Saturday, January 12, 2008

Thank you for the support

Dukes Court would like to take this opportunity to thank its loyal readers. In just a few months Dukes Court has really taken off and it is because of all the support I get from my readers and fellow bloggers. (The fact that Duquesne is off to an 11-3 start might have something to do with it to)

Dukes Court is averaging 118 hits a day and had a record high 161 hits on Thursday January 10th.

I put a lot of myself into this blog and I appreciate every hit and link I get and every comment that is left on the blog.

I am always looking for feedback and ways to improve Dukes Court. If you have ideas or want to pass along a link email me at

The call is answered

I am not going to take complete credit for this article getting written but I will be honest with everyone, as a part of my effort to drum up some press for the Dukes I emailed a number of members of the Pittsburgh sports media yesterday and one of the people I emailed just wrote this article. It could be a coincidence, but I guess we will never know.

Thanks for the article Mike Prisuta.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Upset Special? - Duquesne to visit #22 Rhode Island on Sunday

Game Preview
Game Notes

The Dukes will play one of their toughest opponents of the season this weekend when they travel to Rhode Island to play the Rams. Rhode Island is a fantastic team and the Dukes will have to play a near flawless game to upset the Rams on Sunday. The Dukes have dominated their recent opponents but the kind of effort that they had against Fordham who they defeated by 12, and led by as many as 18 points with only a few minutes left in the game, will not be nearly enough to defeat Rhode Island on the road.

Rhode Island is 14-2 with their only loses coming at Boston College and at Dayton. The Rams already have a signature victory over Syracuse and quality wins over Providence, UAB, USF, and Hofstra. Rhode Island is coached by Jim Baron the 06-07 A10 Coach of the Year. Baron has been a head coach since 1987 and has taken St. Francis (PA) and St. Bonaventure to the NCAA Tournament. Since taking over at Rhode Island the Rams have gone to the NIT Tournament twice and Baron has been named A10 Coach of the Year twice.

Rhode Island is led by 6'8 senior forward Will Daniels (pictured below). Daniels was a first team A10 selection following his junior season and is having a fantastic 07-08 season. Daniels leads the Rams in scoring with 18.8ppg and averages 7.2 rpg.

Will Daniels represents another strong A10 post player, Shawn James and Kieron Achara better bring their A games if they want to contain him on Sunday.

Junior Jimmy Baron, the coach's son, is second on the team in scoring with 16.3ppg and is one of the best 3 point shooters in the country. Baron ranked 3rd nationally in 3 point shooting percentage last year shooting 47.8%. Baron and Daniels represent a potent inside outside threat for the Rams.

The scary thing is that the Rams have another strong force inside with 6'8 235 pound junior Kahiem Seawright (pictured above). Seawright is a monster on the glass and leads the team in rebounds per game with 8.

I'll be honest I do not like the Dukes chances on Sunday. Rhode Island is coming off its toughest loss of the season at Dayton this week and they will be looking to rebound. Duquesne has not played well against tough teams on the road this year dropping a heart breaker to Drake, and getting killed at West Virginia. The Dukes are capable of an upset, but I am not predicting one.

If the Dukes do upset Rhode Island it would be a travesty if they do not start receiving votes for the AP Top 25.


It appears that Rhode Island fans are quite nervous about playing our beloved Dukes on Sunday.

Here are some comments from a Rhode Island message board:

posted by Neil:

"Is anyone as nervous as I am about Sunday's game? Duquesne is certainly not Hofstra or FDU.There only three losses have been to pitt, wvu, and a good Drake team. Some facts scare the heck out of me. In the a-10, first in rebounding, blocked shots, assists, steals, and turnover margin. Third in free throws and they have balanced scoring with no one averaging more than 24 minutes a game. It's one thing to be angry about Wednesday's loss. This team likes to run and throw a lot of players into the mix. Sounds like us. I expect a very close game."

posted by TK4243:

"The Dukes will come to play! Duquesne shoots the ball well, can really defend, has good guard play, and James in the middle. Do we have an answer for Shawn? It appears to me that the Dukes are deeper than the Rams."

posted by reef:

"I am very nervous about this game. we will need to play well to win."

BallHype: hype it up!

Help spread the word about the Dukes

The Dukes are 11-3, have an RPI of 41, are ranked 25th in the USA Today Sagarin Ratings, and are a threat to crack the AP Top 25 with a win this Sunday at Rhode Island. Despite all of Duquesne's success this year few people in the Pittsburgh media are giving the Duquesne Basketball Program the time of day. What's the deal?

The 07-08 Dukes are a great story:

  • Duquesne has been a doormat for over a decade.
  • Last season several of Duquesne's players were shot on campus. All but one of those players is now playing basketball again at a high level.
  • One year after the shooting the Dukes are excelling while playing basketball the right way with players who do not get into trouble off the court.
  • And on top of all of that the Dukes play an exciting uptempo game on the court.

Why not write this story? Why not talk about this team?

It is time to take this matter into our own hands. I am asking Dukes Court readers to contact some local writers and ask for them to give our Dukes some positive press.

Here are some members of the Pittsburgh sports media to consider emailing:

Bob Smizik:
Gene Collier:
Ron Cook:
Joe Starkey:
Mike Prisuta:
Joe Bendel:
Ellis Cannon:
Rocco DeMaro:

Not everyone is ignoring the Duquesne Basketball Program. Dave Mackall from the Pittsburgh Tribune Review has done a solid job covering the Dukes this year, your hard work has not gone unnoticed Mr. Mackall. Joe DeStio used his "Inside Look" segment on ESPN Radio 1250 this morning to highlight the Dukes and their game on Sunday against Rhode Island. DeStio did a nice story about Shawn James and his younger brother Delroy who is now a sophomore at Rhode Island.

Let's spread the word about Duquesne Basketball!


An update:

I have already exchanged a few emails with Bob Smizik from the PG. Smizik plans to attend a Dukes game this season and write an article about the Dukes. Smizik on the Dukes: "I love the work that Ron Everhart is doing and have written about it in the past."

Joe Starkey just got back to me, he has attended four Dukes games this season and written several articles about the Dukes this year. I am a big fan of Starkey, he did predict a Duquesne victory in the City Game after all. Starkey writes for the Trib and does a Saturday radio show on ESPN Radio 1250.


A friend of Dukes Court, Brad Grantz, recently traveled to New Hampshire to campaign for John McCain. Grantz wrote an article about his experience on the campaign that was published by the PG.

BallHype: hype it up!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

It's never too soon to look ahead

As much as I am loving the 07-08 version of the Dukes I am already looking ahead to next season. The Dukes look to have a strong recruiting class coming to the Bluff next year including two outstanding guards, Eric Evans, (one of the best high school players in Michigan today) and Notre Dame Prep stud Johnny Higgins.

I found this great write up on Higgins from back in May of 06.

I love Higgins. Higgins is an outstanding talent and he has learned to be a winner on fantastic high school and prep teams. It is about time the Dukes bring some winners into the program.

The Dukes are going to lose 2 great players in Kieron Achara and Reggie Jackson, and a solid contributor in Gary Tucker next year. The 07-08 recruiting class: Eric Evans, Johnny Higgins, Shawntez Patterson and Ali Djim will have big shoes to fill next season. Don't forget, the Dukes still have two scholarships to give, and Ron Everhart may be able to leverage the team's success into some big time recruits.

The numbers

The Dukes now have an RPI of 41


The Dukes are now ranked 26th in the Sagarin Rankings

Imagine what a win at Rhode Island would do for the Dukes?


Niagara, a team that Duquesne defeated earlier this year at the Palumbo Center, received 1 vote in the AP Top 25 Poll.

Xavier, Rhode Island and Dayton are now all ranked in the AP Top 25 and Umass is receiving votes.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Dukes Handle Fordham 74-62

It feels good to be 11-3 and 1-0 in A10 play.

07-08 is a great year to be a Dukes fan!

Some observations:
  • The Dukes did not use the two platoon system tonight, RE instead went with an 8 man rotation
  • Would Duquesne be the same team without Shawn James? No.
  • Would Duquesne be the same team without Aaron Jackson? No.
  • Aaron Jackson and and Shawn James bring so much to the Dukes and thank goodness they are only juniors.
  • Reggie Jackson continued his stellar play with 15 points, 3 assists, and 0 turnovers. He was 6-12 from the field and 3-4 from beyond the arch. The Dukes will miss Reggie next year.
  • Kojo was erratic tonight, he had 7 turnovers and only 2 assists. Mensah ended the night with only 8 points. I'll be honest Mensah played poorly in the 1st half and what upset me most was that he moped after his turnovers. Everhart benched Kojo for a good 5 minutes late in the first half. When the Dukes play stronger A10 competition they will need a better game from Kojo.
  • Fordham's big man Bryant Dunston was invisible in the 1st half but turned it on in the 2nd half and ended the game with 19 points, 11 rebounds and 8 blocked shots. Dunston is 6'8 and strong, he out muscled James and Achara. It looks like the twin towers have a lot of work to do if they want to guard the stronger thicker big men in the A10.

What I love most about tonight's game is that Ron Everhart focused on his teams mistakes and areas of opportunity rather than gloating or simply enjoying the win when he talked on the post game show. Having this type of attitude is what will take Duquesne over the top. We are lucky to have Ron Everhart.

(10-3) Dukes host (6-6) Fordham tonight - A10 opener

Game Notes

Is tonight's game the biggest of the season for Duquesne? I think Duquesne's home game against UMass is the biggest game remaining on the schedule but I do think that tonight's game against Fordham is huge for the Dukes. Let's face it the Dukes had a great run in the non-conference schedule, but who did they really beat? Niagara is a decent team but Niagara is not the type of win you can hang your hat on. Duquesne needs to prove itself in conference play starting tonight at home against Fordham.

Fordham is led by 4 seniors who all average more than 25 minutes played per game. Bryant Dunston (pictured right) a 6'8 Sr. forward is the leading scorer for Fordham with 15ppg and 8rpg this season. 6'4 Sr. guard Marcus Stout is another Fordham senior to watch out for tonight, he is averaging 14.9ppg and leads the team in assists. Fordham has won the last 5 meetings between the teams with Duquesne's last win coming back in 2002.

Duquesne and Fordham do share one common opponent this season: Robert Morris. The Dukes defeated Robert Morris at home 86-70. Fordham lost to Robert Morris at home 72-66. (Congrats to Robert Morris for their upset victory over Boston College this week.)

As I have said before this is a must win for Duquesne. The Dukes have done a great job in non-conference play and now they need to capitalize on it with a win against an inferior conference opponent at home.

I will be at the game tonight. There is an outside chance I will be at Shale's before the game with my father.


A lot of people are writing off Fordham this year after their rough 6-6 start. Fordham had a great season last year going 18-12, (including two victories over Duquesne) and that solid season garnered high expectations for the 07-08 Fordham Rams. Fordham has not met those high expectations thus far this season in non-conference play, however this senior led team could turn things around at any time. If the Dukes take Fordham lightly they will lose.

Tonight's game will tell us a lot about this Duquesne team. The Dukes have shown us that they can defeat lower level competition, but that begs the question, do the Dukes have what it takes to play with the other competitive teams in the A10?

We will answer that question tonight.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Being 10-3 has its advantages

Ron Everhart has said that Duquesne has 2 more scholarships to give and that the Dukes are focused on post players. The Dukes already have two strong guards committed, Eric Evans, and Johnny Higgins, and now that the Dukes are off to such a strong start to their season it should be a lot easier to attract top level talent for our 2 remaining scholarships.

One player the Dukes are interested in is a Croatian JUCO 6'9 220 pound power forward Zvonko Buljan from Vincennes C.C. in Indiana. Some other big time schools are interested in Buljan including Kentucky and Iowa State.

Oh and did I mention he is averaging 16ppg and 11rpg?

The Big Picture

With the Atlantic 10 Conference schedule starting Wednesday it is time to look at the Dukes season in the big picture. The Dukes have done a fantastic job in non-conference play for the first time in over a decade. Duquesne has a favorable A10 schedule this year with home and home series against lower tier A10 teams: Fordham, St. Bonaventure and La Salle. In short the Dukes have exceeded every one's expectations, (with the possible exception of Ron Everhart) and have a favorable road ahead in A10 play.

It is time to make new expectations for Duquesne. Nothing less than a trip to the NIT Tournament would make me happy. I expect the Dukes to take 5 of 6 from the teams we have home and home series with. The Dukes are still lacking a signature win this season, and a win against either Rhode Island, Dayton or Xavier would fill this void, (sadly we play all of these teams on the road this season.)

The first step towards making a post season tournament will be taking care of Fordham at home on Wednesday night.