New-look Duquesne seeks winning mentality under Dambrot
First-year Duquesne coach Keith Dambrot likes his offense to run from the inside out.
Dambrot worked the previous 13 seasons at Akron, where he racked up 305 victories and guided the Zips to 10 postseason appearances. He coached his teams to be relentless and bruising under the basket, which eventually created open shots from the perimeter.
“We won at Akron because from Day 1 I had better big people than anybody in the league,” Dambrot said. “That makes your margin for error much bigger because you're not shooting jump shot after jump shot. That's going to be the key to our season. Can we get it in there? Can we take care of the ball? And can we play every possession defensively like it matters?”
For the first several weeks of the season, much of the workload will be shouldered by 6-foot-8 center Jordan Robinson. A graduate student, Robinson has made three starts in 63 games.
Dambrot had hoped two transfers, 6-8 center Chas Brown and 6-9 forward Marko Krivacevic, would provide some instant inside muscle. However, Brown (broken foot) and Krivacevic (broken wrist) are wearing casts and will be out until at least early December.
“Where we're a little bit light in the shorts right now,” Dambrot said. “That's why Jordan becomes so important.”
Being short-handed will put more pressure on guards Mike Lewis and Tarin Smith to produce points and takeaways. It might take a while for things to jell, as the players adjust to Dambrot's complex offensive system.
“It's a lot of plays,” Lewis said. “There are a lot of different cuts out of them, a lot of options out of every play. A lot of plays look the same but have different endings. That's the most difficult part of it.”
Last season, Duquesne too often faded down the stretch and turned late-game leads into narrow losses.
“I'm trying to make them understand how to win,” Dambrot said. “When it's 70-68 with three minutes to play, are they going to believe they can win or not? That's going to be the key to the whole thing, because in the past they haven't. We're going to be in a million close games. We don't have enough pop yet to just blow people out of here.”