Dukes 81 Spiders 72

By Steve DiMiceli

The win tonight at the AJ Palumbo center was big for a number of reasons. First and foremost, it finally got the Dukes on the positive side of the ledger in A-10 play against Richmond. Second, it was a win with a big crowd on hand at the AJP for a run of the mill conference game. Yes this one was televised, and yes, Richmond was a Sweet-16 team last year, but that doesn't change what they are this year. Finally, the Dukes won an important game and made a pretty good team look pretty ineffective.

The Dukes did what good teams do to win tonight; they imposed their will on their opponents. They made a responsible team turn the ball over and foul. They dribble penetrated at will in the second half even if they could not finish at times. They passed the ball effectively even if it did not translate into assists. Finally, they controlled the game for the entire 40 minutes from the first basket until the final whistle. The Spiders came back at times but never took the lead. When they punched, the Dukes counter punched. The Dukes put them on the ropes midway through the second. Some showboating and poor free throw shooting prevented the coaches from clearing the benches for the last minute or two. The Dayton game was closer than the score line indicates, this game was more one sided.

Player Evaluations -

Eric Evans 9 - May have played his best game in two years. He lost his assignment a couple of times in the first half that leading to open 3's for the Spiders and the missed FT's kept him from a higher score. He took over the game for a stretch at the beginning of the second half when the Dukes needed it.

TJ McConnell 9 - Efficient as always. Another great shooting performance but his steals were a thing of beauty tonight.

Jerry Jones 8.5 - Very good shooting from three and good defense as far as I could tell. Finished badly on two occasions, but a dunk towards the end of the game said to me, "I learned my lesson, I'll finish stronger." Really hope the Jerry chant sticks some people in the row behind me were even getting in on the action.

Sean Johnson  8 - He needs to stop taking stupid fouls. Took some difficult shots that just didn't fall but he showed his teammates that they could penetrate. In spite of the misses, he was an efficient 4-8 from the field and helped put the game away from the stripe.

PJ Torres 7.5 -  A very solid 6 minutes of action that should earn him more time. He is a good rebounder and passer. He defended poorly against Kendall Anthony, but never should have been on him to begin with.

BJ Montiero 7 - Finishing is just not there since the hand injury and he missed a couple of point blank lay ups. Rebounded well and defended well enough. He is playing smarter and knows when and when not to foul.

Mike Talley 7 -  It was fun watching he and Anthony do battle. Overall, I thought his game was stronger than the numbers indicate. Not sure why he can't hit FT's.

Andre Marhold 7 - Not sure why he played as little as he did. I thought the team was better with him in the game. Ron Everhart was really committed to making the pick and roll work with him in the game.

Kadeem Pantophlet 7 - You know this program has gone to a new level when a guy like him is only getting 3 minutes a game. He may have been the best healthy player on the team the year before Ron took over* and would have been a solid rotation player as recently as '09-'10. One strong rebound is enough to get high marks in that short a period of time.

Mamadou Datt 3 - Foul happy and had little impact on the game otherwise.

The Dukes allowed only one team offensive rebound until the final 1:30 of the game. Up to that point, no Richmond player was credited with one.

Dukes are now 5-3 in the conference and 14-9 overall. They sit in 8th place behind St Joe's due to a head to head tie break. Their RPI increased 1 place from the beginning of the day to 81.

* Edit: I thought Bryant McAllister graduated the previous season. Clearly, he would be better and I overlooked him. I would put him number two on that team.