Dukes' revamped roster embraces up-tempo style
Duquesne has a message for opponents: “Catch us if you can.”
With a revamped roster that promises to be faster and more athletic than last season's, the Dukes should be much better at the transition offense second-year coach Jim Ferry favors.
“We're really fast and not just at a couple positions — at every position,” said Ferry, whose Dukes start their season at 2 p.m., Saturday when Abilene Christian visits Palumbo Center “We want to play fast, we want to play aggressively.”
Nine players are gone from last season's roster, including seven who had eligibility left. Ferry replaced them with recruits who can run the floor.
That includes junior college transfer Tra'Vaughn White, a junior guard who was the nation's leading scorer at Independence Community College. His ability with the ball will benefit sophomore point guard Derrick Colter, who shouldered much of last season's up-court push.
But two other newcomers, senior forward Ovie Soko (6-8, 225) and junior forward Dominique McKoy (6-8, 215), are more mobile than last season's front court.
Combined, this lineup can run, which led Ferry to offer the “catch us if you can” challenge.
“We have a lot of versatility at each position,” said sophomore small forward Jeremiah Jones, one of three holdovers from last season. “Last year, (the offense) was get the rebound, give it to D.C. and push it. This year, if Ovie or Domo gets the rebound, they could dribble it out. That definitely speeds us up.”
Duquesne will have seven new scholarship players in the lineup Saturday, including sophomore Micah Mason, who was made eligible Thursday by the NCAA.
When Soko left UAB before last season, he wanted somewhere he could run.
“It's a fun way to play,” Soko said, “and a way to catch other teams on their heels. There are not a lot of teams in the country that do a good job defensively in transition.”
When Ferry coached LIU Brooklyn to the NCAA Tournament, those up-tempo Blackbirds lineups often scored 80 points and occasionally broke 100.
That's Ferry's goal at Duquesne, but it could take time. The Dukes scored 103 in their exhibition last weekend against overmatched Clarion, a Division II program.
But against Atlantic 10 opponents last season, the Dukes reached 80 only twice and scored in the 70s in two other contests. In their other 12 conference games, they scored in the 50s or 60s, along with a season-low 49 against Butler.
“There are not many teams that can (score 80),” Ferry said. “I'm not sure we're ready to do that yet on a consistent basis, but we've got to get to 70 or 75 points a game.”
vs. Abilene Christian
Radio: 104.7 FM
Breakdown: Abilene Christian returns just one player from last season's roster as it transitions from NCAA Division II to the Division I Southland Conference. Duquesne returns three.
Player Ht. Yr. PPG
G Parker Wentz 5-9 So. 8.3
G LaDarrien Williams 5-10 Jr. —
G Harrison Hawkins 6-0 Jr. —
F Riley Payne 6-5 Fr. —
F Austin Cooke 6-7 So. —
G Derrick Colter 5-11 So. 13.5
G Tra'Vaughn White 5-10 Jr. —
F Jeremiah Jones 6-3 So. 7.7
F Dominique McKoy 6-8 Jr. —
F Ovie Soko 6-8 Sr. —