Minnesota-Duquesne BB Preview

The Minnesota Gopher basketball team gets back to work after a 10-day break for finals. They face Atlantic-10 team Duquesne at Williams Arena tonight. The game marks Duquesne's first appearance in the state of Minnesota in the 88-year history of the program. The Dukes, who are looking to end a three-game losing streak, are 0-2 on the road this season with overtime losses at West Virginia and Akron.

The Dukes have finished just 19-39 the last two years under head coach Danny Nee, but the team started to make some strides last season. They had only eight games in 2001-02 which were settled by single digits. Last season, they improved that number to 20 of 30 games. They lost their final four games by a combined 17 points, including a two-point overtime loss to division champ Xavier, a team that had beat them by 35 earlier in the season. The Dukes were optimistic that not only would they be more competitive this season, but get some more wins after finishing 10-20 last season. 


However, the Dukes are off to just a 2-5 start. They defeated Prairie View A&M, traditionally one of the weaker Division I teams in the country and Loyola (MD). They lost to Siena  (78-68), then ranked #22 Pittsburgh (59-45), West Virginia  (88-84),  Akron (64-61) and George Mason  (80-70).


The Dukes return four starters, including three of their top four scorers. Duquesne added three transfers last season that accounted for nearly half of the team's scoring and rebounding. Jimmy Tricco, who is a familiar face for Minnesota head coach Dan Monson, finished 17th in the country in three-point percentage. The 6-8 senior guard started his career at Gonzaga. He has hit four three-pointers in a game four times this season.


JC transfers 6-9 center Ron Dokes and 6-7 forward Elijah Plamer combined to average 19.9 points and 8.9 rebounds per game last season.


Palmer is leading the team with 16.0 points and 7.9 rebounds per game this season. Tricco is averaging 12.6 points per game, but he is shooting just 39.7% from the field. Fourth returning starter 6-3 guard Bryant McAlister is averaging 10.7 points per game. Dokes has seen his numbers drop to 7.1 points and 3.6 rebounds, as he is shooting just 36.6% from the field.


Fifth starter Martin Osimani is a raw point guard who started his career at Utah before going to Miami-Dade (FL) CC. The Uruguayan National team member is leading the team with 40 assists.


The Dukes are shooting just 43.8% from the field, 64.6% from the free throw line and 33.3% from three-point range.


Duquesne is 3-13 against Big Ten schools with 14 of the 16 meetings coming either on the road or at a neutral site.

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