Three Dukes Earn Atlantic 10 Postseason Honor

Damian Saunders

PITTSBURGH - Duquesne senior forward Damian Saunders (Waterbury, Conn./Notre Dame Prep) became the fourth player in Atlantic 10 history to be named Defensive Player of the Year two times and T.J. McConnell (Pittsburgh, Pa./Chartiers Valley) was named conference Rookie of the Year in a vote of the A-10's 14 head coaches released today.

Complete List of 2011 Atlantic 10 Postseason Honors

Damian Saunders and fellow senior Bill Clark (Redondo Beach, Calif./Worcester Academy) were named second team All-Atlantic 10. Saunders earned a spot on the All-Defensive Team and T.J. McConnell was named to the All-Rookie Team.

Saunders, the only player in NCAA history with over 250 assists (274), steals (268) and blocks (290), joins UMass' Stephane Lasme (2006 & 2007), Richmond's Tony Dobbins (2003 & 2004) and Temple's Pepe Sanchez (1998 & 2000) as the only two-time Atlantic 10 Defensive Players of the Year. Saunders, who became the first Duquesne player to be named Defensive Player of the Year last year, is also the first player in school history to be named to the All-Defensive team twice. He is the fourth All-Defensive Team honoree in five seasons under current head coach Ron Everhart joining Kieron Achara (2007) and Shawn James (2008). Duquesne had never had an All-Defensive Team member (team first named in 1997) prior to Everhart's arrival.

The Waterbury, Conn. native who holds DU career records for games (124), starts (113), steals (268), blocks (290) and dunks (164), ranks eighth on the Atlantic10 career blocks list and is tied for ninth in career steals. He needs seven rebounds to become the tenth player in conference history to reach 1,000. Saunders ranked fifth in rebounding, second in steals and second in blocks in conference play.

McConnell, who was named A-10 Rookie of the Week five times, is the third player in school history to earn Rookie of the Year joining Bruce Atkins (1979) and Robert Mitchell (2007). McConnell, who is averaging 10.8 points, 3.8 rebounds, 4.4 assists and 2.8 steals per game, ranks first in the conference (all games) in steals, fifth in assists and second in assist/turnover ratio. The Pittsburgh native, who is the first freshman in Atlantic 10 history to lead the league in steals, enters the Atlantic 10 Championship needing five steals to break the conference freshman record of 86 set by Sanchez in 1997. He had 68 assists and 17 turnovers in 16 conference games.

Clark, Duquesne's leading scorer at 16.1 ppg., ranks eighth on DU's all-time scoring list with 1,575 points. His 219 career 3-pointers rank third all-time.

The all-conference honors for Clark and Saunders mark the first time since 1986 (Rick Suder first team and Dwayne Rawls second team) Duquesne has had multiple All-A-10 honorees in the same season.

Saunders, who was an honorable mention all-conference pick as a sophomore, joined Atkins (1981) as the only other Duquesne junior to be named first team all-conference last season.

Duquesne, whose 10 conference wins (10-6) tied the school record, finished tied for fourth in the Atlantic 10 in the regular season. The fourth-place finish was the best by a DU team since the 1994 squad finished tied for third.

DU (18-11) enters the 2011 Atlantic 10 Championship as the No. 4 seed. It is the school's highest seed since the 1981 regular season co-champion team entered as a No. 2. The Dukes will face the winner of No. 12 Saint Joseph's (9-21) at No. 5 George Washington (17-13) on Friday, Mar. 11 at 2:30 in Atlantic City, N.J. Recommended Stories

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