Jim Ferry has preached to his players the value of playing hard on every single possession on both sides of the floor.
It appears those messages have settled in with senior center Andre Marhold, who had his best game of the season Saturday when the Dukes lost to Saint Joseph's, 74-66.
Marhold posted his first career double-double against the Hawks -- 13 points and 11 rebounds -- and he battled the Hawks talented frontcourt, and as a result gave the Dukes a chance to win even though they ultimately fell short.
Before that game Marhold had been a bit inconsistent in his production and a bit of a disappointment given that he is one of the only experienced players on the roster.
Marhold knows that he has to play better for the Dukes to have a chance to improve and compete in the Atlantic 10 Conference, and he said Saturday it was a great game in which to build.
He said that the major difference Saturday and the reason for his success is simple -- his effort was much more consistent throughout the game, and that is something he needs to continue in order to produce the results he had against the Hawks.
"I was focused on every possession that game," Marhold said, "In the past I may have taken a couple of plays off here and there, but in that game I was focused on giving 100 percent effort on every single possession and it really showed up in my stats.
"That is something that is going to be my main focus now, going hard on every possession, not taking any off and just not worrying about anything else. I just need to play each possession."
Marhold said along with playing harder, he also did a better job of understanding angles and getting himself into position to receive entry passes, as well as getting into position for offensive rebounds.
Marhold and the Dukes (7-9, 0-2) will play at Massachusetts (11-4, 1-1) tonight in an Atlantic 10 game that is crucial.
The Minutemen are streaking and have won eight of nine games while the Dukes have lost five of their past six.
Marhold said that he knows he will need to have another big game for the Dukes to have a chance to win because when he plays well and scores points, the Dukes can play a more two-dimensional offensive game.
"I think when we are scoring in the post, it sets up the inside and outside game," Marhold said. "It really helps our offensive flow, and when the guards know they can throw the ball to me and get baskets it builds trust.
"And when they throw to me and the defense collapses and helps on me, I can kick it out and get it to one of our shooters for an open3 -- so it all works together."
One area the Dukes seemed to have improved in is rebounding, as they beat the Hawks on the boards, 47-33. They are outrebounding their opponents by 2.1 rebounds per game.
That fact, combined with Marhold's ability to block shots -- he has a team-high 26 -- has helped the Dukes improve their defensive numbers and Marhold said that, too, is really all about effort.
"I think our rebounding numbers were even better early in the season and then we got a little cocky," said Marhold, who is averaging 6.6 points and a team-high 5.9 rebounds per game. "I think we stopped going after rebounds on every play and it showed in the numbers, and once we saw that our numbers were going down, I think it was a wake-up call. Now everyone is focused again on going hard for the ball every time.
"And having a shot-blocker under the basket helps with our ball pressure because guys know that they can really go after it and, on the off chance that they get beat, they have help in the back and when I block a shot it really gets the defense pumped up."
• DUQUESNE scouting report, Page D-2.
Paul Zeise: email@example.com or Twitter: @paulzeise.