Duquesne to be tested in Bahamian tournament; Robert Morris road trip continues
Maybe Duquesne’s players are starting to get it. Coach Keith Dambrot wonders, but still he’s hopeful the Dukes won’t lose their defensive edge heading into the Junkanoo Jam men’s basketball tournament in The Bahamas.
Duquesne (3-0), which has limited its first three opponents to an average of 53 points per game, faces winless Indiana State (0-3) at 6:30 p.m. Thursday in the first of three games during a four-day stretch.
“We’ve got to play better and shoot the ball better in the backcourt, but we’re going to be hard to score on, I think, if we continue with our mindset,” Dambrot said.
While Duquesne is getting set to participate in one tournament off the U.S. mainland, Robert Morris (1-4) returned home from another in Toledo, Ohio, over the weekend and since has ventured back to the Midwest for a pair of games beginning on Thursday night at Illinois-Chicago (1-3).
The Colonials also will play at Marquette on Saturday afternoon before hosting Division III Geneva on Nov. 27.
“We continued to fight, and that’s a sign of growth,” Robert Morris coach Andy Toole said following the Colonials’ 70-56 loss to host Toledo on Saturday at the Men Against Breast Cancer Invitational.
It came after Robert Morris gained its first victory of the season a night earlier by beating Howard, 85-65, to open the tournament.
Duquesne hasn’t been able to get untracked offensively following a season-opening, 94-57 victory over Princeton on Nov. 5 at PPG Paints Arena.
The Dukes since have played and won two games at La Roche University — their new arena, UPMC Chuck Cooper Fieldhouse, is under construction — but shot poorly while relying on tight defense to get by.
“We’ve made some progress,” Dambrot said. “But we’re not good enough to really be where we want to be.”
After defeating Lamar, 66-56, on Nov. 12, Duquesne shut down Lipscomb, 58-36, on Friday in a not-so-pretty performance that saw both teams combine to shoot an unbelievable 1 for 40 from 3-point range; Duquesne was 1 for 22 and Lipscomb missed all 18 attempts.
“The big thing coach Dambrot preaches is defense,” said Duquesne junior Marcus Weathers, who produced 13 points and a career-high 12 rebounds against Lipscomb. “Our defense is always going to travel. Our offense may not travel with us, but the defensive end is really what we’re keying on as a team in order to be one of those elite teams and one of the top teams in this league (Atlantic 10 Conference).”
Added Dambrot: “If you come to play at that end and you’re selfless, you can win regardless of how you shoot the ball. It’s as simple as that. We’re going to shoot the ball better than that. If we don’t, we’re not going to have a very good year.”
Duquesne will play Air Force on Friday night and Loyola Marymount on Sunday night before returning home from the round-robin tournament at Gateway Christian Academy in Bimini, the westernmost district of The Bahamas comprising a chain of islands about 50 miles east of Miami.
Dave Mackall is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.