December 5, 2012; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Duquesne Dukes head coach Jim Ferry reacts on the sidelines against the Pittsburgh Panthers during the first half at the CONSOL Energy Center. The Pittsburgh Panthers won 66-45. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Duquesne Lineup: What Can Actually Change

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I’ve seen a lot of “suggestions” for what Duquesne can do to help the Dukes win right now ranging from benching Derick Colter to firing Greg Amodio. The staff can make changes but they have limited options  to improve the squad. At the moment, the roster has a broken shooter, an ineligible big man, another forward who’s played less than 20 minutes because of injury, a center who should have red – shirted and an open scholarship. They can switch it up, but the moves have to actually make sense and improve the Duquesne lineup. They shouldn’t make changes just to make them.

What Changes They Can Make

While it really looked promising at the beginning of the season, the Tra’vaughn White and Colter back court hasn’t worked especially against better opponents. In terms of pure ability, they’re two of the most talented players on the team but they haven’t found much chemistry together. When White has the ball, it feels like Colter doesn’t move well off him and White has done little besides shoot the three and dribble drive. On top of that, there is almost always a size mismatch on defense when they’re in together. In fairness, the second ball handler has helped with transition, but not enough to offset the shortcomings. I’d consider adding Jerry Jones to the starting lineup over White giving him an extra seven or eight minutes a game. While I think people overrate his defense, he’s provided a steadying presence  at the other end. He makes decisions you would expect from a senior as evidenced by his six assists to zero turnovers against Robert Morris.

Speaking of senior decision making, Ovie Soko’s become something of a black hole the last two games. The ball goes in and it just never comes back out. To put it in perspective, he’s shot the ball seventeen times in the last two games and taken twenty – four free throws while not dishing out a single assist. His shot selection has been dubious at best hitting 35% from the floor against Penn St and Robert Morris. The coaching staff needs to sit him down and have a deep heart to heart about sharing the ball.

I couldn’t believe how little Ferry used his bench yesterday and it felt like he only trusted seven players. In his defense, LG Gill and Isaiah Watkins forced his hand by really struggling in a small sample size. Watkins had two fouls and two turnovers in two minutes while it was goose eggs across the board and some defensive lapses for Gill. Still, you need to go back to them and the Dukes were forced to go small and ride their starts harder instead.

What They Can’t

I’ve seen a number of people complaining about Colter calling for him to lose his starting job but I think we need to ask ourselves if Desmond Ridenour could do a better job. I think the freshman has played brilliantly for relatively brief stretches and I love his upside for the long haul. That said, I don’t think he’s better than Colter now. Most arguments for Des revolve around his head height but when the freshman is hitting for less than 32% from the floor and has a .4 lower assist to turnover ratio than the sophomore, I just don’t see the advantage of the extra four inches. While Colter’s defense still needs work, he’s staying in front of his man better, breaking down less frequently and avoiding screens much of the time. Truth told, I think he’s played very well at the top of the 3-2 (1-2-2 for Rogabee’s sake). Ridenour’s the better defender but I think the gap’s closing.

That said, I think Colter has transitioned poorly into his back seat offensive role. While I’m glad he’s shooting more efficiently, he seems timid trying not to do too much. Rather than cutting Colter’s minutes, I’d love to see the staff restore some of his freedom.

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Micah Mason can’t get back soon enough for some but I believe people might put too much stock in his return. I think he’ll be given the lion’s share of the credit for offensive improvement whether he deserves it or not. The offense can click without him and I see too much ability for them to struggle much longer. Their options are limited but a starting lineup of a less selfish Soko, Dominique McKoy, Jerry and Jeremiah Jones and Colter with White coming off the bench could make the team function better as a unit immediately. Hopefully, Mason’s return will just be icing.

 

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