Let's Not Get Carried Away

By Steve DiMiceli

Generally speaking, I get pigeon holed as an optimist and generally speaking, this would be an accurate statement. However, I don't think I'm so far detached into happy land that I couldn't make the argument that I'm more of a pragmatist with an optimistic lean. I'm approaching tonight's entry right from the dead center. Following Thursday night's game against CMU, I thought a lot of Duquesne fans were reading were jumping ship a little too early. Now after a much better performance, I see a handful heading in the other direction. The funny thing is that both sides are at least a little bit right.

I honestly felt like I saw two different teams between Thursday and tonight and again, between the first half and the second half this evening.  The Dukes dominated the second half from start to finish no matter who was on the floor. On the flip side, they got loose for five minutes towards the end of the first half and allowed Hilo to close to ten. Thankfully Sean Johnson put his foot on the throat and extended the lead to 16 before half.

I liked what I saw tonight, but I didn't completely hate what I saw on Thursday either. There were some good things against CMU like the low foul totals and a stifling man defense that shut Tartans down for long stretches. There were some problems tonight like the number of fouls in the first half and the aforementioned break down. If you just look at a box score, you're not real happy about the turnover differential either against Hawaii - Hilo. However, I'll take the Dukes' turnovers tonight over the ones we saw Thursday. They went from sloppy turnovers to aggressive ones and they also piled up the assists. A lot of timidness I saw last week washed away.

Now, this team didn't go from a single digit winner to the top or even the middle of the A-10, at least not yet. Some might ask the question of when will the real Dukes stand up. I would point out that they probably already have. This is a very, very young team. So far, they've been wildly inconsistent  between and within games. In most cases, wild swings in performance are characteristic of young teams. Moving forward, I think it's safe for us to expect a Jekyll and Hyde act with the collection of young men who are the 2012-13 Dukes. At the end of the day, we're probably looking at a frustrating season because by March, we'll see the talent and potential, but the team will still lack the experience to  harness it.

Having witnessed the majority of games played in the summer league, I can tell you that the class of 2012 was all over the map in Greentree, too. Derrick Colter may have had two of the best individual performances the entire season, but struggled for a couple of games as well. Quevyn Winters always played up tempo but there were times where he failed to make an impact. Jeremiah Jones didn't really catch on until the end and struggled with shot selection throughout. Marvin Binney was quiet but had his ups and downs. These guys are going to have some great performances and some bad ones. I would make the argument that the real player is somewhere in the middle for now.

Tonight, Duquesne showed signs of its hot shooting potential one that will ultimately help them steal a game or two this season. However, they also showed the inconsistencies of a young team over the course of the exhibitions that prevents me from being truly optimistic. There is athleticism, potential and talent on this team, but there is a lack of experience. Some days, the good will carry, but on others that youth will shine through.


- It's difficult to imagine PJ Torres didn't improve his stock following his combined 18 point, 14 rebound, 5 assist performance in the exhibition season. To go along with the theme of this piece, he's clearly the most consistent Duke right now.

- Sean Johnson dusted off the rust tonight and dropped 16 on 6 of 11 including 4 three's.

- Duquesne took almost half their shots from beyond the arc. While the three worked for them tonight, it won't always fall. I saw the wing players standing around the perimeter far too often again tonight and I'd really like to see them attack the hoop more with and without the ball.

- The Dukes looked much better in transition tonight on both sides of the ball. Only one turnover occurred before the ball crossed mid court if I recall correctly.