After a long, eight-month offseason that saw eight new players join the program, second-year Duquesne coach Jim Ferry is finally ready to debut his new-look squad.
Today, the Dukes open with an exhibition against Clarion at 1 p.m. at Palumbo Center.
“I think we’re all just ready to play somebody,” Ferry said, with a laugh Friday.
Both programs are coming off disappointing 2012-13 seasons. Duquesne was 8-22 in Ferry’s first year on the Bluff, while Clarion was 6-20 in coach Ron Righter’s 26th.
Righter is just three wins short of 400 with the Golden Eagles.
The Dukes were short-handed last Saturday when it faced Miami (Ohio) in an unofficial exhibition in Oxford, Ohio, fielding just six players due to injuries and the lingering cases of two currently NCAA-ineligible players.
Though Duquesne is still awaiting word on the initial eligibility of sophomore guard Micah Mason and freshman forward Jordan Robinson, the Dukes get back junior guard Tra’Vaughn White, the top junior-college scorer last season who missed the last week with a high ankle sprain.
“I don’t think he’ll go full-go, but he’ll play a little bit and add some depth,” Ferry said.
With all the new faces, Ferry’s focus is on fundamentals: rebounding, team defense and “the continued growth of unselfish basketball.”
The Dukes return two starters in sophomore guards Derrick Colter and Jeremiah Jones. Other than praising the play of senior forward Ovie Soko, Ferry hasn’t revealed the rest of his starting lineup.
“I think we’ll play extremely hard and extremely fast,” Ferry said.
“I want to see the team’s disposition and attitude. That comes from these guys deciding what we’re going to be as a team.”
The matchup also marks a homecoming for three Golden Eagles, senior forward Mike Kromka (Gateway), senior guard Corey Bellovich (Keystone Oaks) and sophomore forward Aaron Johnson (Moon).
Kromka and Bellovich are expected to start, while Johnson is recovering from an injury and won’t play.
Stephen J. Nesbitt: email@example.com, 412-290-2183 and Twitter @stephenjnesbitt.