Duquesne has placed a high priority on rebounding, and until Wednesday, when the Dukes lost to Pitt, 66-45, at Consol Energy Center, it had been very strong at it.
But reality hit that night as the Panthers pounded the Dukes on the glass and won the battle of rebounds, 49-33.
That caused some of the Dukes players to say, in effect, "back to the drawing board." Not surprising, rebounding has been a point of emphasis in the past two practices.
"We just didn't compete on the glass," freshman Jeremiah Jones said. "And that's something we are learning to do every single night. We know we could have done a lot better on the glass. We know we have to do better, and watching the film there were a number of times we didn't block out or do our job in terms of keeping them out of the paint.
"Pitt is a very good team, they are a strong team, they are bigger than us -- but we'll play other teams who are bigger than us and we need to make sure that we compete for every rebound, and that's what we are working on."
Jones said rebounding was only one of many breakdowns the Dukes had against the Panthers, but rather than dwell on it, the team has chosen to try to look at it as a learning experience.
Duquesne coach Jim Ferry is in his first year with the program, so every game is a new experience and challenge.
- Matchup: Duquesne (4-4) vs. New Orleans (2-4), 7 p.m. today, Palumbo Center.
- Radio: WPGB-FM (104.7)
- Duquesne: Had three-game winning streak broken by Pitt Wednesday. ... Has never played the Privateers. ... Plays three of next four at home. ... Guard Sean Jones needs five points to become the 37th player in school history to score 1,000 for his career. ... Six different players have led the Dukes in scoring in the past seven games.
- New Orleans: Has only played one road game and lost it. ... Leading scorer Lovell Smith averages 14.0 points per game. ... Leading rebounder Kevin Hill averages 4.3 rebounds per game. ... On a two-game losing streak.
- Hidden stat: The Dukes average 3.0 more free throws than their opponents.
The Dukes (4-4) are hoping the lessons learned against Pitt will be put to good use tonight, when they play host to New Orleans (2-4) at the Palumbo Center.
"Pitt has a lot of experience, they have a few young guys, but they have some guys who have played a lot," Jones said, "But ... any loss that you can learn from is not as bad as it seems.
"As long as we learn from our mistakes and correct them and the coaches can point to things we can do better, we are going to be headed in the right direction. We just need to bounce back and play much better and do the things we always work on."
The freshmen, particularly Jones, Quevyn Winters and Derrick Colter, have plenty of upside and potential to be tapped into.
Even though the Dukes have only played eight games, Jones said the three don't feel like freshmen anymore because they have had a variety of experiences.
"I think that all three of us have now gotten a taste of this next level of basketball and are understanding what it takes to be successful," Jones said.
"Basketball is the same game, but it is played at a much higher level now, and through every experience we have gotten better. I think Derrick and Queyvn have really come along great, and I am trying to improve as well.
"This game against New Orleans is one more chance for us to improve, and as long as we play to our fundamentals -- rebounding, free throws and turnovers -- we will have a chance to be successful."mobilehome - duquesnesports
Paul Zeise: email@example.com and Twitter: @paulzeise.