Three keys to the 2013-14 Duquesne men's basketball season

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1. COMMIT TO THE NEW SYSTEM

A year ago, in Duquesne coach Jim Ferry’s first year on the Bluff, the Dukes relied fully on the outside shot. They launched 24.1 3-pointers per game, eighth most in Division I and, perhaps not coincidentally, they won just eight games. Still without a true center, Duquesne does have two frontcourt threats in Ovie Soko and Dominique McKoy and is dialing up a high-speed transition game that relies on strong rebounding, outlet passes and big men who can move. Goodbye to the 3-point shot could be hello to more wins in 2013-14.

2. DEFEND, THEN RUN

There was one concern, and it’s a big one, from Duquesne’s 103-88 exhibition victory Saturday against Clarion — a game that was far more lopsided than the final score; it was the defense. The Dukes started the game in a man-to-man look and wing man Jeremiah Jones stood out as a strong defender. As the game wore on and the starters plodded a path to the bench, Duquesne sank into a weak 2-3 zone and was shelled, allowing more second-half points (53) than they scored (48) after a very one-sided opening half.

3. STAY HEALTHY

Duquesne is playing short-handed until the return of Isaiah Watkins from a leg injury and until the NCAA makes a ruling on the eligibility of Jordan Robinson and Micah Mason. That ruling is likely to come this week. This is a team that returns just three scholarship players, so depth has been a concern since the players first stepped on campus this summer. It will be crucial that the starting five, in particular, stays healthy because Ferry doesn’t have much wiggle room with this new-look roster.

AT A GLANCE

• 2012-13: 8-22, 1-15 Atlantic 10.

• COACH: Jim Ferry, second year, 8-22.

• PROBABLE STARTERS: G — Derrick Colter, So., 5-11 (13.5 ppg, 5.3 apg, 2.8 rpg); G — Tra’Vaughn White, Jr., 5-10 (25.9 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 2.9 apg at Independence Community College); G/F — Jeremiah Jones, So., 6-4 (7.7 ppg, 4.1 rpg); F Dominique McKoy, Jr., 6-8 (14.2 ppg, 11.5 rpg at Cowley Community College); F — Ovie Soko, Sr., 6-8 (sat out 2012-13 season after transfer from UAB).

• SCHEDULE (Home games in caps)

NOVEMBER — 9, ABILENE CHRISTIAN, 2 p.m.; 13, NEW HAMPSHIRE, 7 p.m.; 17, West Virginia, 4 p.m.; 20, ALBANY, 7 p.m.; 30 PITT (at Consol Energy Center), 1 p.m.

DECEMBER — 4, UMBC, 7 p.m.; 11, PENN STATE (at Consol), 7 p.m.; 14, ROBERT MORRIS, 2 p.m.; 17, Saint Francis, 7 p.m.; 21, UMass-Lowell, 2 p.m.; 29, Texas-Pan American, 3 p.m.

JANUARY — 2, APPALACHIAN STATE, 7 p.m.; 8, FORDHAM, 7 p.m.; 12, LA SALLE, 2:30 p.m.; 15, Saint Joseph’s, 7 p.m.; 18, at VCU, 4 p.m.; 22, SAINT LOUIS, 7 p.m.; 25, ST. BONAVENTURE, 7 p.m.; 29, at NJIT, 7 p.m.

FEBRUARY — 1, La Salle, 4 p.m.; 5, George Washington, 7 p.m.; 8, GEORGE MASON, 2 p.m.; 12, RICHMOND, 7 p.m.; 15, Rhode Island, noon; 19, St. Bonaventure, 7 p.m.; 22, DAYTON (at Consol), 2 p.m.; 27, Saint Louis, 8 p.m.

MARCH — 5, MASSACHUSETTS, 7 p.m.; 8, George Mason, 7 p.m.


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