Here’s how Duquesne’s Sincere Carry played 8 days after knee surgery
Sincere Carry bowed to a difficult truth Tuesday.
“I probably should have rested,” he said.
But Duquesne’s freshman point guard wasn’t apologizing for playing eight days after having arthroscopic surgery on his left knee Feb. 26. He had the doctor’s blessing, and he couldn’t endure watching another game from the bench.
So he played in the Dukes’ last two regular-season games — losses to Saint Louis and Dayton — and recorded a total of 23 points and 11 assists. He was on the bench for just 10 of the 80 minutes.
“I wanted to play,” he said. “I’m young. I love the game so much that I couldn’t sit out.”|
Carry admitted, however, it was difficult to play so soon after surgery.
“I didn’t have any legs. I was fatigued playing, but I just try to fight through it and give it all for my teammates,” he said.
Now, he will take his surgically repaired knee — presumably stronger than it was a week ago — and see if it can help carry Duquesne to a victory in the Atlantic 10 Tournament. The No. 7-seeded Dukes (19-12) meet No. 10 Saint Joseph’s (13-18) in a second-round game at 6 p.m. Thursday at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y.
“I don’t have any pain,” said Carry, who was named to the A-10 All-Rookie team on Tuesday.
Carry and coach Keith Dambrot will shoulder a deep conviction that it’s long past time for outsiders to start giving the Dukes respect. Coach and player spent several minutes talking about that after practice Tuesday.
“Most people still don’t really respect Duquesne,” Dambrot said. “That’s what I was talking to Sin about, me and him making sure we have a chip on our shoulder. Making people understand we’re not going to go away easy.”
The Dukes have plenty to prove in Brooklyn.
First, they’d like to reverse a troubling postseason trend. Duquesne has only one victory in its past eight A-10 Tournament appearances since a run to the championship game under former coach Ron Everhart in 2009. A win against Saint Joseph’s will be another step toward growing the program the way athletic director Dave Harper intended when he hired Dambrot in 2017.
“We want to get to the point where we can be a fixture,” said Dambrot, who led his Akron teams to seven consecutive Mid-American Conference title games from 2007-2013. “Right now, probably people at Duquesne and even our players to some extent, they don’t know if we can win or not in the tournament. Because they haven’t really won. We still have to do things we haven’t done here.
“I have to be patient, but I also have to have that expectation level. We have to learn to win in the tournament and win some more and win some more and win some more. Pretty soon, you start believing.”
Before the Dukes can start believing, they must find a way to win with a short bench that’s missing three players who started the season but won’t finish it. Freshman forwards Amari Kelly and Austin Rotroff are on crutches after knee surgeries, and veteran guard Mike Lewis II transferred at midseason.
Missing Kelly and Rotroff puts pressure on 6-foot-8 sophomore Michael Hughes, the team’s tallest starter, to stay out of foul trouble. His presence is important because he leads the A-10 in blocks (52) in 18 conference games.
Without Hughes, Dambrot said the Dukes are “like a high school team, just small.”
Their task is difficult in any case.
Saint Joseph’s lost five of its last seven regular-season games, but Dambrot is wary of 6-7 sophomore forward Charlie Brown Jr., who was named second-team all-conference after averaging 18.8 points. Brown scored 28 points Jan. 12 when Duquesne rallied from a 15-point first-half deficit to beat Saint Joseph’s, 85-84.
Saint Joseph’s is coached by Phil Martelli, who’s in his 24th season at the school and has won 443 games.
“Playing against the dean of the league, it won’t be easy, for sure,” said Dambrot, himself a winner in 448 games in 21 seasons.
Perhaps the Dukes will get an edge from the snub Carry felt when he was left off all three of the A-10 all-conference teams released Tuesday.
“I feel like I’m the best point guard in the conference,” he said. “I don’t think anybody thinks we can win. It’s just us.”
Dambrot said one victory could lead to more in a tournament where the Dukes must win four games in four days to claim the championship and automatic bid to the NCAAs.
“If you win one game, now you think you can win the next game,” he said. “Then, you win that game and you think you win (again). That’s why teams run through (to the final) that shouldn’t sometimes.”
Notes: Sophomore point guard Tavian Dunn-Martin was named the A-10’s Sixth Man of the Year after averaging eight points and 2.5 assists per game. … Sophomore guard Frankie Hughes, who leads the team with 69 3-pointers, was ill and didn’t practice Tuesday, but Dambrot said he’ll play Thursday.
Jerry DiPaola is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jerry by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .