PREVIEW: The City Game
Nov. 30, 2017
Duquesne, off to a 2-2 start under first-year head coach Keith Dambrot, makes the one-block trek to PPG Paints Arena to face Pitt (3-4) in the 86th version of the City Game on Friday, Dec. 1 at 7:00 p.m. (Facebook). The Dukes, who snapped a 15-game series losing streak against the Panthers with a 64-55 win last season, will be looking to win two in a row in the series for the first time since 1980 when Mike Rice’s Dukes (18-10) defeated Tim Grgurich’s Panthers (17-12) twice in less than a month (67-66 on Feb. 10 in an Eastern 8 game at the Civic Arena and 65-63 in a March 6 first round NIT game also at the Arena). The March 6 game was Grgurich’s last at Pitt. This is Dambrot’s second game vs. Pitt. On Nov. 21, 2008, Dambrot’s Akron Zips dropped an 86-67 decision to No. 6 (AP) Pitt in the Legends Classic at Petersen Events Center. Dambrot’s ‘09 Akron team went on to finish 23-13 and earn an NCAA Tournament appearance.
• Rene Castro-Caneddy, who had never played more than 30 minutes in a game entering the season, is averaging 20.0 points in 36.2 minutes/g. Castro-Caneddy’s career scoring average entering the season was 5.0 points in an average of 13.6 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) had nine rebounds in his first career start vs. VMI and followed that with 18 points and eight rebounds vs. Robert Morris. He added a second double-double (12-10) vs. Cornell. Williams Jr. was named A-10 co-Rookie of the Week (Nov. 13) following the St. Francis Brooklyn game.
• Freshman Tydus Verhoeven has blocked 14 shots in 92 total minutes. His seven rejections vs. Robert Morris tied the DU freshman record.
• DU has made 22 more free throws than their opponents have attempted (Duquesne is 89-125 from the line, opponents are 41-67).
• DU’s 45 turnovers in four games are the fourth-fewest in the nation (through Monday’s games).
• The Pitt game begins a stretch of four games in nine days for the Dukes: Dec. 1 vs. Pitt, Dec. 4 vs. UMES, Dec. 6 vs. Stetson and Dec. 9 vs. Delaware State.
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).
• 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 key 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 was a receiver for DU’s FCS football team (7-4) prior rejoining the basketball team on Nov. 19 (football season ended on Nov. 18).
• Dambrot added a four-man, April/May-assembled recruiting class consisting of 6-8 Fr. F Nicholas Kratholm, 6-9 Jr. F Marko Krivacevic, 6-8 Fr. F Tydus Verhoeven and 6-5 Fr. G Eric Williams Jr. 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.
• Duquesne has yet to have its full roster for a game this season. Grad transfer Chas Brown (foot) and JC transfer Marko Krivacevic (wrist) have missed the first four games 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.
• Duquesne has received considerable contributions from a pair of freshmen on the young season. Six-five swingman Eric Williams Jr. (13.5 ppg.) leads the Dukes with a 9.8 rpg. average. Williams Jr., who is the first DU freshman to post a double-double in a season opener (17-12 vs. St. Francis Brooklyn), added a 12-10 double-double vs. Cornell. 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. Verhoeven ranks second to Texas’ Mo Bamba among the nation’s top freshman shot blockers with 14 rejections in four games.
This is the 86th meeting between Duquesne and Pitt in a series that dates back to Jan. 13, 1932 ... Pitt holds a 53-32 advantage overall ... this is the eighth meeting at PPG Paints Arena ... No. 3 (AP) Pitt defeated Duquesne 80-66 in the inaugural game at PPG in 2010, and went on to win the next five, before Duquesne ended the streak with a 64-55 win last season ... eight years ago, the Dukes and Panthers played in the final basketball game at Mellon Arena, with Pitt emerging with a 67-58 double overtime win ... Duquesne, which never trailed in regulation, led by 16 with 17:32 left ... the seven games before that alternated between Pitt’s Petersen Events Center and Duquesne’s A.J. Palumbo Center ... 2017-18 marks the 48th consecutive season the two teams have met ... the last time Duquesne and Pitt did not play was in 1969-70 ... DU snapped a 15-game Pitt series win streak with a 64-55 win last season ... the Dukes erased a 10-point first half deficit by outscoring the Panthers 44-25 over the final 23:09 ... Emile Blackman led three Duquesne players in double figures with a game-high 21 points ... DU ended an eight-game Pitt win streak with an 80-69 win on Feb. 5, 1998 and won again at Mellon Arena on Dec. 21, 2000 by a 71-70 count, giving the Dukes wins in three of the past 19 meetings.
DUKES AND THE ACC