SCOUTING THE DUKES
Duquesne was expected to be in a rebuilding mode after losing a large part of its roster and head coach Ron Everhart (now an assistant at WVU), but the Dukes have been respectable, notching wins against James Madison and New Orleans among its five victories. DU was picked to finish last in the 16-team Atlantic 10.
DU has forged its respectable play this year on the strength of rebounding -- the Dukes have improved from a -7.5 rebounding margin last year to +5.3 this year. The board work has been a team effort -- six different players are averaging at least 4.3 rebounds per game.
On the front line, 6-7 sophomore Kadeem Pantophlet and 6-6 senior Andre Marhold are classic grinders and cleanup guys. They are averaging an identical 5.2 rebounds per game, with Marhold holding a slight edge in scoring (5.9 - 5.4). They get their points in diametric opposition: Marhold has scored all of his points from close range while 13 of Pantophlet's 20 buckets have come from three-point distance. Marhold can be hacked when he gets open chances, as he converts just 40.6% from the free throw line.
Senior guard Sean Johnson (6-1) provides leadership in the backcourt, where he starts alongside a pair of freshmen. Johnson averages 12,9 points and 4.9 rebounds per game, and is the Dukes' best ballhandler. Running mates Derrick Colter (10.4 ppg) and Jeremiah Jones (7.3 ppg) have helped form an effective trio since Jones moved into the starting lineup five games ago -- DU is 4-1 in that stretch. Colter has a team-best 42 assists (against 33 turnovers) while playing nearly 30 minutes per game.
Backcourt subs include the almost identically-named Jerry Jones (Jr., 6-4), who started four games at the start ot the season. He's averaging 8.3 points and 4.4 rebounds in nearly 25 minutes per outing, and provides excellent support when giving the starters a break. Up front, Quevyn Winters (Fr., 6-5) is a big threat, tallying 9.7 points and 4.4 rebounds per game. Big center Martins Abele, a native of Latvia, chips in with 4.9 points and 4.3 rebounds in just 11 minutes of action per game. With those three players, Duquesne doesn't lose a lot when making substitutions, so it will be on West Virginia's bench to either limit their productivity or match it on the offensive end.
West Virginia is favored in this contest, but Duquesne has almost always given the Mountaineers great competition, winning more than their shareof games in the process. Other than Pitt, WVU is one of the biggest games on the schedule for the Dukes, and it's a rare occurence when the Mountaineers don't get their best shot.
This game figures to be one of match-ups, and some interesting rotations could result. Duquesne is expected to start a short lineup, with no starter standing taller than 6-7. That should be an advantage for WVU's Aaric Murray and Deniz Kilicli, but it all comes down to whether they can guard smaller players on the opposite end. Kilicli will likely get Marhold, who doesn't range outside, but his quickness could be an issue for the big Turk to cope with. Murray will have to defend in the midrange and on the perimeter, which also draws him away from the defensive boards, where he has been excellent to date.
Consol Energy Center
WVU 4-3, 0-0
Duquesne 5-4, 0-0
WVU - 83
Duquesne - 158
In judging play in this match-up, watch for points generated vs. points allowed. Is WVU getting offensive production from Kilicli and Murray against smaller defenders? Are they giving up more points on defense than they are scoring on offense? These factors will determine some of WVU's substitution patterns.
If the Mountaineers have to "go small", watch for Keaton Miles to get more minutes, as his defense has continued to improve and his understanding of the offense has also grown. Miles can defend twos, threes and fours, and he will likely be used against any number of Dukes. With Aaron Brown and Matt Humphrey seeing limited minutes in recet games, Miles' role figures to grow.
Duquesne can also bring more height on the floor if it chooses to play Abele, so watch West Virginia's response when he is in the game as well. Will each coach react to the other's moves in an attempt to counter strengths, or will one try to go with his peceived best five and work the advantage on the offensive end?
In many respects, Duquesne and WVU have similar strengths and weaknesses. Neither team shoots the ball well, but both have built excellent rebounding margins. That sets up a nice battle on the boards, but attention should also be paid to ball handling. Duquesne is averaging nearly 16 turnovers per game, so look for the Mountaineers to amp up pressure on their guards as often as possible.
Last year marked the first time in 38 seasons that the Mountaineers and Dukes did not face off on the court. DU has played West Virginia more times (86) than any foe other than St. Bonaventure (108). Conversely, Duquesne is fourth on WVU's most frequent opponent list, trailing Pitt (84), Penn State (119) and George Washington (93).
Duquesne will be hosting WVU for the second time in the CONSOL Energy Center, rather than on their regular home venue, the A.J. Palumbo Center. The Dukes are 2-2 all-time at CONSOL, with wins over Dayton and Penn State offset by losses to WVU and Xavier.
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WVU transfers Aaric Murray and Juwan Staten are 1-3 against Duquense from their days in the Atlantic 10. Staten scored five points in the last 1:24 of a February, 2011 game to help Dayton defeat the Dukes.
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After their three-point performances against Virginia Tech, Kevin Noreen (67%) and Aaric Murray (50%) lead the team in shooting percentage from long range. Of course, they have combined for just nine of WVU's 111 attempts, but the rest of the squad is just 24-102 (23.5%) from the same distance.
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Duquesne University was originally named the University of the Holy Ghost. The school transitioned to Duquesne University of the Holy Ghost in 1911, and dropped the latter appendage in 1935.
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West Virginia has not had fewer than 15 offensive rebounds in any game this season.