Dukes vs Maine

By Steve DiMiceli

The Dukes return home to the AJ Palumbo Center to take on the Maine Black Bears having won 3 of 4 games and riding a two game winning streak at 2 PM today.

 Like Duquesne, the Black Bears enter the game winners of their last two after dropping their first four contests to begin the season. Maine will present an interesting and unexpected challenge for the Dukes. Statistically, they've been a good defensive team and are particularly strong defending the perimeter and on the glass. Maine have averaged 41.2 rebounds per game compared to the Dukes 42 and both teams have crashed the offensive glass with each recording more than twelve second chance opportunities per game. For the most part, the Black Bears will run a man to man defense but aren't afraid to play a 1-2-2 or 2-3. 

They recently defeated Siena and Northeastern following their patchy start to the season where they lost to several bad teams. According to Pete Warner of the Bangor Daily News, the " Bears have been better of late, in large part, because they're shooting better from the perimeter. They started the year with abysmal 3-point shooting, which enabled opponents to back off and clog up (Alasdair) Fraser in the paint.

Warner described the Maine roster as "talented., but thin." They are led by 6'3'' sophomore guard Justin Edwards who dropped 30 in the Maine win over Northeastern and Frasier, a Scottish forward averaging nearly a double - double a game as a junior. Unfortunately for the Bears, Fraser has gotten into foul trouble in every game.Warner believes the fouls pile up because Frasier is an aggressive player but has trouble beating quicker players to the ball resulting in whistles for over the back. At point, they have rising sophomore Xavier Pollard whom Warner seems high on. "He is their only true point guard right now and is blossoming after playing limited minutes last season. He is strong and tenacious and has a great rapport with Edwards in open-court situations."

Maine's recent history should sound familiar to Duquesne fans. A couple of years ago, they took the America East conference by storm with a 9-1 start to league play only to collapse in the second half. On last season, Warner says "they had questionable chemistry and results that showed it." The big difference between the programs is that they've retained coach Ted Woodward who replaced Dr. John Giannini of Lasalle following the 2004-05 season. Warner expects Maine to finish 5th or 6th in the nine team Am East. 

This should be an up tempo affair. Neither team forces a ton of turnovers but Maine is among the worst in the country at protecting the basketball. They also have a tendency to foul a lot more frequently as a unit, so Jim Ferry's team should get to the line at a high rate. Maine have looked a little more dangerous in recent outings and today's matchup presents as a much more difficult test on paper than it did a week ago.  However, the Bears are still a team the homestanding Dukes should defeat most of the time.I think the Dukes depth will show late in the game especially if they can get Frasier into foul trouble and they'll pull away or seal a close victory. 

Keys to the Game:

1. Be Aware of Fraser after the shot
2. Attack the basket on offense
3. Win the turnover margin while keeping the rebounding margin close