Duquesne has three games in three nights


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The games will come in swift succession for the Duquesne men's basketball team, three in about 50 hours.

The quick turnaround will tax the mind.

It also will tax the body.

But, perhaps most of all, it will tax a personnel rotation that is still in the development stage for coach Ron Everhart.

The Dukes (2-0) will play Binghamton (1-2) -- an America East team that lost to Pitt by 25 points last week -- at 5 p.m. today in Cullowhee, N.C., as part of the O'Reilly Auto Parts CBE Classic. After that, the remainder of the showcase continues with a 5 p.m. matchup tomorrow against Division II Arkansas-Monticello and then the final game, a 7:30 p.m. Wednesday tipoff against host Western Carolina, a Southern Conference team that went 11-2 at home last season and returns all five starters.


Today

Game: Duquesne (2-0) vs. Binghamton (1-2), 5 p.m. today, Ramsey Center, Cullowhee, N.C. This game is part of the O'Reilly Auto Parts CBE Classic.

Radio, Internet: KQV-AM (1410) or GoDuquesne.com.

Duquesne: Coming off a 52-50 win at Iowa Nov. 17 and beginning a stretch in which Dukes play three games in three days. ... Has opened the past two seasons with at least four consecutive wins (4-0 last year, 6-0 in 2007-08)..

Binghamton: After defeating Bloomsburg in season opener, has lost lopsided games to Pitt (71-46) and St. Bonaventure (66-40). ... Former Temple star Mark Macon is the team's interim head coach. ... Against St. Bonaventure, Binghamton was done in by a 38-10 run interrupted by halftime.

Hidden stat: Duquesne is 1-13 in games played in North Carolina t.


Everhart, whose team has defeated Nicholls State and Iowa in its first two games, knew what he was getting into when he signed up for this event.

"I have looked at this, from a scheduling perspective, as a chance to develop our bench and play more people," he said. "We have to figure out the right adjustments to make.

"Even with six guys coming back who played a lot last year, we are not going to be the same type of team we were in terms of tempo and in terms of the way we defend on every possession. We are just made up differently, and these three games will give us a chance to evaluate something that still, to be honest, is a work in progress."

It is a work in progress that took a big hit before the Iowa game Tuesday when it was learned that 6-foot-4 sophomore swingman Melquan Bolding will be out for at least a month after surgery to repair a fracture in his right wrist.

Bolding scored 25 points in the season-opener against Nicholls State, fighting through the injury.

With Bolding out, Everhart is forced to cultivate his bench with these three games in such a small window.

Just take a look at the box scores from the first two games, and logic insists Duquesne will not be able to do over the next three nights what it did in those first two wins.

In the opener, guard Eric Evans played 37 minutes, Bolding played 36, swingmen Damian Saunders and Bill Clark 35 and guard Jason Duty 32.

Then, with Bolding out for the Iowa game, the top-heavy minute structure continued, as Clark and Evans played 39 of 40 minutes, Duty played 36 and Saunders 35.

With three games in three nights, legs invariably get tired, foul trouble can creep into the equation and a case of basketball overload can consume young players.

So, these games might turn into an audition for guys such as freshmen forwards Andre Marhold and Rodrigo Peggau and freshman guard Sean Johnson.

"We could find out about some guys," Everhart said, shaking his head in agreement. "We really could find out about some guys."

What the Dukes found out against Iowa was that they could win a low-scoring game because beating the Hawkeyes, 52-50, was an escape from a normalcy under Everhart. After all, his teams have led the Atlantic 10 Conference in scoring in two of his three seasons at Duquesne.

Furthermore, the Dukes have been the fifth-highest scoring team in the country the past three seasons at 79.83 points per game.

So, is only scoring 52 points a cause for some concern?

"Obviously, from a philosophical standpoint, that game drove me crazy. It was like fingernails across the chalkboard for me," Everhart said.

"By the same token, we were able to gut it out and win that type of a game, which we would have had trouble doing in the past. We have put a little more emphasis on defense and, even though we made some very bad decisions on offense, we were able to win a game like that with defense.

"I think you need to look at it that way; there are things we definitely, unquestionably need to improve on, but to gut out a win like that showed a lot about our defensive effort and [it is] something that we will carry with us into these games."


Colin Dunlap can be reached at cdunlap@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1459.


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