No McGhee, still a problem
Dukes outrebounded 39-15
Published: Wednesday, November 30, 2011
Updated: Thursday, December 1, 2011 02:12
There wasn't supposed to be a Gary McGhee for Pitt this year, no guy to pull down rebounds and force home easy baskets.
Going into the 80th City Game, Pitt's height seemed at least manageable for Duquesne. Dante Taylor was big, but he wasn't starting, and he was only averaging seven points and five rebounds.
Taylor recorded a double-double, didn't miss a shot and led the Panthers to an 80-69 win against Duquesne at the Consol Energy Center Wednesday night. So much for going by the measuring tape.
This was supposed to be a guard showcase, a game that would be played up-tempo. This happens to be a style of play favored by Ron Everhart.
But more importantly, the lane was supposed to be no longer off limits for the height deprived Dukes.
And to some extent it was. Unlike last season, Duquesne scored more points in the paint than Pitt. Duquesne outscored Pitt 38-34, last year it was 42-22 in Pitt's favor. Sean Johnson, Eric Evans and company had clear paths to the basket inside, but nobody collapsed the lane looking for caroms.
On offense, Pitt had multiple players under the net; that's why they dominated the second-chance points 18-5. Taylor led Pitt with 11 rebounds.
Pulling down rebounds has never been more difficult than this season. Opponents have outrebounded Duquesne in every game but one this season, mostly by a wide margin.
The one exception was against Green Bay, and Duquesne recorded only one more rebound than them. In all but one of the other games, the Dukes were out rebounded by double digits. But this game was the worst; Pitt pulled down 24 more boards.
In the past, head coach Ron Everhart had Kieron Achara, Shawn James and Damian Saunders. This year, he is relying on the smaller, slimmer combination of B.J. Monteiro and Andre Marhold. Seven-footer Martins Abele could be Duquesne's great height hope, the player fans wish could block shots and grab double digit boards a night. But he played for three minutes tonight, and looked out of sorts, especially on the offensive end. It didn't seem as though the thought crossed any ball handler's mind to send it into him. He may develop, but not soon enough.
This is the 11th straight loss to Pitt, and the City Game is always an incorrect barometer of Duquesne's season outlook. It's one early game against a team that has been nationally ranked in nine meetings.
But a quick look at the Associated Press poll shows two A10 rivals in the top 25: Xavier and Saint Louis. Saint Louis will fall out next week after losing on Tuesday, but they are good, and Xavier is going to stay in the rankings for a while.
The A10 has developed into something stronger than a mid-major. Duquesne has to keep pace every year, so the City Game is turning into a truer gauge of what the Dukes face in conference. So the loss is a bit disconcerting.
After the game, B.J. Monteiro and T.J. McConnell noted what everybody was thinking: the Dukes are small. The rest of the conference already knew.