Dukes Dominate Charlotte 83-67

Having not realized the game started at two I was not able to post a game preview, but my analysis would likely have been rendered moot considering the Dukes were in control of this one from start to finish. Charlotte’s lack of fire power hamstrung it’s performance resulting in a 16 point defeat that would have been much larger had Coach Ron Everhart left his best players in the game. Charlotte likes to play at a much slower tempo than Duquesne does and they simply were not able to handle Duquesne’s defensive pressure and fast pace.

This condition is troublesome for the 49ers because of their dominate the ball guards who fall easily into the run and gun trap. In their offensive scoring minded ways guards Derrio Green and Jamar Briscoe wanted to get up and down the floor. The only problem is that neither of them is good enough to sustain that type of game. Their efforts essentially conceded the game to the up-tempo Dukes.

Chris Braswell had an excellent game posting a double-double overwhelming Damian Saunders and all other defenders inside. Braswell was able to get several easy baskets when the 49ers were able to break the press. This remains a huge problem for Duquesne, in which better post players can dominate the Dukes down low and especially the offensive boards, giving up 43 percent of all possible second chances to Charlotte. Nevertheless, the defensive rebounding woes of the Dukes did not prove to be a problem in this contest.

The transition game was firing on all cylinders for the Dukes with crisp passing that awed most in attendance. I did not know that they could pass like that. This team represents the first time that I can recall a team that plays smart. The logical reason for this change are freshman Mike Talley and T.J. McConnell who play with high intelligence. Their basketball IQ seems to have caught on with their teammates making the Dukes not only athletic and tenacious, but also quick witted and opportunistic. Looking forward, this is the reason why the Dukes could win the league, even if it is not likely, and win games that they otherwise would not. The Dukes are susceptible to big teams that can pound the ball inside, but as was the case in this matchup this formula has worked well for Duquesne.

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Charlotte Scouting Report

This season has been a tough one for Charlotte and first time head coach Alan Major. Major has quite the pedigree working under the wing of fine coaches such as Gene Keady (Purdue), Bruce Weber (Southern Illinois) and Thad Matta (Xavier & Ohio State) which has served him well in his career. Nonetheless, no amount of training could have prepared him for the train-wreck he was about to witness, and he gets to be the conductor. Major has said he likes his teams to play tough and, if he has learned well from his former bosses, also smart. Smart is not one word to describe the play of the 49ers this season.

Returning All A-10 third team member Shamari Spears has been dismissed from the team for his conduct leaving the 49ers without their biggest scoring presence. For a while, partially filling the vacuum with his stellar play was 6’10” senior Phil Jones who provided some inside scoring and quality rebounding only to be declared academically ineligible last week. These circumstances are coupled with the loss of Major’s first serious recruit Slovenian 6’4” guard Luka Voncina who averaged 14.4 PPG and 5.4 APG on a club that won a national title, who has had eligibility issues with the NCAA.

Major and the remaining 49ers will have to try to pick up the pieces for a season that they would like to soon forget. The best player on the team is 6’9” Sophomore Chris Braswell who has averaged just 10.1 PPG and 6.9 RPG. He is a good rebounder and his best quality is drawing fouls ranking 32nd nationally in free throw rate (FTA/FGA). He shoots a respectable, if not awe inspiring 69.7 percent from the line. Despite the 49ers’ best player being a big man, it is perimeter play that has been more prevalent as of late. Charlotte has taken 22 three point attempts in its last two games.

Leading this charge are guards Derrio Green and Jamar Briscoe. Both require the ball to be in their hands often and neither is a true point guard. Briscoe is officially the point guard, but while has a decent assist rate his attentions are much more on scoring. Facing the Dukes’ tough perimeter defense there will likely not be much room for these players to shine.

With no other real post threats other than Braswell to speak of and the likely poor performance of its guards, it is hard to see how this team will compete with team quickness and tenacity of Duquesne. The Dukes have caught a number of breaks this season from Saint Louis having to suspend its best players, to the Charlotte situation, to Xavier’s injury problems, to facing Temple with Juan Fernandez coming off an injury, to Chris Wright still being a terrible basketball player and Dayton’s lack of identity. These events have helped the Dukes climb to the top of the A-10 standings, with a little more fortune perhaps a conference championship could happen. As for long suffering Duquesne fans, they will take it.