Jan 18, 2014; Richmond, VA, USA; Virginia Commonwealth Rams forward Terrance Shannon (4) celebrates after dunking the ball during the second half at Stuart C. Siegel Center. Virginia Commonwealth Rams defeated Duquesne Dukes 80-65. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Does Duquesne Need a Gimmick?

If you’ve followed Duquesne over the last ten years, you’ve seen some gimmick basketball. 10-40 comes to mind immediately and an offensive system based on converting turnovers.

Please don’t interpret gimmick in a bad way. For the purpose of this piece, I would define it as a ploy to overcome a weakness that generally deviates from convention. I think when used properly gimmicks have proven to help teams win games by hiding their blemishes. When Ron Everhart employed the 10-40, he found a way to wear down opponents while keeping his thin roster fresh and to offset his team’s own lack of size. As a result, his teams won a bunch of games they probably had no business winning his first year.

You can call it Forty Minutes of Hell, or HAVOC. I call pressure defense meant to set up transition offense a gimmick. Again, I’m not saying bad things here, but athletic teams can use it to make up for a number of weaknesses both short and long term. It can hide problems in the half court at both ends of the floor. Poor defensive teams can keep opponents from setting up in their offense with takeaways before the middle line. Bad shooting teams can give themselves more chances to score than their opponents. When employed over the course of a few seasons, pressure systems can boost recruiting by  giving coaches a unique selling point to pitch to prospects. In Everhart’s early years, a team like Duquesne with poor facilities and no winning track record could recruit over their head  because of the way he wanted his team to play.

I think 13-14 Dukes could use full court pressure defense periodically during games to cover for their terrible half court defense. Currently, they’re employing a largely ineffective 3/4 court trap before they sit back into their 3-2 zone but there isn’t much point in using it if they don’t create turnovers. Since opponents make far to many of the shots they take, the Dukes would do well to limit the number of shots they allow. Pressure would help.

I also think the coaching staff could emphasize the offensive glass. If bad defense leads to opponents shooting better than the Dukes, the Dukes need to shoot more often than their opponent and put backs could become a valuable tool. While this might create more easy chances in transition for opponents, they get plenty of gimmes in the half court.

Of course, employing a short term gimmick could cost Jim Ferry in the long run in the sense that his team won’t get repetitions in his more preferred system. However, fans want wins now and a few extra victories would go a long way to keeping folks happy. It stinks to put short term gains ahead of long term success, but the ever more impatient and crumbling fan base needs a boost. A gimmick might be just the thing.

Tags: Duquesne Dukes Gimmick

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