Thursday, January 3, 2008

The Non-Conference Schedule - A Look Back

The Dukes are 10-3 going into A10 play next Wednesday against Fordham.

It's time to take a look back at the first 13 games and make some observations.

This might seem obvious now but before the season it was unknown how Shawn James and Kojo Mensah would fit in at Duquesne. James and Mensah have been leaders for the Dukes so far this season and a big part of why the Dukes are 10-3.

Mensah and James last year at practice post shooting. Look at how trim both of them are.

Damian Saunders has made me forget Robert Mitchell. Saunders has already been named A10 rookie of the week 3 times and has been a force on the defensive side of the ball. Imagine how good the Dukes could be if we brought in at least one recruit of Saunders calibre every year.

Saunders has thrown down some thunderous dunks this season

Reggie Jackson has taken his game up a notch the last few weeks for the Dukes and is becoming a consistent contributor. When the season started I didn't really worry about Jackson graduating at the end of this year, but now it looks like we will be losing an integral part of the team.

My only advice to Reggie is, whatever you have been doing the last few games, keep doing it.

The other half of the Jacksons, Aaron Jackson, has continued to develop into a phenomenal combo guard for this Dukes in his junior year. Jackson does all the little things that every team needs to win: he plays tough D, averages around 10 points a game, has more assists than turnovers, and is a good rebounder for a player his size. Jackson has been seeing a lot of playing time since he arrived at Duquesne a few years back and it has been great to see his game develop and improve each season he has been with the program.

When are other teams going to realize that Aaron loves to go backdoor?

Freshman Bill Clark looks like a player who is going to be a significant contributor for the Dukes. Going into last night's game against Bowling Green Clark was hitting 39% of his 3 pointers. Clark isn't one dimensional, he also hustles and plays tough D and he has been doing this while playing banged up since he suffered a mild concussion against WVU.

The Dukes 3 loses have come at the hands of 2 top 25 teams, Pitt and WVU, and a (10-1) Drake team that is threatening to break into the Top 25. Duquesne has already equaled their win total from last season and the A10 schedule hasn't even started yet. What is even more encouraging is that the Dukes will only be losing 1 of their top 5 scorers for next years squad.

The Dukes will start A10 play against a talented but underachieving Fordham squad next Wednesday at the AJ Palumbo Center. Fordham is a team the Dukes should beat, but it won't be easy. A win against Fordham is a necessity in my mind especially due to the difficulty of the remainder of the A10 schedule with games against powerhouses like Rhode Island, Dayton, and Xavier.

All in all, I couldn't be happier with the Dukes 10-3 start.
I'd like to tip my cap to Ron Everhart and his staff.


Eddie Spaghetti said...

Damian "Colonel" Saunders.

The Duke - you seem like the kind of person who could make this happen. Godspeed.

Scoville said...

While I think the team may really be hurt by not getting a signature non-conference win, I am very pleased to see the team beat all the teams they were "supposed" to beat. In fact, they sort of ran them, at least on the scoreboard, if not in the actual game itself.

It looks like they know how to win, at least against teams they should beat. While the A-10 is resurgent this year - I'd have to say, Duquesne should be favored against most of them. With 3/4 of the games against the "elite" of the A10 on the road, I think that we're going to need to steal one of those games to have the profile that gets noticed by the selection committee. This team is capable of that.

phildogg said...

Didn't expect this type of consistant play but thought of something we may be overlooking.
winning 16 of first 19 games was important because it gave everyone a taste of success, although 6 were exhibition games they still were games that mattered or we would not have kept score.

There was atime when I would go to Duquesne games and expect or even assume a win.

We may not be at that point yet, but are getting closer.
BTW- this is a coolsite, I appreciate your work on it.

phildogg(from past Carnegie days of youth)

The Duke from Dukes Court said...

Thanks phildogg, I appreciate your support of Dukes Court.