December 11, 2012; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Duquesne Dukes head coach Jim Ferry reacts on the sidelines against the West Virginia Mountaineers during the first half at the CONSOL Energy Center. The Duquesne Dukes won 60-56. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

What I Hope Duquesne Works On In Practice


Hard to believe, but basketball practice gets underway later this week thanks to an NCAA rule change that allow for two more weeks to prepare for the season. I hope Duquesne focuses on the following.

Using Defensive Rebounds To Trigger The Offense

I noticed that last year’s team could run or it could rebound but it really couldn’t do both. When it rebounded well, they looked like a decent team. When they first started to pick up the tempo, they surprised WVU. After that, teams realized the Dukes needed their guards to support the rebounding effort and that the Duquesne post players couldn’t trigger the break by themselves. They crashed the glass harder creating more second chance opportunities, while easily neutralizing the Dukes put backs at the other end.

The problem last year related to personnel and just replacing some players more suited for Ron Everhart’s system will make the Dukes more equipped for the Jim Ferry offense. For the new system to work, the Dukes must gather the rebound and outlet with only four players staying at home. Ideally, they’d do it with three.  Jordan Robinson will create space for teammates to get boards even if he can’t get to them himself. Players like Robinson make the entire team better on the glass. Ovie Soko rebounds better than anyone on last year’s team and can trigger the breakout with the pass or on the bounce. Isaiah Watkins should do the same.

Getting the ball up court quickly will make it easier to rebound as it would prevent opponents from sending five guys to the glass. The break keys the entire system. If Duquesne can do it well, they will surprise quite a few more teams than just WVU this season.

Finding Out Who Will Defend The Opponents Top Ball Handler

Derrick Colter had issues with on ball defense last year but he could make way for one of the Joneses to defend opposing point guards at times. This didn’t create many size mismatches as Colter could move to the two and Sean Johnson could shift to the three.

With two smaller point guards in the lineup for 2013-14, the Dukes’ shift won’t work as it would force a 5’11” player to defend a presumably much larger swing man. This becomes a bigger issue against teams like UMass  than it would against Lasalle, but ideally one of White or Colter steps up.  You want to find a way to keep the two points on the floor together and one of them must show they at least can contain a Chaz Williams or a James Robinson to do it.

Free Throw Shooting

Any questions?

I’d also like to see them work at drawing contact.

Setting Screens

Ferry seems more inclined than Everhart to run a structured half court offense should the transition fail to produce points. The Dukes will need to set better screens to make it happen. We saw a lot of predictable double high screens get blown up last year, but as the season progressed, they got better at setting them in the low post. They did extremely well against Charlotte in the first half triggering a nice lead into the locker room.

Again, I think the change in personnel will give the Dukes a boost as the bodies have widened and gotten stronger. Duquesne must get tougher and they need to realize that what they do off the ball will create space and easy baskets for people on it. Transition is key, but executing screens could give Duquesne an excellent plan B when teams ultimately adjust to the break.

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