Everhart optimistic despite skid

| Monday, Jan. 11, 2010

Duquesne finds itself in a hole to start the Atlantic 10 Conference men's basketball schedule.

The Dukes (9-7, 0-2), without one of their main players for much of the season, have lost three in a row and four of five. But despite the slide, there's still plenty of time to get it right.

"In my mind, we've got some warriors on this team that are just not going to let us go away easy," Duquesne coach Ron Everhart said. "We're a tough out. And when we start getting that flow back, when we start sharing the ball and making some shots ..."

Next up for the Dukes is Saint Louis on Wednesday night at Palumbo Center. The Billikens (10-5, 1-0) opened their A-10 schedule Saturday with a victory over Richmond, which pulled away in the second half last week to beat Duquesne, 80-68, in its league opener at Palumbo.

It marked the first game back for Duquesne sophomore guard/forward Melquan Bolding, who scored 25 points in the season-opener against Nicholls State but then missed 13 games following surgery to repair a broken wrist.

"Chemistry-wise, we're still not functioning," Everhart said.

Bolding, who continues to wear a brace on his right hand, showed signs of returning to form in Duquesne's 78-72 overtime loss at A-10 preseason favorite Dayton on Saturday. In 36 minutes, Bolding produced 13 points on 5-of-11 shooting, 8 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 steals.

"Duquesne came out and threw some knockout blows to us," Dayton coach Brian Gregory said. "They are a talented team with Bolding back. They are a different team. They have had some good wins and some tough losses, and they played (nearly) every game without that kid. That team is much different than the team that was 9-5 in the non-conference."

The return of Bolding, who has played in a reserve role during the past two games, isn't the only recent development for the Dukes. Everhart has begun to integrate some other players into the rotation, partly because he said his starters have been playing too many minutes.

The struggles of junior forward Bill Clark, who is battling a prolonged shooting slump, also factors into Everhart's thinking.

"We've got to try to find a way to put a band-aid on that situation until we can get him back shooting the ball and get him some confidence," Everhart said.

The strong play off the bench of freshman guard Sean Johnson and redshirt sophomore center Morakinyo "Mike" Williams hasn't gone unnoticed.

Johnson averaged 13 points and four rebounds in Duquesne's first two A-10 games. The 7-foot Williams, a transfer from Kentucky who sat out last season but practiced with Duquesne, saw his most extensive playing time against Dayton. In 23 minutes, Williams, though scoreless, produced six rebounds and two assists.

"Mike gave us great minutes," Everhart said. "We're trying to play Mike a little more because, quite frankly, Billy's not functioning for us like he has been in the past."

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