Dukes outlook brightens with Bolding
Knowing Duquesne coach Ron Everhart, you get the feeling his suddenly low-octane basketball team is building up steam for a run at running wild again.
Having all his horses certainly would help.
"We've been on sort of an NBA schedule. This was our seventh game in 17 days," Everhart said following Saturday's 59-54 victory over Robert Morris.
In actuality, it was the Dukes' eighth contest in 20 days, almost a game every other day.
No matter. Everhart has been hopeful of a speedy return by injured sophomore guard Melquan Bolding, who has missed nine games following wrist surgery on Nov. 17.
Everhart said Sunday he was expecting Bolding to be cleared to return to the practice court "sometime this week" for limited workouts, but he couldn't be more specific.
"We're looking at getting him back into running and conditioning and some defensive stuff," Everhart said. "We're going to have to take it slow because he has a tough injury. The (scaphoid) bone is healing really well. It looks like the original prognosis that he'd be able to play some by Christmas-time is right on track, but I don't know if I thought that would have been the case. I still don't."
Duquesne (7-3), among Division I's highest-scoring units during the past three seasons, is sputtering to produce points in Everhart's fourth year at the helm, though the victory over Robert Morris provides a bit of momentum going into Wednesday's game against Canisius at Palumbo Center.
"If we wouldn't have rebounded or defended, we wouldn't have won," Everhart deadpanned.
Bolding's anticipated return would strengthen the Dukes inexperienced bench, whose contributions have been thin. In spite of it, Duquesne opened the season with four victories and has alternated wins and losses over the past six games.
The gritty Dukes have been outscoring their opposition by a meager average of three points per game.
"I love our kids' resolve (but) you never want to play every game close," Everhart said. "You want to go out and play the way you play and distinguish yourself as a team and pop somebody. From a confidence standpoint, you can't be going through nail-biters every night."
Sophomore B.J. Monteiro, who led Duquesne's latest victory with 17 points and is averaging 12.3 points per game since being inserted into the lineup, said he'd graciously offer his spot back to Bolding, who scored 25 points in Duquesne's season-opening, 85-62 victory over Nicholls State before he was sidelined.
"If Mel comes back, I'll take a backseat. I'll do whatever they want me to do to help this team win," said Monteiro, who scored four points during Duquesne's 6-0 run in the final 1:57 that sealed the win against Robert Morris (3-5).
"With the way B.J. is working now," Everhart said, "he doesn't need to take a backseat to anybody."
The Dukes are 6-3 since losing Bolding, but they haven't scored as many points in a game as they did in the opener (85).
"I'd love for our shooters to make shots one day instead of going 2 for 12," Everhart said, referencing senior guard Jason Duty and junior forward Bill Clark, who have combined for 117 3-point attempts.
Both are struggling, with Clark shooting 31 percent and Duty shooting 26 percent on 3-pointers.
In Everhart's three previous seasons, Duquesne averaged 79.8 points per game, fifth only to Virginia Military (95.6), North Carolina (88.0), Texas State (80.9) and Tennessee (80.4).
In this year of varying intrigue, though, the Dukes' scoring offense has slowed to a grinding 64.4 points per game, but opponents have shot less than 40 percent in nine of 10 games.
"Having both Mel and B.J. gives us the luxury of another versatile guy," Everhart said. "Obviously, that should make us better."