Jim Ferry and the Duquesne’s men’s basketball team finds itself undersized and undermanned entering The City Game after losing starting shooting guard Micah Mason to a broken hand earlier this week.
There are no breaks for the weary or wounded. The Dukes (2-2) will have their biggest test of the young season when they face unbeaten Pitt (6-0) at 1 p.m. today at Consol Energy Center
Ferry, Duquesne’s second-year head coach, called the Panthers “a top-20 basketball team right now that people are sleeping on.” Pitt is talented and disciplined on both sides of the ball, explaining why its smallest margin of victory this season is 19 points.
“I don’t expect them to change much, and they shouldn’t,” Ferry said. “They’ve been playing really, really well.”
Duquesne should be rested, having played its most recent game, a 70-59 victory against Albany, 10 days ago.
The Dukes will implement a “by committee” guard approach to diversify their scoring economy and replace Mason’s 8.8 points per game and strong perimeter presence.
“It’s always tough when someone gets hurt, especially because I think Micah had been playing pretty well for us at the time,” Ferry said. “Everybody’s a little disappointed, but it gives opportunities for other people to step up and fill that role.”
Junior guard Tra’Vaughn White, the nation’s top junior-college scorer last year, will return to the starting lineup and replace Mason, and freshman Desmond Ridenour and senior Jerry Jones will be the first and second options off the bench.
Though the Panthers hold a significant size advantage, particularly in the post, Ferry hopes the Dukes can exploit a mismatch at power forward, where senior Ovie Soko (18.3 ppg, 11.3 rpg) will face a pair of Pitt freshmen in Michael Young and Jamel Artis.
The critical keys to victory, Ferry said, will be whether Duquesne can limit the Panthers in transition and compete on the glass.
Stephen J. Nesbitt: firstname.lastname@example.org, 412-290-2183 and Twitter @stephenjnesbitt.