Duquesne Basketball looks to get back into the A-10 middle tier but needs to get a road win in league play. Will they get one at Rhode Island?
It wasn't an easy game at all but Duquesne Basketball was able to get its third win in a row at home, beating Chicago State by five points. Now fully healthy and with some momentum, the Dukes travel on the road to take on Rhode Island, who recently snapped a four-game losing skid with a home win over La Salle.
With both teams having difficult road trips next week in the A-10, it's an important game for each side, which is very winnable. Here are the keys to the matchup for the Dukes.
1. New and improved backcourt
While the team didn't shoot the ball well overall, Duquesne's backcourt duo of Jimmy Clark and Dae Dae Grant led the way like old times, combining for 33 points on 10/28 shooting. Whether Grant gets back into the starting lineup or not, the Dukes are now deeper in the backcourt than ever, as Jake DiMichele is now playing around 30 mpg in the lineup, along with a healthy Matus Hronsky back into the fold.
Rhode Island is as good of an opponent for the Dukes to end its cold streak from the field. They rank near the bottom natioanlly in three-point defense, allowing nearly 36% from deep. Their guards are around the same size as Duquesne's at around 6'4, different from the 6'6 guards they've dealt with for the past two weeks. It's on the road but the matchup should favor the Dukes.
2. Deal with David Green
Green is a 6'7 forward transfer from Louisiana Tech who was declared eligible once the sit-out transfer issue was set aside by the courts. He has had a tremendous impact in the nine games he's played, averaging 15.1 ppg and 5.1 rpg, shooting 57% from deep. Green has three 20+ point games, including a 29-point effort against George Mason.
For some reason, Duquesne has struggled against forwards, including Chicago State's Jahsean Corbett going for 21 points and 11 rebounds. They need to find a way to slow down Green, particularly on the perimeter. The rest of the Rams offense isn't as threatening but with a 20-point capable scorer, that's a big issue to deal with.
3. Continue consistency from Foussenyi Drame
A case can be made that the MVP for the Dukes' last game was Drame, who produced 10 points and 10 rebounds off the bench. He played good defense on Corbett of Chicago State as well to slow him down in the second half. In a game where Tre Williams didn't play well, the Duke having a steady contributor off the bench was a nice adjustment they made to turn it around.
Drame may be the best matchup for Green of Rhode Island, while his ability to space the floor will be helpdful for a Rams team that struggles to defend overall. The senior forward has averaged around 9.0 ppg and 5.5 rpg in the last five games, three of them being wins. If he has a big game, Duquesne will have a good shot at a road win.