The City Game: Christmas Comes early for Duquesne

By Steve DiMiceli

I'm not one to talk to as a very, very lax Catholic myself, but there will be a lot of Duquesne fans who don their blue and red only once this year as they do every year at the city game just like there will be a lot of people at Mass Christmas Day who will not step foot in a church for another 365 days (like myself). I'm not suggesting that these offenses are the same, I just see it as an interesting and sort of funny parallel. They'll show up 20 minutes late and leave when inevitably the fouling begins at the end of the game just like we'll still be trickling in after the first reading and leave after the communion. The only player they'll know is TJ McConnell and maybe BJ Montiero just like the only hymn we'll know is the first verse of Joy to the World and maybe, the Our Father.  We'll sit quietly like they would during the rest of the mass and leave the participation to the handful that do it all the time. No passion, just presence.

They'll leave and we won't see them again for the rest of the year. Maybe they just like being a part of the big one. The energy at the city game just like the energy at Christmas Mass is not repeated the rest of the year even if it does come close on Palm Sunday which is like a Xavier game and giveaway night  that we know ahead of time is going into triple OT . One key difference is that a lot of these Duquesne people will leave and become Pitt fans. At least most of we lax Catholics that leave won't become Lutherans.

All kidding aside, it would be nice to have some of these people stick around for the rest of the basketball season. It'll probably be easier to get the people who come tonight to return than to get people to come back to church. After all, a win against Pitt is a much better way to sell Duquesne basketball than the inevitable whiny somewhat passive aggressive sermon about how nice a full church every Sunday would be from the priest is to sell the Catholic church. It should happen soon and I think Duquesne will miss a great opportunity if they can't win one of the next two. This year, Pitt is very young inside. While they certainly are better inside, they do not have the veteran nor the height to completely dominate this year like they did last year. While Talib Zanna and Dante Taylor will give Andre Marhold hell, I think he'll will be able to match up with Khem Birch.  Travon Woodall is prone to turnovers and Ashton Gibbs hasn't exactly exactly been lighting the world on fire. I think the Dukes match the Panthers back court for the 2011 installment, but both of those players will be gone for the 2012 game giving the Dukes a distinct advantage outside. They should also be able to even out the rebounding loss with  turnover and FT shooting wins. Strangely enough, this one may be decided at the line and I think the Dukes have the advantage there this year.

To those who expect Abele to get significant minutes in this city game, don't count on it. That would be like Santa Clause making an appearance at Christmas Mass. Ron Everhart must not see him as ready and I'm not sure why. In the little I've seen of him, he is definitely a better rebounder  than Marhold and Datt. He also seems to have a couple more post moves than either of those two. However, Everhart has almost conceded the inside game and prefers to create mismatches by going smaller. It's worked against teams like DC, but I don't know if it will work against Pitt. I think Pitt wins 74-70 this year, but Duquesne takes it next season.