What it takes to run

By Steve Dimiceli

Almost every time he's been given the opportunity, Jim Ferry has let fans and the media know that he plans to play an uptempo, transition offense. So what does it take to the play the way Ferry wants?

Here is a broken down checklist of what it takes:

1) Multiple guards who can handle the ball - Check

Jim Ferry has a number of players that can bring the ball up court. Derrick Colter, Sean Johnson, Jeremiah Jones, PJ Torres, and Marvin Binney all fit the bill. Quevyn Winters could develop into this type of player as well and it seems like a combo guard is a priority for the remaining scholarship in 2013.

Expected completion date - Complete

2) Strong defensive rebounding or frequent steals - Making Progress

The key to a transition offense is to change the possession defensively without a whistle. You can either do this by getting rebounds or by stealing the ball. Ron Everhart picked the later, Ferry is choosing the former. So far the Dukes are making progress in this department but are still not good enough. The majority of their rebounding improvement has come on the offensive glass. They'll need to get stronger and bigger. They should get a good boost starting next season with Ovie Soko and more playing time for a Martins Abele. It's likely that this could be checked off next year only to be unchecked the following season.

Expected completion date 2013-14

3) Two big men who can play facing the basket - Long Way to Go

This was Everhart's downfall. Not only was he recruiting the wrong type of player, he didn't recruit big men who played well period. Ron also preferred to run multiple swingmen rather than multiple bigs. As a result, Ferry didn't inherit any interior players who fit his system and it will be a challenge to find them. I've noticed the last few games that Marhold is trying to drive more and running towards the basket in transition. Even if Andre does develop this aspect of his game, the Dukes don't have a second this year. Kadeem Pantophlet has been playing a bit of forward, but still tends toward the perimeter too much for me to really consider him a post player. Soko is this type of big, and hopefully Isaiah Watkins will be. However, you generally can't count on a freshmen forwards to come in and play right away. Unless Ferry gets a second big in the class of 2013 or a JUCO, the logic applies for any freshman post player recruited for 2014. Ferry is some way off in this department.

Expected completion date 2015-2016

4) Toughness and Hustle - Making Progress

Don't get me wrong this category has it's place for every team but I think it is essential for up tempo teams. Running teams need to leave it on the floor and get after every 50/50 ball to help create more possessions to help wear down opponents mentally and physically. They also need get up and down the court quickly. There is some grit on this team, but there needs to be a lot more. Again, Soko adds a lot in this department and I believe Ferry puts blue collar kids on the top of his recruiting list.

Expected completion date 2013-2014

5) Versatile Players - Making Progress

Every running system requires every player on the floor to be able to wear many hats. In Ferry's system, he likes to run a modern PG who can pass, shoot and score, two wings who can pass, shoot and score and two post players who can pass, shoot and score. Notice the pattern. The idea is that the wings can play 2 or 3 and the post players can play 4 or 5. Ferry seems like he has his 1 taken care of and he has a couple of wings in Quevyn Winters and Jeremiah Jones to build around. Again, there is a hole inside. Soko could fill one position next year, but the team will be left with a traditional center in Abele or a tall wing in Pathophlet filling the other post position next year assuming Watkins will need some time to get up to speed.

Expected completion date 2015-2016


Duquesne fans aren't going to want to hear what I'm selling, but I would actually consider having everything together the way Ferry wants it by 2015-16 an optimistic time line. It assumes that Ferry will hit on an unproven and an unknown big by their junior and sophomore years. The only way to move this time line along faster is to take a couple of bigs next year or a JUCO junior in 2014. If Ferry did former and no one transferred, the roster next year would be very post heavy:

PG - 3
Wing - 4
Post - 6

This could work because PJ Torres has the ability to run the point or play on the wing and it would push Panthophlet back to his more natural wing position. One of the two freshman post players could redshirt. A JUCO would be a sound option, but versatile JUCO forwards with upside don't grow on trees. Of course, that moves the time line for an ideal lineup forward only one year. Even then it would be a lot to expect a sophomore and a redshirt freshman to take the horse by the reins or for a JUCO junior to adjust to Division I immediately. However, I don't think we see this team playing true Jim Ferry ball until 2015-16 at the earliest and more likely than not, 2016-17. It's difficult to build a team that runs.

This is not to suggest the team won't be good between now and then. It will be as there is a lot of talent here already, but I don't think we're playing exactly the way Ferry envisioned it for a while longer.