Duquesne's Mike Lewis works to break out of slump
By his estimate, Duquesne sophomore guard Mike Lewis puts up about 1,000 shots every week — before, during and after practice.
It's the games that are driving him crazy.
Over the past four games — three of them on the road — Lewis has made seven of 38 shots, including one of 20 in the past two. From beyond the 3-point arc, he has hit only three of his past 25 attempts.
“I spend a lot of time at it,” Lewis said. “That's why I can't believe I'm going through the shooting slump I'm going through. I'll be fine.”
What's coach Keith Dambrot doing about it? Actually, what you might expect from a coach who's seen more than a few shooting slumps in his 23-year coaching career.
“Not talk about it,” he said Friday when a reporter insisted on bringing up the subject. “You know how I am.”
Lewis is part of the collateral damage that has resulted from the Dukes' recent struggles. Duquesne, which plays Davidson (16-10, 11-4 Atlantic 10) on Saturday at Palumbo Center, has lost five in row and seven of its past eight games to fall to 15-13, 6-9.
“Mike is a victim of a lot of different things, in fairness to Mike,” Dambrot said.
Duquesne is a guard-oriented team that doesn't rely on its big men to score.
“Most people don't have to guard our 4 and 5 men (forward and center),” Dambrot said. “So, they don't have to come off Lewis. He's going to get (the opponent's) best defender every night, and they don't have to help (guard someone else).”
Another unique feature of Duquesne's team is that none of the four guards — Lewis, Eric Williams, Rene Castro-Caneddy and Tarin Smith – is a true point guard. As a result, Duquesne averages only 11.7 assists, next-to-last in the 14-team A-10.
“Our point guards are really shooting point guards,” Dambrot said. “They are not pass-first point guards. That doesn't help him, either.”
Duquesne has a true point guard in its 2018-19 recruiting class: 6-foot-2 Brandon Wade of Ann Arbor, Mich. But that's a story for next season.
Meanwhile, Lewis doesn't lean on excuses. When he's not on the court, he's looking at video in an attempt to discover a quirk in his stroke that might have led to his struggles.
“A lot of my jump shots, I'm fading back and that's why I'm short,” he said. “Other times, I'm getting a little excited and that's when they're long.”
He understands that a guard averaging 14.4 points will get plenty of attention.
“When I catch it, it's like five guys staring at me (saying), ‘Where do you think you're going today?'
“Some defenders they don't even leave me. They chase me off every screen. Even when I stand in the corner, they are in the corner with me.”
Lewis is pleased that the next two games are at home after Duquesne played five of the past seven on the road. The Dukes have won 12 of 17 games at Palumbo.
“We've had a lot of success at home,” Lewis said. “We're finally back on our home rims. That's big for me.
“I'm extremely comfortable here, but at the same time when the ball rolls out in the game (Saturday), it could all happen again.”