When will we see Shawn James in uniform again?
The Dukes have now lost 4 in a row and must win at least one more game this season to make the A10 Tournament. Pretty scary to think that in January we were talking about this team going to the NCAA Tournament and now they are fighting to make the A10 tournament. It gets worse: Shawn James hurt his shoulder yesterday when he collided with Charlotte's Charlie Coley midway through the second half. James did not return to the game following the collision. James' is expected to undergo tests today in Pittsburgh to determine the extent of the injury.
18 turnovers, 4 committed by Kojo Mensah vs. only 1 assists from Kojo, missed open shots/layups, and 10 total points from Shawn James and Aaron Jackson all led the Dukes to their 11th loss of the season. The Dukes simply have not learned how to win close conference games. Great teams win games when they play poorly, Duquesne did not give a strong performance yesterday and they couldn't find a way to close out the game with a W. The Dukes won 10 games last year, and they have 16 wins this year, next year I expect the Dukes will win a few games like the one they lost yesterday.
Bill Clark had a strong showing yesterday and is quickly moving up my list of important Duquesne players. Clark is tough, when he gets bumped or fouled it seems to flip a switch inside of him and he subsequently turns his game up a notch. Clark ended the game with 14 points, 5 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 turnover, 1 steal, and 1 block. Clark has had two major problems this year, 1. confidence, and 2. consistency. Clark went through a long shooting drought in the middle of the season and he started passing up shots and playing tentative basketball. Clark is at his best when he is playing aggressively. Clark also lacks consistency, one game he will play great, the next game he will be invisible and only take 1 or 2 shots. I would expect Clark to remedy these problems the more playing time he gets and the more he matures. Look for Bill Clark to play a much larger role for the Dukes next year.
Is Shawn James' injury a blessing in disguise? This has been a great year for the Dukes, and another in a big step towards a successful basketball program, but let's be realistic, this year's team isn't going anywhere in the A10 tournament and may not even make the NIT now that they have lost 4 in a row. I'd rather lose James for the rest of this year if it means he will come back to play his last year of eligibility. One would assume that if this shoulder injury keeps James out a few games he would come back next season in an effort to prove he is healthy to pro scouts.