Saturday, February 2, 2008

Season Changing Loss - Dukes fall to Bonnies 74-59

I am in a state of shock. Duquesne lost to the worst team in the A1o, St. Bonaventure, by 15 points! The Bonnies had lost 6 games in a row and had yet to pick up a win in conference play coming into this afternoon's game against the Dukes. All that changed today.

I only was able to listen to the first half of the game so I can't really comment on why the Dukes lost other than they played terribly. The Bonnies used a 7 man rotation against the Dukes 10/40 and were able to win by 15, something went horribly wrong for Duquesne today.

Some notables from the box score:

  • The Dukes only had two players score in double figures
  • Gary Tucker led the Dukes with 13 points on 5-10 shooting from the field. Tuck also had 3 assists, 3 steals, and 0 turnovers.
  • Aaron Jackson: 11 points, 4-8FG, 5 assists, 7 rebounds, 2 turnovers
  • Duquesne shot 36% from the field and 22% from beyond the arch
  • Tyler Benson (pictured right) scored a season high 15 points, while adding 5 rebounds and 5 assists for Saint Bonaventure.

What does this loss mean?

This is a huge loss for Duquesne. The UMass loss eliminated the Dukes slim chance of an at large bid for the NCAA Tournament. The Dukes NIT chances are now at a critical status with this loss to the Bonnies. A loss at home on Wednesday to St. Joe's would basically kill our hopes for the NIT. A week ago Duquesne fans were talking about going to the NCAA Tournament now after loses to UMass and St. Bonaventure maybe we should change our goal to a winning season.

Dukes lead Bonnies 31-28 at the half - Kojo Mensah leaves game with injury

Mensah leaves game with leg injury

The Dukes are playing poorly in the first half. Kojo Mensah has left the game, likely due to his leg injury, he was replaced by walk-on Jimmy Sherwood.

Gary Tucker scored 10 points and had 3 steals in the first half to pace the Dukes.

Game Day - Dukes travel to NY to face the Bonnies

Duquesne's preview
Game Notes
St. Bonaventure's preview
PG preview
Dave Mackall from the Trib has his preview

My take:

The Dukes are coming off one of their toughest loses of the season and should be primed for a bounce back game this afternoon against St. Bonaventure. Like I said the other day, I wouldn't want to be a Bonnie. Coach Everhart (pictured right) is still upset about the Dukes performance at home on Wednesday against the Minutemen. "I just got into everybody, like I normally do, because everybody made mistakes and made bad decisions," Everhart said. "We didn't rebound hard enough and nobody got back on defense. What this has to do with is we made bad decisions."

Kojo Mensah is expected to play today after slightly injuring his knee in practice. The status of St. Bonaventure's Zarryon Fereti, the team's second-leading scorer, is still up in the air. Coach Mark Schmidt, benched the senior guard for much of the La Salle game because Schmidt said Fereti wasn't playing hard.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Duquesne video - just for laughs

Ok this is just for fun:

Dukes video

I wouldn't want to be a Bonnie

The Dukes travel to Olean NY to face St. Bonaventure after their toughest loss of the season. We all know that the loss to UMass left a bad taste in the mouths of the Dukes, especially Ron Everhart.

I heard Shawn James quoted on ESPN Radio's "Inside Look" segment on Wednesday morning. James talked about how tough Coach Everhart is during practice, even after the Dukes have played well and won games. This wasn't much of a surprise, but I can only imagine what the practices have been like since the loss to UMass. I would bet the farm that the Dukes got in a lot of extra time shooting foul shots.

The Bonnies are in the midst of a 6 game losing streak and have yet to win a game in A10 play. On top of that, St. Bonaventure head coach Mark Schmidt has suspended one of his most talented players Zarryon Fereti (pictured right) for disciplinary reasons. Fereti was suspended from practice yesterday and it is not yet known if he will play on Saturday. Game time on Saturday is 4pm at the Reilly Center.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Recruiting Update - 6'11 Marcus Sutton

That 6'11 frame would look great in a Duquesne uniform

6'11 Maurice Sutton from Largo high school in Upper Marlboro, MD has been offered a scholarship by Duquesne. Sutton appears to be the real deal. As of January 13th Sutton was averaging 21.9 points and 10 rebounds a game at Largo. Sutton is exactly the type of player the Dukes need to add with their last two remaining scholarships for next year. The bad news is that he has also been offered scholarships by Marquette, Miami (Fla.), Clemson, Seton Hall, and Tulane. Kentucky is also said to be recruiting the big man. Sutton said he has not been offered a scholarship by the Wildcats but said "I think there is a possibility they may offer. I hope so."

It sounds like Sutton is holding out for Kentucky and if they don't offer him then he will chose from his other scholarships. Sutton is rated as a 3 star recruit by, ( also lists Duquesne commit Eric Evans as a 3 star recruit.}

This is's assessment of Sutton:
Good looking Class of 2008 prospect. Like how he handles himself at the rim where he's got good hands. Is a presence defensively and overall strength will determine eventual collegiate level for him but we expect him to be recruited at the high-major level.

The Day After

Here are our new rankings after the loss to UMass:

RPI: #82
Sagarin: #54
Kenpom/Pomeroy: #58

I was holding out hope that the Dukes had a shot at an at large bid to the NCAA Tournament going into last night's game but that dream is gone. The Dukes only shot at the big dance will come with an automatic bid in the A10 Tournament and I no longer think that is a realistic dream. Going to the NIT Tournament two years after winning only 3 games would still be a huge accomplishment for the Duquesne basketball program. The NIT Tournament is not a guarantee however, the Dukes will need to rebound from the tough loss last night, go up to Olean New York and take care of business against the Bonnies, and then come home and get ready for a big game against St. Joe's next Wednesday.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The Better Team Won - Dukes fall to UMass 94-80

That look says it all

This was a tough game to watch. Duquesne was simply outplayed by the Minutemen tonight. Shooting 55% from the free throw line and 34% from the field didn't help either. The Dukes went two platoon 10/40 tonight and it failed. UMass has a deep bench, they can run, and they are big and strong. This is the first time the Dukes have played a team as deep as UMass and depth is the trump card for the two platoon system.

The Dukes shot horribly, they couldn't buy a shot from the field or the foul line. Shawn James did not show up tonight. James was a non-factor in the first half, he simply didn't fight hard enough to get open on offense and he was not a presence on defense for the first time all season. James ended the game with 0 fouls, how can our best defensive player not have any fouls? The answer is he just was not aggressive all night. Shawn James, who entered the game having blocked at least one shot in every game of his career, went without a rejection for the first time in 73 games. The Dukes knew this was a big game and their best player did not show up.

The Dukes who normally play tough defense were clueless around their own hoop tonight. Not only did they allow UMass' top two scorers Gary Forbes and Ricky Harris to score 23 and 21 points respectively but they also left Etienne Brower open all night. Brower went nuts with 21 points, on 8-11 from the field and 5-5 from beyond the arch. Brower was left wide open on each of his 5 three pointers.

For as badly as the Dukes played they would have had a shot if they had only made some free throws. The Dukes shot 55% from the free throw line tonight, they came into the game shooting 72%. You can't win big conference games by shooting 52% from the free throw line.

The Dukes said goodbye to their NCAA Tournament hopes tonight with this loss to UMass.

Box Score

AP Wrapup

Where is the Buzz?

The Dukes are off to their best start since 1980 and they feature Shawn James, one of the best shot blockers in the country, yet few in Pittsburgh, besides die hard Duquesne fans, seem to be talking about the Duquesne Dukes. Granted there is some buzz about the Dukes, but tonight's game against UMass (the biggest home game left on Duquesne's schedule) has received a lot less buzz than last year's game against Rhode Island. Tonight's game is more meaningful than the URI game last year, why aren't more people talking about the Dukes or about tonight's game?

My theories:

1. The on campus shooting last year brought a ton of attention to Duquesne basketball. The fact that the Dukes were winning any games after the shooting, let alone stringing together multiple game win streaks garnered national attention.

2. Two years ago the Dukes were possibly the worst Division 1 team in the country winning only 3 games in Danny Nee's last year as head coach. The fact that the Dukes were so bad prior to last year made their 10 win season that much more noteworthy.

In my mind those are the two biggest reasons this year's Duquesne team is getting less buzz than last year's squad. Part of me wants to blame the Duquesne athletic department, but what else should I expect them to be doing? The athletic department can't force people or the media to talk about the Dukes, all they can do is provide the information to the media and make it as easy as possible for them to access that information.

I'll be attending the game tonight and I am hoping for a sizable crowd, but as I told Erik Gallant from I am not expecting a rowdy atmosphere. I hope Duquesne fans prove me wrong tonight.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Q and A with Erik Gallant from

This week I have been fortunate to exchange correspondence with Erik Gallant from a great UMass blog Erik was kind enough to answer some of my questions about the Minutemen:

1. What is the story with loses to UNI and IUPUI? Are these two small schools that are having great seasons, or were these games that UMass just gave away?

The Northern Iowa loss was the first game where UMass’ opponent strategically tried to slow the game down to a crawl. Northern Iowa made it a halfcourt game, which is really not a style of play that the Minutemen like. I don’t think it was too bad a loss, as UNI is a decent team (11-8 overall) playing in a solid league (Missouri Valley).

On the other hand, IUPUI was a bad loss. UMass was coming off their win over Syracuse, led by 11 at halftime, and mentally checked out for the second half. As a result, IUPUI stormed back with 57 in the second frame, and won decisively. It was a letdown game for sure, and a sign of something Travis Ford has warned against throughout the season: That this team has a bad habit of feeling too good about themselves.

2. Why did Gary Forbes leave VA to come to UMass? What kind of game does Forbes play, is he a shooter, does he prefer to penetrate, or is a post up type player?
Forbes transferred after Virginia’s coaching staff changed. Travis Ford, who as a player, transferred to Kentucky, has shown a real affinity for recruiting transfer students, and Forbes, who has NBA aspirations, was intrigued by the opportunity to be The Man in Ford’s system. I believe there were health issues involved, as well – Forbes was diagnosed with diabetes and, from what I’ve read, getting a year off from basketball at that point in his life allowed him to get on top of the situation – adjusting his diet, etc. He is a truly talented an all-around player: he loves to shoot threes, has the size to post up other small forwards effectively, and can handle the ball reasonably well. However, despite all his talent – or maybe *because* he is capable of so many great things -- he is a very frustrating player for many UMass fans. He forces a lot of bad shots, tries to do too much at times. For instance, against Xavier this week, with a minute remaining and UMass trailing by 4, he drove into the paint and attempted a completely unnecessary 1-on-4 circus shot that flatlined UMass’ comeback bid. With Forbes, fans take the good with the bad – it’s a mystery every trip down the court whether he’ll make an outstanding play or a forehead-slapper.

3. What is the story with Ricky Harris, he didn’t do much last year and now he is one of the top scorers in the county?
I love Ricky Harris. He’s a devastating deep threat (4 or more treys 8 times this year) but also loves to put the ball on the floor and drive to the hole. Really fun to watch, great attitude, the works. I am super excited at the thought of 2 more full seasons of Ricky Harris. Last season he was a freshman who happened to play the same position as the Minutemen’s best shooter (James Life). He really didn’t see very much playing time, and never found his rhythm. However he is ideally suited to the uptempo offense UMass has adopted this year. He had a rare bad game Sunday vs. Xavier (7 points), so Duquesne should brace themselves for a big bounceback game from Ricky.

4. You said UMass likes to run? Do they just run the fast break or do they run the entire game?

They run the entire game, and will likely employ a fullcourt press after made baskets for a large portion of the game. Ken Pomeroy has them ranked 3rd in the country in game tempo – -- and Duquesne is 4th, so expect Wednesday’s game to be played in the 90s at least. They also average 26 three-point attempts per game, so this is very much a bombs-away team that prefers to shoot quickly before their opponent can set up their defense.

5. How much does UMass use their bench? Does the UMass bench have any talented players or are Forbes and Harris relied upon for most of the scoring from one game to the next?

Forbes and Harris are the big two, scoring 20 ppg each, but point guard Chris Lowe and forward Etienne Brower are each averaging 11-12 ppg and are fully capable of dropping 20. Lowe is getting national press as one of the fastest players in the country, and scores primarily through dribble penetration. Brower has been playing as the team’s 6th man, and is a strong, fast 6’8” guy who can shoot the three. Other than those four, the team’s scoring has been inconsistent at best. All their big men – starting center Dante Milligan, reserve Luke Bonner, and Tony Gaffney – are limited players in one way or another. Milligan shows flashes of brilliance, but is a foul machine which makes his ability to contribute wildly inconsistent. Bonner is a shooting guard trapped in a 7-foot body and really struggles with rebounding. Gaffney starts at power forward and is primarily in there for his defense and rebounding – he’s scored 8 points total in the month of January. Other than that they rotate 4 freshmen in limited minutes. One freshman I’d like to single out is Papa Lo, a forward from Senegal who is one of the skinniest people you’ll ever see. He’s becoming a fan favorite, I think partly because his name is so fun to say, but also because he’s averaging 1 block per every 3 minutes of playing time – 21 blocks in 72 minutes. His offensive game is non-existent at this point, but UMass’ other big men have been slumping in the area of post defense, so I think he’ll begin to play a larger role, possibly beginning Wednesday.

6. If Ron Everhart chooses to go with his 10/40 two platoon system do you think UMass will be able to keep up?

I do. UMass has shown a willingness – if not a preference – to try running their opponents out of the gym. In fact I think the Minutemen are eager to get back to the track meet style of play – they’ve lost back-to-back games where their opponent kept the tempo fairly slow. Duquesne fans are in for a treat, for sure -- this will be a really exciting game to watch.


Erik asked me some questions for a Q and A for, here is the link.

Game Preview - Duquesne hosts (13-6, 2-3) UMass Wednesday at 7pm

In my mind there are 4 teams that will come out of the A10 and make the NCAA Tournament. At this point Xavier, Dayton, and Rhode Island are making strong bids to be the top three teams out of the conference. Duquesne, Charlotte, St. Joseph's, and UMass are all left fighting for that 4th and final spot out of the A10. A win over UMass at home is a necessity if the Dukes hope to keep their NCAA Tournament dreams alive.

UMass is 13-6 on the season and 2-3 in conference play with wins over Charlotte and Dayton in A10 play. Charlotte only has 1 loss in conference play so far this season, and Dayton was ranked in the Top 25 when they were upset by UMass. UMass is in much the same boat as Duquesne, they have already lost to Xavier, and St. Joe's twice in conference play and they cannot afford a loss against Duquesne if they want to have a serious shot at the big dance. Wednesday's match up should be a high scoring affair, the Minutemen like to run and are one of the top scoring teams in the country.

The Minutemen are led by 6'7 senior forward Gary Forbes (pictured right.) Forbes is third in Atlantic 10 in scoring and 33rd in NCAA with his 20.3ppg average. And if scoring is not enough he is also averaging 7.1rpg this season. Forbes started his college career at the University of Virginia before transferring to UMass. Forbes spent this summer playing for Panama in the FIBA Americas Championship.

The scary thing about UMass is that they are one of only two NCAA teams that feature two Top 50 scorers this year. 6'2 sophomore guard Ricky Harris (pictured below) is 35th in the NCAA in scoring with 19.9ppg. Harris leads the team in steals with 40 and in 3 point shots made with 52. Harris did not play a significant role for UMass last year but has blossomed into a heck of a ball player for the Minutemen. This is what Coach Ford had to say about Harris prior to the 07-08 season: "Ricky is somebody, again, who has to go from not playing a huge role to someone that we are expecting to play a very significant role. He is somebody that we are going to expect to score points." I bet Ford would laugh now if that quote was repeated back to him.

UMass features a player who has NBA connections, 7'1 center Luke Bonner (pictured right) is the younger brother of San Antonio Spurs forward Matt Bonner. Luke is a redshirt junior after transferring to UMass from WVU a few years back. Much like Matt, Luke is known for his 3 point shooting ability and he leads the Minutemen with a 3 point shooting percentage of 41% Matt Bonner has started 13 of UMass' 19 games this season and I expect him to see some minutes fighting against Duquesne's twin towers Shawn James and Kieron Achara. Good luck Luke, the twin towers have been on fire lately.

UMass' other big man 6'9 Dante Milligan was originally a highly touted Pitt Panther recruit who transferred to UMass after red shirting the 03-04 season and then playing a total of 5 games for the Panthers in 04-05. Milligan is averaging 8.1ppg and 4.8rpg for the Minutemen this season.

Some New Links

I've added a new list of links on the sidebar this morning called College Basketball Ratings. Each link in this list is a different rating or ranking system. Most readers will be familiar with Real Time RPI, Kenpom, and Sagarin, however I have added a few new ratings sites that I discovered recently.

The College Basketball Ranking Comparison is a site that takes into consideration a large number of different ratings systems and averages all of their ratings to give a more accurate rating. The Dukes are currently ranked #52 by this site.

Another new site I recently discovered is The Bracket Project. The Bracket Project takes into consideration a number of other sites that make predictions about the NCAA Tournament Bracket. The Bracket Project averages all of these different predicted brackets and then gives their version of the projected bracket. Duquesne currently falls into the "Others Receiving Votes" category of the bracket. Several bracket sites do have the Dukes in the tournament at this point including and Nuge's Bracketology.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Pittsburgh High School Basketball Classic

Two Duquesne recruits played in the Pittsburgh High School Basketball Classic this weekend at the AJ Palumbo Center, TJ McConnell from Chartiers Valley, and Johnny Higgins from Notre Dame (Mass.) Prep.

"Wunderkind" TJ McConnell (pictured right) had a tough afternoon scoring only 8 points in a Chartiers Valley loss to Upper St. Clair. An older post I wrote about TJ McConnell has received a lot of comments from people who do not seem to care for TJ or his father/coach Tim McConnell. I'll be honest I have yet to see McConnell play but I am very excited that he has already committed to Duquesne. At the very least he will be bringing a strong three point threat to the program.

Johnny Higgins scored 9 points in a Notre Dame Prep victory over American Christian Academy. Higgins drew praise for his defense and leadership. "He was the reason for the comeback," said Notre Dame Prep coach Ryan Hurd "He was in the locker room at halftime keeping everyone positive and getting behind everyone. He worked very hard today."

Ron Everhart's take on Higgins play on Sunday:
"He brought great energy to the game. He has a terrific motor, and as always, he was tremendous defensively. He seemed like he was really excited to be playing here."

Higgins was on hand for the Dukes shellacking of GW on Saturday night prior to the Basketball Classic on Sunday.
Talk about a perfect game for a recruit to see, here is what Higgins had to say about the game:
"That was amazing. I've read about them as much as I can, and I see that they've won a lot and scored a lot of points. But until you see them in person ... it puts it into perspective."

Higgins had this to say about joining the Duquesne program:
"I want to come here and do whatever I have to do to contribute to this program's success. Whatever the coaches want me to do, whatever position they have me play -- I'll dive on the floor for balls, I go to the boards, whatever it takes."

Coach Everhart was happy to hear about Higgins' attitude:
"The biggest thing you try to do is find guys that fit into your system. Johnny is one of those high-energy guys that does what you want him to do. This is a great environment for him to be in. There are a lot of talented players here."

Dave Mackall from the Trib has all the details

Dukes fighting for respect

Dave Mackall of the Trib has the story.

What is the story with Stephen Wood?

The Dukes blew out GW on Saturday night and at the end of the game Ron Everhart emptied his bench, except Stephen Wood. Three walkons saw minutes including Jason Duty who sees regular PT, Jimmy Sherwood, and little used Lucas Newton. This was shocking to me.

I do not understand why he wouldn't see a couple of minutes at the end of a blowout. I have two theories: 1. he is hurt or 2. he is in Ron Everhart's doghouse big time. Wood was banged up earlier this year and it has been rumored that Wood was not in the regular rotation earlier this year because he didn't play tough enough defense.

Wood was recruited out of Monsignor McClancy in Queens New York and came to Duquesne with a decent amount of fanfare. He played a lot of minutes last year as a true freshman averaging 15 minutes a game. This year Wood has only appeared in 3 games and each of those appearances was for just one minute.

Assuming Wood is not hurt, if Ron Everhart is not going to even play Wood, a scholarship player, in garbage time at the end of a big win, why are we wasting a scholarship on him? If Ron Everhart is not going to play Wood I hope for the sake of both Duquesne and Stephen Wood that RE asks Wood to transfer after the season, again all of this is assuming Wood is healthy.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

The Day After

Here are our new rankings after the rout of GW:

RPI: #69
Sagarin : #42
Kenpom/Pomeroy: #50

It is annoying that our rankings keep coming down even after wins, but I guess the ratings systems don't really give much credit for wins over St. Bonaventure and George Washington. A win over UMass on Wednesday night would give a huge boost to our rankings and to our NCAA hopes which seem to be back on the rise after a couple of conference wins.
  • The Dukes are now 13-5 and the 13 wins are the most a Duquesne team has had since the 1993-94 NIT team.
  • The Dukes have won 6 in a row at the AJ Palumbo Center
  • Shawn James had 5 blocks last night. With his second block - at the 5:46 mark of the first half - James became the 18th player in NCAA Division I history to post 400 career blocked shots. The 6-10 junior entered the game ranked fifth nationally in blocks per game at 4.1. He now has 403 blocked shots in 72 career games.