Friday, January 21, 2011

Next up: Duquesne

Duquesne might qualify as one of the surprise teams in the Atlantic 10 – if not the country – this season.

The Dukes, who host the Charlotte 49ers at 2 p.m. Saturday in the Palumbo Center on their downtown Pittsburgh campus, are tied for first with Xavier in the league with a 4-0 record, 12-5 overall.

It’s all been put together by coach Ron Everhart, who is in his fifth season with the Dukes. He’s got a guard-oriented team that plays like it: Duquesne leads the A-10 in steals (9.8 per game), assists (18.7) and turnover margin (plus-6.1).

Everhart uses four guards regularly – freshman T.J. McConnell, junior Mike Talley, sophomore Sean Johnson and junior Eric Evans. Three of them are often on the floor at the same time.

So the Dukes play an up-tempo, fast game, and with all those guards, they should.

“You can criticize being too big and slow, too,” Everhart told reporters after Duquesne beat 19th-ranked Temple last week in Philadelphia. “If you’re going to be a good college basketball team, you’re going to have to overcome something. So in our situation, we’ve got to overcome the size factor.”

The 49ers have struggled in the areas where Duquesne excels. Charlotte is 13th in the 14-team league in assists (12.3), averages 6.6 steals and is last in the conference in turnover margin (minus-3.4).

But because of the reliance on its backcourt, Duquesne isn’t a strong team on the boards, with a rebounding margin of minus-1.8. Charlotte, although hampered on the front line after center Phil Jones was declared academically ineligible two weeks ago, had been outrebounding foes by double-digit margins in three of its previous four games prior to Wednesday’s loss against UMass.

“Our guys are really making a concerted effort to do what we want them to do,” said Everhart, whose team leads the league in scoring (81.2) and scoring margin (plus-14.4). “They’re trying to rebound, they’re making that effort.”


-- The 49ers average 5,811 fans at their home games in Halton Arena, fourth in the league behind Dayton (12,406), Xavier (10,066) and Saint Louis (6,472). George Washington gets the fewest fans, averaging 1,117. At least the Colonials are averaging more than 1,000 now, something they weren’t doing earlier this season. Fordham and La Salle also average fewer than 2,000 in their tiny gyms.

-- The Atlantic 10’s RPI dropped to ninth (behind Conference USA) through Friday, and two league teams – Temple (29) and Xavier (37) – are in the top 40. The league is on track to get just two NCAA bids this season unless there’s an upset in the league tournament. Charlotte is ranked 186th.

-- If the eight-team Atlantic 10 tournament were held today, the 49ers (1-3 in the league) wouldn’t qualify. Dayton (2-2) occupies the eighth spot, and Charlotte is tied with St. Bonaventure and a half-game behind Saint Louis (2-3) in the standings. 49ers coach Alan Major said earlier this week that it was too early to be worrying about making the tournament and not fair to his players to talk about it.

-- The 49ers women play seventh-ranked Xavier Saturday at 7 p.m. at Halton Arena. Coach Karen Aston will be in barefeet for the Samaritan's Feet charity. Look for a story about the game in Saturday's Observer.

-- Charlotte's softball team is picked to finish third in the Atlantic 10's preseason poll behind UMass and Fordham. The 49ers were 40-18 last season.


Anonymous said...

Good luck Niners. They play 10 deep and we have 7 guys, and maybe another 1/2 with "Dewey". That's it. We'll eitehr squeak one out or get rolled.

Anonymous said...

This game is on Time Warner 520 and DirecTV 642 (Comcast Mid-Atlantic/Southeast). It is on DISH, too, but I don't know that the 400s. Wild Wing Cafe is having a Viewing Party on the big screen.

KJ said...

Just for clarification, the Duquesne-Temple game was in Pittsburgh, not Philadelphia.