Pro-Am Notes 7/15

By Steve DiMiceli

The thing about the PBC Pro-Am is that you see stuff that you don't always see in regular season basketball. Some of it's good. Some of it's bad. 

In the first game, we got to see what ironman basketball looks like and let me tell you, it's not something I ever need to see again. Jerry Jones and a number of other players were missing in action leaving both teams without a bench. GNC got their doors blown off from the tip in a game I expected them to do well in. UPMC was composed of a couple of Robert Morris players Lucky Jones and Kavon Stewart along with some guys from West Liberty. It felt like the Hilltoppers just didn't miss in the first 15 minutes from three and they played decent defense.  For the Duquesne big men of GNC, ironman wasn't pretty and it likely contributed poor rebounding and late first half fatigue. Jordan Robinson, to his credit, got stronger following half time. In the first, he was clearing space for his teammates on the defensive glass. When they weren't getting into holes, he stepped up a went after the boards himself. Darius Lewis was stronger on the glass than he has been but was throwing his outlet passes away and struggled with finishing at the other end. He grabbed 13 rebounds but probably should have been in the 20s. GNC closed down 15 at the half

As for the guards, Tra'vaugh White dominated the GNC scoring early while Colter took over late. White left due to a cut above his eye with 10-15 minutes left in the game, but GNC didn't give up. After a short delay to find their new 5th man, Derrick Colter got hot with his teammate out and he finished with 30 points and 9 assists and 8 rebounds.  White had 21. In spite of all that went wrong for GNC, they had an opportunity to tie late, but Lewis missed a put back slam. Lucky Jones led the way for UPMC. Thankfully, I don't think we'll see Derrick Colter playing post defense against him in the County Game.

You don't see a lot of teams who are most effective with a 6'8'' guy running the point but you did in the 9:00 game. Ovie Soko oozes skill and he made several coast to coast trips down the floor following a rebound. He wants the ball and he wants it in big situations. At least in the summer he can play any position on the floor. Ovie finished with 22 and 15.

Ridenour had his most productive game of the summer as some of those shots that were missing earlier are beginning to fall. I still think he might have more confidence in his three than it deserves, but he sank a couple tonight. I talk a lot about his quickness, but his vertical is notable as well. Jeremiah Jones created decent looks in the first half that just didn't fall but was once again key in the second. His increased confidence in his ball handling is noticeable. I'm looking forward to seeing what he can do in real games.

I love watching Gill shoot. Form is excellent. He gets his shot off quickly. A lot of days he tends to be more of a catch and shoot guy. Today, he was flashing a step back jumper early. He came up big at the end of the game on the glass, at the line and with a big block on a three pointer with 20 seconds to go. The Lair also fell behind early but unlike GNC, they completed the comeback winning 74-70. All four Dukes finished in double figures.

I have no idea what to expect from Duquesne this coming season. It's nearly impossible to make projections from Summer league to regular season and it gets even more difficult when you're presented with situations you'll never see in an actual game. That said, I find myself wanting the Duquesne driven teams to win at the Pro-Am more than I ever have before. I have no idea why. In the past I could have cared less about the results of the games and frankly, I didn't even follow the score. Maybe, it was the disappointment of last season and me grabbing on to anything I can. Maybe, it's that we have a likable group on the floor. Maybe, I'm just ready for the real hoops to start. I can't answer that and it might be a little bit of everything. For now though, I'll take a win when I can get it. Nice to see The Lair comeback, but it was disappointing that GNC couldn't do the same.