How 7-5 and 11-1 were only 17 points apart

by Steve DiMiceli
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For the purposes of this post,  the OOC schedule has essentially drawn to a close with only one game remaining against Houston Baptist. With league play set to begin on Wednesday at St Joe's, the men's basketball team sits at a very deceptive  7-5. It looks pretty modest and you wouldn't think that I'd argue that this is the most talented Duquesne team in 30 years. But I would. You wouldn't think that all but 3 players on the team have met or exceeded expectations. But they have. You also wouldn't think that this is an NCAA caliber team. But it's not far off. Had the breaks bounced a little differently, we might be looking at the close of the out of conference differently.

To sum this season up into one word, it would be unfortunate. The Dukes to this point and for whatever reason have been competitive in every game they've played with the exception of Pitt. They've been the more talented team on the floor in every game aside from George Mason and again Pitt. Truly, the Dukes are separated from 11-1 record by a less than twenty points - 17 to be exact. In each of the four losses in question Duquesne lead at the half. Essentially, if the team had made two plays in each game at either end, Duquesne would have two 11 win teams right now. While that's a lot of if's (8 to be exact), it's not too far from reality. At Robert Morris, it may have been the Dukes getting to just two more of the many lose balls in that game. In Happy Valley, had the Dukes boxed Battle out on his offensive rebound put back and Talley hit just one of his many missed threes, the Dukes probably win. Against WVU, had Peggau not stolen the ball from TJ and given up an easy score, and had TJ drained the final shot, the students certainly would've been celebrating on the floor along with the team and coaches. Had the refs not missed two blatant travels that lead to five George Mason points, the Dukes may have taken that one home too.

Now do I think the Dukes will make it to the NCAA tournament this year? No, but not just because they've allowed too many opportunities to slip past them. They've also been unfortunate in that their schedule has turned out to be a lot worse than they expected.  I don't think anyone would've expected Bowling Green to be a plus 300 RPI team and IUPUI and Wisc GB to be be plus 150. A schedule that looked to be challenging in the preseason has turned out to be an anchor that the Dukes will likely not be able to recover from because they couldn't come up with any quality non conference wins.

How history will perceive this season is still up in the air, and truth be told ten years from now we'll see the record and forget the details. We probably won't remember what could've been and reality has it, people rarely do. We may have remembered an 11-1 and start, but not if it was followed up by a second half collapse. Regardless of their record, this talented Dukes team still has a lot of work to do this season. Maybe they have some surprises left up their sleeves. The breaks can't go against them all season, can they?