Any good coming of age movie throws some unbelievable roadblocks in front of a character or characters. Sports often times mimic these films and amplify them times 10.
Duquesne’s coming of age tale began in the spring with the hiring of Keith Dambrot as the head basketball coach. Expectations were modest for Duquesne this year. There was a possibility get to double-digit wins and show some promise before the Calvary of transfers and freshmen big men arrive in 2018-19.
The 2017-18 Dukes are not waiting for next year. The latest triumph was a 95-89 double-overtime victory Saturday against the George Mason Patriots.
The Dukes played a similar thriller last Saturday against La Salle but were then trounced by St. Louis on Wednesday. Duquesne responded, however. Dambrot didn’t know what to expect on Saturday.
“That St. Louis game kind of jolted me a bit. I didn’t know what would happen to us after that,” Dambrot said.
What happened was another resilient performance during a season of resilient performances which are giving the collective fan base heart problems.
The Dukes looked dead in the water after early season home losses to Robert Morris and Cornell but have bounced back to start 5-2 in league play and improve to 14-6 overall.
Freshmen Eric Williams Jr. and Tydus Verhoeven are two of the main characters in this coming of age story and both wrote new chapters for themselves Saturday evening. Williams Jr. broke a school record with nine three-point shots made. He also set a freshmen school record with 34 points and notched his ninth double-double of the season.
Verhoeven has been raw offensively but has been a wizard defensively all season. Saturday he broke the school record for blocks by a freshman with nine. Oh yeah and he also contributed eight rebounds, five assists and four points.
Not lost in the shuffle was sophomore Mike Lewis II who scored 15 of his 20 points after halftime including some very timely baskets and a three-pointer from the South Side.
How the rest of this movie plays out is anyone’s guess. But if I were a betting man I would bet these Dukes aren’t done yet.
1. A healthy crowd of 2,543 fans watched the game Saturday at the Palumbo Center including a large student section. The crowd was loud the entire game and was truly a sixth man for Duquesne.
2. Duquesne gets Richmond on Wednesday at Palumbo Center. Historically Duquesne has performed poorly against With a 9-20 record against the Spiders.
3. There is a palpable buzz around the program right now. There were more media members in the post-game press conference today than there has been in some time. Pittsburgh loves winners, and with Pitt basketball in a down period, the time is ripe for the Dukes to steal some attention.
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