By Steve DiMiceli
I couldn't decide on how I wanted to open this blog entry so I'll present my audience with the three I like and let you pick the best one.
Option #1: I'm not sure how Duquesne won this game. At the same time, I'm not sure how they didn't win by more.
Option #2: The 2011-12 Duquesne Dukes rolled to victory in a sloppy game against the 2010-2011 Duquesne Dukes.
Option #3: Allow me rephrase my first sentence of my preview to now read "This is a great game to take college basketball fan to the AJP who likes to watch sloppy, out of control basketball some bad decision making."
On the first, I'm hard pressed to make an argument that tonight's Duquesne performance would have made for a win most night's in the Atlantic 10. However, UMass possibly played the worst 40 minutes of basketball I've seen at the AJP this year. If they didn't play what looked like a stiffling zone for much of the game and weren't relatively efficient at scoring when they possessed the ball long enough to get it into the paint, I'd make the argument that they put in a worse performance than Houston Baptist. On the Dukes best night, they win by 30 and it's pretty well out of hand by half time.
On the second, it's hard to deny UMass had shades of last years Duquesne team system wise. Fast paced, 1-2-2 with the big guy up top. Shot the three ball a fair amount. Maybe, my point is a bit extreme.
On the third, I thought this one was tough to watch at times. Poor finishing, soft defense on everyone but Williams and shot selection by the Dukes in the first half. Bad turnovers and silly fouls by the Minutemen throughout. It made for a difficult game to watch at times.
To the Dukes credit, they did a few things well. First, they were very good with ball against a team that forces a lot of turnovers. They also got after the loose balls and really started to play with some grit starting about the 5 minutes mark of the first half. Great game plan and execution by the Dukes on Chaz Williams. He's one of the most talented new comers in the league and had a 1.8 A/TO ratio coming into tonight. Not only did they frustrate him and get him into foul trouble, but he had .57 A/TO tonight. I'm not going to lie, I felt terrible for Jesse Morgan when he had to run the point. I really did; he didn't have a chance when the Dukes trapped him. I also think the Dukes created a lot of good opportunities for themselves, they had a little trouble executed. BJ Montiero got free often even if his finishing was not there. I also like that the Dukes managed to dominate the second while playing no one taller than 6'5''.
TJ McConnell 9 -- One of the better games for TJ, IMO. He didn't stuff the stat sheet but he found his teammates consistently open. 10 assists would have happened with a better shooting night from Duquesne.
Sean Johnson 9 -- One of his better games. His first half three's kept the Dukes close until their team effort became more consistent. Very good night on the glass
BJ Montiero 8 -- I think the rust will be completely shaken off by Saturday. Poor finishing keeps him from being higher.
Eric Evans 4.5 -- Strong on the ball, and against Williams but his silly fouling let his teammates down.
Jerry Jones 6 -- Confidence continues to come. I thought his second half defense helped lead to some key stops for the Dukes. Hit a big three to really put the game out of reach in the second.
Mike Talley 7 -- I liked what Mike brought tonight. Aggressive on the drive, hit some baskets, got some fouls called against him and looked solid on D.
Mamadou Datt 3 -- Can't say I was happy about him tonight. Him out of position on defense led to a couple of easy UMass baskets. A game for him to learn from.
Derrick Martin 4 -- Didn't eat mistake free minutes tonight, but still, I continue to see growth in him. He played like a big man tonight.
Kadeem Panthophlet 6 -- For the life of me, I can't figure out why he didn't play more. Thought he had a nice game in his brief appearance.