Dukes Tip Off 2009-10 Season at 8 pm Friday

Duquesne tips-off the 2009-10 men's basketball season on Friday, Nov. 13 at 8:00 p.m. vs. Nicholls State (0-0) at the Palumbo Center.

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NICHOLLS STATE (0-0) at DUQUESNE (0-0)
Friday, Nov. 13, 2009 ­• 8:00 p.m. (EST)
A.J. Palumbo Center (5,358) • Pittsburgh, Pa.

DUQUESNE RADIO: KQV-AM (1410) with Ray Goss & George Von Benko
STREAMING AUDIO: RedZoneMedia.com
STREAMING VIDEO & GAMETRACKER: www.GoDuquesne.com

DUKES OPEN WITH NICHOLLS STATE

Duquesne tips-off the 2009-10 men's basketball season on Friday, Nov. 13 at 8:00 p.m. vs. Nicholls State (0-0) at the Palumbo Center.

This is the 94th season of basketball for Duquesne University men's basketball (1,258-952, .569). The Dukes started play in 1913-14 (DU did not field a team in 1944-45-46 due to World War II).

Duquesne has compiled an impressive 78-15 record in season opening games, including a 73-4 record when opening the season at home. The losses came in 1927-28 to Ohio Wesleyan (36-23), 1966-67 to St. Francis (81-63), 1989-90 to Detroit (108-97) and 2005-06 to Arkansas-Pine Bluff (64-56). The Dukes are 85-8 all-time in the first home game of the season, including a 16-4 mark at the A.J. Palumbo Center.

Duquesne, which is coming off its first back-to-back winning seasons since 1980 & 1981, returns four starters from last year's 21-13 NIT team in juniors Damian Saunders (13.1 ppg, 7.6 rpg, 34.6 mpg) and Bill Clark (12.9, 5.0, 29.5), sophomore Melquan Bolding (9.9, 4.4, 25-7) and lone senior Jason Duty (7.4, 1.8, 24.5). Sophomore Eric Evans (9.8, 1.6, 23.8 in 34 games off the bench) will be looking to fill the void at point guard left by the graduation of 2009 leading scorer and first team All-Atlantic 10 performer Aaron Jackson (19.3, 5.5, 36.7 and school record 194 assists). Jackson is currently playing professionally in Turkey (Antalya).

DUQUESNE LATELY

  • Duquesne returns four starters from last year's 21-13 NIT team
  • The 2009 Dukes defeated six teams that went on to play in either the NCAA tournament or NIT
  • DU's 21 wins last season were the most since the 1971 NCAA team went 21-4
  • DU, which has gone 10-19, 17-13 & 21-13 in three seasons under head coach Ron Everhart, is looking for its third consecutive winning campaign ... the last time that happened on the Bluff was from 1968-73 when Red Manning's Dukes finished above .500 six straight times
  • Duquesne was coming off a 3-24 season, and hadn't finished above .500 since 1994, when Everhart took over prior in 2006-07
  • Juniors Damian Saunders (second team) and Bill Clark (third team) were named preseason All-Atlantic 10 by league coaches and media ... Duquesne was picked to finish tied for fifth (with Temple)
  • Senior Jason Duty is one of 30 candidates for the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award
  • Nicholls State is the first of eight 20-win teams Duquesne will face in non-conference play
  • DU's next home game is Nov. 29 vs. 2009 NCAA tournament participant Radford.

THE SERIES

This is the first meeting between the Dukes and Colonels ... Nicholls State, a member of the Southland Conference, improved from 10-21 in 2007-08 to 20-11 last season ... the improvement tied for the fourth-best among NCAA Division I schools ... Nicholls, which has been picked to win the SLC by both Blue Ribbon Magazine and Rivals.com, returns three starters from the `09 team ... the Colonels, who do not have a senior on the roster, open the season with eight consecutive road games ... Nicholls will also face LSU, Washington State and Houston in non-conference play ... Nicholls State is the first of eight 2008-09 20-game winners the Dukes will face in non-conference play.

PRESEASON A-10 HONORS

Juniors Bill Clark (third team) and Damian Saunders (second team) were named Atlantic 10 preseason All-Conference. Saunders, who led the A-10 in steals per game, ranked third in blocked shots per game and was fourth in both rebounds per game and field goal percentage, was an honorable mention All-Atlantic 10 pick last season. Clark averaged 15.4 ppg. and shot a team-best .542 in A-10 regular season play last season. Both Clark and Saunders are two-year starters.

DUTY HAS CLASS

Senior guard Jason Duty was named as one of 30 candidates for the 2009-10 men's basketball Lowe's Senior CLASS Award on Nov. 4. The award - presented annually to the NCAA Division I Student-Athlete of the Year in eight sports - focuses on the "Four C's" of classroom, character, community and competition. Lowe's, an official partner of the NCAA, will award the men's basketball winner with a trophy during the Final Four weekend. Duty enters his senior year with a 3.72 grade point average as an accounting major - one of the more rigorous majors offered at Duquesne. He was named CoSIDA ESPN the Magazine Academic All-District 2 and to the Atlantic 10 men's basketball All-Academic team in 2008-09. He is just the fourth men's basketball player in school history to earn CoSIDA Academic All-District honors. A multiple member of the Atlantic 10 Commissioner's and Duquesne Director of Athletics honor rolls, Duty already has been offered a position by PricewaterhouseCoopers, the world's largest professional services firm, upon graduation. The Cranberry Township, Pa. native is the second Duquesne player in three years to be named a finalist, joining Kieron Achara who became the first player in school history to be nominated for the Lowe's Senior Class Award in 2007-08.

    ... AND A SCHOLARSHIP

    Duty was awarded a scholarship for the 2009-10 season in May. Duty, who joined the team as a walk on in November of 2006, was one of four players to start all 34 games last year. The Cranberry Township, Pa. native finished fourth in the Atlantic 10 in 3-point shooting at 41.4 percent (55-of-133) and hit at least one 3-pointer in 28 games while averaging 7.4 ppg. in 2008-09. He shot a team-best 82.9 percent from the foul line and handed out 45 assists in 24.8 minutes per game. Duty, Duquesne's lone senior has played in 79 games with 49 starts in his three seasons at DU.

A BIG DEBUT

The 2009-10 season marks the debut of 7-0, 270-pound Kentucky transfer Morakinyo Williams. Williams, who was signed by Tubby Smith, played in five games in 2007-08 for Billy Gillispie at UK before transferring to Duquesne in June of `08. Williams, who was a Top 100 recruit out of Bishop Ireton High School in Alexandria, Virginia, sat out the 2008-09 season and has three years of eligibility remaining. The Solihull, England native played for the Great Britain U20 team which competed in the European Division B Championships in Targu Mures, Romania last summer. He practiced with the Duquesne team in 2008-09. Williams missed the Dukes Nov. 7 exhibition win over La Roche while recovering from a minor medical procedure. He will be in uniform for the Nicholls State game.

MY SUMMER VACATION

Sophomores guard Eric Evans and swingman Melquan Bolding were both named to the 2009 Pittsburgh Basketball Club Pro Am Summer League all-league team in July. Evans averaged 16 points and a little under three assists and three rebounds per game, while Bolding averaged 17 points and five rebounds per game. The league featured players from area Division I schools including Pitt and Robert Morris among others.

A NOT SO NEW FACE

Six-eight forward Rodrigo Peggau, who underwent successful right knee surgery last December, was cleared to participate in individual workouts the in early September. Peggau, who played in four games last year prior to opting for season-ending surgery, will be classified as a redshirt freshman in 2009-10. His last full season of basketball was in 2006-07 at The Calverton School (Md.). He missed the 2007-08 season at The Patterson School (N.C.) due to a torn meniscus in his right knee.

THE NON-CONFERENCE SCHEDULE

Duquesne will face an Atlantic 10-tying high five NCAA tournament teams in non-conference play in Binghamton, Pitt, Radford, Robert Morris and West Virginia. La Salle is the only other conference school that will face as many 2008-09 NCAA tournament teams in non-league play. In all, the Dukes will face 11 teams (12 games) against teams that made post-season appearances last year (eight NCAA, one NIT, one CBI and one CIT).

DUKES DOWN SIX NCAA/NIT TEAMS

The Dukes defeated six schools who advanced to either the 2009 NCAA tournament or NIT. Of the six wins, two came on the road and two were at neutral sites. DU defeated NCAA teams Radford (94-75) and Robert Morris (88-62) on the road and also posted a 76-65 home win over NIT participant Bowling Green in non-league play. Duquesne ended an 11-game Xavier win streak with a 72-68 victory over the then-No. 9 (AP) Musketeers in Pittsburgh on Feb. 7. In the Atlantic 10 Championship DU defeated NCAA tournament-bound Dayton (77-66) and NIT Rhode Island (78-74) on a neutral floor at Atlantic City. DU never trailed in handing Robert Morris its worst loss of the season and led Radford from the 19:31 mark of the first half. DU only trailed Xavier at 2-0 and led from the 17:43 mark on. The Dukes rallied from a 10-point second half deficit to defeat Bowling Green and led by as many as 18 in the A-10 tournament win over Dayton.

QUICK STARTS

Duquesne has opened with at least four consecutive wins in each of the past two seasons (4-0 last year and 6-0 in 2007-08). The 2007-08 start was the school's best in 28 years. The `08 Dukes went on to post the school's first winning record in 14 years at 17-13. The last time Duquesne opened 4-0 or better in back-to-back seasons was in 1985-86 (5-0) & 1986-87 (4-0). The last time DU put together three consecutive seasons with 4-0 (or better starts) was from 1961 through 1963 (4-0, 7-0 & 5-0).


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