Post play could be vital to Duquesne’s success
A closer look at the Duquesne men’s basketball team.
Players to watch
Sincere Carry — The sophomore from Ohio was one of the top freshman point guards in the nation last season, playing with a maturity above his experience level on the way to leading the Atlantic 10 with 5.8 assists per game. He also was 14th nationally and the leading freshman with 2.4 steals per game. If the knee pain Carry dealt with last season is gone, he likely is an all-conference performer.
Maceo Austin — A 6-foot-5 swingman who was a four-time PIAA champ at Kennedy Catholic is the Dukes’ highest-profile recruit in Keith Dambrot’s tenure as coach. He projects to be a starter from Day 1 after playing much of the team’s exhibition game against West Virginia and former high school teammate Oscar Tshiebwe. Austin’s size and skill set makes him a leading candidate to pick up the minutes vacated by the transfer of leading scorer Eric Williams to Oregon
Michael Hughes — Stamina and health are the main questions around the 6-8 big man from Kansas City, Mo. The Dukes were at their best last season when they got high-energy minutes from Hughes, who was second in the A-10 with 2.3 blocks per game while scoring 11.2 points and grabbing 6.5 rebounds. The more minutes it gets from Hughes, the better Duquesne will be, as the junior center has a knack for making life difficult and getting in the head of opposing bigs.
Will be a success if …
The Dukes can avoid taking a step backward despite all the uncertainty entering the year. After going 19-13 (10-8 A-10) last season, Dambrot won’t want to see his program lose momentum heading into the opening of Cooper Fieldhouse in 2020. Overcoming the loss of Williams and his perimeter prowess won’t be easy, but the Dukes will be capable of doing it if the team can stay patient, which Carry excels at,and generate high-percentage shots.
Will be a flop if …
Injuries and a lack of depth continue to pile up, especially in the post. The team enters the season without 6-9 sophomore Amari Kelly and with 6-10 sophomore Austin Rotroff limited, as both players recover from knee surgery. Hughes can’t do it alone on the low block, and if something were to happen to players such as 6-5 Marcus Weathers or 6-11 grad transfer Baylee Steele, the Dukes could be tremendously undermanned on the boards.
Predicted record: 17-13 (8-10)
Matt Grubba is a contributing writer.