What if I told you a year ago that Duquesne would be playing a hard-nosed brand of basketball and holding opponents to under 70 points on a regular basis?
No, this isn’t the intro to an ESPN 30 for 30 documentary. This is a reality on the Bluff in December 2017. Many things stuck out in Duquesne’s 70-62 win Saturday evening over the Dayton Flyers at the Palumbo Center. Duquesne’s ability to take a punch and then deliver a hurricane right back was the biggest.
Late in the first half, Dayton redshirt freshman Kostas Antetokounmpo put up two poster board dunks on Duquesne. On the latter, Antetokounmpo taunted Dukes center Chas Brown on his way back up the floor. Brown, an emotional player, shoved Antetokounmpo and double technical fouls were assessed.
This is where it turned around for Duquesne.
In previous years, the Dukes would have wilted in this situation. This time, with this group, the Dukes had a fire lit beneath them and delivered punch after punch to the Flyers until the final horn.
The Dukes have battled through adversity over the first two months of the season and are determined not to be the little brother of the Atlantic 10 anymore.
Dukes coach Keith Dambrot took it a step further, “Duquesne’s not going to get plunked anymore. We’re just not going to get punked.”
Anybody can make that statement but all the Dukes have done is back that up thus far.
Dambrot’s squad has shown an infinite amount of mental toughness so far this year. From starting the season woefully shorthanded to hearing critics make fun of them for their tailored, easy non-conference schedule.
This mental toughness must continue if the Dukes want to continue on and have a successful Atlantic 10 conference slate.
Stats & Random Thoughts
1. Duquesne was led by Rene Castro-Caneddy’s 21 point performance.
2. Chas Brown went for 8 points and 7 rebounds but really played a man’s game in the second half to swing the momentum to the Dukes.
3. The Dukes went 18-21 from the free throw line. In a close game, this was one one of the major differences as Dayton struggled from the line going 9-17.
4. Major kudos to Dukes women’s basketball coach Dan Burt and former men’s player Jim Balog for leading the student section on Saturday while the student body is on break.
5. The attendance of 2,572 was by the far the biggest of the season at the Palumbo Center. Several hundred Dayton fans made the four-hour drive, but Duquesne fans were louder and more energetic the entire game.
6. Duquesne returns to action on Wednesday at 7 PM at the Palumbo Center against George Washington.
7. I would like to wish all of my readers a happy and healthy new year. Let’s make 2018 the best year yet!