Jacob Hebda | Staff Writer
Dec. 6, 2020
The Duquesne men’s basketball squad kicked off its 2020-21 season on Nov. 30 as part of the Wade Houston Tipoff Classic in Louisville, Ky. If its first week back in action was any indication, a turbulent season lies ahead for the Dukes.
Duquesne opened its schedule with a matchup against Little Rock. Following a summer filled with uncertainty and inconsistency, Duquesne struggled to find its footing against the Trojans.
The sloppy affair witnessed a combined 37 turnovers and 39 fouls.
Duquesne Head Coach Keith Dambrot described it best, saying afterwards, “It looked like a first game to me.”
The two teams battled closely for much of the first half, with Duquesne trailing by four entering the break.
After DU point guard Sincere Carry nailed a 3-pointer early in the second frame to reclaim a two-point lead, it looked like the Dukes would grab control. Instead, the Trojans responded with eight straight points.
Following that run, Little Rock never relinquished the lead, cruising to a 76-66 victory.
It was an all-around poor day for the Dukes, who shot 24.1% (7-29) from behind the arc.
Carry and fellow standout Marcus Weathers tied for the team-high in scoring with 12 points apiece. However, those figures were blemished by poor play elsewhere.
A few careless turnovers by Carry hurt the Dukes. Weathers, typically a strong rebounder, only grabbed four boards.
Dambrot acknowledged the difficult circumstances surrounding the season but encouraged his players to recalibrate, saying, “We play a better team on Wednesday, so we better buckle up.”
Evidently, that message resonated with his team. The Dukes bounced back with a dominant win against UNC Greensboro on Dec. 2.
Duquesne held a nine-point lead at the half and never looked back against the Spartans.
Tavian Dunn-Martin, who went 3-10 from downtown against Little Rock, rediscovered his stroke against UNCG. The senior guard drained four of his six attempts en route to a 21-point outing.
Despite his terrific individual performance, the outcome is what most satisfied Dunn-Martin. He began his postgame press conference by saying, “[I’m] glad we got the win.”
Elsewhere, Weathers, Carry and Michael Hughes performed well. The trio combined for 47 points and 21 rebounds.
“Our big guys really won the game for us,” Dambrot said after the game.
It was a strong showing for the Dukes, who hoped to build on the momentum and notch another win before returning to Pittsburgh following their win on Wednesday. Unfortunately, due to COVID-19 concerns, a Dec. 4 matchup with Winthrop was canceled.
The Dukes now have about two weeks to rest before traveling to Virginia to kick off Atlantic 10 play against conference favorite Richmond, who recently moved into the AP top 25 after defeating Kentucky.
The Dukes are not scheduled to play in Pittsburgh until January. The Department of Athletics announced on Dec. 3 that nearby La Roche University will host Duquesne’s home games for the month of January, but fans will not be allowed to attend.
As if the frenzied schedule alone did not provide enough intrigue, this opening week provided another surprise in the form of a new player.
On Dec. 3, Duquesne announced graduate transfer Ryan Murphy would be joining the program. The former Pitt guard, who averaged 7.6 points per game last season, will be eligible Dec. 11.
While it remains unclear what role Murphy will have, his presence should be a boon for the program. A veteran sharpshooter, the graduate student could be a difference-maker on and off the court.
Dambrot welcomed Murphy following the roster move, saying, “Ryan is an experienced player who is game-tested… We look forward to having him as part of our team.”
So, one week down, hopefully many more to go. We have already witnessed erratic play, roster changes and schedule updates, yet much remains to be seen.
With the prospect of further schedule changes and team developments ahead, it seems wise to heed Dambrot’s advice and fasten your seatbelts. A hectic season awaits.