Men look to silence critics this season
Published: Thursday, November 1, 2012
Updated: Thursday, November 1, 2012 01:11
After losing three starters and two other players, the Duquesne men’s basketball is going through a rebuilding season on the Bluff.
The Dukes only have two starters returning in seniors Andre Marhold and Sean Johnson, and only one of of last year’s top five scorers in Johnson.
Head coach Jim Ferry will rely on these players with experience to take the newcomers under their wings.
“The guys that have experience ... they have to teach some of these younger guys on how things are done,” Ferry said. “And more importantly, starting with me and my staff, I have to teach everybody what’s accepted and what’s not accepted. They have to learn my system of what’s being done.”
With this lack of experience on the Duquesne team, the Dukes were picked to finish last in the Atlantic-10 conference, which Ferry said he and the team aren’t going to focus on.
“[The ranking] didn’t affect it [practice]. Not one bit,” Ferry said. “I never really pay attention to that stuff, I mean that’s a coach’s rhetoric I guess, but I’ve been picked first and I’ve been picked last, but I’ve never paid attention to that stuff.”
“We just really need to focus on what we can control, and that’s to get better every day," Ferry added.“[We] haven’t even really addressed it as a team. We will, why not stick it on the board and use it for some personal motivation? At this stage in the game, it’s really not that important.”
Sophomore transfer Marvin Binney agreed and said that the ranking doesn’t affect him yet, but will later on in the season. The team will not focus on it until it uses it to silence their doubters.
The youth of the team is also clear, only four students are juniors or seniors while 11 are sophomores and freshmen, not including transfer senior Ovie Soko, who according to NCAA regulations cannot play for the Dukes until next season.
If the Red and Blue manage to silence their critics, they will travel to Brooklyn for the A-10 championship March 14 through 17 at the new Barclays Center.
Only the top 12 teams of the 16 in A-10 get to attend the championship and new conference additions Virginia Commonwealth University and Butler aren’t going to make the path to Brooklyn any easier for the Dukes on top of top conference teams like Xavier and Temple.
The loss of top players Eric Evans, B.J. Monteiro and T.J. McConnell is not going to make the road to postseason play any easier. The three of them dominated statistical categories for the team last year, specifically points, steals and assists. The Dukes will have to rebuild their offense on top of setting up a strong defense to not allow conference heavyweights to penetrate and score.
Johnson looks at this season as a clean slate and when he was asked about the changes the team has to make and adjustments after players left he only had one thing to say, “I’m not really focusing on the past,” he said with a shrug.