Duquesne's nine-game losing streak has been frustrating for coach Jim Ferry but not necessarily because the Dukes have been losing games.
It is how they have been losing games that wears on Ferry and his players because it is not easy to single out a common theme.
In some games, it has been a lack of rebounding; in others it has been a stretch of poor defense.
In the 68-60 loss Saturday against St. Bonaventure, it was a stretch of poor shot selection that did them in.
As a result, there is no easy or quick fix.
"You look Saturday, we were within two or four and we go four possessions in a row where we come up empty -- twice take bad shots, once turn it over and once miss on an offensive rebound," Ferry said.
"That was difference between us going back into the locker room at the half down four or even six instead of what we went in, which was down 11.
"That's a significant difference in terms of the deficit you have to overcome in the second half. Each game, there is a stretch of maybe four or five [minutes] -- or, in that case against St. Bonaventure, it was only 1:47 -- that we have let down our guard or not gotten something done the right way, and it has cost us because the other team has gone on a bit of a run."
Ferry said the way he has approached this over the past few days has been to try and break it down individually with his players.
He hopes that, if each individual cleans up a few things in his game, it will help the team play a more complete game.
Matchup: Duquesne (7-14, 0-7 Atlantic 10) vs. George Washington (10-10, 4-3), 7 p.m. today, Palumbo Center.
TV, Radio: PCNC, WPGB-FM (104.7).
Duquesne: Has lost nine games in a row, including seven consecutive conference games. ... Has not won since Dec. 18. ... Is 6-4 at home this season, despite losing past three games at Palumbo Center. ... Holds 18-16 edge against George Washington in games played in Pittsburgh.
George Washington: Is 4-5 in road games this season, but 2-1 in Atlantic 10 road games. ... Is coming off 80-71 loss against La Salle. ...Lineup includes four freshmen who have started every conference game. Three freshmen are among top six scorers. ... Leads series against Duquesne, 43-27.
Hidden stat: Dukes have outrebounded opponents by 8.2 in their victories, but have been outrebound by 4.7 in their losses.
"You look at it and, basically, it is three or four breakdowns per player," Ferry said.
"Nobody ever plays a perfect game, and no coach expects people to be perfect, but my message has been -- if you can each clean up most of those breakdowns -- get better blocking out, or make better decisions with the ball, or cut down on the poor shot selection -- if we each do that, we will cut out a lot of the mistakes that have hurt us, and that will give us a chance to win.
"Think about it -- many of these games have been close, they have come down to a critical point where one or two or three possessions really matter and if we can start winning those battles, start cutting out little mistakes, it will really help."
Ferry hopes he will be able to see some improvement in those details tonight when Duquesne (7-14, 0-7 Atlantic 10) will take on the George Washington Colonials (10-10, 4-3) at Palumbo Center.
The Dukes have lost seven Atlantic 10 games in a row and nine in a row overall, so Ferry looks at this home game as an opportunity to try to get things headed in the right direction.
He also knows, however, that it will not be easy because George Washington is strong in an area where the Dukes have struggled -- in the post.
But the new coach believes if the Dukes continue to play to his philosophy -- shoot more free throws, turn the ball over less and rebound more than your opponent -- they will have an opportunity to win every game,
But, first, Duquesne must do a much better job in handling details possession by possession.
"The thing is, we can't overcome those stretches of missed opportunities. We are just not good enough right now to have lapses," Ferry said.
"I've had teams in the past who were explosive enough to overcome those lulls or bad stretches, we just can't -- we don't score well enough. So again, it comes down to margin of error.
"But I think that if we eliminate just a percentage of those empty possessions or possessions when we don't block out and give second opportunities, just a percentage of them, it will really go a long way toward getting us over the top.
"Nobody is getting their heads down, nobody is quitting; everyone is working hard and everyone is working on the right things.
"It is just a matter of going out and doing it."mobilehome - duquesnesports
Paul Zeise: firstname.lastname@example.org and Twitter @paulzeise.