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Duquesne's Michael Hughes did more than sit around while sitting out last season

Jerry DiPaola
| Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2018, 6:30 p.m.
Duquesne’s Michael Hughes (21) looks to pass as Pittsburgh’s Terrell Brown (21) and Au’Diese Toney, right, defend during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game, Friday, Nov. 30, 2018, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)
Duquesne’s Michael Hughes (21) looks to pass as Pittsburgh’s Terrell Brown (21) and Au’Diese Toney, right, defend during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game, Friday, Nov. 30, 2018, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

Sophomore center Michael Hughes didn’t play basketball for Duquesne during the 2017-2018 season, but he put his inactivity to good use.

After transferring from Akron and showing up on campus weighing 275 pounds, Hughes, who stands 6-foot-8, decided it was time to lose weight.

“I ate chicken and rice like there was no tomorrow,” he said.

Of course, there’s more to weight loss for athletes than just saying no at the dinner table.

“You take no days off,” he said of his workout schedule. “All great determination. Whenever you want something you have to go get it. It’s been in the back of my head since last year, I have to make an impression so I just kept getting at it every day.”

In the end, Hughes lost as much as 45 pounds and fluctuates between 230 and 240. Now, he can almost anything he wants because he burns off the calories on the basketball court.

The results are showing up for Hughes, who has started all six games and is second in scoring (12.7 points per game) and rebounding (6.3) for the Dukes.

His best game was Friday when he scored 20 points, grabbed 10 rebounds and handed out two assists against Pitt, but he said the effort was watered down by Duquesne’s 74-53 defeat.

“I’m never happy with how I play,” he said. “There are always those negative things that can happen.

“It could have been 20 and 10 and a couple more assists or I could have had more rebounds. Anybody can say, 'I did my part.’ I didn’t do my part enough.”

He said he didn’t know that he has made 17 of his past 21 field-goal attempts.

“I don’t pay attention to what I do. I pay attention to what I did wrong.”

Hughes is a big piece of the puzzle coach Keith Dambrot is trying to assemble after only three players who won letters returned from last season. There are six freshmen and four transfers.

Hughes said he followed Dambrot from Akron for reasons of loyalty.

“A big thing to me and my family is loyalty,” he said. “Coach D always looked out for me as a player and as a person and as a man, helping me develop over the past 2 ½ years.”

Hughes gets a chance to continue paying back Dambrot on Wednesday when the Dukes meet Marshall at Palumbo Center.

He also has additional motivation. Marshall bounced No. 4 seed Wichita State from the NCAA Tournament last season, winning as a No. 13 seed.

Hughes’ former AAU teammate Landry Shamet, now a rookie guard with the Philadelphia 76ers, played for Wichita State last season.

“I have to go get a little revenge from my man Landry,” he said.

Jerry DiPaola is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jerry at or via Twitter @JDiPaola_Trib.

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