One of the biggest sporting cliche’s is “defense wins championships.” If the opposite were true, Duquesne would be looking to contend for a position amongst the Atlantic 10 elite. The Dukes’ poor defense detracts from strong offense in the season’s early going.
I expected the Dukes to struggle at the beginning of the season at both ends of the floor until they got all their pieces into place, learned the system and had time to gel. However, they’ve hit the ground running on offense and averaged more points per game than anyone in the Atlantic 10 besides UMass and sit 35th in the nation in scoring. Boosted by their 22 assists against UMBC, the Dukes sit third in the conference in helpers and assist to turnover ratio. Duquesne’s shooters collectively fit into the top three in total field goal and three point shooting. Individually, the Dukes have three in the top 25 in scoring.
With the good, there’s the bad. The Dukes sit dead last in the conference in many defensive categories and have struggled with rebounding. In effective shooting percentage, the Dukes are 315th in the country. They’re 178th in defensive rebounding percentage and eighth in the conference.
If you had told me in August that the Dukes would slot among Atlantic 10 Statistical Leaders in scoring, shooting and assist to turnover, I’d have expected more excitement and a better outlook for the team moving forward. Unfortunately, the record includes a terrible loss and no commanding victories thanks to second half defensive breakdowns making a couple of wins look closer than they actually were. The offense has excelled and looks ahead of the learning curve while the defense lags behind. Should the D catch up a little, this could become a dangerous team in the A-10 season. Of course, when I consider that the offense is only one month and a half months old, that might just get better too.