Up-and-down Dukes still a work in progress


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If Duquesne's upset win against West Virginia Tuesday was a sign of what the Dukes are capable of under new coach Jim Ferry, a humbling loss Saturday night at Robert Morris showed them how far they have to go.

The Dukes played tough for the first half against the rival Colonials, but were blown out in the second en route to a 91-69 loss at Sewall Center in Moon.

For the first few minutes, it looked as if Duquesne was serious about ending Robert Morris' two-game winning streak in the series.

The Dukes jumped to a 16-10 lead and led until the 3:18 mark of the first half, when Lucky Jones made a layup to give Robert Morris a 29-28 lead.

The Dukes never regained the lead.

"I thought we played hard," Ferry said.

"I thought we played well for the first ten minutes, then I thought Robert Morris absolutely dominated this basketball game for that 30-minute stint."

If any coach would have the blueprint for beating the Colonials, it's Ferry.

As head coach at Long Island, Ferry ended Robert Morris' season in the Northeast Conference championship the past two years.

Last year, Ferry's Blackbirds flew up and down the court in a 90-73 victory against the Colonials.

Ferry said he tried to employ a similar game plan against the Colonials this year, predicated on playing defense and not turning the ball over.

He was, however, the first to admit it failed as the Dukes turned the ball over 25 times in the game. Robert Morris turned those turnovers into 31 points.

"This game came down to turnovers, which is very, very obvious," Ferry said.

"We were bad. Our point-guard play was horrendous."

Robert Morris coach Andy Toole said Duquesne's team, at least stylistically, reminded him of the Ferry-coached Long Island teams that have beaten his Colonials in the past.

"I think as he continues to build the personnel, I think you're going to see more and more of a resemblance to those [Long Island] teams," Toole said. "I just think right now, at some of the spots, he doesn't have the pieces that he wants yet."

Ferry pointed to the number of young players in key roles this season. The Dukes have two freshmen and a sophomore in the starting lineup.

Freshman point guard Derrick Colter, despite five turnovers, led Duquesne with 16 points.

Colter also was tasked with guarding Robert Morris senior point guard Velton Jones, but Jones finished with 22 points and spearheaded the Colonials' second-half surge.

"It's a process," Ferry said. "It's going to take a little while."

Ferry did not ascribe any added significance to the loss being Duquesne's third in a row against Robert Morris.

Combined with a loss to Pitt Dec. 5, the Dukes went 0-2 in rivalry games this season.

"It's important to win every game, whether you're playing Pitt, Robert Morris, West Virginia," Ferry said.

"It's really important to win Atlantic 10 games. It's just important that we get better."

The Dukes earned a surprising, 60-56 comeback victory earlier this week against West Virginia, but Ferry didn't think his team was suffering from any hangover effect after upsetting the Mountaineers.

Instead, he said that inconsistency is just a fact of life when dealing with an inexperienced team.

"Listen, this is going to be a roller coaster," Ferry said. "We're playing a lot of young guys.

"Just like I said after the West Virginia game, you can't get real high after a win and you can't get real low after a loss. We've got a lot of work to do."

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Sam Werner: swerner@post-gazette.com or on Twitter: @SWernerPG.


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