I might get a little push back on this assessment of Marshall relative to other opponents, but I think the Dukes beat the best team they’ve faced so far this season outside of Notre Dame and beat them handily.
The Dukes are no question still a work in progress, but I do think they are progressing. I thought they responded incredibly well from their loss in the City Game. They did not look like a team that just got beat by twenty in a rivalry game. They rubbed dirt on their wounds and looked for an new fight. This time, they did the beating.
I’ve said it on a number of occasions, but it felt like the Dukes have played quite a few incomplete games where they’d look lost for ten to fifteen minutes of the game. I think this was the most complete game they’ve played all season, on offense in particular. There weren’t too many lulls or dry spells tonight.
Once again, turnovers became an issue. Of course, turnovers are a big part of what Marshall does with the Herd forcing the second most per game on average in the country at just over twenty a contest. Nineteen giveaways aren’t acceptable but on the bright side, the Dukes did better than the average Marshall opponent. Despite the progress on the post offense, eight of the turnovers came from the starters at the four and five, Marcus Weathers and Michael Hughes.
Player of the Game
I’m going Sincere Carry again today. After struggling a little the last three games, Carry appears to have responded with a performance that resembled one we saw early in the season. Nineteen points, seven assists, zero turnovers and some crucial defensive rebounds. He also frustrated NBA prospect Jon Elmore every time he brought the ball up court.
The Turning Point
The lead may have changed hands a few times early, but it felt like Marshall had control of the game in the opening minutes. Keith Dambrot went to his bench and the reserves really disrupted the Herd’s flow putting together the team’s best five minutes of defense all night. Duquesne felt like it imposed its will the rest of the game even if they bent a little at times late in the second half.
When I Knew It Was Over
The Dukes started milking the clock with around four minutes remaining. The Herd cut it to seven on two occassions, but the Dukes answered. With about 1:30 remaining and a three possession lead, Duquesne got a good three point look from Williams about 25 seconds into the shot clock. He missed, but Weathers found the rebound and got it back out to the wing for the offense to reset and run more clock. The possession ended with a one hand ally op dunk from Weathers to Hughes after killing about forty – five seconds of clock.
Credit Where It’s Due
Again, this was the second best team the Dukes have faced so far this season. While their leading guards Elmore and CJ Burks are both seniors, the rest of the team is relatively young. They’re going through their own growing pains, but by the end of season, they’ll have a ton of weapons.
What We Learned
The outcome of a the City Game now looks more like a fluke than the norm. In all, the Dukes have played six games where they looked pretty solid and one where they looked lousy. Chances are those six decent games are more indicative of their ability than the one bad one.
Two other points I want to talk about here. I haven’t mentioned him yet, but it was great to see Mike Lewis II get into a rhythm offensively. He made some big baskets that helped bury Marshall in the first half and a couple of important free throws in the second to keep them at bay. His role has changed, but hopefully, this is a sign that he’s adapting.
Also, I wanted to congratulate women’s basketball on their huge win at Penn St. The Nittany Lions are struggling a bit, but the Dukes needed something for their resume. They got it tonight.