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College

International duo strives to aid Duquesne

| Saturday, Dec. 11, 2004

For two international players on the Duquesne men's basketball team, adjusting to the American way of hoops hasn't always been easy.

"It's been an adjustment every time I come back here," senior guard Martin Osimani said. "It takes time."

Osimani hopes to be playing some day in the Olympics while representing his South American country, Uruguay. The native of Montevideo this year was a member of the Uruguayan National Team, which failed to qualify for the 2004 Summer Games.

"Argentina," Osimani said. "Now, they have a tough team."

Tougher than Duquesne's most recent opponent, No. 11 Pitt, which demolished the Dukes, 87-57, one week ago today•

"They are two totally different teams," said Osimani, Duquesne's starting point guard, who is averaging 8.3 points and 5.3 assists. "The difference is the way the teams approach the game. In international ball, it is much more organized. Down there, I prepare two months to play one tournament against people from all over the world."

It is quite a difference from what he is accustomed to in the United States. Duquesne will play a 29-game regular-season schedule over about three months.

Osimani and Scotland native Kieron Achara have been staples this season in a Duquesne lineup that is being slowly revamped by coach Danny Nee as the team struggles to end its losing ways.

The Dukes (1-7) carry a six-game losing streak into today's 3 p.m. non-conference game against Maryland-Baltimore County (2-4) at Palumbo Center.

Nee has inserted promising freshman forward DeVario Hudson into the Dukes' starting lineup after Hudson proved he was worthy of such a move by stringing together three strong performances off the bench. He is averaging 12.7 points and 7.7 rebounds over the past three games.

Meantime, Achara, the Dukes' leading rebounder (7.8 rpg) and second-leading scorer (12.3 ppg), said his international experience has been less extensive than Osimani's. But he felt that playing in America has made him a better player when he returns to Europe, where he has been playing for the Scottish National Team.

The 6-foot-9, 255-pound Achara, whose rebounding average is the best for Duquesne in a season since Derrick Alston averaged 9.3 per game in 1993, is a product of Maine Central Institute.

"The players here are more athletic and play more one-on-one. I am amazed how much more confident I am when I go back home," Achara said. "I think I was lucky to be able to attend prep school before coming to Duquesne. It helped me to understand the American game better."

The decision to start Hudson comes three games after Nee replaced slumping junior guard Jack Higgins with freshman Chauncey Duke.

The move also means that junior college transfer Keith Gayden will start the game along-side Higgins on the bench. But Nee expects that Gayden, a 6-8 forward who is nearly recovered from a bad ankle sprain, and Higgins, who is coming off his best scoring effort of the season (17 points against Pitt), will see plenty of minutes just the same.

"We've simplified things on offense and on defense," Nee said. "We had four days of very high repetitions, which I think is going to be helpful for everyone in the learning process."

Duquesne (1-7) vs. Md.-Baltimore County (2-4)


When, where: 3 p.m., Palumbo Center

Probable starters

Duquesne

Pos. Name Ht. PPG
F Hudson 6-6 6.3
F Duke 6-6 3.4
C Achara 6-9 12.3
G McAllister 6-3 14.8
G Osimani 6-4 8.3

Md.-Baltimore County

Pos. Name Ht. PPG
F Zito 6-6 5.2
F McJimson 6-6 9.5
C Feeley 6-9 11.0
G Gogerty 6-1 10.5
G Pugh 6-2 3.6

AROUND THE DUKES

  • Duquesne, while hoping to end a six-game losing streak, is seeking its first home victory in four games in its first-ever meeting with Maryland-Baltimore County, a member of the America East Conference.

  • UMBC, which is 0-3 on the road, has had very little time to prepare for the Dukes after dropping a 62-51 conference decision to Maine at home on Thursday. The Retrievers were led by Cory McJimson's 14 points, Rob Gogerty's 11 points and 6 assists and Andrew Feeley's 11 rebounds.

  • Junior guard Jack Higgins, who has lost his starting job, broke out of a season-long shooting slump to finish with 17 points on 7-of-12 shooting against Pitt on Saturday. Duquesne lost the annual city game, 87-57, at Petersen Events Center. Sophomore center Kieron Achara added 13 points to go with eight rebounds -- narrowly missing his fourth double-double of the season -- and Bryant McAllister had 11 points and eight rebounds for the Dukes.

  • Freshman forward DeVario Hudson will get his first career start for Duquesne, giving the Dukes two freshmen in the lineup. Hudson, who will replace junior Keith Gayden, is averaging 12.7 points on 54.8-percent shooting (17 for 31) and 7.7 rebounds during the past three games. During that time, he has seen his average minutes per game quadruple from 5.8 per game to 24.7. Gayden has scored just two points in the past two games since returning to the lineup from a sprained ankle.

  • Fellow freshman forward Chauncey Duke is averaging 22.7 minutes over the period and is expected to receive his third consecutive start today.

  • Redshirt freshman forward/center Sean McKeon, who resumed practicing this week after missing four games with mononucleosis, is probable. But senior forward Jon Pawlak, who has been suffering from a severely sprained ankle, will miss his third consecutive game.

  • Duquesne began the week leading the nation in team free-throw shooting percentage (80.7 percent). The Dukes have made 88 of 109 attempts.

    Senior guard Martin Osimani has connected on 17 of 18 to lead the team with 94.4 percent. Junior forward Keith Gayden is 11 of 13 (84.6) and junior guard Bryant McAllister is 17 for 21 (81.0).

    DIGITS

    4 Career games of at least 10 assists for senior guard Martin Osimani.

    4-2 Duquesne's all-time record against America East Conference opponents.

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