Call this a Wednesday hodge podge.
Jim Ferry pulls no punches when asked to explain his offensive system. He wants his players to get to the rim, generate contact and draw fouls so often that they make more free throws than the opponent takes. In two of the last three games, the Dukes have faced the most disciplined teams in the Atlantic 10, St Joe’s and LaSalle. When the other guys don’t foul, the Dukes lose one of their main drivers of offense.
So can this strategy work in the A-10?
I think the answer is yes. Atlantic 10 teams allow an average of 19.25 fouls a game which would put them dead average in the country. However, very few teams in the league actually end up in the middle. With LaSalle, St Joe’s, UMass and unfortunately St Louis at one extreme, Fordham St Bonaventure, Richmond, Dayton and George Mason offset them at the other end. Every offensive system has its weaknesses. Duquesne will just need to find another way to score against certain teams.
St Louis comes to the AJ Palumbo Center for the first of two meetings between the Dukes and the Billikens this year. If you haven’t caught it, Ferry gushed on the Atlantic 10 conference call about the defense St Louis plays. From Stephen Nesbitt’s game day preview:
“Obviously, they’re the best defensive team in the country,” Ferry said.
“And they’re one of the best defensive teams I’ve seen in a long, long time.”
Very kind words from the Duquesne coach and statistically, they have a strong case. St Louis ranks fifth in points allowed and effective shooting defense. They also force a lot of turnovers as almost twenty percent of their opponents possessions end with a give away.
Last year, St Louis came to Pittsburgh and struggled on offense. This year, it won’t matter what they do offensively as they’ve choked out most of the pop from their opponents defensively. If the Dukes get shut down tonight, it won’t necessarily be because they’re bad. The Dukes are riding a two game winning streak against ranked opponents at the Palumbo Center. It will take an extraordinary effort for that to continue tonight.
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