Heller: Castro-Caneddy coming into his own at Duquesne

Posted on Nov 12 2017 - 9:17pm by Jonny Heller
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Castro-Caneddy went off for Duquesne yesterday in coach Dambrot’s debut, scoring 23 points to push the Dukes over St. Francis Brooklyn. (Photo Credit: goduquesne.com)

Rene Castro-Caneddy played his first season of college basketball at Butler University in Indianapolis. Brad Stevens, former Bulldogs coach and now-head coach of the Boston Celtics, recruited Castro-Caneddy. When you’re recruited by someone with Stevens’ magnitude, it speaks volumes about your ability on the basketball court.

However, before Castro-Caneddy was able to start his freshman season, Stevens departed for the NBA and his primary recruiter Matthew Graves took the head coaching position at Alabama. In his lone year at Butler, Castro-Caneddy averaged 3.3 points while playing 8.8 minutes a game.

Castro-Caneddy ultimately decided to leave Butler and transfer to Duquesne when he committed to then-head coach Jim Ferry and the Dukes on April 16, 2014.

After a redshirt year and two disappointing seasons under Ferry, Castro-Caneddy arrived at Duquesne on November 11, 2017.

The Dukes struggled to generate much offense, but Castro came through with 22 points in 37 minutes, adding four steals, two rebounds and one assist.

After the game, Castro-Caneddy remained humble, deflecting praise and talking about the new era of Duquesne Basketball under new head coach Keith Dambrot.

“It feels really good with a new coach and a new era. We’re 1-0 and it feels pretty good. We didn’t mess up his resume for his first game as a Duquesne head coach.”

Dambrot was also very complimentary of his fifth-year senior guard after the game, sharing a very interesting anecdote about Castro-Caneddy.

“I really wanted to start Eric Williams but Rene has played so well I asked him, ‘look if you really want to start, I’m going to start you.’ I gave him a couple of days to think about it and he called me today and said ‘look coach, I’ve been through a lot and things haven’t really gone well for me. Would you mind if I start?'”

Dambrot agreed with Castro, which paid big dividends for the Dukes on a cold November night in Pittsburgh.

Prior to this season, it appeared as though Castro-Caneddy had confidence issues and who could blame him. Under Ferry, if Castro made even the slightest mistake, he was typically pulled from the game and didn’t see the court again the rest of the night.

On Saturday, Castro-Caneddy played with poise and confidence you’d expect out of a fifth-year senior.

“I actually like to play the older guys because I think they deserve that. Rene’s put a lot of time into the game. He’s spent a lot of time at it. He’s probably got the best feel for the game of anybody we have so he really deserves to play well.” said Dambrot.

Dambrot also raved about the relationship he has with the senior.

“He tried to run out of here after I got here and I basically told him I’m going to do this, this, this and this and hold you accountable. If you want somebody to hold you accountable then stay. If not, then run out of here.” Dambrot continued, “We have a really good relationship for whatever reason. You know how some people you just hit it off with and other people you don’t? He and I have a good relationship, so I think the thing that he wrestled with was he knew I didn’t want to start him because I don’t like starting both ball-handling guards ’cause then I have no other ball handling guard to put in then.”

Dambrot has seemed to push the right buttons for Castro-Caneddy.

If he plays like this for a full season, Duquesne will be a team that could surprise some people. When players don’t have to worry about being benched for making small mistakes, they will perform with less anxiety and that definitely showed with Castro-Caneddy on Saturday.

With little to no depth at guard, Castro-Caneddy will be asked to have these types of performances regularly.

Castro-Caneddy looked happy and confident after the game. Getting to the tin easily and keeping your man in front of you on defense will generally do that for a player.

While many fans have written him off after two lost seasons, Castro-Caneddy didn’t give up, he fired up and Dukes fans are going to have fun watching him play this season.

You know what they say? It’s better to arrive late than not to arrive at all.

Rene Castro-Caneddy has arrived.