Ex-Duquesne star says team lacks leader
Not even the return of rising sophomore Melquan Bolding from a broken wrist or the presence of former Dukes star Aaron Jackson in the crowd could jumpstart Duquesne's season-long shooting slump.
The Dukes, among the worst 3-point shooting teams in the nation, shot just 35.8 percent overall, including 3 for 20 (15 percent) from 3-point range, in losing their Atlantic 10 Conference opener Wednesday to Richmond.
The 80-68 setback ended Duquesne's seven-game home winning streak at Palumbo Center.
"It felt good watching those guys play, but you feel your heart ache, knowing they put in so much hard work day-in and day-out," Jackson said in his first trip back to the Bluff for a game.
A first-year guard in Turkey's top professional league, Jackson returned to America during the league's all-star break and is scheduled to return overseas on Sunday.
"It was kind of surreal to be sitting there watching the game," Jackson said. "I really miss being out there. I'm just such a competitive person. It was tough, but it was fun."
Jackson, the runner-up for MVP honors in the Atlantic 10 Conference last season, when he averaged 19.3 points per game and helped Duquesne reach the A-10 Tournament championship game, said the current Duquesne team lacks leadership on the court.
It's a process, he said, that takes time.
"They're still growing. I never really realized how much of an impact I made on a team," Jackson said. "They looked like they were looking for someone to lead. They were really stagnant at times. I just see a lack of confidence out there."
The loss was the third in four games for Duquesne (9-6, 0-1), which visits Dayton on Saturday.
Bill Clark scored 18 points to lead Duquesne. Damian Saunders posted his Division I-leading 12th double-double with 16 points and 13 rebounds. He added six steals and three blocked shots.
Bolding, who missed 13 games with a broken wrist since suffering the injury in the opener against Nicholls State on Nov. 13, scored three points to go with two rebounds while playing 14 minutes off the bench in his first action back.
"It's going to take some time for Mel to get his timing back," Duquesne coach Ron Everhart said. "It'll come, though. We're just going to take it a step at a time. He practiced (Thursday) and his hand seemed to be OK."
Bolding shot just 1 for 6 against Richmond while wearing a thumb brace, designed to take pressure off his surgically repaired right wrist.
"Our effort was good enough to win. We scored enough to win," Everhart said. "We just lapsed on defense in the second half. Richmond had a lot to do with that."
David Gonzalvez scored 19 points and Kevin Anderson added 18 to lead the Spiders, (13-4, 1-0), who won their 13th consecutive game against Duquesne. The Dukes, who trail in the series, 13-8, have never beaten Richmond since the Spiders joined the A-10 in 2001.
Richmond shot 50 percent (13 for 26) from 3-point range and was 7 of 12 in the second half.
Richmond also has beaten BCS conference teams Florida, Mississippi State and Missouri. Two of its four losses are against BCS conference teams South Carolina and Wake Forest, which needed overtime to beat the Spiders.