PREVIEW: @DuqMBB at VCU
Jan. 7, 2018
Duquesne (12-4, 3-0), winner of 10 of its past 11, heads to Richmond to face VCU (10-6, 2-1) on Tuesday, Jan. 9 at 8:00 (Stadium network). The Dukes, who have already eclipsed last season’s win total (10-22) and tied last year’s conference win mark (3-15) are off to their best start since the 2008-09 NIT team (21-13) also opened at 12-4. This is the best Atlantic 10 start for the Dukes since the 2010-11 team opened conference play with eight consecutive wins. This is the second consecutive road game for the Dukes, who were the last D-I team to play a road game (a 64-41 win at Fordham on Saturday).
• Duquesne ranked 4th nationally in 3-point field goal percentage defense (.280) through Jan. 6. The .280 mark is the best in school history.
• DU has three wins when shooting under 40%. To put that in perspective, Duquesne won just three times in the previous five seasons (45 games) when shooting under 40%.
• Duquesne has held three opponents under 50 points, something that was done a total of three times in the previous 18 seasons. The three opponents under 50 is the most in a season since 1979-80 (4).
• The Dukes have not been outrebounded 14 of 16 games, including the last 13 in a row.
• Duquesne is 11-1 when holding opponents under 70 points and 12-0 when leading with 5:00 left.
• The Dukes, who averaged 14.2 turnovers per game last season, have cut their turnovers to 11.4/g in 2017-18.
• Eric Williams Jr., a two-time A-10 Rookie of the Week, ranks tied for fifth among D-I freshmen in rebounds per game (9.8) through Jan. 6. The four ahead of him, Deandre Ayton of Arizona, Marvin Bagley of Duke, Mo Bamba of Texas & Brandon McCoy of UNLV were all ESPN.com 5-star recruits.
• Williams Jr. leads the A-10 in rebounding (9.8 rpg.). His six double-doubles are second to VCU’s Justin Tillman for most in the conference.
• Rene Castro-Caneddy, who posted his first career double-double with 12 points and 10 assists vs. Delaware State, has 56 assists and 26 turnovers on the season.
• Duquesne is 10-2 since grad transfer Chas Brown made his debut on Dec. 1 vs. Pitt. Brown, who was Coppin State’s MVP last season, missed the first four games with a foot injury.
• Tarin Smith’s 19 3-pointers this year are two shy of his career total of 21 in his first two college seasons (63 games).
• Duquesne’s eight-game home win streak is the second-longest in the 30-year history of the Palumbo Center. It is the longest home streak since February of 1992 (14 games).
• This is the sixth meeting between Duquesne and sixth-year A-10 member VCU ... last year, the Rams defeated the Dukes, 94-87, in Pittsburgh.
• This is the third meeting between in Richmond ... VCU has taken the first two at Siegel Center: 80-65 on Jan. 18, 2004 & 93-71 on Jan. 20, 2016.
• VCU, which finished second in the A-10 last season, was picked to finish fourth in the conference’s preseason poll ... the Rams are in their first season under head coach Mike Rhoades.
• Duquesne head coach Keith Dambrot is 0-5 vs. VCU, with all five meetings coming when Dambrot was at Akron ... the last three losses came against his former Akron assistant, Shaka Smart ... Dambrot’s Zips lost to the Rams in overtime, 76-75, at Akron on Dec. 29, 2011 ... Dambrot’s Akron team also fell to Anthony Grant’s VCU team, 73-69 at Siegel Center on Dec. 17, 2008.
• VCU is 8-2 at home with the losses coming to nationally ranked Virginia (76-67) and Texas (71-67) ... VCU has sold out 109 games in a row - and is 94-15 over that span - at Siegel Center.
• VCU is led by preseason first team All-Atlantic 10 pick senior forward Justin Tillman (18.2, 9.0) ... Tillman leads the Atlantic 10 with seven double-doubles (one more than DU freshman Eric Williams Jr.) ... Tillman and senior guard Jonathan Williams were named to the five-man preseason A-10 All-Defensive Team.
• The Rams, who have won five of six, are coming off a 80-74 win at La Salle on Saturday.
NOTING THE DUKES
• Duquesne is in its first season under head coach Keith Dambrot. Dambrot came to the Bluff after 13 highly-successful seasons at Akron, where he led the Zips to a 305-139 record (23.5 wins per season) including 10 postseason appearances (3 NCAA, 5 NIT, 1 CBI & 1 CIT). Dambrot’s 12-4 start is the best by a DU first-year coach since Dudey Moore went 13-3 in his first 16 games in 1948-49. Moore coached Keith’s father, Sid, from 1952-54 during his highly-successful 10 seasons on the Bluff. There were 10 coaches between Moore and Dambrot.
• Duquesne, which eclipsed last year’s win total (10-22) in its 15th game - a 69-22 win over GW, is off to its best start since the 2008-09 NIT team (21-13) opened with a 12-4 record. A win at VCU would give DU its best 17-game start since 1971-72 (15-2).
• The 2017-18 Dukes are limiting opponents to 61.5 points per game. It is the lowest opponent scoring average since 1962 (61.1). Only four opposing teams have topped 70 points against Duquesne this season. The 61.5 ppg. average is a +12.7 ppg. improvement over last season (74.2 ppg.).
• Duquesne had its full roster for the first time this season on Dec. 9 vs. Delaware State (DU was 4-3 at the time). JC transfer Marko Krivacevic missed seven games with a broken bone in his wrist. Grad transfer Chas Brown missed the first four games with a foot injury and senior forward Eric James (knee) missed the Cornell game. Sophomore forward Kellon Taylor, who spent the fall as a receiver for DU’s FCS football team, joined the team just prior to Thanksgiving (he was not in uniform for the first two games).
• Duquesne has received significant contributions from a pair of freshmen. Six-five swingman Eric Williams Jr. (14.3, 9.8) leads the A-10 with a 9.8 rpg. average - the highest by a Duke since Damian Saunders averaged 11.3 rpg. in 2010. The versatile guard/forward, who has six double-doubles, is second on the team with 29 3-pointers and has thrown down a team-high 14 dunks. Through Dec. 3, Williams Jr. ranked tied for fifth among Division I freshmen in rebounds per game. Six-nine forward Tydus Verhoeven had the best game of his young career with 12 points, nine rebounds a freshman record-tying seven blocks and three assists vs. Robert Morris on Nov. 19. The 6-8 Verhoeven, who added five more blocks vs. Mississippi Valley State, leads the A-10 with 32 blocks in under 20 minutes per game.
• Fordham’s 41 points were the fewest by either team in the 37-game history of the series.
• The 41 points were the fewest by a DU opponent in 38 years (dating back to a 34-33 NIT loss to Saint Peter’s at Pittsburgh Civic Arena on Mar. 10, 1980).
• Duquesne, playing its first road game of the season, posted the school’s largest margin of victory (+23) in an Atlantic 10 road game. The previous mark was +21 in a 89-68 win at Fordham on Jan. 25, 2009.
• It was the third consecutive game that the Dukes have held their opponent to a season-low second half point total: 28 by Dayton, 23 by George Washington and 15 by Fordham.
• Duquesne broke open the game with a 17-0 run to open the second half. Rene Casto-Caneddy scored 10 of his game-high 21 points during the outburst.
• DU held the Rams scorless for the first 7:21 of the second half.
• Tarin Smith (12 points) and Jordan Robinson (season high 10 points) joined Castro-Caneddy in double figures. Freshman Eric Williams Jr., who had nine points, grabbed a game-high eight rebounds. Tarin Smith had a game-high six assists with one turnover.
• The Dukes outrebounded the Rams 44-20 and outscored Fordham 28-18 in the paint.