New faces must step up for Dukes this season

Addie Smith | Sports Editor

Claire Murray | The Duquesne Duke
Claire Murray | The Duquesne Duke

On Saturday, the Duquesne men’s basketball team had a spark about them from the beginning. They were aggressive, they took quality shots and they pulled out a double-digit victory over Abilene Christian.

However, in the Red & Blue’s 84-81 loss against the University of New Hampshire Wildcats Wednesday night, that spark and finesse from Saturday seemed dimmer and for a while, it actually seemed nonexistent.

Against the Wildcats, the Dukes started the game sloppy, tallying their first two points on foul shots from Derrick Colter and Ovie Soko. At one point, the Dukes trailed 13-2. Then, something clicked as the Dukes ended the first half ahead 42-38. Soko and Colter scored 10 and 11 points, respectively.

Last game, it seemed like the Dukes would find a way to climb out of the basement of the Atlantic 10, but after their showing against New Hampshire, we can’t be sure anymore. Was that glimmer of hope we saw Saturday just that, a glimmer? What are we intended to take away from the Red & Blue this season?

Coach Jim Ferry explained that the Dukes were lackluster throughout the game and unimpressive on the defensive side of the ball.

“I think we were outplayed today pretty much from start to finish,” Ferry said. “We made a run in the first half but I thought we lacked a complete defensive disposition from the start of the basketball game to the end. I felt like we were running in cement on defense and for as fast as we are that’s unacceptable. We did not come out and play with fierce competitiveness on the defensive side of the ball.”

This year could be similar to last, where everything the Dukes did stood on the crutch of “rebuilding”. Only three scholarship players from last year’s squad returned to the team, and like last year, new recruits are picking up the bulk of the playing time.

Transfers Ovie Soko and Micah Mason tallied 35 and 23 minutes respectfully, while freshmen Dominique McKoy, Desmond Ridenour and L.G. Gill tallied 27, 15 and 17 minutes.

However, even with these big minutes, Soko was lacking offensively and defensively. On paper, 14 points seems like a solid outing, but Soko was only 4-17 from the field and 6-10 on the free-throw line. Even he admitted that he was off his game.

“It was a terrible night [for me],” Soko said. “For the team to be able to win I can’t play like that, it’s unacceptable. I have to come to play every night and tonight I played extremely bad.”

The Dukes need to readjust before taking on the West Virginia Mountaineers this Sunday at 4 p.m. That spark we saw against Abeline Christian needs to come back and players need to step up in order for the Red & Blue to upset WVU two years in a row, where only one Duke, Jerry Jones, will play against former head coach Ron Everhart.