The Duquesne men's basketball team began the season with two road losses, but head coach Jim Ferry hopes his team can notch a few wins with three games in three days at the A.J. Palumbo Center.
Duquesne (0-2) will be host to the Pittsburgh subregional of the Legends Classic and will play James Madison tonight, North Dakota State Tuesday and Youngstown State Wednesday.
The event is not a true tournament but rather a showcase event and there will be a doubleheader each day with the four teams playing a round robin schedule. Games will start each day at 4:30 p.m. and about 7 p.m.
Ferry said the Dukes focus is on improving each game, so the venue is not as important as the way his team plays. He is, however, hoping the familiar surroundings will give his team a boost.
- Matchup: Duquesne vs. James Madison, approx. 7 p.m. today, Palumbo Center; Duquesne vs. North Dakota State, approx., 7 p.m. Tuesday, Duquesne vs. Youngstown State, approx. 7 p.m. Wednesday. The three games are a part of the Legends Classic.
- Radio: WPGB-FM (104.7).
- Duquesne: Lost first two games on the road at Albany (69-66) and Georgetown (61-55). ...The Dukes shot just 11 for 52 from the 3-point line (21.2 percent) in opening-season losses. ... Is 0-2 versus James Madison, has never faced North Dakota State and is 9-2 against Youngstown State. ... Sean Johnson leads the Dukes in both scoring (15 ppg) and rebounding (5.5 rpg). ... Freshman Derrick Colter is averaging 12 ppg.
- JMU, NDSU and YSU: James Madison competes in the Colonial Athletic League. The Dukes were 1-2 vs. Atlantic 10 competition last year. ... The Bison compete in the Summit League. They returned four starters from a team that went 17-14 last year. ... The Penguins compete in the Horizon League and might have the best player of the four teams in 6-0 junior guard Kendrick Perry, who led the Horizon League in scoring last season (16.8 ppg) and set a school record with 74 steals.
- Hidden stat: The Dukes have 34 offensive rebounds in two games.
"If you have a chance to play at home it is good, good for our players and good for our fans who want to support us," Ferry said. "The surroundings are familiar and we are at home for three days as opposed to on the road -- so that is a good thing.
"I thought we did some very good things in those first two games and now let's see if we can build on them and get better each game. I'm anxious to see how we look after a week off."
The Dukes played last Sunday against Georgetown, so they spent past week working what Ferry thought were deficiencies in the losses.
He was pleased by his team's rebounding. The Dukes held their own on the glass in both games and have 73 rebounds, the same as their opponents' two-game total. Considering their recent history, this is a good start.
The Dukes last season got rebounded by nearly eight rebounds per game -- 38.3 rpg for opponents to 30.8 for the Dukes -- because their defensive philosophy under former coach Ron Everhart did not value protecting the rim and rebounding, but valued creating turnovers and pressuring the ball.
Ferry's system is less aggressive and more disciplined and is built around guarding, protecting the rim and defensive rebounding. He said the transition from one style to the next is going to take time but he likes what he has seen so far.
"Transitions are never easy and they never happen quickly," he said. "But the guys have already bought in and are starting to understand what it is we are trying to do. I was very encouraged by how we rebounded the ball, especially against a really big Big East team in Georgetown.
"We did a great against [Georgetown] and at one point I think had the edge and were only outrebounded by four, which is a pretty dramatic change from where this team was as a rebounding team last year."
The Legends Classic preliminary games each day are Youngstown State vs North Dakota State, today; James Madison vs Youngstown State, Tuesday; North Dakota State vs James Madison, Wednesday.
• For a scouting report on the Duquesne vs. James Madison game today, see Page D-10.
• For more from Paul Zeise, check out the Zeise Out Loud blog on PG+ at plus.sites.post-gazette.com or follow Paul on Twitter @PaulZeise.duquesnesports
Paul Zeise: firstname.lastname@example.org and Twitter@paulzeise.