The Dukes and Spiders traveled on relatively divergent paths since they played each other seven games ago at the AJ Palumbo Center. Of course, you wouldn’t be able to tell just by looking at their records. The Dukes have gone 3-3, and Richmond have gone 2-5 dropping four in a row. You have to dig a little deeper to get the real picture.
After losing seniors Derrick Williams and Cedric Lindsay to an early departure and a season ending injury respectively, the Spiders carried on like business as usual winning four of their next five including the win over Duquesne. They looked poised to challenge for a spot in the NCAA tournament, but then the wheels came off. They started terribly against George Mason and found themselves down by twenty – one at the break. While they managed to make it look more respectable, they still lost by nine. They went on the road to Kingston and again failed to put up twenty points in the first against URI. This time, they never recovered and lost badly. The Spiders got up for their rivalry game against cross town VCU but this time a rough second half did them in losing by five. They closed the season with a twelve point loss at Dayton.
Richmond still have defended well, but truly they’re down to three scoring options and all of them have been streaky. Kendall Anthony has consumed many of their shooting attempts. He’s been on for halves and off for halves. Terry Allen has improved as the seasons progressed but he’s gotten into foul trouble more frequently. Freshman Shawn’dre Jones shot 55% from the floor in the first five game following Lindsay’s injury, but he’s hit 20% since. Lack of depth and lack of scoring options seem like they’re finally catching up with Spiders.
The Dukes won three of their last six, but they put themselves in a solid to position to win all of them. They’re clearly playing their best basketball of the season with their KenPom ranking steadily climbing currently sitting at 135th in the country.
The key to the overall improvement has revolved around the defense, but Duquesne have gotten unexpected bumps from a number of players to make them even more competitive. LG Gill got hot twice helping to carry the Dukes to two wins. Jerry Jones gave Dayton fits at the Consol. Derrick Colter played his best game of the year against George Mason. Ultimately, it hasn’t just been Ovie Soko, Micah Mason and Dominique McKoy the last couple of weeks and a stagnating offense has reemerged. For the first time, the Dukes are pumping on full cylinders at both ends.
The Spiders leveled the Dukes in Pittsburgh, but a lot can change in a month of college basketball. I see the game as a coin flip, and I wouldn’t be shocked if Duquesne gives points in Brooklyn.
Tags: Duquesne Dukes