(PITTSBURGH 93-7 The Fan) — Many things change from game to game, especially when over a month’s time has passed before taking on an opponent again. A team shoots better, a different player is more zoned in, calls go one way more than another and the variables go on. What you try to prepare for is what you know, and that’s exactly what Duquesne (14-9, 5-4) is doing going into their second meeting this season with St. Bonaventure (12-8, 5-4).
Coming off back-to-back wins against Dayton and Richmond, the Dukes face a St. Bonaventure team that is 8-1 at home, including seven straight victories at the Reilly Center. The Bonnies have an average win margin of 19.3 in Atlantic 10 play on their home floor.
Just to refresh the mind a bit—not to let what happened a month ago in the Dukes 66-52 win over the Bonnies influence the projected outcome of today’s game too much —there were a few factors that aren’t likely to reoccur this time around.
First, Duquesne played without their leading rebounder (5.4) and 1,000-point scorer, senior B.J. Monteiro who was out with a hand injury. Duquesne head coach Ron Everhart doesn’t think that changes the dynamic for his team drastically, however.
“We want to pressure them, try to create turnovers, because that’s what we do. The good thing about having B.J. is that he’s so familiar with the way to do those things,” Everhart said. “However, last time we played our chemistry was great. Our kids performed well. We made shots.”
Second, St. Bonaventure’s leading scorer and rebounder, at 15.4 and 7.1 respectively, preseason Wooden Award nominee, senior forward Andrew Nicholson did not score in the first half as he was limited to just 24 total minutes while in foul trouble.
“I don’t know if that can happen at home the same way, but we’re going to try to do the same things in terms of attacking him, making him run the floor and trying to execute the way that we did when we played him here,” Everhart said.
Third, the Bonnies shot just 33.3 percent from the field, over eleven percent less than their current average, and as the nation’s 19th best foul shooting team at 75.6 percent, they shot just 61.9 percent from the stripe.
Duquesne went on a 13-0 run in that January 7th game, while turnovers were high for both teams. Runs have been a constant for the Dukes this season, whether or not they have been in their favor. Over the past ten games the Dukes are 6-4. Out of those ten games, six have included large runs not in their favor. In those six games, those unfavorable runs have a combined point total of 75-7, and the Dukes are 3-3.
“Normally what happens with us is that poor shot selection leads to bad transition defense. The biggest thing for us is that we need to play better transition defense, which starts by creating better offense and taking better shots,” Coach Everhart said.
After all that being said, the Dukes understand what it will take for them to win today’s game, as the Bonnies fight to avoid the sweep.
“For us to go up there and have any sort of success it’s going to take a great effort on our part. We’re going to have to make shots, we’re going to have to shoot free throws well when we have those opportunities and we’re going to have to be able to convert in transition,” Everhart said.
The Dukes shot just 20-31 from the line in the last matchup with the Bonnies.
This season Duquesne has four players averaging in double digits in road games, in junior guard Sean Johnosn, Monteiro, senior guard Eric Evans and sophomore guard T.J. McConnell. Evans is the only one of the bunch whose average is higher on the road.
It’s now grind-time in the A-10 play, as both teams sit in sixth place in the conference. The one thing that will not change from one month ago for the Dukes is that they know that things do change, and they are prepared. Execution, to be determined.
“I think our team is a little more detail oriented than we were a month ago, I think our team is a better basketball team than we were a month ago, so I’m hoping that some of the adjustments that we’ve made through the course of conference play to handle other big guys, we can institute against Nicholson and be as effective,” Everhart said. “I think the last time we played him here there were six NBA scouts watching him play, so that speaks to how good he really is. It’s like every other game in this league, a very tough road game and it’s the hardest thing to do in college basketball, to go on the road and win.”
In case you wanted to know…
- Evans is nine points away from 1,000 career points for the Dukes.
- The Dukes are currently ranked 3rd in the country in turnover margin at +5.7.
- McConnell is 14-22 from three-point range in A-10 play, and leads the league in steals per game with 2.9.
- St. Bonaventure has a +4.1 rebounding margin to Duquesne’s -5.8.
- Sophomores Mike Talley and Jerry Jones are averaging 7.5 and 6.5 ppg. respectively for the Dukes coming off the bench.
- The 4PM game will be televised regionally on Comcast Sports Network.
- Duquesne returns home to face Fordham (9-13, 2-7) on Wednesday night at 7.
The Aly Way