Q and A with Duquesne Blogger Steve DiMiceli
The Dukes operate a guard heavy, up tempo offense with a defense designed to keep the opposition out of the post and the driving lanes. They have one of the better shooters in the country in Micah Mason and a solid second fiddle in Derrick Colter so the offense relies a lot on the three. They have some developing interior options like Darius Lewis who might remind some St. Bonaventure fans a little of Youssou N’Doye late in his sophomore season. He’s still raw at times, but he has the making of a lock down defender and a viable scoring threat inside. With such an emphasis on preventing the two, the Dukes are once again very vulnerable to the three. However, this season they’re playing almost entirely man.
I think it’s two - fold. First, the schedule got much more difficult. Prior to facing Georgia Tech in their final non - conference game, the Dukes hadn’t played a true road game all season and they traveled three out of four facing top 50 opponents. The offense also slumped badly as they were searching for their identity after losing senior Jeremiah Jones to an ACL injury. Early in the year, the offense relied on the teams’ upperclassmen to improvise their way to big scoring totals. Without Jones, the lineup became less experienced and in need of more structure. The scoring issues have been further complicated by an ankle injury to Mason who missed much of the second half in Atlanta and all of the Dayton game. He’s still not 100%, but is reportedly getting close.
Duquesne is at it’s best when they’re winning one on one match ups on defense in the post, allowing them to extend onto the perimeter and cover the three. This allows them to get defensive rebounds and push the basketball up the floor for transition baskets.
Likely Mason. St. Bonaventure plays excellent perimeter defense, statistically speaking anyway. He doesn’t need much of a window to make three’s but if he can hit for half his shots and use the extra attention against him to find open players inside, he could really help Duquesne.
The metrics, in my opinion, are somewhat distorted by the slump and injuries I already mentioned. Early in the season, they looked every bit as good if not better than last year. This is just a guess, but I think the energy expended to improve the defense from worst in the conference to acceptable may also be taking the focus away in practice.
St. Bonaventure is hot. Plan and simple this will likely be the worst time to catch them this year. I like their team and I had them fifth in the Atlantic 10 before the season if I recall correctly. However, they’re playing like a 7 or 8 seed right now. I’m not sure if this team is that good over the long haul, but that really doesn’t matter when you’re tasked with cooling them off right now like Duquesne is. Also, I knew what St. Bonaventure had with Marcus Posley, Jaylen Adams, and Dion Wright. Denzel Gregg breaking out is huge as it gives the Bonnies a forth legit threat when he’s on the floor.
I actually believe the series will split, but it will be one of the those rare road warrior years. I think St Bonaventure takes itSaturday in a game that will be more uncomfortable than many in the Olean area would like, but I think the Dukes avenge themselves and will surprise them in New York later in the season.