Duquesne Men Picked to Finish Tied for Fifth in Preseason Atlantic 10 Poll
Oct. 22, 2009
PITTSBURGH - Duquesne, which returns four starters from a team that posted the school's highest win total since 1971, was picked to finish tied for fifth in a poll of Atlantic 10 coaches and media released today as part of the league's annual media day.
It is by far the highest the Dukes have been picked in the annual preseason poll since Ron Everhart took over as head coach prior to the 2006-07 season.
In addition, juniors Damian Saunders (Waterbury, Conn./Notre Dame Prep) and Bill Clark (Redondo Beach, Calif./Worcester Academy) were named preseason second and third team all-conference respectively.
Duquesne, picked to finish 12th in last year's preseason poll, finished tied for fifth in the regular season at 9-7 (21-13 overall) and advanced to the Atlantic 10 Championship title game before losing by five points (69-64) to Temple. The Dukes were rewarded with their first post-season appearance since 1993-94 when they accepted a bid to the National Invitation Tournament.
Saunders, a 6-7 forward, and Clark, a 6-4 swingman, are the top two returning scorers from last year's team.
Saunders, who averaged 13.1 points per game, led the A-10 in steals (a school record 71, 2.1 spg.), ranked third in blocked shots (2.4 bpg.) and was fourth in both rebounding (7.6 rpg.) and field goal percentage (.546). He was an honorable mention All-Atlantic 10 pick last season. Clark averaged 12.9 points and hit a team-high 66 3-pointers in 2009. He was at his best in conference play where he averaged 15.4 ppg. and shot a team-best .542. Both Clark and Saunders are two-year starters.
Duquesne, which was picked to finish 13th in 2007 and 11th in 2008, exceeded expectations by finishing tied for 10th both seasons. Last year, the Dukes entered the season as one of the youngest teams in the nation before turning their No. 12 preseason pick into a tie for fifth finish.
Duquesne, which has gone 10-19, 17-13 and 21-13 in its first three seasons under Everhart, will be looking to post the school's third consecutive winning season - something that hasn't happened on the Bluff since Red Manning's Dukes finished above .500 five straight times from 1967-68 through 1972-73.
The Dukes, who return eight of their top nine scorers from last season, host La Roche in an exhibition game at 7:00 p.m. on Nov. 7, before opening the 2009-10 regular season at home against Nicholls State on Friday, Nov. 13 at 8:00 p.m.
2009-10 ATLANTIC 10 PREDICTED ORDER OF FINISH
(as selected by conference coaches and media - first place votes in parentheses)
1. Dayton (33)