Dukes Return to Action Saturday at St. Bonaventure
Feb. 1, 2008
DUQUESNE (13-6, 3-3) at ST. BONAVENTURE (6-14, 0-6)
It seems only appropriate that on Groundhog Day Duquesne (13-6, 3-3) and St. Bonaventure (6-14, 0-6) should face each other for the second time in 10 days.
Like the 1993 movie starring Bill Murray - during which the same things happen to the same weatherman over and over again - Duquesne is hoping for the same result as Jan. 23 when the Dukes defeated the Bonnies 83-67 at the Palumbo Center.
The St. Bonaventure game (4:00 p.m. on Saturday) begins a stretch of six of nine on the road for the Dukes who are coming off a three-game homestand that ended with a 94-80 loss to UMass on Wednesday.
The Minutemen shot .515 and set a DU opponent high for points in snapping the Dukes' six-game home win streak.
Duquesne shot a season-low .342 and went 20-of-36 from the foul line in the loss.
Duquesne, whose 13 wins are its most since 1993-94 (17-13), is 3-4 on the road.
St. Bonaventure, which has lost six in a row including an 84-61 loss at La Salle on Wednesday, is 4-3 at home.
DUQUESNE LATELY: Despite Wednesday's 94-80 loss to UMass, Duquesne finished the month of January with a 4-3 record ... it was the first time a DU team had a winning January since 1983-84 (5-4) ... Duquesne's, 13-6 start is its best since the 1980-81 NIT team (20-10) opened 14-6 ... DU's 13 wins are its most since the 1993-94 (17-13 NIT) ... the Dukes, who held two of 29 opponents under .400 in finishing ranked 324th of 325 NCAA D-I teams in field goal pct. defense (.507) last season, are holding opponents to an A-10 best .407 this year ... eight different DU players are averaging at least 7.3 ppg. and seven have hit at least 10 3-pointers ... four of DU's six losses have come to teams with a combined record of 69-14: at Drake 19-1, Pitt 17-4, at West Virginia 15-6 and at Rhode Island 18-3 ... the losses at Drake, to Pitt and at Rhode Island were by a combined 11 points ... DU currently ranks 3rd nationally in scoring average (85.7 ppg.), 5th in blocks (7.3 bpg.), 6th in assists (18.8 apg.) & 13th in steals (9.8 spg.) ... Shawn James, who ranks 5th nationally in blocks per game (3.9), became the 18th player in NCAA Division-I history to record 400 career blocked shots with his five rejections vs. GW on Jan. 26 ... he has 403 blocks in 73 career games.
THE SERIES: This is the 99th meeting between the Dukes and Bonnies in a series that dates back to Feb. 13, 1920 ... it is also the 57th consecutive season the Dukes and Bonnies have met at least once on the hardwood ... Duquesne leads the overall series 52-46 ... in games played at Olean/Buffalo, St. Bonaventure leads 29-17 ... the Dukes have won six of the past eight meetings including an 83-67 win at the Palumbo Center on Jan. 23 ... the Dukes have won three in a row at SBU's Reilly Center ... the last time a Duquesne team won three in a row at SBU was in the heyday of the program between Jan. 30, 1954 and Jan. 28, 1956 ... Duquesne has never won four straight at St. Bonavneture ... St. Bonaventure is one of three A-10 teams the Dukes will play twice this year along with Fordham (W/L) and La Salle (first meeting Feb. 9) ... Duquesne owns more conference wins over SBU (24) than any other A-10 school.
A victory over St. Bonaventure would:
THE RETURN OF THE 1040: Duquesne, which shortened its bench and played just eight players in its first three conference games, went back full court pressure and five-man substitutions in an 83-67 win over St. Bonaventure on Jan. 23. Jason Duty, Phillip Fayne and David Theis, all of whom hadn't played since the Bowling Green game on Jan. 2, combined to score 13 of DU's first 25 points as the Dukes jumped out to a 25-11 lead against the Bonnies. The 10 men for 40 minutes attack forced 23 SBU turnovers and registered 15 steals. All 10 players that saw action scored by halftime. Duquesne continued with the 1040 to build a 22-8 lead against George Washington last Saturday. The Dukes forced 15 GW turnovers in the first half (29 overall) in producing a 53-32 halftime lead. DU forced 19 turnovers, but couldn't overcome .342 shooting and a 20-of-36 performance from the foul line in a 94-80 loss to UMass on Wednesday. In the three 1040 games, the Dukes are plus-26 in turnovers (45 made to 71 forced) with 36 steals. "We're changing some of the lines at times and trying to make it a 12-man rotation," said Everhart of the 2007-08 version of the 1040. "Our guys know they have two minutes to play hard and that's it. If they don't lay it down for those two minutes, there's a guy out there that might take their spot, and will take their spot in the next rotation."
LEFTOVERS FROM UMASS: Random notes from Duquesne's 94-80 home loss to Massachusetts on Wednesday: the loss snapped a six-game DU home win streak ... UMass set an opponent scoring high with 94 points ... the Minutemen were just the second team to shoot better than .475 against the Dukes this season ... Massachusetts was 34-of-66, .515 from the field ... Duquesne shot a season-low .342 ... the Dukes, who entered the game ranked 40th nationally and third in the A-10 in free throw shooting percentage at .736, went 20-of-36 from the line ... DU missed the front end of three 1-and-1's in going 7-of-14 from the stripe in the first half ... the Dukes managed just one field goal over a 13:18 span that covered the last 9:23 of the first half and first 3:55 of the second ... DU went from up four to down 18 over that span ... there were four ties and nine lead changes in the game's first 13 minutes ... Shawn James, who had blocked at least one shot in 72 consecutive games (every game of his college career), did not block a shot in 23 minutes ... the Dukes tied their season low with just two rejections - both coming from 6-1 Gary Tucker ... UMass blocked a total of 10 Duquesne shots ... the Dukes committed just 12 turnovers while forcing 19 ... UMass' largest lead was 20 points with 9:20 left ... Duquesne cut it to 11 with two minutes left, but could get no closer.
QUICK NOTES: Duquesne is +5.8 turnovers per game in conference play (88 to 123 for opponents) ... Aaron Jackson has 17 assists and four turnovers in a team-high 158 minutes of Atlantic 10 play ... Jackson is shooting .542 despite a 1-of-6 outing vs. UMass on Wednesday ... Reggie Jackson, who was averaging 3.6 ppg. following the Dec. 5 Pitt game, brings an 8.0 ppg. scoring average to Olean ... Jackson has handed out 43 assists (4.8 apg.) in his past nine games, including a career-high nine vs. Robert Morris on Dec. 28 ... it took Shawn James four games to break the Atlantic 10 and Duquesne records for blocks in a game (he had 12 blocks in 22 minutes in Duquesne's 92-77 win at Oakland on Nov. 20) and 15 games to break the school mark for blocks in a season ... James' 71 blocks have shattered the school mark of 60 set (in 1991-92) and tied (in 1992-93) by Derrick Alston ... Alston played in 28 games in both `92 & `93 in setting and tying the old mark ... the previous A-10 record of 11 blocks in a game was set by Rutgers' Roy Hinson in 1982-83 and tied by UMass' Stephane Lasme three times last year ... the old Duquesne record of seven was set by Derrick Alston vs. Saint Joseph's Jan. 5, 1991 ... James broke the DU record when he rejected his eighth shot with 7:53 left in the first half at Oakland ... with his five rejections against George Washington on Jan. 26, James became the 18th player in NCAA Division I history to reach 400 for his career ... James has 403 blocked shots in 73 career games ... had a 20-10 double-double at Fordham before suffering a knee injury in practice on Monday, Jan. 21 that kept him in street clothes for the Jan. 23 St. Bonaventure game ... came back to score a season-high 21 points to go along with seven rebounds and five blocks vs. GW ... Kojo Mensah saw a streak of 18 consecutive free throws made snapped at Bowling Green ... he had a streak of 13 in a row earlier this season ... Mensah, who posted his fourth 20-point game with 22 on Dec. 28 vs. Robert Morris, is tied with James for the team lead in 20-point games ... Mensah has scored in double digits in DU's last five games ... DU is 2-2 when Mensah scores in single digits and 11-1 when Mensah attempts six or more free throws ... Mensah's 112 free throw attempts are 28 more than any other DU player ... Damian Saunders was named A-10 Rookie of the Week for the third time on Dec. 30 ... he is the fifth player in school history to win the award more than twice in a season ... Saunders leads the team with 31 steals and is second on the team with a 5.4 rebounds per game average ... he is third in blocks (22) and tied for third on the team with 15 3-pointers ... fellow freshman Bill Clark has hit three or more 3-pointers in a game four times ... Clark, at 6-6, ranks third on the team with a 4.9 rpg. average ... Kieron Achara, who played just six minutes at Rhode Island after suffering a mild concussion early in the second half, made his return at Fordham (five points and two blocks in nine minutes) ... with James on the bench in street clothes the Stirling, Scotland native posted 18 points, 12 rebounds, 3 blocks and 3 steals in 28 minutes vs. St. Bonaventure on Jan. 23 ... Achara had eight points and four rebounds before fouling out in 13 minutes vs. George Washington ... in his last trip to Olean, Achara had a then career-high 25 points and 11 rebounds in a 111-92 Dukes win ... Phillip Fayne is 5-of-9 from the 3-point arc in his past three games.
UP FOR GRABS: Atlantic 10 play began on Jan. 9 and by Jan. 16 all 14 conference teams had at least one loss. In addition, 13 teams had at least one victory by the 17th. Since the formation of the league in 1976-77, 45 teams have opened league play with a 4-0 record. This season marks the first in Conference history that no team opened A-10 play 3-0.
WHAT A DIFFERENCE A YEAR MAKES: Last year, Duquesne notched its tenth - and final - win on Feb. 7; this year, victory No. 10 came one month earlier - on Jan. 2. Through 19 games, the Dukes have shown marked improvement in nearly every category over last season - especially on defense:
Scoring Ppg. Ppg. FG% Rebound Through 19 g. W/L Margin Offense Defense Defense Margin Blocks 2006-07 8-11 -7.4 73.6 80.5 .509 -6.0 3.1 2007-08 13-6 +13.2 85.7 72.5 .407 +1.4 7.3 Difference +5 W's +20.6 +12.1 +8.0 +.102 +7.4 +4.2
GIVING AND TAKING AWAY: The 2007-08 Dukes own the No. 1 & No. 6 high assist games in school history (35 vs. Howard and 28 vs. St. Francis) in addition to four of the top six shot blocking games - including No. 1 (15 at Oakland) & No. 2 (13 vs. St. Francis). Duquesne has posted 20 or more assists in a game nine times and registered 10 or more blocks on four occasions. Duquesne ranks fifth nationally in blocks per game (7.3) and sixth in assists per game (18.8) (CBS Sportsline stats through Wednesday).
DOING IT WITH DEFENSE: Duquesne, which ranked 324th of 325 NCAA Division I programs in field goal percentage defense last season (.507), held its first seven opponents under the 38 percent shooting before Pitt broke the 40 percent mark by hitting 25-of-61 shots (.410) on Dec. 5. Duquesne opponents are shooting .407 through 19 games in 2007-08. In 29 games last year, DU held opponents under 40 percent twice. In addition, the Dukes have blocked 138 shots (7.3 bpg.) which already ranks third on DU's all-time single-season list. Six-ten first-year transfer Shawn James, who led the NCAA in blocked shots in 2005-06 at Northeastern, leads the way with a school single season record 71 rejections followed by graduate student Kieron Achara with 27 and freshman Damian Saunders with 22. The Dukes are also averaging 9.8 steals per game. Defensive pressure and a plus-11 turnover ratio (DU turned it over just 12 times) allowed the Dukes to defeat St. Bonaventure on Jan. 23 despite shooting .397 from the field. Duquesne's .397 effort was its third-worst of the season. Entering this year, Duquesne had lost 45 consecutive games when shooting under 40 percent. This year - mainly because of its vastly improved defense - the Dukes are 2-2 when shooting under 40 percent (wins at Oakland and vs. St. Bonaventure and losses to then-No. 12 (AP) Pitt and vs. UMass).
THE STEAL CITY: Duquesne, which has posted 36 steals in its past three games, has had 14 or more steals in a game six times in 2007-08. The Dukes, who rank 13th nationally with 9.8 steals per game, have eight players with 10 or more steals led by freshman Damian Saunders with 31. Since steals were first recorded as an official NCAA stat in 1985-86, DU has posted 15 or more in a game 12 times with three coming this season.
LEARNING HOW TO WIN: Duquesne got a head start on the 2007-08 season with a four-game trip to Toronto over Labor Day weekend. The trip, which was the first foreign tour in school history, enabled the Dukes to practice for 10 days prior to leaving. Twelve players made the trip (Bill Clark - NCAA clearinghouse, Damian Saunders - not yet enrolled & Brandon Harris - plans to redshirt, did not accompany the team) that saw the Dukes play four games in three days in Toronto and Brampton, Ontario. When you take into account a four-game Labor Day trip and a pair of exhibition wins, the group that makes up the 2007-08 Dukes is 19-6 playing as a unit. Here are the results of the Canadian games and the two exhibitions:
DATE OPPONENT SCORE Sept. 1 at U. of Toronto 92-60 Sept. 2 at Ryerson U. 107-84 Sept. 2 at Sheridan College 105-76 Sept. 3 at U. of Waterloo 107-80 Nov. 1 Millersville - DII 108-87 Nov. 3 Seton Hill - DII 129-67