Preview @ St Louis

By Steve DiMiceli

If you came here expecting an optimistic endorsement of how I think Duquesne has a good chance of gutting out a win against a well regarded foe, you might as well not click on the rest of the article. If you realize that the Dukes will need to play a nearly flawless game to bring home a win from St Louis, you'll probably really enjoy the read.

One word describes the St Louis, tight. They're probably the best three point shooting the Dukes will face all year. They play great defense, make it difficult for teams to pass against them, force a lot of turnovers and likewise don't turn it over themselves. They're not a great rebounding team but they are efficient. The Billikens are led by senior Brian Conklin who is turning in 14.5 a game and 5 rebounds. Kwamain Mitchell returns after a year off and Cody Ellis is steady after his breakout year last season. Both players are averaging around 12 a game. Everyone on the floor for the Billikens is a threat to hit from three with 6 regulars shooting from beyond the arc at 37% or better.

The Dukes will have to counter by hitting and making 3 pointers of their own. St Louis has a tough interior defense that will be difficult for the Dukes to penetrate. This will also help soften the zone St Louis plays. A couple of TJ McConnell from NBA range bombs early may change the complexion of the game. A good start is very important for Duquesne as is consistently adding points throughout the course of the game. As we saw last year at the AJ Palumbo center. St Louis is not built to comeback from large deficits. When they have to hurry, they lose their mojo. If the Billikens have to press at any point, the game is over. Of course this is a much better, more experienced team than the Dukes faced last year. Running it to that type of advantage will be unlikely especially on the road. The Dukes will also need to enter with a game plan that gets St Louis to turn the ball over. Trapping Mitchell in a similar fashion to Chaz Williams in the UMass game could be effective as he is also on the smaller side. Of course, Rick Majerus probably watched plenty of film the past few days. I assume he watches a lot of film as it seems like an activity that does not require him to wear pants. Still, the Dukes might be able to learn from Charlotte as they got both Mitchell and Kyle Cassity.

 If the Dukes can win the turnover battle, get out to a fast start, maintain it for 40 minutes, pick up the tempo and execute on open looks, they have a chance. Of course that's a lot to ask for and even then is no guarantee on the road. St Louis is in a bit of a funk coming into this game, but that means little.