Post Game Reaction: vs. Saint Louis

If this game was the litmus test everyone made it out to be, I guess the Dukes are contenders. 

The Good

The depth of contributions were insane today. Seven players scored seven or more points tonight including Gavin Bizeau nabbing two buckets and two free throws in just eight minutes. He’s developing a knack for making important baskets. The Dukes depth is coming along, and if Bizeau, Norman, Wade or Kelly can start stealing minutes from a starter, this team will be all that much better come conference tournament time.

The Bad

I’m not sure how you get out rebounded by 23 and still win. +11 on turnover margin helps as did getting to the free throw line thirty – eight times. For long stretches, I just didn’t like the Dukes’ effort on the glass, and their reaction to the shots just wasn’t good enough. There were a couple of times the Dukes were in position, but they weren’t ready to coral the ball with two hands. It got better late, but it was never acceptable.

Player of the Game

I can’t imagine picking anyone besides Marcus Weathers. He was excellent from the free throw line, and got there at an excellent rate. He stabilized the defensive glass down the stretch, but was robbed of a double – double thanks to being subbed out on defense in the final two minutes.

Speaking of double – double, Eric Williams, Jr got himself one again tonight. Williams is struggling with the jump shot so far in conference play, and after an 0-5 performance tonight, he’s hit just 23.1% of his three’s in conference. Still, he’s found other ways to contribute with put backs and some dunk – o – roonies. He might be playing the highest level defense of his career as well.

The Turning Point

The Dukes went down eight towards the end of the first half and something just clicked. They didn’t shoot great on the night, but they knocked down a couple of big three’s to close to two points before the break. Intermission didn’t halt the momentum, and the Dukes stormed out of the locker room to take their first lead and never gave it up again.

When I Knew It Was Over

The final score was deceptively close, because Duquesne got the uncharacteristic yips at the free throw line. Even though, he didn’t make any, I think the game was over when SLU fouled Michael Hughes on the rebound.

Credit Where It’s Due

Saint Louis under Travis Ford really doesn’t look anything like the last successful iteration of Billikens basketball. They still play strong defense, but they’re a more physical team that can play a variety of ways of offense instead of slow and methodical. They don’t shoot particularly well, but they’re big and athletic. They got to the hoop at will, and everyone on the team can create their own shot. They look as comfortable in transition as they do in the half court. Can’t say that about any Rick Majerus team.

Parting Thoughts

3,011 attended the game tonight, and while that’s the largest home crowd of the season, I was still disappointed. I think the players deserve better and hopefully, they get it on Saturday. Don’t go blaming the students. Their end was mostly full and there were two very rowdy sections. When you look at the numbers, there are a hell of a lot more alumni of this college living in the Pittsburgh area than there are current students. Time to start pointing the finger at another group of Dukes for not showing up. Don’t give me forty years of mostly losing. The two since our regime change are all I care about, and you don’t need blind faith to realize fortunes are pointed on a dynamically positive trajectory. On top of that, Duquesne has been .500 in six of the last ten seasons. Never a number to shoot for, but it’s also not as if we’ve really suffered all that badly of late.  If Keith Dambrot can stress the need to get better after every win, I’ll call us out for our need to improve  as well.

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