The Duquesne Men’s Basketball Team saw a 14-win improvement and nine specifically in conference play a season ago, though it limped to the finish line dropping four of its last five games.
As far as whether Duquesne peaked too soon into conference play or what changes need to be made going into next season, that is a topic the coaching staff already has reviewed.
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The Dukes will have a lot better of a starting off point and already have received commitments from Hassan and Fousseyni Drame, both previously from La Salle, something which will shore up the teams inside game.
Sometimes to move forward, it is good to look back, so here are five of the biggest wins and disappointment from Duquesne’s most recent campaign.
Each of these will be in order of when they occurred in the regular season. With apologies to the random DoorDash prank delivery person, he is the full list.
North Florida 12/21 83-82– Duquesne had some tired legs following a couple of early road games and this was very noticeable on the defensive end, where North Florida shot 59.2% from the field.
This game continued to show that Dae Dae Grant was a force and someone who would lead this Duquesne team throughout the season.
This game also saw a game winner as Tevin Brewer converted on a driving midrange floater with a second remaining in regulation.
Both RJ Gunn and Joe Reece were injured, missing this game and Brewer was still getting back to full strength following an appendectomy.
Brewer admitted he missed his shot all game long and was trying to find his rhythm, but he certainly picked a heck of a time to make it up to his teammates.
“I feel like with the injuries, we’ve been fighting a lot of adversity,” Brewer said at the time. “To see guys step up with people injured is really a big confidence booster for us.”
Ball State 12/3 78-77- Duquesne was in plenty of close games the previous season, but this was another where the Dukes fought themselves to try and find a result. This was not a result which would have happened a season ago.
Of course, the highlights came from Jimmy “Tre” Clark who hit buzzer beaters to end both halves.
At halftime, Clark took a shot after which he immediately turned away and started heading to the locker room, a move he did, borrowing a phrase from NBA 2K, calling the shot “all green”. Indeed, that shot was true.
Brewer found Clark in the closing seconds and the latter’s defender was draped on him. Brewer was calling for the ball back, but Clark was trying to create space and score. With time running out, Clark found a shot when settled into the strong side of the basket.
The play would end up on SportsCenter’s top 10 plays.
“We had a gameplan coming in off the timeout, so we tried to stick to the play, but as you saw, the play didn’t work,” recalled Clark. “Once I saw that I tried to make a quick pass, but there were three seconds and I had to get a clean look off.”
Indiana State 12/17 92-86 & VCU 1/4 79-70- These two are grouped together because of what they represent, players getting victories over his previous program and having a leading role while doing so.
As far as Indiana State went, a win over a 23-win team is an accomplishment in and of itself. It was a high-quality basketball game and the Sycamores led by seven points with just under eight minutes remaining.
Duquesne showcased great resolve with a 10-0 run which was started and completed by Tre Williams. It was his 19 points and game-high eight rebounds against his former squad that were the difference in that game.
VCU’s win was a big one. This victory came against the team which won both the Atlantic 10 regular season championship and conference tournament.
The Rams flinched three times in conference play and a VCU discussion board went off the deep end after this loss, calling for everyone’s heads including coach Mike Rhoades. The defeat would force VCU to regroup and became a rallying cry for the Rams.
Clark had the game of his life, as evidenced by a career high 26 points and tying a personal best at the time with five steals.
Towards the end of the game, Clark again made SportsCenter’s top 10 plays when he grabbed a steal, saw daylight, and alley ooped a dunk to himself.
“It was great to get the team a win,” he said. “As far as my emotions, I was ready to show that. Coming from VCU and then having that chip on my shoulder, having to go to JUCO and then coming back to the same conference and be able to play my old team. All I can say is thank God.”
One could argue that in hindsight this win was Duquesne biggest moment of the season, where it went on an early run, was relentless and found a strong result.
@ George Washington 2/4 93-67- This was such an overwhelming result against a much-improved GW squad and represented the program’s largest margin of victory in a road A-10 game.
The highlight of course was a 28-0 first half run, and Duquesne made 17 three-point baskets, one off another program record.
Duquesne also recorded 22 assists and doubled up GW in bench points.
George Mason 2/8 75-52- Of course the win itself was done in dominating fashion and certainly some moment carried over from the GW game but this game was the 500th victory in Keith Dambrot’s career.
Duquesne used a 13-2 first half run to seize control and the Dukes only got stronger as the game went on.
Dambrot wore one of LeBron James’s hoodies at the game, signaling pride for his star pupil, and his team was unafraid of the moment.
Following the victory, many individuals from Dambrot’s past and present had recorded messages the university put out, including one from James himself, just a day after he broke the NBA’s scoring record.
“There are some things that went through my head,” Dambrot said. “I intentionally wore (a LeBron James branded Duquesne hooded sweatshirt),” he said. “Without all of those kids at St. V, I wouldn’t be a college coach again. To have all of those guys that have coached and put up with me all of these years it’s a rough deal.”
New Mexico State 12/11 73-60- This one makes the list for two reasons. For one, Duquesne had its worst body language of the season. It was pointing fingers at each other and some pent-up frustration from the team’s most recent loss to Marshall reared its head.
What was worse was that the loss came to a team which did not even complete its regular season because of accusations around a fatal shooting of a 19-year-old and a gruesome locker-room hazing.
This game came right after all of the information became public and it would be easy to understand if the team was distracted, but rather it was Duquesne who was flat, which makes the loss an embarrassing one.
Richmond 1/7 75-73- Simply put, Duquesne led by 22 points and lost. The ball was moving as good as it would all season in that first half and the team was playing off each other, in front of a sold-out Richmond crowd.
Duquesne made an embarrassing mistake in the second half as the official book and public address announcer were inconsistent in Joe Reese’s fouls and he would foul out in the early stages if the stanza.
Richmond came to life just before halftime and carried momentum it would not lose. The referees missed a blatant travel on Tyler Burton during a sequence which resulted in the game-winner, but Duquesne did not help itself after multiple players got into foul trouble.
Both Fordham losses 1/21 65-58 & 3/4 87-60- In the first meeting, Duquesne played Fordham’s game at home. The Rams defense did whatever it wanted and dictated play and Fordham went on a 14-0 run in the second half as Duquesne offensively struggled.
The second game once again saw officials intervene in plays which did not benefit the Dukes, but even still, a win would place either team in a double bye, and in front of Fordham’s most spirited crowd of the season, a disheartened Duquesne shot 24.4% from the field and were 0-for-11 from three-point range in the second half.
Fordham had just come off a loss to George Mason, meaning Duquesne came in with the momentum and everything to play for, but instead stayed in a rut which would plague the team in the A-10 championship against La Salle and then later on against Rice in the CBI.
@ SLU 2/18 90-85 & Rice 3/19 84-78- Both of these are grouped together because the team could not get a defensive stop if its life depended on it.
The Saint Louis game was against a team which was a top-four A-10 program and against could have helped Duquesne’s double-bye chances.
Saint Louis’s 70 points in the paint reads like a video game number, but Duquesne just let the Billikens have its way inside. Gibson Jimerson has and never will be able to drive like that ever again.
Rice had 46 paint points and shot 57.1% which in a win-or-go-home CBI environment is absolutely unacceptable.
Davidson 2/26 71-67- This game was one big learning lesson and the first of four losses in five games to close out the season.
What Davidson does is very textbook and very well run, but Duquesne let it happen, nearly all game. The Dukes knew what it needed to do but were a step slow all game. Considering, Duquesne had the opportunity for a double bye, this loss initially felt like the end of that possibility, though Fordham would give the Dukes one last chance.
It was never more evident that Duquesne was dead on its feet and even still were able to rally, but just did not have it for almost the entire game and this was the team’s senior day, which makes that fact all the more disappointing.