Ron Everhart is in his sixth year as head coach at DU after a seven-year run at McNeese State and five seasons at Northeastern. He'll be forced to replace 42.9 percent of his scoring from the 2010-11 season, in which the Dukes finished with a 19-13 record and a fourth place finish in the Atlantic-10 conference.
During the preseason, Duquesne was projected to finish ninth amongst the 14 teams in the Atlantic-10, but it's doubtful that they finish that low. In the past five seasons, Everhart's teams have finished higher than their preseason projection four times.
The game against Arizona will be the Dukes' first regular season game of the season, although they dominated their exhibitions with a 101-43 win versus Millersville and a 79-54 over Shepherd more recently. They'll be looking to start the season off on the right foot against an UA team that outlasted Valparaiso 73-64 on Monday night.
The Dukes play one of the faster paced games in the country, as they'll likely full court press for the duration of Wednesday's game. To maximize its effectiveness, Everhart often times plays four guards in hopes of creating bad passes and turnovers.
Sean Miller in his postgame press conference after the victory over the Crusaders said that Duquesne point guard T.J. McConnell is one of the best in the entire country. He may be right, as the reigning Atlantic-10 Rookie of the Year was the only freshman in the country to score 300 points, dish out 125 assists, and post 75 steals.
As a freshman, McConnell ranked number four in the nation with 2.8 steals per game and set a conference record with 91 steals on his way to All-Atlantic 10 Defensive Team honors. The 6-foot-1, 185-pound sophomore is a preseason Third Team Atlantic-10 selection heading into this year, and he'll be looking to take a step forward in his second year with the program after averaging 10.8 points and 4.4 assists per game as a freshman.
Duquesne's highest scoring returner from last season is 6-foot-5, 205-pound senor B.J. Monteiro, who has 40 career double digit scoring games in his career and averaged 11.4 points per contest as a junior. The Dukes will need him to increase his scoring load even more as a senior, and in two exhibitions this season he's proven up to the task, averaging 16 points in the team's first two outings.
Monteiro is a big, physical scorer that has the ability to put it in the basket from inside and outside. He is often times called upon to play four positions in any given game for DU, and he'll likely be one of the more physically imposing guards Arizona will face this season. If Arizona can hold Monteiro to under 10 points, it will dramatically increase its chances of winning, as the Dukes were just 3-7 a year ago when he failed to reach double digits.
Everhart has another experienced guard in 5-foot-11, 205-pound senior Eric Evans, who has 88 career appearances in his Duquesne career. While he's not known as a scorer, in the team's opening exhibition against Millersville, Evans scored a team-leading 25 points, but isn't likely to maintain that pace as the season goes on.
As an upperclassman, Sean Johnson is expected to vacate his sixth man role from a season ago and step into the starting lineup for the Dukes. Over the team's final 14 games in 2010-11, Johnson averaged nearly 15 points per game, and so far in DU's exhibitions, he's scored 14.5 points per outing.
The 6-foot-2, 195-pound junior is being counted on to take on an increased offensive load and contribute in a big way. While he has connected on just 29 percent of his three-point attempts, Johnson has proven to be quite effective in attacking the basket, connecting on 44.2 of his field goal attempts for his DU career.
Rounding out the starting lineup is 6-foot-7, 210-pound forward/center Andre Marhold. With a 7-foot-2 wingspan, the junior makes up for his lack of height with length and does a good job at effecting opponents' shots and is perfect within the Duquesne defensive system. Wednesday will be the first start of his career, although he has appeared in 38 games in two seasons with the program.
After staring 27 games as a true freshman, it appears that Mike Talley will be the team's sixth man in 2011-12. The 5-foot-11, 180-pound sophomore has the quickness to thrive in the Dukes' full court press on the defensive end and is also an effective scorer, hitting on 38.9 percent of his three-point tries on his way to nearly seven points per game a season ago.
The Dukes have another versatile reserve guard in 6-foot-5, 195-pound sophomore Jerry Jones, whose size allows him to play three positions in the DU defensive scheme. After seeing limited action as a freshman, Jones will need to get up to speed quickly so as to effectively come in and operate the full court press when the starters need a break. He averaged just one point per game a year ago, but so far in two exhibitions, Jones has been able to put up 10 points per outing; a scoring boost that will be much needed for Duquesne.
As far as frontcourt reserves go, the Dukes will rely on a pair of true freshmen to fill in and give Andre Marhold a breather. Neither 6-foot-8, 210-pound forward Mamadou Datt or 6-foot-6, 205-pound forward Kadeem Pantophlet are big scoring threats just yet, but they will be asked to step up as capable defenders and anchor the DU full court press.
With how sloppy Arizona has been with some of its possessions, it would not be surprising at all to see Duquesne give the Wildcats fits early in the game with its full court press. UA will have to possess the ball and make smart decisions with it in order to avoid turnover after turnover as a result of the DU pressure.
The Wildcats enjoy a noticeable size advantage, so look for lots of three guard sets with Solomon Hill and Jesse Perry in the frontcourt to help set up the offense. If Arizona can be careful with the ball and make solid passes and good decisions, it has a good chance to move to 2-0 on the season