In an absolute "must-win" situation, Duquesne Basketball takes on Richmond, a surprise team in the A-10. What do the Dukes need to do to win?
After losing to Dayton at home, Duquesne Basketball is now 0-3 in the Atlantic 10 and in the bottom of the conference standings. The good news is that there are 15 more conference games for them to get back in the mix. The bad news is that their next opponent is Richmond, a team predicted to finish in the bottom of the league but is currently 3-0 in league play so far, including wins over St. Bonaventure, Loyola-Chicago, and George Mason.
The Spiders are on a 6-game win streak and playing at its highest levels on the season. It's going to be a tough task for Duquesne to get the win but it's very doable. Here are the keys for the Dukes to win.
1. Defending Jordan King
Although the Spiders lost star forward Tyler Burton to the transfer portal last offseason, they were able to land one of the top impact transfers in the conference to replace him. Jordan King averaged around 15 ppg in the last two years at East Tennessee State and has raised his stats to a career-high 18.5 ppg on 48% shooting and 43% deep.
The 6'0 guard has had big outings already, including 34 points to open the season against VMI, along with 29 against William & Mary and 31 points in a recent win over George Mason. He plays over 35 mpg against good teams and will be the key player to scout. Look for Jimmy Clark and Kareem Rozier to get the assignment on him and slowing him down will be key.
2. Limit the impact of all-around big Neal Quinn
A player who is just as important to Richmond is big man Quinn, the one key returning piece that has also played well. He averages 13.3 ppg and 5.6 rpg, along with a team-leading 3.8 apg. He's just as impactful as King in this offense and a big game by him will give them a shot at the road win.
After getting destroyed by DaRon Holmes on Friday night, look for the Dukes frontcourt to have more of an impact. The good news is that senior Dusan Mahorcic played a season-high 12 minutes last game while still recovering from a knee injury that has him on a minutes restriction. The team has looked better with him on the court so we'll see if he can have double-figure minutes again.
3. Get Dae Dae Grant back on track
In one of the most misleading box scores ever, Grant led Duquesne in scoring with 14 points. However, he was scoreless for the first 32 minutes of the game and got his points when the game was out of reach. It was his worst game in a Dukes uniform and he's had a bad start in league play, shooting a combined 14/45 from the field and 7/25 from deep.
With the Dukes not getting much production from anyone else not named Jimmy Clark, they can't afford Grant to have off-nights. Richmond isn't an elite defensive unit compared to UMass and Dayton so this is the perfect oppportinity for the guard to get back into a groove. If he can't Duquesne Basketball might be staring at a 0-4 league record.