Duquesne has three games remaining in the regular season, and given the way things have gone for the Dukes, it would seem as if the players and coaches would want to end things now and get started on the next chapter.
After all, the Dukes are not going to qualify for the Atlantic 10 Conference tournament at 8-19 overall, 1-12 in the league, and will just play out their season.
But Duquesne coach Jim Ferry doesn't see it that way. He said there is something positive to come out of every game experience and it doesn't matter what the situation is, teams only get better when they play.
Ferry said that while this season is over for the most part, as a coach in his first year of building a program with a young team, everything is about laying the foundation for the future.
"I think you can learn something from every game, you can learn something from every experience," he said. "I think for the seniors and the fans we owe it to them to try our best to win every game possible. I also think for the future of the program, we need to get these younger players experience and play them as much as possible.
"So we definitely have a lot to play for, it isn't just about wins and losses, it is about building a program and getting better every day. I tell our guys all the time, the key to this all is to get better every day,"
Clearly Ferry has had an eye on the future. In recent weeks he has started three freshmen in each of the past five games and he has given a lot more minutes lately to some underclassmen reserves.
Conversely, senior Sean Johnson, who was the team's leading scorer at one point this season and was one of two experienced players and starters returning to the lineup, has seen his minutes -- and points -- decrease down the stretch.
Ferry said it isn't about Johnson or anything he has done, it has been more of a case of trying to utilize the bench as much as possible so he can evaluate where the program is and get players experience.
On Saturday, the Dukes lost to St. Bonaventure, 78-71, at Palumbo Center and Johnson came off the bench, played 19 minutes and scored seven points.
Meanwhile, the three freshmen -- Derrick Colter, Jeremiah Jones and Quevyn Winters -- started, each played at least 31 minutes and combined to score 38 points, including Winters' team-high 18.
Ferry said he was happy with the way the freshmen performed but he admitted it isn't ideal having such a young lineup because young players make mistakes.
"We fought, we battled after a sluggish start but we just didn't make enough plays down the stretch," Ferry said. "Some of what goes on in these games is due to lack of execution, but some of it is just inexperience. We are playing hard, we are fighting and that is a good, positive sign, but you also have to execute and that is where we have to get better."
Duquesne has a week off to get ready for its next opponent, LaSalle, Saturday in Philadelphia. The Explorers are 19-7, 9-4 in the Atlantic 10.
The Dukes will then finish with a home game March 6 against Charlotte and a trip March 9 to Richmond. Then Ferry and his staff will hit the ground running in recruiting.
Paul Zeise: firstname.lastname@example.org or Twitter: @paulzeise. First Published February 25, 2013 5:00 AM