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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Dukes Release Schedule

On Tuesday, the Dukes released their schedule for the 2010-11 season. It possesses many familiar opponents but stands out in regard to the overall strength of opponent. Duquesne has faced a relatively poor schedule the last few seasons in a effort to bolster the team’s confidence going into conference play. This would seem to be a sign of confidence by head coach Ron Everhart and his staff that the Dukes are ready to take the next step towards becoming a perennial Atlantic 10 contender.

Familiar conference opponents include Pitt and West Virginia, two Big East powers that should compete for their league’s title again.  Similarly, the Dukes will face cross town rival Robert Morris, coming off a tough loss in NCAA Tournament to the 2 seed Villanova. Also, the second legs of home-and-home series will be concluded in Pitsburgh with quality mid major programs IUPUI and George Mason. Added to that list are Green Bay and Bowling Green, members of higher level mid major conferences. Softer competition includes UMBC, Northwestern State and Norfolk State and Houston Baptist.

As far as the Atlantic 10 schedule goes, it is more favorable than it otherwise could have been. The Dukes will face off twice against Dayton, Saint Louis and Saint Bonaventure. Duquesne traditionally plays well against Dayton, but many prognosticators are touting them to win the league after their NIT championship run (note: I’m not among them). Saint Louis is a tough opponent for the Dukes with their slow pace and fantastic coach. Saint Bonaventure is similarly a difficult matchup due to Sophmore big man Andrew Nicholson, who gave the Dukes fits due to the lack of quality size in the front court.

Duquesne does catch a few breaks in getting to play top league opponents, Temple, Xavier, Rhode Island and Charlotte at home. The remaining A-10 games will be on the road with a date at Richmond appearing  as the most difficult contest. Overall, the quality of opponent for the 2010-11 season should be stronger and this season will demonstrate much about the program going forward. If the team is successful (20 wins or so) it should mark the shift to a full time A-10 contender. If not, it might mean more bottom feeders on the schedule and limited potential in regards to post season appearances.