After feeling like they were turning the corner following their last home stand, Duquesne basketball went on the road and appear to have lost all of their mojo. Losses at La Salle and George Washington were disappointing but to be expected. Struggling against a bad George Mason team at home set off some red flags. In the post game, interview Jim Ferry couldn’t explain his teams’ current issues but that the coaching staff would do their best looking at film to figure it out. Unfortunately, I don’t have film, but I have statistics.
Before I get started let’s debunk a couple of things I’ve seen around the internet regarding the Dukes. The first is that the team lacks talent. While their offensive numbers have slipped the last three games, Ken Pomeroy still ranks the Dukes in the top one hundred for offensive efficiency at 93 good for fifth in the A-10. I’ve also heard that the competition is getting harder and Duquesne’s warts have revealed themselves. While this is true of the deep grind of the Atlantic 10, Pomeroy had the Dukes’ offense rated 60 following games against two of the league’s tougher defenses in St Louis and St Bonaventure. The offense started declining against a relatively porous NJIT defense and continued its downward trend against La Salle and George Washington. The schedule relaxed but the Dukes still didn’t break out when they returned home against a weak George Mason team. It’s not the offensive gameplan stagnating either. The Dukes run plays from a variety of sets every trip down the floor.
So what are the issues?
First, it’s a slump. Three of Duquesne’s starters are shooting almost 20% off their season averages during the losing streak. Once the league leader in shooting percentage, Dominique McKoy has hit roughly forty percent from the field since La Salle. Say what you will about Jeremiah Jones and Derrick Colter, but neither shoots at 22% which is what they’ve given the Dukes the last two weeks. On top of that the bench is struggling with Tra’vaughn White, Jerry Jones and Desmond Ridenour all shooting below their season levels though not as severely.
To be successful, Duquesne needs to get to the free throw line more than their opponents. Their system has broken down a bit in the sense that the Dukes have allowed more free throws than they’ve taken over the last few games. I expected that against a La Salle team that defends cleanly especially at home, but not to a George Mason unit who fouls like it’s going out of style.
The team likely isn’t as bad as we think they are right now, but they probably aren’t as good as we thought following the St Bonaventure game. Consistency’s an issue for them as it is with many young units, but even the fifth year senior of the group has roller coaster performances. The Dukes can weather a bad night from one or two of their starters when three or four other players are on. Three or four players haven’t as they’ve slumped across their back court. Post players need to sell the fouls better and the guards need to find a way to the stripe more. I don’t think the issues will last, but I hope they break out sooner than later.