McConnell Honored as Top Rookie for 3rd Straight Week

T.J. McConnell keeps receiving accolades. It is impressive, how astute the voters have been in recognizing his impact despite not putting up gaudy stat lines. The buzz must be out on this guy in Atlantic 10 circles.

McConnell is honored as Rookie of the Week for the third week in a row and fourth time this year. The freshman guard had an overall solid week averaging 10.0 points, 5.0 steals, 3.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists, while committing just one turnover in 56 total minutes. McConnell opened the week playing 30 minutes at La Salle scoring 13 points and adding five rebounds, four assists and four steals. He followed that performance with seven points and a career-high six steals in helping the Dukes remain perfect in league play with a victory over Charlotte.

T.J.’s ability to be a step ahead of everyone else is getting recognized, when usually this genre of awards are given simply to the top point scorers. 10 steals in two games does pop out at you, and as the write-up mentions, only 1 turnover. That really is remarkable. McConnell might be the smartest player in the league and he is only a Freshman. Who knows what the future will hold, but barring serious injury, it will be a joy to see T.J. don a Duquesne uniform for the next few years. Also, maybe his impact as a local kid will help bring more attention to the program, so I no longer get yelled at for standing in the last minute of a close game. A sincere congratulations must go out to McConnell and, perhaps more importantly to the voters who seem to have gotten their collective heads out of the box score and have actually been watching the games.

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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.