Depth and Versatility

By Steve DiMiceli

As I went into search mood for information about Dominique McKoy, I was a bit surprised to find  him listed as a SF in just about every source material I found. I'm so used to the catch and shoot three and the 6'7'' five that I've forgotten the possibility of adding an inside presence from both forward positions. If McKoy truly can play the small forward, I think Duquesne will have a complement of versatile players that could match up with just about anyone. For the first time that I can remember, the Dukes could go big or small rather than just small and smaller.

I'm not quite ready to project a lineup for next year's team as I haven't seen more than four players on the team suit up in NCAA competition. However, I can envision a number of different possible lineups if the newcomers are ready to come in and contribute at least a serviceable level. For this piece, I'll make a few assumptions that they can. I think Tra'vaugh White will be a combo guard from day one. All lineups that I envision, will include he and Colter at guard. Based on high school film I've seen, I expect both Jordan Robinson and Isaiah Watkins to be able to contribute as freshman, but because he plays more like a true center, I think Robinson to will get more minutes for now.  Finally, I'll assume McKoy could carry the load at three.

Going Big

It makes me tingly to think that the Dukes can put a lot of size on the floor. After not being able to find a more than a serviceable big man since Damian Saunders left, Jim Ferry has four who could have an impact this season as well as two nice depth options. To me, the ability to go big is more advantageous during the out of conference schedule against teams like Pitt and WVU than it will be during A-10 play especially with Butler and Xavier gone. It's very possible that Dukes could put out a lineup with 6'8'' Robinson at center, 6'8'' Soko at forward, and 6'7'' McKoy at the other forward to help offset our tiny starting guards, Colter and White. With one of the starting PG's on the bench, Jeremiah Jones or Desmond Rideneour could add some height to the backcourt to make the lineup even bigger. Rebounding and setting screens to create space for the combos should not be a problem for Duquesne this year.

Going Small 

Should the Dukes feel the need to get more ball handlers and shooters onto the floor, they could easily bump out one of the bigs and go with a three guard look. Colter and White would stay, but they would be joined on the perimeter by Jeremiah and Ridenour at the three. Some combination of bigs could play the post. As the season progressed last year, Jeremiah developed into a pretty strong rebounder. Three isn't his natural position but I think he has enough grit and strong enough defense to play the position and create a matchup problem for our opponents.

Going Lasalle 

If Ferry felt compelled to do so, he could still go very small and even run a 4 guard set. Robinson, Watkins or Soko could serve as the Jerrell Wright. Jerry Jones and Jeremiah could play the forward positions while White and Colter manned the backcourt. I don't like the idea playing this way as I think it depletes the effectiveness of interior depth, but it could be another option.

Going Traditional 

Sadly, this is the one thing the Dukes cannot do real well. While I like Darrius Lewis for the long haul,  I'm not so sure he can come in and be the true center we need from day one. Likewise, the Dukes  only have one true small forward with Quevyn Winters gone. This could change with LG Gill and Errick Peck still looking like possibilities. For now though, it appears the Dukes strengths will be in going unconventional and thinking outside the traditional 1-5 paradigm hopefully creating matchup issues for just about everyone they face.

The question for me is which identity the Dukes could take on will be most effective for them? The talent level has grown by leaps and bounds during the offseason with the incoming players and the eligibility of Soko. Now the concern is gelling and chemistry. One challenge of having a number of players like McKoy who can do a lot for the team is finding the right combination of players that fits together best.  Ferry could potentially create some matchup problems for opposing coaches but he's created some matchup problems for himself too. The bottom line is that there are a lot of moving parts and it will be up to Ferry to use them to create the best machine possible. My expectations for wins next season is low relative to the talent because it is going to take time for everything and everyone to come together. If the Dukes are able to follow the same path as George Washington did to Brooklyn last year, I'll be pretty happy. If things work out better, I think the talent and versatility is there for a run to a postseason tournament (most likely the CBI).