Addison Smith | Opinions Editor
Last season, if you asked Dominique McKoy whom he was closest to on and off the court on the men’s basketball team, he wouldn’t even hesitate before saying Ovie Soko. Now with Soko graduated and playing basketball in France, McKoy is without his best friend and the person he called “brother” as the sole senior for the Dukes this season.
Something McKoy demonstrated last season and reinforces about himself this year is that this team is his to lead. With two years of basketball experience at Duquesne, and four years of collegiate and Atlantic 10 basketball experience total due to his playing time at the University of Rhode Island, McKoy certainly qualifies as a veteran of the conference.
“I still feel the same way as last year, I can lead this team and I can be one of the vocal guys and be somebody that everybody can look up to,” McKoy said. “I need to lead, not just by scoring the most points on the team, but just sharing my experiences and going out, playing hard everyday so everybody will follow the same routine. I still think I can take this team and lead this team like Ovie did last year.”
Last year, the Dukes were Soko’s team, and nobody questioned that. Soko’s loud personality and friendly demeanor took over at the Palumbo Center. But McKoy was one of four players on last season’s squad to start all 30 games, and so he knew that as soon as Soko’s time with the Red & Blue was over, it would be time for McKoy to step into the light as a leader.
McKoy said that he spoke to Soko recently, and the two discussed the leadership of the team.
“[Soko told me about] leading, being a leader. When somebody comes here, they should know that this is my team,” McKoy said. “I just need to be that vocal guy and tell people this is my last year. After this year, I won’t play college anymore and it’ll be over with for college basketball. I just have to give it all I have and just leave it out there. Everything else will handle itself.”
After transferring from Rhode Island, McKoy posted the best shooting season by a Duquesne player in 23 years, shooting .565 from the field. That figure ranked second in the conference and was ultimately good enough for the fifth-best mark in Duquesne history. In six December games, he missed only seven shots. He finished the season second on the team in rebounding, grabbing 7.2 boards per game.
In that month, he posted double-doubles in consective games against Penn State (12 points, 10 rebounds) and Robert Morris (career-high 16 points, 10 rebounds). In January, McKoy opened Atlantic 10 play with two more double-doubles in consecutive games against Fordham (10 points, 10 rebounds) and La Salle (15 points, 10 rebounds).
Soko and McKoy split the duties on the boards, and McKoy led the team in rebounding in 13 games to Soko’s 14. With four players expected to log significant minutes measuring above 6-foot-7 on this year’s roster, McKoy will have more help in the paint this year but returns as the most experienced player in the frontcourt.
Junior Jeremiah Jones, one of McKoy’s closest teammates on this year’s squad, said that McKoy is poised to step into his role leading the Dukes in different facets.
“[McKoy] brings leadership, of course,” Jones said. “He’s the only senior. He brings toughness and experience. He’s been here so long, he can help the younger guys with some things that I may not be able to help them with … He definitely brings leadership, he brings experience … Dommo is a light-hearted guy, one of the funniest guys on the team, so he definitely brings that.”
Last season, McKoy was starting out as a Duke. He scored in double digits 18 times and averaged 9.7 points per game. When transferring from Rhode Island, he wanted to stay within the A-10 because he believes the conference fits his playing personality best.
“I feel like it’s a league that fits me. I’m versatile, I’m a big guy, but I can dribble,” McKoy explained. “A lot of big guys sit on the post, but here I can play a lot on the perimeter and still play in the post a lot and show I have guard skills. I can play the way I play, this league is the best for me.”