Not so much a Dukes vs Great Danes recap; rather some reflections on the game and what we’ll see going forward.
The Dukes evened up their record tonight with a win against the Albany Great Danes, who were an NCAA team one year ago. Duquesne played something like 26 solid minutes, 4 decent minutes, and 10 iffy minutes. I’m dividing these up arbitrarily and haven’t actually done the math other than making sure that this adds up to 40; this is what it felt like.
The solid minutes included nearly the entirety of the first half and came by combination of some good defense, Ovie Soko being the engine that drove the team, and some poor shooting by Albany. The other six, and the four decent minutes came towards the end of the game as the Dukes started to match Albany and turn away their comeback. This was finally capped by a run that gave the Dukes the 11 point win.
The first half was really quite something, with Albany going into the locker room having scored just 16 points. It wasn’t just poor shooting that did the Danes in there. The Dukes’ defense was rather solid and they managed to come up with 13 turnovers through various means. Some of those were absolutely unforced errors. Even many those were brought about by a defense that sometimes seemed to confuse the Danes.
The iffy minutes mostly took place at the beginning of the 2nd half. There were a few reasons that things didn’t work out as well for the Dukes at this point.
One was fouling. In the first half, fouls that Duquesne took were for the most part good fouls; the kind that come from playing defense aggressively and doing what you’re supposed to do on that end of the floor.
In the second half, especially during the first ten minutes, the Dukes took bad fouls. Unnecessary fouls that were the result of player control or simply trying to recover from being in the wrong position.
Some of the foul trouble contributed in other ways; Soko had to go to the bench for a few minutes after acquiring three fouls and for the next few minutes, it hurt them. They started to concede the interior on offense with just McKoy in there, perhaps trying to create lanes by driving the defenders out. It didn’t really work. At just under 10 minutes, Soko was back in and that was a big factor in sparking the comeback.
Another contributing factor was that Albany is a good team. They were unlikely to shoot that poorly the entire game. This is an experienced group and they were due to play better than that. Likewise, after 13 turnovers in the first half, they only committed four more for the rest of the game. Some of it was balancing out.
I would give one iffy minute, maybe two, to the first half, when Albany began to employ a press and Duquesne was slow to adjust. There were a couple of occasions where the Dukes were close to not getting it over the time line, and in general it prevented them from getting in sync on offense. The Dukes eventually adjusted, putting an extra guard back to help with bringing the ball up the floor. Albany abandoned the press shortly after.
This was a good win for the Dukes. Albany is a talented team that won their conference last year. The first half was quite a defensive statement, and it does take a lot for a team to weather a comeback like the one that Albany attempted. There’s plenty to work on. Coach Ferry noted on the radio that the guys would have a day off tomorrow, and then hit the weight room and put up some shots. He said that there would be “10 Days of Defense” in the players’ future.
The student section, for the third straight game, was a presence. I love the “I believe that we will win!” cheer that they’re doing. I wish we did that when I was in the Crew in college. Though I can’t complain too much – I got to lead the Mossie cheer several times back then.
The Dukes are off until after Thanksgiving, when they play in the annual City Game against Pitt. comparing it to the 12 days of Christmas or eight days of Hanukkah. Expect a nice ramp-up in coverage next week towards what should be a fun event!