Preview: Duquesne

Close and contested – that's been the typical game layout for West Virginia's trips to Duquesne.

SCOUTING THE DUKES

The Mountaineers have yet another series road game this Sunday evening as Duquesne head coach Ron Everhart's improved program looks to give the Fairmont native his second-ever win over West Virginia. Everhart has forgone trying to match players to his system, instead signing the best possible talent and matching his game planning to available abilities. It has resulted in a sweet-shooting squad that likes to run. Duquesne is among the best three-point shooting teams in the nation, making almost 50 percent while limiting opposing teams to less than 30. That formula has worked more times than not this season, as all five Duquesne starters average 9.7-plus points.

Perhaps the biggest surprises have been freshman guards Mike Talley (5-10, 170 lbs.) and T.J. McConnell (6-0, 170 lbs.). Talley nets almost 10 points per game, while McConnell – the hottest shooter in a streaking team – hits for 11 points and five boards. Talley, who mans the point, has 22 assists against 12 turnovers and had connected on 20 of 50 field goals, including 15 of 33 from outside. He isn't nearly as adept from the line, but can take players off the bounce and get into the lane. He is very quick, and though he has shot well, his best play is in transition. A typical coaches son (he was coached by his father, Mike, who played at Michigan), Talley doesn't force plays and blends well with others.

McConnell's game doesn't get him to the line much (10 FT thus far), but he doesn't need it when drilling 63 percent from the field and making 12 of 23 threes. A Bridgeville, Pa. native out of Chartiers Valley, McConnell's 35 prep points per game were the second-highest in the WPIAL in the past 25 years. Another coach's son, the newcomer's game isn't flashy, but he'll stick it from anywhere within half court. He has a better than two-to-one assist-to-turnover ratio, and rebounds more effectively than one would think at his height.

Swingman B.J. Monteiro (6-5, 200 lbs.) can also shoot it, but hasn't yet matched the numbers of his backcourt. The junior scores 12.4 points per game and grabs about four boards in about 24 minutes of play. Monteiro continues to improve in all facets of the game under Everhart, and has the ability to play four spots as needed. He's an indispensible minutes stealer for other positions, and gives the staff some range in terms of personnel.

Forward Bill Clark (6-5, 210 lbs.) leads the team with 16.4 points per game and is second with six rebounds. The senior, who played at storied Oak Hill (Va.) Academy, entered the year near the top 25 on the school's all-time scoring list. Clark will make his 76th career start against West Virginia. He has averaged 13 and 14 points the past two years and this year is scoring from inside, deep and at the line. He is making shots from all over the floor, but would be considered a bit too perimeter-oriented for a lot of coaches. His is a sample of Duquesne's overall issues in that he can score from anywhere, but is most likely to take shots from the outside. If those connect, Clark and the Dukes are in good shape. Any lengthy cold spells, though, and the opposition makes runs that are at times too much to overcome. Surefire scoring on the interior isn't there, and when the dribble drive breaks down, the offense deteriorates into a gun-it-up style.

BlueGoldNews.com
Game Info
Sun. Dec. 12
7:00 p.m.

CONSOL Energy Center
Records
WVU 6-2
Duquesne 4-3
Series
WVU 49-36
TV
CBS College Sports
RPI
WVU - 18
Duquesne - 172
Duquesne's best inside threat is Damian Saunders (6-7, 210 lbs.). With 14.3 points and a team-best seven rebounds a game, Saunders sees the most minutes with 32-plus. The senior's game is, unlike the rest of the starting lineup, mostly in the paint. Saunders has taken just 18 threes (making nine) in 56 total shots, but he's converting at a team-high 56.3 percent. The 2009-10 Atlantic-10 Defensive Player of the Year, he ranked in the nation's top 15 in steals (2nd), rebounds, double-doubles and blocks and was just a pair of steals shy of being the first player taller than 6-6 to lead that category. Saunders has a good wingspan and moves well, and his 17 blocks and 11 steals are a solid start. He doesn't turn the ball over, and could cause WVU some issues on the inside if it refuses to challenge him. WVU must attack Saunders and use better height and physical play to back the forward away from the rim and gain better scoring chances. This is among the better match-ups on the floor, along with Truck Bryant/Joe Mazzulla facing Talley.

Reserve guard Sean Johnson (6-2, 190 lbs.) plays 20 minutes per game, the most of any bench player. The sophomore, out of Christ the King in New York, can get to the rim off the bounce and defends well. He, like many New York-style guards, isn't as much a pure shooter as one who drives it. He still has made 42 percent of his threes, but likes to penetrate and kick as much as anything. Forward Rodrigo Peggau (6-8, 235 lbs.) The Brazilian made his first career start against then-No. 6 West Virginia in 2009 after a series of injuries, and has played just one full season in three years. He has good size, and is solid on the offensive glass. He hasn't scored as much as the staff would like at four points a game, and he has 14 turnovers. This is a young player still adapting his own game to the American style. Everhart will also use Joel Wright (6-6, 220 lbs.) and Jerry Jones (6-4, 185 lbs.) as needed. Both average about two points in 10 minutes per game. Wright runs well, and likes to play in transition. Nicknamed ‘Air Jamaica' after his birthplace, the now-Brooklyn-based player is more a driver than a shooter. Jones, a guard/forward combo, has flashed great athletic ability, but needs to hone his game. He'll sub in at two to three guard spots, but has yet to find his touch as a freshman and is better served playing an uptempo style.

OUTLOOK

Games at Duquesne are often closer than what they should be. This could be no exception. While the Dukes haven't beaten anyone of note, the losses to Pitt and Penn State (the latter by four points) aren't bad. And like WVU, Duquesne has ripped lesser foes like UMBC and Bowling Green. Everhart has some talent and has managed to better the very young roster of last year with a few skilled newcomers. Duquesne is still lacking height and isn't converting well from the line. But where Robert Morris didn't shoot well, the Dukes would expect to be better. DU has made 47 percent from the floor this year, including 43.5 from three while holding foes opponents to just 29 percent from three-point range, 43.8 percent overall. Duquesne, partially because of its size issue, will also push the ball more than it has in the past, relying on transition points to offset second-chance deficiencies. West Virginia must get back on defense and guard the perimeter. If it can limit the Dukes there, rebounding should be a lesser worry. If the Dukes get hot – and it reads here they could well outshoot the Mountaineers – WVU could have issues in this game if it plays as lackadaisically as it has at times this year. Talent typically trumps, but not talent that doesn't play well together or hustle.

INJURY REPORT

WVU: F John Flowers (Hip), Will Play; F Kevin Jones (Undisclosed), Probable.

Duquesne: G Eric Evans (Foot), Out.

FAST BREAKS

West Virginia has won seven consecutive series games, including three in a row in Pittsburgh. It is the longest such streak since WVU won 12 in a row from 1986-91, when the teams played at least two times a year – three is they met in the Atlantic-10 tournament. The Dukes longest series streak is eight.

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Bob Huggins is 4-0 against Duquesne, 3-0 at WVU. His other win came at Cincinnati, when the Bearcats beat the Dukes 74-41 on Dec. 1, 2001.

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The Mountaineers are 15-22 all-time vs. Duquesne in Pittsburgh. WVU last lost vs. Duquesne in Pittsburgh in 2002. WVU is 297-170 against current A-10 members all-time.

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Huggins is also 4-0 against Everhart, with the same three wins at West Virginia and a 103-69 Cincy win vs. McNeese State in 1995. Everhart is 1-5 vs. West Virginia, the lone win coming while he was at Northeastern.

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Huggins is 3-0 against Robert Morris. West Virginia is 32-5 against current Northeastern Conference members.


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