Slowly but surely, Duquesne’s rotation has gotten itself closer to full strength. Cleared by the NCAA, Micah Mason debuted on Saturday. Jerry Jones will come off suspension tonight and after warming up on Saturday, we could see Isaiah Watkins in action soon. We still don’t know about Jordan Robinson. With the Dukes looking short handed to start the season, Jim Ferry elected to forego red shirts for Darius Lewis and LG Gill. If things go according to plan, Duquesne could have eleven or twelve men vying for spots in the rotation in the near future and only 200 minutes to play them.
Before the season began, Ferry said he would use a nine man rotation. Desmond Ridenour came off the bench first in each of the two games at the AJ Palumbo Center and I feel safe assuming he’ll continue to play. With Mason’s shooting ability and his all around offensive game, he should factor in as well. At the moment, Gill doesn’t look ready to eat a lot of minutes in the post so I suspect Watkins moves into the role of third post player. Nothing against Gill, but I’d prefer to limit his playing time as he learns the new position. He also appears blocked as Jeremiah Jones’ primary backup at his more natural three by Jerry Jones. Jerry might be the best defender on the team and with experience in high demand for the Dukes, I think he’ll play quite a bit.
If Ferry goes with a hard rotation, Gill and Lewis will sit on the wrong side of the bench for playing time in my opinion, but I doubt he will strictly use nine. With all the fouls getting called around college basketball, coaches probably will need to use deeper benches than they may have anticipated. Not only have starters gotten into foul trouble, but subs have as well. I could see either Gill or Lewis finishing out the final few minutes of the first half should two of the top three interior players pick up a second foul. The Dukes play six more games against teams that project to finish 250 or higher in RPI. Ideally, everyone on the team will get to play in those games. Gill and Lewis also have played well enough to merit at least a few minutes here and there. I don’t think either deserves to sit out completely nor do I think wasting away on the bench helps either develop for next year.
We’ve wanted the Dukes to get deeper and I think many of us will feel better now that they’ve gotten close to 100%. Following the news of only six men available for the secret scrimmage, some, myself included, started contemplating doomsday scenarios. Thankfully, that doesn’t look like it will happen, but early season depth issues will come at the expense of two freshmen who would have red shirted in a perfect year. However, it would not surprise me if Ferry uses all eleven men in quite a few games before the year ends. I think he’ll have his preferred nine, but I doubt he’ll stay locked into that number.