Saturday, January 19, 2008

Basketball hell in basketball heaven

I am in Washington DC which is in a state of basketball euphoria after Maryland upset (1) UNC this afternoon. Of course Duquesne dropped the ball and lost by one to Fordham, this is not the best environment for me to be in while I deal with a crippling Dukes' loss.

Game Wrap Up

Box Score

All of Duquesne's loses have come on the road with the exception of their 5 point loss to Pitt.

Bryant Dunston went nuts on the Dukes going for 15 points, 16 rebounds, and 8 offensive rebounds. Duquesne has not learned how to stop a muscular big man.

What does this mean for Duquesne? If the Dukes want to make the NCAAs they can only lose one more game the rest of the regular season, and that will only put them on the bubble of the big dance.

The Dukes will play the Bonnies on Wednesday at home in what I would call a must win game for the Dukes to keep their NCAA Tournament hopes alive.

Dukes featured in The New York Times

Link to the article

Dukes travel to Fordham - game time 2pm

Game Notes

Game Preview

Watch the game online at

Trib article about Reggie Jackson

PG article about Aaron Jackson

The best news of all is that the game will be broadcast locally on FSN. Of course I am in DC right now so I won't have the pleasure of watching the game.

Every game the rest of the season is huge for Duquesne, if the Dukes want to make it to the big dance they have to take care of business at Fordham. The Dukes dominated Fordham earlier this season but will have a tough time holding back Fordham's stars Bryant Dunston and Marcus Stout for a second time this season. This afternoon's game will be a big test for Duquesne.

Friday, January 18, 2008

More on the Shawn James article

I already mentioned the Axelrod article about Shawn James in this morning's PG, if you haven't read it yet, please do so now.

Here are some quotes from the article:

Shawn James on his future:

"If I feel we haven't accomplished our goals and lived up to our expectations of making it to the NCAA tournament and doing something, I'm thinking I'm coming back," said James, a communications major on schedule to earn an undergraduate degree in 2009. "After the season, I'll sit down with coach and with my family and we'll talk about [the NBA] and see where my head's at."

Marty Blake - The director of NBA scouting (pictured right):

"Shawn James is an unknown to the general public, but he's not an unknown to aficionados of pro basketball. We all know Shawn James, we know his game. The league always can use guys who are specialists. What makes him interesting is he is a tremendous shot-blocker. He reminds you a little bit of Bill Russell. Saying all James can do is block shots is like saying all Pavarotti can do is sing. He will get a chance to play in this league. It doesn't matter how old you are."

Greetings from DC

I'll be blogging from Washington DC this weekend where I am visiting a friend. There is a fair bit of Dukes news this morning so I'll get to it.

Phil Axelrod from the PG wrote a great article about Shawn James and his 64 blocked shots. Let's face it players like Shawn James come around once a decade for schools like Duquesne, we need to take advantage of him for the two years we have him.

Back on January 9th Saint Louis lost to a struggling GW team 49-20 and made national headlines for their offensive ineptitude. Flash forward exactly one week and Saint Louis is upsetting (23) Rhode Island. Tommy Liddell III (pictured right) went nuts for Saint Louis with 22 points, shooting 9-12 from the field, and had 6 rebounds. And if that wasn't crazy enough Temple upset (20) Xavier and UMass defeated (14) Dayton on Thursday. In short: things are all crazy in the A10 this week.

Of course the real question is, what does this mean for Duquesne. The Dukes' goal is to make it to the NCAA Tournament and for them to achieve that goal they need to upset either Dayton or Xavier on the road and take care of business against the rest of the A10. In short the Dukes need a signature win and no more than 2 loses the rest of the season. If Temple or UMass can upset Xavier and Dayton so can Duquesne, but it also means our games against the rest of the A10 will be a lot harder than we all expected.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

The Big Bracket

Is it ever too early to start making projections about the NCAA Tournament field? Of course not. A loyal reader, (thank you Tom) sent me this link and I wanted to share it with everyone. Brad Evans from Yahoo Sports prepares the the Bracket Big Board throughout the season. Evans lists Duquesne as "On the Bubble."

Evans has 4 teams from the A10 going to the big dance, Dayton, Rhode Island, Xavier, and Umass. I do not see more than 4 teams from the conference going to the NCAAs so that makes things pretty simple for the Dukes, they must beat Umass when they play them at the Palumbo on January 30th, (they also must take care of business against teams like Fordham, GW, Saint Louis, etc). The Umass game is by far the biggest game of the season for Duquesne.

The Bracket Big Board has two teams the Dukes have defeated going to the NCAA Tournament: (11-4) Niagara and (12-3) Cal State Northridge. A lot of people say the Dukes haven't defeated anyone this year, but clearly the wins over Niagara and Cal State Northridge were significant.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

T.J. McConnell Update

#11 T.J. McConnell with his father and coach Tim McConnell

The Trib wrote an article about the success of the Chartiers Valley basketball team this past weekend. Much of Char Valley's success can be attributed to outstanding sophomore "Wunderkind" T.J. McConnell. McConnell, at 5'8, leads the team in scoring, averaging 20.6 points per game. McConnell improved his shooting by making 500 3-pointers per practice, six days a week. Tim McConnell said the exercise normally took his son two hours to complete and consisted of about 900-1,000 shots.

T.J. McConnell has already accepted a scholarship offer from Ron Everhart to play at Duquesne when he graduates from Chartiers Valley.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Suzie McConnell-Serio to appear on "In My Own Words" with Stan Savran tonight on FSN

The show will be on this Wednesday (today) at 7:30 and before the Fordham game on Saturday on FSN.

The Lady Dukes are off to a 9-7 start and coming off a 10 point loss to Charlotte in their A10 opener. McConnell-Serio and her squad are in Saint Louis for their game tonight at 8pm against the Billikens.

Duquesne featured on Storming the Floor

I was asked to write a post about our beloved Duquesne Dukes for Storming the Floor, a very popular national college basketball blog. STF posted my article today.

Here is the link

Eric Angevine from Storming the Floor deserves a special thank you from Dukes Court for giving me the opportunity to spread the word about the Duquesne Dukes. Thank you Eric.

The Aftermath of the URI loss

Here are our new rankings after the URI loss:
RPI - #44
Sagarin rating - #28
Pomeroy Rank - #45

The loss to Rhode Island was tough but let's be honest we hung with one of the top 25 teams in the country at their gym. The question remains how will Duquesne respond to such a tough loss. The Dukes travel to New York this Saturday to face Bryant Dunston (pictured below) and the Fordham Rams.

Duquesne won its first game in the A10 defeating Fordham by 12 at the Palumbo Center last week. The Dukes held Fordham sharpshooter Marcus Stout to 4 points on 2-11 from the field, on the season Stout is averaging 14 ppg. Bryant Dunston did absolutetly nothing for Fordham in the first half against Duquesne, he missed his first 3 shots, lost his confidence and was a non-factor until the 2nd half. The scary thing about Dunston is that he ended the game with 19 points and 11 rebounds. What will Dunston do at home when he is playing with confidence for the entire game?

This guy freaking scares me!

Duquesne worked very hard to stop Stout and limit Fordham's perimeter threat in their first meeting and they were successful, but the Dukes need to try something new against Dunston this weekend. Beating Fordham a second time, at their gym, will not be an easy task, especially if we fail to keep a strong focus on stopping Stout and Dunston.


Here are some quotes from the Barons:

URI Head Coach Jim Baron: "This is a tough, hard-nosed, very athletic team. They're a really good basketball team. These guys are good players."

6'3 junior guard Jimmy Baron: "Duquesne's very balanced and Shawn James has added a great presence inside. He's a big-time defensive presence and they have great penetrating guards."

Monday, January 14, 2008

Friends of Dukes Court

Dukes Court has grown substantially during the first 2 months of existence and a lot of that growth is due to links from fellow bloggers.

Being a frequent reader of many Pittsburgh sports blogs I requested links for Dukes Court from some of my favorite Pittsburgh sports blogs including: - Mondesishouse is one of the most popular sports blogs in Pittsburgh. It is frequently mentioned on the Mark Madden show and recently added several new writers to its staff in an attempt to provide more posts for its demanding fans. I am a frequent commenter on this site and visit it almost daily.

Honest Wagner - If you love the Pittsburgh Pirates and you enjoy reading blogs chances are you have already found one of the best Pirates blogs out there, Honest Wagner. Honest Wagner was one of the first blogs I ever read and is a must read during Pirates season. Honest Wagner has a dedicated following and very knowledgeable writers and commenter's. Wilbur T. Miller is a frequent commenter and a Pirates expert who has been mentioned in the PG several times for his baseball knowledge.

Where have you gone, Andy Van Slyke? - Another great Pirates blog with a tireless author at the helm. How Pat, the author, can write something original about the Pirates everyday during the off season is beyond me. If you are a fan of the Buccos check out this site.

The Pens Blog - Very funny Pens blog with tons of great pictures. They have a new banner almost daily and had one of my recent favorite blog posts about NHL Mascots.

Here are a few Pittsburgh sports blogs I have recently discovered who support Dukes Court:

Pierogi's N'at - This blog launched around the same time as Dukes Court and is simply hilarious. The writers from Pierogi's N'at will also be doing some posting for Mondesishouse.

Pitt Blather - Ok I know it is sacrilege to link to a Pitt blog but the Pitt Blather is a crazy good blog about Pitt sports. If you follow Pitt and you haven't been to this blog, shame on you.

Raise the Jolly Roger! - This is another recent addition to the blogosphere. Raise the Jolly Roger is a general Pittsburgh sports blog that promises to focus on the Pirates come baseball season.

My life isn't totally centered around sports, (my fiance would disagree with me) and here are a couple non-sports blogs I am a fan of:

The Darn News - This description says it all: "In the Internets blogosphere, readers are fed content by two separate yet equally important groups: the journalists who report the stories and the bloggers who make rude jokes at their expense. These are their jokes. " Mostly political stories and some Pittsburgh stuff too. If you like intelligent humorous writing check out The Darn News.

The Chief's Forum - First things first I'd like to thank the The Chief, he has been a strong supporter of Dukes Court. The Chief's Forum is mostly general commentary focused on sports, books, and hatred of all things Ohio State. The Chief is a funny guy and his blog deserves some attention.

Dukes Court has also received support from several national college basketball blogs including:

Storming the Floor - STF is one of the most popular college basketball blogs out there. My favorite aspect of STF is that it doesn't just focus on the big schools like North Carolina and Duke, STF watches all of college basketball and reports on it. Storming the Floor recently asked me to write a post about Duquesne Basketball to appear on their blog. I submitted my post to STF this afternoon and expect to see it later this week.

March to Madness - MtM is a blog I recently discovered that covers college basketball on a national basis and has a loose focus on San Diego State.

YocoHoops - Another national college basketball blog I recently discovered. The author of this blog just returned from a trip to Israel and should return to blogging soon. His readers are happy to have him back.

Thanks again to all of the blogs and bloggers who support and link to Dukes Court.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Game Wrap Up - Dukes lose at Rhode Island 80-78

That look says it all

The Dukes lost a heart breaker this afternoon at Rhode Island. This isn't easy to write I'll be totally honest. Duquesne played a strong game overall but they just couldn't get it done when it counted, in the final minute.

Why did the Dukes lose today?
1. The Dukes haven't learned how to win the tough games yet. Great teams like Duke and North Carolina play in big games every year and have learned to win those big games. This season is the first time in a long time that Duquesne has been in a big game like this. The Dukes have lost their other tough close games this season against Drake, Pitt, and Rhode Island.

2. Bad free throw shooting. 8-16 from the FT line is not good enough to beat a ranked team.

3. Inability to stop Will Daniels. Daniels had 28 points, 11 rebounds, and 4 assists. He was 10-14 from the field, and 7-10 from the free throw line. In the last 2 games the Dukes have not been able to stop their opponent's big guy.


Duquesne had a number of strong individual performances:

Kojo Mensah - 14 points - 7 assists - 5 rebounds - 2 turnovers
Reggie Jackson - 19 points - 4 assists - 4 rebounds - 3 turnovers and a huge shot to give the Dukes the lead with 11 seconds left.
Shawn James - 12 points - 7 rebounds - 4 blocked shots - James now holds the record for most blocked shots in one season at Duquesne.
Gary Tucker - 14 points - 50% shooting from the field - 4 assists - 4 rebounds - 1 turnover

Individual performances don't win big games.

Knowing Ron Everhart he will use this game as a learning experience for Duquesne. The Dukes will take what they learned today in defeat and use it to help them win a big game later this season.

Dukes lose a heart breaker 80-78 at Rhode Island

Final Box Score

Duquesne shot 8-16 from the free throw line, that was the difference.

Live Game Blog:

  • Rhode Island started the game shooting horribly. 10 minutes into the first half RI was shooting 23% from the floor.
  • RI started the game playing man to man defense but quickly switched to a 2-3 zone 5 minutes into the game to try and slow down the Dukes early. Late in the first half RI went back to the man to man and it was able to slow down the Dukes.
  • Damian Saunders picked up two quick fouls to start the game and saw limited action in the 1st half, in fact he only played 2 minutes in the 1st half. Bill Clark played well in place of Saunders.
  • Gary Tucker had a fantastic first half. He played tough defense and scored 12 points including 2 three pointers and he had 2 rebounds.
  • Will Daniels not surprisingly had a great first half for RI with 11 points and 5 rebounds
  • Duquesne shot 55% in the first half, RI shot 44%
  • RI shot 12-14 from the free throw line in the first half

Score at half time Duquesne 38 - Rhode Island 37

  • Rhode Island came out strong to start the 2nd half
  • Duquesne answered with a 15-3 run of their own midway through the 2nd half
  • The game was back and forth for the last 10 minutes

76-75 Dukes lead 1:18 to go

Dukes possession

Mensah missed a jumper RI rebound

76-75 Dukes lead final minute

RI on the line for 1-1

76-76 game tied

77-76 RI leads 50 seconds left

77-76 RI leads - Duquesne possession with 9 on the shot clock 30 second on the game clock

78-77 Duquesne leads on a Reggie Jackson layup!!! 11.1 seconds left. Jackson to shoot 1, he was fouled.

he missed the free throw

79-78 RI leads - Baron just hit a jumper from the baseline. 3.2 seconds left Duquesne possesion.

Duquesne has to inbound from under their own hoop. 3.2 seconds left Dukes ball, they trail by 1.

Aaron Jackson threw it out of bounds, RI ball.

3.2 seconds left.

Duquesne fouls Jimmy Baron, no time went off the clock, Baron to shoot 2. Now there is a conversation about who was fouled and who should be shooting the free throws. Baron made the first free throw but now the officials are looking at the monitors to see who the foul was on. Duquesne has no more timeouts.

Now the refs have taken Barons 1st made free throw off the scoreboard and they are giong to make another RI player shoot the free throws. it will be 1-1.

3.2 second left RI leads 79-78

1st free throw good. 80-78 RI leads

missed 2nd free throw, rebounded by Duquesne, Mensah passes to Bill Clark. Clark shoots a 25 footer to win...

Clark missed it.

Dukes lose 80-78.

Dukes listed on ESPN's Bubble Watch

ESPN Bubble Watch

Scroll down to the Atlantic 10 section to read about the Dukes.

I spent the last few days complaining about a lack of local media attention and now I get this from ESPN. Now all I need is a Dukes upset of Rhode Island and I'll be happy.