Displaced Duquesne set to attack season with no excuses
While Duquesne officials and students eagerly await the completion of Palumbo Center’s $45 million makeover, the men’s and women’s basketballs teams still have a season to play.
The men are practicing at an on-campus recreation center, limiting time and space, and the home games have been moved to three venues — PPG Paints Arena, Robert Morris and LaRoche.
The opener is Nov. 5 against Princeton at PPG Paints Arena.
If you think coach Keith Dambrot loses a minute of sleep over the situation, you got the wrong guy.
“I was the coach at Tiffin University (in the 1980s). We played at the YMCA,” he said Thursday at Atlantic 10 media day. He neglected to mention he won 40 games in two seasons at Tiffin.
“We’re not going to make any excuses,” Dambrot said. “It’s not an easy situation, but by the same token other people have been through it. Really, nobody cares at the end of the day. All they care about is what your win-loss record is.
“It’s part of overcoming adversity and really understanding what it takes to win at a high level.”
Duquesne finished in a tie for sixth place last season in the A-10 (19-13, 10-8), and was picked in a poll of coaches and media members to finish eighth this season.
— Duquesne Basketball (@DuqMBB) October 24, 2019
The Dukes lost leading scorer Eric Williams, who transferred to Oregon, and 3-point artist Frankie Hughes, who will miss the season with a knee injury. Sophomores Amari Kelly (6-foot-9) and Austin Rotroff (6-10) are recovering from knee injuries suffered last season and won’t play early in the season, hurting Duquesne’s depth in the paint.
But four of the top six scorers from last season return, including point guard Sincere Carry (12.1 points per game). Carry was picked to the preseason all-conference third team.
“The biggest thing is a lot of people don’t think Duquesne can win at a high level,” Dambrot said. “I wouldn’t have left my hometown, my alma mater (Akron) to come to Duquesne if I didn’t think Duquesne could win at a high level.
“I’m not worried about anything. I’m just going to do my job and make sure our players don’t use anything as an excuse. Ultimately, the best teams win, regardless of the circumstances, so I can’t really worry about all those externals.”
Entering his third season at Duquesne, Dambrot knows what his team needs to survive a challenging season.
“We scored (last season), but we didn’t guard consistently. We didn’t rebound consistently,” he said. “We know what are warts are. I think that the biggest thing is getting better. You have to understand where your blemishes are and really attack them.”
Defending regular season A10 champion VCU was picked to repeat as conference champion in the conference’s preseason poll, followed by Davidson, Dayton, Rhode Island and St. Bonaventure.
And here…we… go…
— Atlantic 10 MBB (@A10MBB) October 24, 2019
VCU’s Marcus Evans, Davidson’s Jon Axel Gudmundsson and Kellan Grady, Dayton’s Obi Toppin, Rhode Island’s Cyril Langevine and Richmond’s Jacob Gilyard were picked to the preseason all-conference first team.
Jerry DiPaola is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jerry by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .