I’m incredibly excited and proud about Duquesne football winning it’s second outright NEC championship and first ever FCS playoff game. This was already such a memorable year for the program for both the great competitive success and off the field tragedy. It started with not one but two games against BCS schools including a trip to Hawaii.
Five of eight wins decided by less than one score.
Losing a heartbreaker in the NEC season opener to Bryant only to run off seven victories in a row to seal the league and bust into the second round.
On top of that, they’re likely to finish the year ranked in FCS. So many memories already for Duquesne players, their families and fans alike and the season, of course, isn’t over. That’s great unless you’re the basketball team.
One caveat. I hope Duquesne football makes the FCS championship game. I want to see this run continue, but every game they play prevents wide receiver / power forward Kellon Taylor from joining his other team. The two sport athlete is one of only three Dukes returning from last year’s squad. While Taylor’s listed as a walk on for basketball, he reportedly had several scholarship offers to focus solely on the hardwood. He had a unique opportunity to play both for the Dukes and ultimately decided to further his education in Pittsburgh.
At the moment, the Duquesne basketball team is close to fielding a positional Noah’s Arc meaning they have two players at every position. They have three point guards but Tavain Dunn-Martin has flexed to back up shooting guard. Frankie Hughes gives the Dukes a three guard look at the three when he replaces Eric Williams, Jr. Michael Hughes, and Austin Rotroff have split the bulk of the minutes at center with Amari Kelly also chipping in a little here and there. The one missing pair is at the power forward position and the missing piece is Kellon Taylor.
Obviously, missing Taylor hasn’t hurt basketball too much and naturally, trying to win a National Championship supersedes achieving the ideal lineup configuration in non-conference play. However, playing two deep is an integral part of how Keith Dambrot tries to win basketball games. He wants to spell his starters and give generous minutes to their backups. If one partnership is missing at one position, it throws the rest of the rotation out of wack. We’ve seen Williams Jr play up a position and while he can certainly handle the four, he’s too important of a player to push out of his comfort zone.
The good news is some of the depth players seem to be developing in his absence.
Kelly got into foul trouble against UMass-Lowell but contributed positively on the glass and on defense. Kelly won’t play the four, but he does allow Rotroff to play down. Gavin Bizeau looked a little more comfortable in his second appearance. He’s got some stats now and was robbed of his first career three by an illegal screen call. If these guys continue to look more ready, the need for Taylor will decrease significantly.
However, he is missed now and the team needs more than the sixteen minutes they combined to function properly, especially if one of the starters gets into foul trouble. I hope the Dukes shock South Dakota St like they shocked Towson, but if they don’t, Duquesne will get the consolation prize of a complete men’s basketball roster.