2010-11 Duquesne Community Player Scouting Reports

Inspired by Tom Tango’s crowd sourced fan defensive scouting reports for MLB teams, I have come up with a project that I think will be fun for Dukes fans to take part in. Fans who follow a team closely are among the most qualified analysts of that team. So, I implore anyone who has followed the Dukes closely this season to provide his or her input to help get a better handle on the ability of the players.

I have created a survey with Survey Monkey dividing basketball related skills into nine different categories. Those are as follows…

Ball Handling: which measures how well a player can handle the ball

Passing: Measuring a player’s ability as a passer

Shooting: Measuring pure shooting ability

Creating: Measuring how well a player can create his own shot

Post Offense: Measuring how well a player can score from the post

Rebounding: Measuring how well a player is getting rebounds

Defense: Measuring how well a player plays defense considering all defense (man on man/playing help etc…)

Awareness: Measuring a player’s court awareness

Quickness: Measuring how fast a player is in basketball terms

You are asked to rank the players on the 20-80 scouting scale often used to rate baseball prospects. 50 equals an average division I player. The ratings then roughly go up or down by one standard deviation. In other words, if you are rating someone as a 60, that player better be at least in the 85th percentile for NCAA players (97th for a 70 rating and 99th for 80 rating). If you are stuck between two ratings, I would suggest that you round down.

I appreciate anyone who does the survey, and I hope you have fun with it. I’m looking forward to the responses.

To do the survey click here. It should only take a few minutes and you don’t have to sign up for anything.

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Dukes Season Ends at Oregon

It is fitting that the final seconds of the 2010-11 Duquesne Dukes mens’ basketball season were sealed with the two primary shortcomings of the team. Down three with 1:54 remaining on the clock Oregon possessed the ball with a chance to get a basket and control the clock. What occurred was an all out defensive effort by the Dukes making sure to contest every shot.

There was only one problem. After running the shot clock down Oregon guard Malcolm Armstead put up a shot, which missed but was corralled by the Ducks allowing them to run more clock culminating in another shot which was grabbed off once more by Oregon.

Finally another miss was rebounded by T.J. McConnell who outletted the ball quickly resulting in a Bill Clark layup with 10 seconds left to play. The Dukes, one of the worst defensive rebounding teams in the nation, allowed Oregon to run 1:40 on the clock in one possession essentially sealing their fate.

The Clark layup briefly gave the Dukes a reprieve. Following a foul of Oregon forward E.J. Singler and two made free throws, the Dukes had 7 seconds to tie the game with a three point shot. In that possession, Sean Johnson cleverly used his deceptive shot fake to get Oregon’s Armstead off his feet leading to a shooting foul and three foul shots.

Johnson was then on the line with the ability to tie the game. The former New York City Catholic League MVP, who led his team to a league title in high school, missed the first attempt complicating matters for the Dukes. He would go on the make the second and miss the third on purpose with the hopes of a Duke scooping up the ball and making a game tying shot. No such luck.

Johnson’s miss was reminiscent of the two free throws he missed in the quarterfinal game against St. Joseph’s with Duquesne up two which could have effectively sealed the game for the Dukes. These failures at the charity stripe are glaring examples of a team that ranked among the dregs of Division I in free throw shooting percentage. Poor Defensive rebounding and abominable foul shooting were the markers of what could have been for this Duquesne club. Its a fitting denouement to a down-and-up and-back-down campaign.

Choruses of “what could have been” are sure to echo through Dukes nation. Were the team able to knock down free throws it would have earned its first NCAA Tournament bid since 1977 with potential wins over West Virginia, Penn State and George Mason.

While it is easy to point to Johnson’s miss, it should be noted that it was his first free throw of the night which is typically the most difficult to make and it was only one of eight attempts compared to 26 for the Ducks. It seems the home team was favored by the officials which is an all to familiar sight for mid-major teams who receive travel compensation to play at a big time school. The home cooking is what won this game for Oregon. All other factors can be taken into account but the uneven officiating stands out as the deciding factor. If the calls were more even, the Dukes would have been victorious despite being a poor foul shooting team. Nobody can tell me differently.

Preview: Dukes at Oregon (CBI)

The University of Oregon’s football team had one of its most successful seasons in history, such has not been the case for the basketball team. Bankrolled by Nike founder Phil Knight, the school built a new basketball arena to help firmly entrench Oregon as a basketball power. After firing longtime coach Ernie Kent, the University’s financiers went on a search to find the right man to lead the program.

After being rejected by Tom Izzo and several other high profile coaches Oregon signed Creighton head man Dana Altman. Altman had much success with the Blue Jays turning the program from an also ran to a perennial power in the Missouri Valley. His tenure in Omaha boasted 11 consecutive 20 win seasons and seven NCAA Tournament appearances. This sustained success is what caused Oregon booster Pat Kilkenny end his search with Altman.

Altman has since learned that simply showing up on campus in the bright lights of a major conference program with a fancy new gym is not necessarily a cake walk. The Oregon program has seen many defections leaving the program without much of a direction. After four players transferred and one went to play professionally overseas, Altman had to try to pick up the pieces. What he thought was going to be an big team turned out to be one he is more accustomed to. Altman is known for having undersized teams dependent on shooting at the expense of rebounding. His 2-1-2 high post offense has been crafted to fit such personnel.

The prototypical example of Altman’s preferred brand of basketball is his only All-American Kyle Korver. Korver was a tall swing forward with a silky smooth shooting stroke whom the Blue Jays ran their offense through. That season he took nearly 20 percent of the teams shots and 39 percent of Creighton’s three point attempts. Altman’s offense will likely feature one player, typically a small/power forward. This season that role has been filled by 6’6” senior Joevan Catron, who is the 67th most used player in the nation. Catron does not fill the Korver prototype because he is not a proficient long distance shooter. He is more in that position because of his status as a senior leader rather than his skill set.

A more natural fit is found in Sophomore swing man E.J. Singler. Singler, the less homely little brother of Duke’s Kyle, is a 39 percent shooter from behind the arc and a 51 percent marksman from inside. Further he has a good handle for someone his size and is a decent passer and defender. Next year’s offense will likely feature the Beaver state native perhaps allowing him to recreate some of the younger sibling magic put forth by Notre Dame’s Ben Hansbrough this season.

Collectively Oregon will run Altman’s high post offense, which is similar to the scheme that Marquette employed to manhandle Xavier. Oregon is not as big as Marquette however so the offense will be run farther from the basket at the expense of rebounding. Unfortunately, for the Ducks there are not many shooters on the team which hinders Altman’s schemes to work properly. On the other hand, this Oregon team has met the high standards Altman sets for his ball handlers doing a good job of taking care of the ball.

On defense there has been a trend over Altman’s recent seasons of decline. The year’s Oregon club is no different. Particularly of note is the increased proficiency with which opponents are getting to the free throw line. Obviously this is not of benefit to a poor free throw shooting team like Duquesne. What is of benefit is the poor field goal defense. Oregon ranks 260th in effective field goal percentage which bodes well for the Dukes as I have explained before.

Duquesne is the superior team in this matchup, however Oregon has the superior coach. That could be the difference. A good game plan could end Duquesne’s season but if talent alone should decide this game the Dukes will likely prevail. Coach Ron Everhart would be wise to deploy the platoon strategy which was so effective in the Montana game. Keeping players fresh will allow the Dukes superior athleticism to shine through as well as allowing the offense to function properly with movement. Do not be fooled, just because Oregon is a BCS school does not make Duquesne an underdog. The Ducks are the inferior team and this game is one Duquesne should win, but playing on the road and a long lay off allowing Altman to devise a game plan could quite well tip this game in Oregon’s favor.

Statistic Duquesne Rk Oregon Rk
Points Per Possession 1.065 89 0.976 87
Effective Field Goal % 52.0% 49 51.0% 260
Turnover % 18.6% 84 22.2% 60
Offensive Rebound % 33.0% 148 33.0% 210
FT Attempts/ FG Attempts 43.3% 48 35.9% 127
Three Point FG % 35.2% 124 36.2% 262
Two Point FG % 51.5% 32 49.1% 233
Free Throw % 62.6% 326
Block % 10.4% 260 8.1% 220
Steal % 7.8% 28 11.6% 36
3P Attempts/ FG Attempts 36.6% 77 36.5% 282
Assists per Made FG 65.1% 8 55.9% 236
Statistic Oregon Rk Duquesne Rk
Points Per Possession 1.045 108 0.933 19
Effective Field Goal % 47.4% 244 47.9% 117
Turnover % 17.9% 49 28.1% 1
Offensive Rebound % 30.5% 241 38.0% 336
FT Attempts/ FG Attempts 31.1% 313 37.4% 163
Three Point FG % 33.7% 201 33.4% 109
Two Point FG % 45.7% 262 46.9% 134
Free Throw % 74.4% 34
Block % 10.5% 270 14.0% 17
Steal % 7.7% 20 13.8% 3
3P Attempts/ FG Attempts 35.1% 119 32.5% 171
Assists per Made FG 55.8% 115 53.8% 167

Jury Returns: Chris Mack is Not a Good Coach

For a while I’ve gone back and forth on whether I think Chris Mack is a good coach. After yesterday’s drubbing at the hands of Marquette I have now realized that he is not. The argument for Mack is clear, after the departure of Sean Miller the program has not missed a beat. The team has not dropped off, thus it is unfair to consider him a poor coach. Xavier has 50 wins since Mack grabbed the wheel. The question is; how much of that success can be attributed to the coach?

Over the past two seasons it is clear that Xavier and Temple have been the teams to beat in the Atlantic 10. How did these teams get to the top? In regard to Temple it seems clear that much of their success has to do with Fran Dunphy taking over the head coaching position following John Chaney’s retirement. It seemed clear that Chaney, legendary architect of the Owls’ lockdown matchup zone defense, had lost his fastball due to his advanced age. After a run of making 17 of 18 NCAA Tournaments, Chaney failed to make the big dance in his final five seasons. Enter Fran Dunphy. Dunphy had paid his dues coaching Penn for 17 years, winning the Ivy League 10 times in that span.

Comparing Chris Mack and Fran Dunphy Over The Past Two Seasons


Mack Dunphy
Record 50-16 55-13
Winning Percentage .758 .809
NCAA Appearances 2 2
2010 Pomeroy Rating 14th 22nd
2011 Pomeroy Rating 35th 36th
2010 RPI 17th 11th
2011 RPI 25th 27th
Expected 09-10 A10 Finish 2nd T-5th
Actual 09-10 A10 Finish T-1st T-1st
Expected 10-11 A10 Finish 2nd 1st
Actual 10-11 A10 Finish 1st 2nd

After an initial rebuilding season Dunphy has led the Owls to the dance four consecutive seasons. Dunphy had taken a sputtering program and breathed new life into it making it the class of the conference. Is the key to his success convincing top flight recruits to spend a few years in North Philadelphia? Not really. While Dunphy has not recruited big names, he has utilized the Philadelphia and New York talent bases well. Below is a table that points to all of Dunphy’s freshman recruits. Notice that only one of them was nationally ranked at their position and he was enrolled this season and has not seen the floor due to injury. Pointing to recruiting as the primary reason for Dunphy’s success seems unwarranted.

Freshman Recruits Along With Their Scout.com Position Ranking


XAVIER



TEMPLE

Class Player Pos Rank
Class Player Pos Rank
2006 Adrion Graves SG 20 2006 Ryan Brooks SG NR
2006 Jason Love C 34 2006 Luis Guzman PG NR
2007 Dante Jackson SG 26 2006 Mike Scott PF NR
2008 Tu Holloway PG 15 2007 Ramone Moore SG NR
2008 Brian Walsh SG NR 2007 Lavoy Allen PF NR
2008 Kenny Frease C 11 2007 Michael Eric C NR
2008 Brad Radford SG 27 2007 Martavis Kee SG NR
2008 Mark Lyons PG 20 2008 Scootie Randall SF NR
2010 Griffin McKenzie PF 43 2009 Rahlir Jefferson PF NR
2010 Justin Martin SF 20 2009 Khaliff Wyatt SG NR
2010 Jay Canty SG 20 2010 Aaron Brown SF NR
2010 Jordan Latham PF 20 2010 Anthony Lee C 23

Lets compare Dunphy’s success to that of Mack. Mack has a nearly identical record. Has he been blessed with better talent than Dunphy? You betcha. Over the past five recruiting periods Xavier has received commitments from 12 incoming freshman, the same amount as Temple. There is a major difference however. 11 of X’s 12 recruits were nationally ranked at their respective positions (see table below). So that is 11-12 ranked prospects for Xavier compared to 1-12 ranked prospects. Considering this condition it is clear that the Musketeers are starting from a better position. With that talent level coming through the pipeline in a league like the A-10, Xavier should never finish outside the top three. Under Mack they have won the league in both of the coach’s seasons, so he is certainly making good use of the talent, but it would seem that recruiting has been the primary reason for success.

Taking into account the level of talent coming through the blue side of Cincinnati, one would expect them to have post season success. Last year’s squad did, making the Sweet Sixteen and then forced Kansas State to overtime once there. The run was largely on the back of do-everything-guard Jordan Crawford who was a first round NBA Draft pick. Crawford transferred from Indiana after the Kelvin Sampson debacle. Temple is not likely to get transfers like that, but I digress. A team with that talent should make Sweet Sixteens, and that is exactly what happened.

No such luck this season, after X took a drubbing by Marquette. Marquette ran an offense and Xavier had five guys try to go one-on-one. The Muskies looked flat at the beginning of the contest and never could get into a rhythm. Buzz Williams’ team shut down Xavier’s three top players Tu Holloway, Mark Lyons and Jamel McLean. Lyons and Holloway payed their typical Kobe Bryant inspired hero-complex games and failed to succeed against a stout Golden Eagle defense. McLean simply had a bad game. There was little ball movement and players largely stood around waiting to get the ball.

Such is not the sign of a good coach. Looking back at the games I have seen Xavier play this season, last night was not an exception but the norm. The only difference between this game and the others is that X’s superior talent did not save the day. Also, Xavier has consistently played to the level of its competition which is a sign of lack of motivation. Mental lapses against bad teams, while not costing many games, still has been apparent and will have to change in order for my opinion of Mack to change. While Mack is by no means Brian Gregory, he is not Fran Dunphy either. Muskie fans should not expect a Final Four any time soon.

Dukes Notch First Post Season Win in 16 Years

Brilliant. Simply brilliant. Yesterday’s win over Montana illuminated the very best of what Duquesne under Ron Everhart can accomplish. It has been 17 years since the Dukes last pulled off a victory in the post season. Even if it came in an inferior tournament it does not make the accomplishment insignificant. The way in which the game was won was even more uplifting for a once moribund program. The win over Montana serves as Everhart’s magnum opus thus far as Duquesne’s head coach. The Coach explains.

“We knew we had a tremendous challenge coming into this game,” said Duquesne coach Ron Everhart, who notched his first career post-conference tournament win. “[Damian] Saunders has been really sick, so we decided to go with a platoon system to utilize our depth and maybe wear them down a little bit. We thought it would help if we could make it an up-and-down game.

Also from Bob Meseroll of the Missoulian.

The Dukes also wore the Griz down with superior depth. Ten players logged 10 or more minutes for coach Ron Everhart, who used wholesale substitutions to keep his players fresh. Everhart said he hit on the strategy by accident. Starting post Damian Saunders was sick, prompting him to substitute more frequently.

“What we did is we went with a platoon system, play more like a hockey line and try to utilize our depth,” Everhart said. “We felt that from a depth perspective we could maybe wear these guys down a little bit if we could make it an up-and-down game.”

At the heart of Everhart’s system is a requirement of depth. Having many warm bodies that can play productive minutes is central to the team’s success. Over the past several years as Everhart has accrued more talented players he has moved away from the 10-40 paradigm that he employed early in his tenure on the bluff. The rationale for the switch is sound. As a coach, one wants to get his best players the most minutes as possible. This may not be the best plan for Everhart’s scheme however.

I spent much ink complaining about Duquesne’s offense. While I still think there are fundamental problems that must be resolved, it could be that much of the inaction on offense has to do with fatigue stemming from the maximum effort required to run Everhart’s defense. Perhaps, the offensive torpor can be corrected if simply more players play.

There is a point of diminishing returns as there is with most things. The players must be able to log useful minutes not just minutes. The team must still be able to play its game, so in terms of Duquesne pressure the ball and quickly rotate to help on defense and dribble and pass in circles 30 feet from the basket on offense (I kid).

It does seem though that the bench players this season are capable of doing just that. For much of the season, Everhart was employing a seven man rotation, that simply is not enough to expect max effort while maintaining intelligent play. It has seemed in the minutes they have played, Joel Wright and Andre Marhold have held their own while on the floor and have often managed to be more productive offensive players than Saunders. Similarly, last season Sean Johnson was buried on the bench in favor of the less talented Jason Duty. In those cases it seems that more is better.

Last night’s effort culminated in 1.150 points per possession on offense. That is the best mark for the Dukes in over a month. The defense was not spectacular but it did what it is supposed to do, create turnovers and fast break points. The Dukes managed to turn 19 turnovers into 21 points. Duquesne was motivated and for stretches put on a clinic of how to run an up tempo style.

What does the future hold? Oregon defeated Weber State, so the Dukes will head to Eugene on Monday to face Dana Altman’s Ducks. A loss to a BCS school would be understandable, it would feel better than a loss to a Big Sky program. It will likely be tough game to win. Altman, of Creighton fame, runs an intelligent highly efficient offense and has major conference talent. That’s a deadly combination. However, considering Oregon’s poor field goal defense it is possible that the Dukes can capitalize on offense. Win or lose, the players, coaches and fans can go out of of this season with a smile. Ending on a loss to St. Joe’s would have been awful. Thank Allah for the CBI.

Preview: Dukes at Montana (CBI)

With a name like Wayne Tinkle he must be good. Tinkle is the coach of the Montana Grizzlies, whom the Dukes will face off against tonight in the first round of the College Basketball Insider Tournament. Montana is coming off a season in which they made the NCAA Tournament and hung with New Mexico in the first round before losing.

They lost their best player, Anthony Johnson, who goes by AJ much like a certain player who led Duquesne to its most success in recent years. The Grizzlies are led by Senior big man Brian Qvale and sophomore point guard Will Cherry. Qvale is of particular concern being a 6’11” 260 pound monster who can bang with the best of them. They also have a 7 footer but he is more of a European center that can stretch defenses and make threes. He is not much of an inside threat however.

Year eFG%
2007 52.4
2008 51.2
2009 47.8
2010 47.6
2011 44.1

It seems clear that Tinkle has focused his game plan on defense over his time in Missoula as the graph above indicates. Montana has improved every year on defense but has struggled on offense hanging around 1.000 point per possession. Furthermore, its a tough grind you out type of offense which is predicated on one of the best field goal defenses in the country (see table) ranking 11th in effective field goal percentage. The offense on the other hand is not that efficient even though it is one of the slowest offenses in division I. In this interview of a writer from Grizzly Journal on Yuku Dukes.

GJ: The Griz are a legitimate defensive machine, having held opponents to a 14th ranked NCAA Division 60.1 points allowed for 2020-11. Qvale became the all-time Big Sky leading shot-blocker with a 2020-11 average of 3.0 blocks per game, good enough for 14th best in Division 1, while Cherry’s 2.7 steals per game ranks him ninth nationally. But… well, yes… Montana has struggled against faster, quicker teams. Expect Montana to try to contain the Dukes’ uptempo game to the half court, both on offense and defense. Offensively they like to “feed the monster” (Qvale), but usually win when they get double-figured scoring balance.

This game will be all about tempo. As the same writer claims, “a combined score under 135 favors the Griz; anything else tilts toward the Dukes.” If Duquesne can outathlete the Griz it will be tough for them to compete, but if on the other hand it becomes a knockout-dragout type of affair it is likely Montana which advances. I am concerned but the good news is as was pointed out in the interview.

GJ: Missed free throws cost the Grizzlies two regular season wins, and one was season-wrenching… a 4-point, overtime loss at Eastern Washington in Montana’s final league road game that cost the Griz the Big Sky title and the host role. To add insult to injury, Montana clanked an icy 12-for-19 (63%) in their 65-60 Big Sky title loss at Northern Colorado last week.

Win or lose this could be one of the worst combined free throw shooting performances in the history of college basketball. Should be fun.

Dukes Make Early Exit in Atlantic City

Alas, I get to writing the much belated Atlantic 10 tournament recap. While I was in AC I was staying at the Hilton which generously provides Internet access at the rate of $15 a day. Needless to say I did not partake in their offer. Further, I had to travel back home to Pittsburgh and then to school in Cleveland where I am returning after spring break. Deciding to be a dedicated student, at least temporarily, I put my studies before the blog.

I was hoping to write this yesterday but fatigue and pain got in the way. It took me a long time to convince myself to write this post simply because it hurts too much. With these words I lacerate the scab protecting myself from emotional torment and allow the puss to seep out on the Duquesne men’s basketball season.

As you may know, the Dukes fell in their first game in Atlantic City to 12th seeded Saint Joe’s who barely made their way into the tournament. It was not unlike any other loss that the Dukes have fell victim to this season with the exceptions of the defeats at the hands of Pitt and Saint Louis. Pure and simply, free throw shooting lost the game.

A team cannot expect to win many games in which its efficacy from the charity stripe is less than 53 percent. Going along with the free throws there were a host of missed lay ups as well and an offensive meltdown in the final minutes. After the Dukes took the lead with 1:29 remaining in regulation the squad only managed two shot attempts—both layups—both missed. A dunk by the Hawks’ Ronald Roberts sent the game to overtime where SJU took control of the game.

Once again, there was no lack of motivation only lack of intelligence. Until Duquesne can make the shots it is supposed to and playing consistently smart basketball will the Dukes firmly establish themselves as an A-10 power. As for this season, its off to the CBI tournament in which hopefully the Dukes can win a game or two. Better luck next year.