Junior guard/forward Jerry Jones and the Duquesne Dukes hope to finally put an end to their seven-game losing skid today at Dayton.
By Paul Zeise Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
A long losing streak sometimes can discourage a team and pull it apart, and that is especially true with a young team like Duquesne.
But that hasn't happened with the Dukes, who, despite being in the midst of a seven-game skid, are surprisingly upbeat and still optimistic they will turn things around.
Duquesne (7-12, 0-5 Atlantic 10) plays at Dayton (11-7, 1-3) today, and will try to snap this losing streak.
But the streak actually is not on the minds of the players, who are just focused on trying to win one game and do it by winning one possession at a time.
"Really, I think if anything, this has brought us closer together as a team," said junior Jerry Jones. "I think we all recognize that we have to just keep playing hard, just keep together and work at the things that will help us be successful and sooner or later we will get over the top and win a game.
"The other night [a loss Wednesday to Saint Louis], we saw some success early in the game because we did the right things. We defended and we rebounded, but then at the end, it just got away from us. So we have had some success in these games, now we just need to put it together."
Matchup: Duquesne (7-12, 0-5 Atlantic 10) at Dayton (11-7, 1-3), 4 p.m. today, UD Arena, Dayton, Ohio.
TV, Radio: PCNC, WPGB-FM (104.7).
Duquesne: On seven-game losing streak. ... Last win was Dec. 19 against Western Michigan. ... Is 1-7 in road games this season. ... Jerry Jones had his first career double-double in the loss Wednesday to Saint Louis. Jones scored 18 points and grabbed 11 rebounds. ... Seven of 12 losses have come to teams in the RPI top 80.
Dayton: Leads the series with Duquesne, 45-22. ... Is 23-8 in Atlantic 10 games against Duquesne and 27-6 in games played in Dayton. ... Is 4-3 in past seven games against Duquesne at home. ... Coming off first conference win, 96-51, against Fordham. The Flyers made 15 3-pointers in the victory.
Hidden stat: Duquesne has outrebounded its opponents by 8.2 per game in its seven wins, but in their 12 losses, the Dukes were outrebounded by 3.6 per game.
Jones' point about the Saint Louis game -- a 73-64 loss for the Dukes -- is correct. The Dukes defended, rebounded, scored points in transition and, as a result, were tied, 55-55, with four minutes to play.
But the Billikens exploited some breakdowns in the Duquesne defense late, the Dukes missed some shots and Saint Louis blew open the game with a 14-1 run.
This has been a familiar story for the Dukes, who have played well for stretches but have had a hard time closing games.
Jones said that with so many younger players, it is a matter of the Dukes getting experience, but also winning a game to gain confidence.
"We know what it is we need to do to win games, we really just need to do it," Jones said. "But I think when you have so many freshmen playing, they haven't been through this before, so some of us experienced guys just need to keep helping them get through this.
"I often will take [one of the freshmen] aside and try to guide them, maybe give them some pointers -- that's what we need to do. I feel like we are getting better, we just have to keep working hard."
Coach Jim Ferry said one way he has helped the team not get caught up in the losing streak is that he has focused on each game one at a time and not on the entire season.
But he clearly has been frustrated with the lack of leadership he has seen from some of the upperclassmen, and has begun to hold players accountable while increasing the minutes of the younger players.
Against Saint Louis, senior starter Andre Marhold was dressed and ready to play but did not see the floor, and Ferry made it clear after the game Marhold was not injured and could have played.
He said Marhold has not "shown the kind of leadership" and been accountable in a way he would expect from a senior. And until that changes, Marhold will continue to watch from the bench.
Jones said this experience and playing time for the underclassmen will help down the road, but he also thinks it will pay off by the end of this season.
"There are certain things that we believe and we have a very good coach. So if we keep playing hard and keep working on improving in certain areas, we will win and then maybe we can get on a little run," Jones said. "We have a lot of players who want to get better and who understand how to get better, and we will get better."