Micah Mason and Duquesne fans got some bad news today when we learned that a broken right hand will sideline the former Highlands star for 4-6 weeks. Within minutes, my twitter feed turned into a pit of frustration and despair.
I don’t want to come across as being unsympathetic to Mason or unappreciative of what he brings to the table. He immediately became a more valuable player than I expected. To this point, Mason provided great depth and an instant scoring threat off the bench . Beginning in the Albany game, Mason drew plenty of attention from the Danes defense creating space for his teammates. Not many teams in the Atlantic 10 can bring in a fourth guard that commands as much attention as him. In my opinion, the Dukes will miss him but not as badly as some may think.
The Dukes can win without Mason as they have plenty depth to eat the 24 minutes a game he’s averaged. Jerry Jones, a player many felt could start for the Dukes this year and last, has barely gotten off the bench. I’d expect him to play a bigger role over the next month. I wouldn’t call any of the guards who have contributed regularly over taxed either. Tra’vaughn White in particular could easily play another 4-6 minutes a game. Jerimiah Jones, Desmond Ridenour and Derrick Colter could do the same. In years past, the Dukes wouldn’t have absorbed an injury like Mason’s. This year I think they can
The biggest hurdle to a nice out of conference record isn’t Micah Mason’s injury. It’s how much better and how often the Dukes can defend well. Mason over the first three games guarded better than any other Duquesne wing statistically according to Jim Ferry. In my eyeball test against Albany, he didn’t fair as well. Whether Mason plays or not, the Dukes won’t win if they don’t guard better. Ferry doesn’t seem concerned with the offense, and they have plenty of firepower even with their sharp shooter in street clothing. If they don’t defend better, they won’t win even if TJ McConnell suddenly came back.
I get the frustration with the injury but not the despair. Maybe it’s more a trained response than anything from our fan base, but I think when you step back and look at the big picture, the strengths are still the strengths and the weaknesses are still the weaknesses. The Dukes have the tools to overcome the injury on offense. If you want something to worry about, I’d stick to defense.