PITTSBURGH (93-7 The FAN) – Just before tonight’s game one of the refs said, “I’m only as good as my last call.” The same ref made a goaltending call in the second half that spectator consensus probably would have refuted. Then, a fan said, “Hey, it’s early in the season,” after stating his opinion about the refutable-worthy call.
That’s right, it’s early in the season and not time to overanalyze or come to any definite conclusions. The Dukes outscored the Shepherd University Rams 79-54, despite a scoring drought in the last 5:59 of the first half, and aside from a few numbers, like an uncharacteristic 18% from 3-point range and going 15-23 from the line, the stats sheet from tonight’s game was not an indication of how the Dukes played; or at least how they thought they played.
“We didn’t do anything well tonight, I don’t think, except for that 10 minute stretch that we cut it loose, but that’s about it,” said sophomore guard T.J. McConnell who had game high 5 assists and 7 steals.
It was the second exhibition game where talent was clearly unbalanced to favor the Dukes, but the tone of the game wasn’t nearly as in your face, intense as it was just three nights ago.
Good news is that T.J. isn’t exactly right on, but also, that they are truly striving for perfection, because defeating a Division II team by 20-plus points isn’t enough to satisfy the Dukes.
The school record for steals in a game is 17; the Dukes had 16 total tonight, and they shot 50% from the field. Junior guard, Sean Johnson found his rhythm early on, finishing with a team high 17 points. They had 27 points off the bench, 11 from sophomore guard Mike Talley including 4 assists and 12 points, 7 rebounds from swingman Jerry Jones.
“I thought he gave us a real spark,” Head Coach Ron Everhart said of Jones.
The bad news is that the other percentage of not being exactly right on, is that he kind of was, in terms of what this group believes they can and should be doing.
Shepherd had 15 offensive rebounds, something that Everhart says has concerned him since day one. Looking past this game however, Everhart is optimistic that Mamadou Datt will be a positive addition in the post as a freshman, and he credits 7-1 Martins Abele for getting into the kind of shape he needs to in order to give them minutes.
Unnecessary turnovers also plagued the Dukes, again, but their full court pressure D in the second half is what seemed to bring them some extra adrenaline to run away with the game.
“We’re a much more effective team when we make it a full court game and we make people work from end line to end line,” said Everhart.
More than half of Shepherd points came from their two most consistent scorers, all conference player, Chad Moore, who finished with 15, and Brantley Osborne, who led DII in 3-point shooting percentage last season (47%), added 18. Osborne shot only 2-8 from the 3-point line, however.
The ref might only be as good as his last call and it is early in the season, but the Dukes won’t let any excuse stand in their way. Next week will sure be an early season test as they travel to Arizona to take on the 16th ranked Wildcats.
“We’re going to walk in there and bring the fight to the fight. I know we have kids that aren’t going to back up,” Everhart said of his players.
In case you wanted to know…
- Senior guard B.J. Monteiro went 6-12, finishing with 13 points for the Dukes.
- ESPN2 will broadcast the Dukes game next Wednesday, Nov. 9th against the Arizona Wildcats in the Coaches vs. Cancer 2K Sports Classic. Tipoff is 9 p.m. at the McKale Center in Tucson, Arizona.
- The Wildcats are 1-1 heading into the regular season
- Former Arizona standout, Derrick Williams was drafted by the Minnesota Timberwolves as the 2nd overall pick in this year’s NBA draft.