By Andrew Holman | The Duquesne Duke
Duquesne suffered a pair of conference losses this past week – a 93-82 beat down by Davidson and a 76-74 heartbreaker to Dayton – with each telling a very different story.
Traveling to Dayton, the Dukes had an opportunity Tuesday night to pick up a marquee win and continue to make the case that they are a force in their conference. In fact, they not only had the opportunity; they actually led the Flyers by 12 points late in the second half.
But Duquesne could not finish.
Does that sound eerily familiar? That’s probably because this has become an unfortunate theme in recent memory. Just when the Dukes’ faithful begins to get excited about the future of this team, it reminds everyone why they lost hope in the first place.
However, Coach Jim Ferry has done excellent things for this Duquesne program and doesn’t get enough credit. He has taken this team that played abysmal defense a season ago and turned them into a team that has led the conference in defense for most of the season.
Duquesne still has a great shot to win 20 games this year, which will be a commendable feat for a team that won only 14 games a season ago.
It’s about more than that though. This was the season for them to compete. Seniors Derrick Colter, Micah Mason and Jeremiah Jones were all at the peak of their careers. Sophomores Eric James and TySean Powell got their nerves out last year and were ready to make a resounding impact.
The truth is all of these guys did their part. Mason, Colter and Jones (prior to his unfortunate injury) all stepped up to lead this team. James and Powell have made huge strides from the 2014-15 season.
But they are still struggling to keep up with the lead pack in the A-10. They might be winning 20 or more games, but they still aren’t winning championships. They might be beating powerhouses like Dayton by double digits, but those leads aren’t producing any wins.
If Duquesne could have beaten Davidson and finished the game against Dayton, people would start to have genuine confidence that they could compete in the A-10 Tournament. Now people are thinking they might win a game or two at most.
The latter part of the Davidson game, Duquesne played lazy and uninspired – failing to box out and guard the perimeter, in turn, allowing Davidson to grab 21 offensive boards and shoot 46 percent from behind the arc.
The latter part of the Dayton game, Duquesne couldn’t capitalize on a double digit lead against the No. 19 team in the country.
The Davidson loss displayed a Dukes’ team that hardly resembled the physical, gritty team that has won 15 games prior to this point. The Dayton loss provided hope that the Red & Blue can compete with anyone in the A-10 when they are playing their best basketball. Hope rests in the fact that Duquesne played with Dayton on the road for a full 40 minutes – playing even better than the Flyers at times.
UMASS, George Washington, Rhode Island, St. Bonaventure, Richmond, Fordham and St. Joseph’s are all the teams left on the schedule – all very winnable games for Duquesne. Now is the time to bounce back from two tough A-10 losses. Now is the time to make that last push to try and get on a roll heading into the conference tournament.
Colter, Mason and Jones are done after this season. The time to win a championship is now. There is still hope, but it might slowly be drifting away.