Duquesne Basketball has a key matchup against a top-100 caliber program in Bradley. What are the keys for the Dukes to get the victory?
It's the annual matchup for Duquesne Basketball in Akron, playing in the High School Arena that NBA superstar and former player of Coach Keith Dambrot (LeBron James) played. The Dukes are 4-0 in these games and looks to make it 5-0 against the Bradley Braves.
After starting out the season 6-0, the preseason MVC contenders have lost four straight games, including a home loss to Cleveland State. One of those losses came in Akron, falling by 15 pts to the Zips. But this roster is still capable of knocking off the Dukes if things go right. Here are the keys for Duquesne to get its 8th win on the season.
1. Win the frontcourt battle
The Braves are a team with plenty of size, with four forwards 6'7 or taller in the rotation. That includes the starting duo of Malevy Leons (14.9 ppg and 7.0 rpg) and Darius Hannah (11.4 ppg and 6.6 rpg). Leons, a former JUCO All-American, can spread the floor as well, while capable of going off.
The Dukes frontcourt, which has been playing better as of late, can throw plenty of bodies at them. They're expected to get back Tre Williams, who missed the past month due to a thumb injury. With this kind of environment, it's going to be hard to get easy post touches and for a team like Duquesne that can block shots, this should be a matchup they win.
2. Take advantage of Connor Hickman's absence
The top guard for Bradley is Hickman, who averages 13.5 ppg and shots 39% from deep on six attempts a game. He's arguably the top perimeter player on the team but an injury will keep him out. The only other good shooter on this roster is Christian Davis, a 6'7 wing who averages 9.0 ppg on 39% 3PT. If Duquesne can keep him in check, it's going to be hard for Bradley to get some offense.
3. Clark and Grant getting back on track for deep
Speaking of 3PT shooting numbers, Duquesne has taken a slight dip as a team, mainly because of two unlikely slumps from Dae Dae Grant and Jimmy Clark. These two easily take the most three-point attempts on the season but currently are both at just 31% to this point.
Grant, who leads the team in scoring at 19.0 ppg through nine games, shot 40% from deep a year ago. But after going 6/12 from deep in a win over Rider, Grant has since gone 6/35 (17% 3PT) in the past four games. In the LeBron James Arena, this would be a good time to get back on track.