PREVIEW: Robert Morris at @DuqMBB
Nov. 17, 2017
Duquesne, off to a 2-0 start under first-year head coach Keith Dambrot, welcomes Robert Morris (0-3) to the Palumbo Center on Sunday, Nov. 19 at 5:30 p.m. (A-10 Network).
Dambrot, who is in his 20th season as a head coach, will be facing Robert Morris for the first time. Although the opponent is a new one, Dambrot, who came to DU after 13 highly-successful seasons at Akron, is familiar with a couple of members of the RMU roster. Robert Morris junior guard Josh Williams, who played in 68 games in two seasons under Dambrot at Akron, is sitting out the season following his transfer. Josh’s younger brother, Jon, who also hails from Akron, is starting at point guard for the Colonials.
NOTING THE DUKES
• Duquesne returns two starters - 6-1 So. G Mike Lewis II and 6-2 Jr. G Tarin Smith from last year’s 10-22 (3-15, 14th in Atlantic 10) team. Lewis II, a member of the 2016-17 A-10 All-Rookie Team, was named 2017-18 third team preseason All-A-10 by the league’s coaches and media.
• DU’s other returnees include: 6-2 Gr. G Rene Castro-Caneddy, 6-6, Sr., F Eric James and 6-8 Gr. C Jordan Robinson. Six-five So., F Kellon Taylor, is currently doubling as a receiver for DU’s FCS football team and will not join the basketball team until the football season concludes on Nov. 18. Caleb Davis and Zach Snyder are back as well.
• Only six members of the current roster have started a Division I game. Aside from returning starters Mike Lewis II (32/31 last year) and Tarin Smith (32/32 in ‘17) the starting experience has been scarce. Rene Castro-Caneddy made his second start in 59 career games in the opener. Jordan Robinson started for the first time since Nov. 29, 2014 and Eric James made his first start since Mar. 21, 2016 when he took the floor vs. St. Francis Brooklyn. Injured F/C Chas Brown started all 18 games he played last year at Coppin State.
• Dambrot added a four-man, April/May-assembled recruiting class consisting of 6-8 Fr. F Nicholas Kratholm (Louisville, Ky.), 6-9 Jr. F Marko Krivacevic (Szombathely, Hungary/Miami Dade College), 6-8 Fr. F Tydus Verhoeven (Manteca, Calif.) and 6-5 Fr. G Eric Williams Jr. (New Haven, Mich.). That class was supplemented by the addition of 6-8, 235-pound grad transfer Chas Brown. Brown averaged 12.6 points and 7.1 rebounds last season in earning team MVP honors at Coppin State. Four of the newcomers are 6-8 or taller. Brown (foot) and Krivacevic (wrist) are currently sidelined with injuries.
• Castro-Caneddy (6), Lewis II (4) and Smith (4) have combined for 14 of DU’s 18 steals. The trio has also accounted for 13 of the Dukes’ 17 assists.
• Sophomore preseason third team All-Atlantic 10 pick Mike Lewis II (17.5 ppg.), bounced back from an 0-of-9 performance from 3-point in the season opener vs. St. Francis Brooklyn to hit 4-of-6 from the arc in Tuesday’s win over VMI.
• Rene Castro-Caneddy, who had never played more than 30 minutes in a game entering the season, is averaging 18.0 points and 3.0 assists in 36 minutes/g.
• Eric Williams Jr., who became the first freshman in school history to post a double-double in a season opener (17-12 vs. St. Francis Brooklyn) added nine rebounds in 30 minutes vs. VMI. Williams Jr. leads the team in both offensive (6) and defensive (15) rebounds. Williams Jr. was named Atlantic 10 co-Rookie of the Week (Nov. 13) following the St. Francis Brooklyn game.
• Freshman Tydus Verhoeven has blocked five shots in 29 total minutes.
• DU has made 23 more free throws than their opponents have attempted (Duquesne is 52-72 from the line, opponents are 18-29).
• The Dukes have turned it over just 18 times in two games, opponents have turned it over 36 times.
• The Dukes have outscored their first two opponents by an average of 13.0 points per game, despite shooting .398.
DUKES AND COLONIALS
SERIES QUICK NOTES
• Robert Morris, under eighth-year head coach Andrew Toole, won five in a row over Duquesne before the Dukes ended the streak with a 72-65 win at Palumbo Center in 2016. Robert Morris defeated Duquesne, 64-60, at PPG Paints Arena last season. RMU had never won more than two in a row in the series prior to Toole’s arrival. The Colonials have held the Dukes under 70 points in their past six series wins (62.3 ppg.).
• RMU, which has made seven post-season appearances in the past 10 years, was 14-19 overall and 9-9 (T5th) in the NEC in 2017. The Colonials were picked to finish 7th in the NEC preseason poll. RMU has 11 newcomers (six freshmen, two JC transfers, two grad transfers and one transfer) on the 2017-18 roster.
• The Colonials opened the season with a 4,650-mile trip to Columbus, Ohio (64-95 L at Ohio State), Phoenix (61-75 L at Grand Canyon), and San Diego (53-65 L at San Diego) from September 9-16. RMU, which is averaging 59.3 ppg., is led by Koby Thomas (13.7 ppg.) and Dachon Burke (13.0 ppg.), Five Colonials have had double-digit scoring games this season, led by Matty McConnell’s and Thomas’ 22-point games at Ohio State.
• RMU, which is opening the year with eight-straight road games, will be playing “home” games at both PPG Paints Arena and Duquesne’s Palumbo Center due to construction of a new on-campus facility. The Colonials will host Canisius (Dec. 22), St. Francis Brooklyn (Jan. 4), Bryant (Feb. 15) and CCSU (Feb. 17) at Palumbo Center.