Duquesne Basketball Preview: #69
Overall Rank: #69
Conference Rank: #5 Atlantic 10
2008-09: 21-13, 9-7
2008-09 postseason: NIT
Coach: Ron Everhart (48-45 at Duquesne, 222-217 overall)
When Aaron Jackson was a freshman Duquesne went 3-24. During his senior campaign he led the Dukes to their first 20 win season in 28 years. Jackson was a huge part of the turnaround of the program and after averaging 19.3 points, 5.7 assists and 5.5 rebounds as a senior, he will certainly be missed. However, thanks to Jackson this team is still headed in the right direction.
Key Losses: G Aaron Jackson
With only one major departure, none of the newcomers will be expected to contribute too much. Morakinyo Williams, a 7-0 center, is eligible after spending a little time at Kentucky. He is still raw, but his size alone makes him an intriguing prospect. Shooting guard Sean Johnson and forward Andre Marhold are the lone incoming freshmen and both will have the luxury of learning behind some talented players before they are asked to contribute major minutes.
Jackson did so much that it will take a host of players to replace him. Jason Duty was a walk-on, but he was the team’s most consistent long range shooter and started all 34 games for the Dukes. Wings Bill Clark and Melquan Bolding also started a majority of the games last season. Clark is a good outside shooter who averaged 12.9 points per game. He is also a solid rebounder and a good passer. Bolding is not quite as effective of a shooter or as aggressive getting to the basket as Clark, but he was just a freshman last year and his best games were late in the season. Once again, those two will probably spend some time at the four spot. At 6-5, Clark is the better option to play the four spot, but that led to a lot of fouls. Bolding could be effective there as well if he can add some more strength during the offseason.
However, if all goes as planned in the frontcourt, Coach Ron Everhart might not have to play a wing at power forward as often this year, although this is a team that certainly does not mind playing small and running up and down the floor. Damian Saunders was the man under the basket last year and even he hit over one three-pointer per game. Saunders also added 13.1 points and a team high 7.6 rebounds and 2.4 blocks per game. Oliver Lewinson showed some potential during his freshman campaign, but it is the hopeful return of Rodrigo Peggau that could turn the frontcourt into something special. Peggau only played in four games last year before suffering a knee injury. He is still just a freshman, but the Dukes have high hopes for the Brazilian.
Who to Watch:
Duquesne has enough shooters and scorers to replace Jackson’s scoring output, but somebody needs to handle the ball. The likely candidate is last year’s super sixth man Eric Evans. Evans tallied 9.8 points and 2.2 assists as a freshman without starting a single game. He will have some experienced players by his side to help out, but he will need to keep the offense moving smoothly if the Dukes hope to reach the NCAA Tournament.
Even without Jackson, this should be a pretty good team. Coach Everhart has done a great job with this program and the group certainly does not lack the offensive firepower to compete with anybody in the Atlantic 10. As long as Evans can run the point without turning the ball over too much, this group will at least make it back to the NIT.
Projected Post-season Tournament: NIT
Projected Starting Five:
Eric Evans, Sophomore, Guard, 9.8 points per game
Jason Duty, Senior, Guard, 7.4 points per game
Melquan Bolding, Sophomore, Guard, 9.9 points per game
Bill Clark, Junior, Guard, 12.9 points per game
Damian Saunders, Junior, Forward, 13.1 points per game
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