Guard Marvin Binney's playing time has increased in recent weeks while he has turned into a valuable contributor for Duquesne.
Binney didn't take a "me-first" approach to improving his game. Instead, he took a "team-first" approach, and that made all the difference.
He hopes his improvement and his teammates' improvement can get the Dukes (7-13, 0-6 Atlantic 10) over the hump and help them snap an eight-game losing streak today when they face St. Bonaventure (9-10, 2-4) at Reilly Center in Olean, N.Y.
"[The difference in his game] has been motivation, the drive to win," Binney said. "Everybody has to step it up a notch to change our season, and I have tried to be more aggressive on offense and do the little things it takes to help us win games. That's really what we are all working for.
"I want to do my part to help us win games, and coach [Jim] Ferry told me earlier in the season to keep working hard, that he had a lot of faith in me and that my opportunities would come. So, I made sure that I was ready when my name was called and now I have to be ready every day."
Duquesne (7-13, 0-6 Atlantic 10) at St. Bonaventure (9-10, 2-4), today, 4 p.m., Reilly Center, Olean, N.Y.
- TV, Radio:
Root Sports; WPGB-FM (104.7).
On an eight-game losing streak and has not won since Dec. 18. ??? Is 1-8 on the road. ??? Sophomore Kadeem Pantophlet has improved rebounding from 1.8 rpg last year to 5.3 rpg this year. ??? Jeremiah Jones is coming off a career-high 16 points in a 72-56 loss against Dayton.
- St. Bonaventure:
Holds 34-18 lead against Duquesne in games played in Olean. ??? Have won last four games of series at Reilly Center. ??? Has lost seven of past nine games. ??? Senior forward Demitrius Conger leads St. Bonaventure in scoring (14.3), rebounding (7.2) and assists (53).
- Hidden stat:
First-year players accounted for 47 of 56 points Dukes??? previous game (a 72-56 loss against Dayton).
Binney, a 6-foot-2 sophomore from Toronto via New Mexico Junior College, has not made it into the starting lineup, but he has appeared in 19 games and, in the past three, worked his way into the regular rotation.
In a 90-63 loss against VCU Jan. 19, Binney, who averages 10.6 minutes per game, played a season-high (at the time) 19 minutes and had six points. He played 13 minutes in a 73-64 loss against Saint Louis and again scored six points.
Last Saturday, in the Dukes 72-56 loss against Dayton, Binney's minutes soared to 31, and he scored a career-high 13 points and grabbed two rebounds.
Part of the huge jump in minutes in the Dayton game stemmed from the absence of Jerry Jones, who was suspended. The other part, according to Ferry, was that Binney has improved and shown the right attitude and work ethic.
Beyond that, Binney's scoring offers a big boost for the Dukes as teams have been clamping down on their two primary scorers -- Derrick Colter and Sean Johnson.
Dayton defended and frustrated Colter and Johnson, holding them to a combined four points and 1-for-17 shooting (including 0 for 6 from 3-point range).
The Dukes got 16 points apiece from Jeremiah Jones and Quevyn Winters and Binney contributed his 13. He said that should give the Dukes' next opponent something to think about.
"I think we have a lot of guys who have the ability to score," Binney said. "Teams had been catching on that Sean and [Colter] are scoring guys, and they have adjusted defenses to that, but that has been opening up the doors offensively for other players, and now we have to show we all can score.
"I think everybody has the ability to score on this team, everyone is capable of having a big night. I think the best thing I can do is shoot the ball. I feel like if I get an open look at the basket the ball is going in, but I also can get to the rim and create for others, so we all just need to keep working together."
Although the Dukes have had a tough road lately, Binney said the Dukes haven't lost their faith or focus.
"It is one game at a time, and we feel like if we break this wall and win, things will really start to fall in place," Binney said.
"We don't come to the game thinking 'oh, here comes another loss.' We go into the game thinking we are going to win and we need to attack this next game and get this win."
Paul Zeise: email@example.com and Twitter: @paulzeise.