in the International Federation of Basketball, (FIBA) this season. Tropics president and CEO Art ''Pilin'' Alvarez, originally helped bring Baldonado, a Columbia native, to Miami back in 2003. Alvarez traveled to Pittsburgh after Baldonado was shot last year to be by his side and clearly has taken a big interest in helping Baldonado get back on his feet.

Baldonado was a junior college All American before he accepted a scholarship to play at Duquesne for Ron Everhart. Baldonado sat out last season after being involved in the now infamous on campus shooting which rocked Duquesne and all of the NCAA last year. Baldonado was shot in the arm and the bullet became lodged in his back, he was lucky to have survived and still be able to play competitive basketball. Things wouldn't get much easier for Stuard as he was involved in two drug related incidents in Pittsburgh as well as charges of aggravated battery and false imprisonment in a domestic case that led to his arrest in Miami in May. Following these brushes with the law he was indefinitely suspended by Duquesne.

Signing with the Tropics makes a lot of sense because Baldonado can work with Alvarez who Stuard has a close relationship with, while still playing basketball and earning a paycheck while he fully recovers from the shooting. FIBA actually seems like a competitive league, unlike the bush league ABA or CBA, so maybe something good will come of this for Baldonado. I wish Baldonado was playing for the Dukes this year but things just didn't work out at Duquesne.

Good luck with the Tropics Stuard, Dukes Court wishes you well.


One interesting side note:
The Tropics run a AAU travel team for high school players which includes several famous alumni including O.J. Mayo, and former Duquesne recruit Luis Colon who eventually matriculated to Kansas State. 8 former Tropics players are now playing pro ball, 2 of them are in the NBA, former Northeastern star Jose Juan Barea is playing significant minutes for the Dallas Mavericks, and Guillermo Diaz plays for the LA Clippers.

I also want to give props to Walter Villa the Media Relations Director for the Miami Tropics, he runs a great website.

There is actually a Ron Everhart quote about Villa on the website: "Nobody in the country does a better job than Walter as far as writing about basketball in a positive way. More writers should follow his lead."

Miami Herald article on Baldonado

Should Shawn James Go Pro?

One of the questions that surrounds the Duquesne basketball program this season is one that Dukes fans haven't had to deal with in a long time, if ever: should one of their star players leave school early to pursue a career in the NBA? The player in question is 6'10 225 pound Shawn James.

Reasons to go:

  • James is already 24 years old
  • James is one of the NCAA's best shot blockers
  • Boston College's Sean Williams (pictured below) was drafted 17th overall last year by the Nets and is a similar player to Shawn James. Williams was a noted shot blocker in college and measures in at 6'10 235 pounds.

Reasons to stay:

  • James simply isn't big enough or strong enough to play down low in the NBA.
  • James should take his extra year of eligibility and finish his degree, that way if he can't make it in the NBA he has something to fall back on.

Personally I think James should stay at Duquesne, and not just for selfish reasons. Unless a player is guaranteed to be a 1st round draft pick there is no reason to leave school early. 1st round draft picks in the NBA receive 3 year guaranteed contracts, however 2nd round picks do not get guaranteed contracts. In my mind the thought process on a decision to go pro or not is simple: if the word is that you will be a sure first round pick you should go pro, 3 years guaranteed in the NBA should never be turned down. However if you are slotted as a maybe for a late 1st round pick or early 2nd round, why not stay at school for another year to get stronger and work towards your degree at the same time?

One player comes to mind when thinking about awful draft decisions: Chris Taft formerly of Pitt and the Golden State Warriors. Taft had a fantastic freshman season at Pitt, and many felt he had a future in the NBA. Taft regressed as a sophomore and at that time many scouts felt he did not have the work ethic needed to play pro basketball. Taft hired an agent after his sophomore season and went pro. Taft was taken in the 2nd round of the draft by Golden State, and played 17 games there as a rookie without much fanfare. Taft was injured for most of his rookie year and has yet to play another game in the NBA. Golden State waived him in October of 2006.

This was 1 of Taft's 6 career free throw attempts in the NBA

This is one of the clear cases of a player leaving too early for the NBA, failing, and ruining his potential pro career. I would hate to see this happen to Shawn James.

Monday, December 10, 2007

The All Decade Team - The 2000's

PG - Bryant McAllister - #22 - 6'3 - 190 pounds

McAllister played more SG than PG with the Dukes but he gets the nod at the point because I wanted to get Jimmy Tricco on the squad. McAllister played significant minutes all 4 seasons with Dukes, sadly they were all under the forgettable tutelage of Danny Nee. McAllister's athleticism set him apart from most players. McAllister would have been a great addition to a competitive team, however he was stuck on some woeful Dukes teams.

McAllister is current playing in Germany for Munchen Basket in Munich. McAllister is one of the stars of the German league he plays in, and is in the top 10 in ppg this season.

SG - Jimmy Tricco - #44 - 6'8 - 205 pounds

Ok let the debate begin, I made a controversial choice here putting Jimmy "Threecco" on the all decade team. Tricco started his college basektball career at vaunted Gonzaga before transferring to Duquesne after his sophomore season. Tricco was a fantastic three point shooter for the Dukes and was also a great student earning several awards for his high GPA. Tricco is not currently playing professional basketball.

SF - Elijah Palmer - #4 - 6'7 - 220 pounds

Palmer was the prototypical swingman while playing for Duquesne. Palmer was originally a JC Transfer and one of the talented players that Danny Nee was able to bring into the program when he came to Duquesne. Palmer could play inside and out and was very athletic.

Palmer has played for several seasons in Europe and is currently playing for Wels in Austria. Palmer had arthroscopic surgery to clean his knee on May 11, 2007.

PF - Kieron Achara - #2 - 6'10 - 240 pounds

Achara has been a wonderful addition to the Duquesne Dukes basketball program. Achara has 1000+ career points for Duquesne and has received several awards while playing for the Dukes. Achara received the comeback player of the year award and All Defensive team honors from the Atlantic 10 Conference. Achara has also been recognized several times for his outstanding academic standing.

C - Shawn James - #21 - 6'10 - 225 pounds

James is in his first season with Duquesne but is still the obvious choice for the center on the all decade team. James leads the Dukes in points per game 14.4, rebounds per game 7.7, blocks 43, and field goal percentage 58%. James originally played for Ron Everhart at Northeastern and transferred to Duquesne when Everhart took the job as head coach.

Head Coach - Ron Everhart


Guards off the bench:

Martin Osimani - (pictured right in orange box) currently playing pro basketball in Uruguay
Kojo Mensa - current member of the Dukes
Aaron Jackson - current member of the Dukes

Forwards off the bench:

Devone Stephenson - currently playing pro basketball in the CBA for the Atlanta Krunk
DeVario Hudson - currently playing for Valdosta State where he transferred after Danny Nee was fired. I along with many Dukes fans hoped he would stay in the program when Everhart took over.
Ron Dokes - currently playing pro basketball in the Dominican Republic

Some analysis:

I decided to leave Kojo Mensah off the starting team because it is his first season with Duquesne, and because he was benched in the last game by Coach Everhart. There is no doubt in my mind that Kojo will be one of the best players for the Dukes this decade but he is only 9 games into his Duquesne career and he hasn't show me enough in those 9 games to take Jimmy Tricco's place. Shawn James makes the team because he has been dominate at center, and frankly there haven't been any other good centers for Duquesne this decade.

Feel free to debate my choices in the comments section.