Duquesne wins by doing more than scoring points
Keith Dambrot was trying to explain how his young Duquesne team — without a junior or a senior to show the way — has been able to climb into a tie for fourth place in the Atlantic 10.
The success formula appears to be a mix of belief, toughness and confidence. Put all three of those traits together and you see Duquesne’s coach has built a team that looks like it might be a legitimate threat in the conference tournament that begins in two weeks.
Duquesne (18-9, 9-5) resumes its quest to hold onto the tournament’s double bye – the reward for finishing fourth or higher – when it travels to St. Bonaventure on Wednesday. The Dukes are tied for fourth with the Bonnies and George Mason, one game behind Dayton.
Duquesne is basing its hopes on a solid lineup that features five players averaging double digits in scoring in A-10 games, plus a sixth who is almost there.
Sincere Carry, who missed the 79-78 victory at George Mason last Saturday with knee pain, leads the team with a 13.7 scoring average in the conference.
He is followed by Marcus Weathers (12.4), Frankie Hughes (12.2), Eric Williams (11.9), Michael Hughes (10.2) and Tavian Dunn-Martin (8.6).
“That helps you when you play against high-level competition,” Dambrot said.
Williams also leads the team with an average of 8.1 rebounds per game, just ahead of Michael Hughes (7.4) and Weathers (6.9). Plus, Frankie Hughes averages 2.9 3-pointers per game and Dunn-Martin leads the team in free-throw shooting (81.3 percent). In all games, Carry is No. 1 in the A-10 in assists (5.8).
But the offense went dry in the Dukes’ first game against St. Bonaventure, a 51-49 loss at Palumbo Center on Feb. 6.
“We played about as good a game as we played all year defensively,” Dambrot said, defending his team in an area that he emphasizes above all else. “We never could get into any flow offensively.”
That game represented Duquesne’s lowest offensive output of the season. The Dukes are averaging 75.1 points in the other 13 conference games, and they didn’t let that hiccup linger. Duquesne has won three of four since the St. Bonaventure game, scoring 74, 85 and 79 points.
“If we play a similar game defensively and can play better offensively, we’re going to win the game,” Dambrot said.
But there’s more to winning games than mere numbers in the scorebook. Dambrot credited his players’ mindset, too.
He said the Dukes have a “center (Michael Hughes) who believes in himself and is not afraid of anything, a point guard (Sincere Carry) who’s as tough as nails and then we have guys like Frankie Hughes and Tavian Dunn-Martin who aren’t afraid of the moment.”
“I expect us to win every game,” Michael Hughes said. ‘It’s a little swagger that we have.”
Jerry DiPaola is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jerry by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter .