PITTSBURGH (93-7 The Fan) — It’s that time again.  The time when one more win is all it takes to keep going.  Score just one more point than the opponent and the season rolls on.

It’s that time again.  The time when after all of the three-hour practices, the sweat, the mental drain and the pressure to represent your school with a winning team, you get that second shot to make a mark in the 2012 college basketball season.

It’s tourney time.

“I thought that the Dayton and GW games were two games that we did not play as well as we are capable of playing,” Duquesne head coach Ron Everhart said.  “With our team this year, if we don’t play in the open floor and if we don’t play with emotion and really get after it defensively we struggle.”

Tonight at 7PM Duquesne (16-14, 7-9) will get their second shot.  The chance to throw their four losses in the past five games out the door.  As the ninth seed in the Atlantic-10 Conference, they will face eighth seeded Massachusetts (20-10, 9-7) at UMass.

“The thing that’s tougher in our tournament right now is the format where you have to go play on the road of the home site. We really have to play that much better,” said Coach Everhart.

UMass is 14-1 at Mullins Center this season.

The Dukes defeated the Minutemen on January 18th at Palumbo 80-69.  Although they were outrebounded by 16, they forced UMass to 29 turnovers and were able to capitalize with 32 points off of those turnovers.

They held First Team All-Conference sophomore guard, Chaz Williams to just eight points, while his playing time was limited due to foul trouble.

After that game the Dukes went on to lose six of their remaining 11.

“We’ve really been working on our offensive execution.  We’ve been working on more spacing and moving the ball, sharing it more and really trying to make the extra pass.  It’s been good to go back and show our players some of the offensive execution plays that we made earlier in the season when we were playing well, and guys were really sharing the ball.  That was something that we spent a lot of time on,” said Everhart.

In the last matchup between the teams, the Minutemen finished with 33 fast break points.

“We really spent a lot of time on transition defense, because they’re just so good in the open floor,” Everhart added.

Coach says in order to come out on top tonight, his team will have to play smart offensively in order to get good open shots.

“We have to keep them out of transition and the best way to do that is to make shots.  The other part of it is we’re going to have to rebound the ball. I’d like to hope that defensively we’ll be tough enough and strong enough to try to duplicate the defensive effort from the last time we played them, but the fact is we’re going to have to come up with a few more clean rebounds.”

In the last matchup senior swingman B.J. Monteiro led the Dukes with 23 points, junior guard Sean Johnson finished with a double-double, 20 points and 10 rebounds, and Third Team All-Conference sophomore guard T.J. McConnell added 15 points, six assists and four steals.  Along with his All-Conference selection, T.J. also was selected on the A-10 All-Defensive Team yesterday.

The All-Conference selections are just one more reminder of this time in college basketball.

“Guys having a kind of renewed sense of ‘Hey we got another shot, we got another chance, lets make the most of it’ type of thing,” Coach Everhart said.

It’s tourney time.

In case you wanted to know…

  • The first round of the A-10 tournament is played on the home floor of the higher seed, and then the winners and bye-teams will play in Atlantic City beginning on Friday March 9th
  • McConnell is third in the country in steals per game with 2.83.
  • Senior guard Eric Evans is just the 10th player in DU history with 1,000 points and 300 assists (1,039/307).
  • In the Dukes’ and Minutemen’s last meeting, UMass senior forward Sean Carter had 12 points and grabbed 14 boards and sophomore guard Jesse Morgan led the team with 14 points. 
  • Massachusetts is Duquesne’s most frequent A-10 Championship opponent.  The Dukes have a 5-4 series lead. 
  • The winner of this game will go on to play first-place Temple (24-6) at 12PM on Friday. 

Aly Cohen
The Aly Way

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