This week, I’ll present a series of posts meant to dispel some of what I see as myths, misunderstandings and false assumptions surrounding Jim Ferry, his system and the current state of the Duquesne basketball. This is the third piece in the series.
When Duquesne signed Tra’Vaughn White in the spring, I immediately thought about how one of Duquesne’s most statistically successful freshman, Derrick Colter, and the leading scoring in junior college would make an interesting combo. Their limited size only made the tandem more novel. After seeing the two play this summer, I thought the Dukes stole one in White who larger programs overlooked likely due to his size. Plenty of Duquesne fans aren’t comfortable with playing two short guards. I’d argue that if you put one on the bench, you would diminish the overall talent on the floor significantly. Those two should become two of the Dukes three best weapons. In my opinion, it makes sense to give both as much playing as they can handle.
In spite of my enthusiasm for Colter and White, I have admitted that defense could become an issue. If Colter’s on ball defense remains an issue and White can’t pick up the slack, the Dukes will need to:
a) put a Jones on the primary ball handler moving one small guard to the wing in spite of the likely size mismatch.
b) sit one guard
c) suck it up and hope the you can simply outscore the other guys.
The White and Colter combo probably won’t play well in the two – three zone as they don’t have the wing span to close passing lanes or disrupt teams shooting over the zone. Jim Ferry will need to stick to man when both are in. With two quick guards with quick hands, a 2-1-2 three quarter court press could make sense even at times as well. If your concern with this undersized backcourt is on ball defense and how well they close on shooters, I see your point. If your concern relates to rebounding and getting out muscled, I simply don’t agree. What White and Colter lack in head height, they make up for in bulk and strength. In general, both are tough, physical players with a great nose for the ball.
People seem to overestimate the importance of height at the one and two. The Dukes aren’t breaking any new ground starting two smallish guards. Last year’s champion, St Louis, had the 5’10” Kwamain Mitchell and 6’1” Jordair Jett while the favorite St Joe’s went 5’11” and 6’2.” A combined three or four inch difference won’t have a huge impact. It will create new challenges, but it won’t prevent the Dukes from competing in most games. Forcing one of the teams two most talented players to the bench might.