@ UMass

By Steve DiMiceli

If UMass can't get up for the tomorrow night's first round game in the Atlantic 10 tournament, they don't deserve to play Division 1 basketball. In their first meeting with us, the Dukes embarrassed the Minutemen forcing 29 turnovers and fouling 28 times. While the Dukes only one by 11, better finishing could have run the score up much higher.

UMass looks to bounce back with home win of their own. As before, the Minutemen will have a decided size advantage. The Dukes will look to speed up 1st team all conference point guard Chaz Williams as they did when he came to the AJ Palumbo Center. It will be up to coach Derek Kellogg to solve the trap, a defense he could not help his team adjust to in Pittsburgh. UMass played to .500 in the second half of league play even as their schedule grew more difficult and they've stayed strong at home posting a 7-1 record in Amherst.

Duquesne comes into the A-10 tournament hobbled by it's February tradition, the late season swoon. This year's team is not struggling quite as bad, but all signs point towards a minor meltdown at the very least. The Dukes have lost 5 of 7 and have looked down right apathetic against a weak George Washington team. However, the last two games have shown the Dukes have some fight left in the them. The Charlotte game was as good as any they've played on the road and the St. Louis game, though 15 point loss, was marred by terrible officiating that no doubt caused the game to look further out of hand then it actually was.

I'm afraid the Dukes may have worn out all their tricks against UMass the first time they met. While I have no faith in Kellogg, I would have to think that he will be more prepared than last game. I would not be surprised if Ron tinkers with his starting lineup to throw him off. In order to have a chance, the Duquesne seniors will need to continue playing to their experience. Andre Marhold will need to defend well and stay out of foul trouble. The Dukes will also need to do a better job against the second guy in for the offensive rebounds. Finally, they'll need to shoot the three ball well. I can't see them forcing 30 turnovers and getting another 30 fouls, but the Dukes could have a better shooting day than they did the last time around.

I hate to say it but I think the Dukes run in the A-10 ends before it even really gets a chance to begin. I suspect we'll be doing nothing but scoreboard watching and waiting for the crazy rumors to start flying about CBI and CIT starting Sunday night around 9:45 trying to pretend like we're excited about the game. Another late season Duquesne tradition.