Dukes try for quick rebound tonight

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Duquesne opens a three-game road swing tonight against St. Francis (2-7) in Loretto, Pa., the Dukes’ first visit to DeGol Arena since 2008.

After registering season-low point totals in back-to-back losses against Penn State and Robert Morris last week, Duquesne (3-5) hopes a quick turnaround against the Red Flash will help right the ship.

“I truly believe that if you fall off the horse, you’ve got to get right back on the saddle again,” second-year Duquesne coach Jim Ferry said Monday. “To have to turn around and play right away is good for us. You don’t have time to lick your wounds and feel sorry for yourself; you’ve got to get right back at it.”

St. Francis, too, is in its second year under new leadership — longtime assistant coach Rob Krimmel took over in April 2012 — and has had a rough season so far.

Before a 72-62 victory Dec. 7 against winless Cornell (0-10), the Red Flash had lost six consecutive games, only one by a single-digit margin.

Duquesne is 61-12 against St. Francis in a series that stretches to 1914. The previous meeting was an 86-56 Duquesne victory Dec. 22, 2009 at Palumbo Center.

Ferry’s LIU Brooklyn teams were 13-6 against the Red Flash.

“Obviously, we’re prepared with our scouting report, our game plan and understanding their personnel,” Ferry said, “but it comes down to us.”

The Dukes are coming off two days of rest, but St. Francis hasn’t suited up in 10 days. Ferry doesn’t mind the quick turnaround because it gives his players a chance to right their wrongs in a loss Saturday against Robert Morris. That would include tightening up defensively, holding onto the ball and making smart decisions in transition.

Junior forward Earl Brown, averaging a double-double with 11.6 points and 10 rebounds per game, leads the Red Flash, and Ferry called him a “high-octane, athletic kid” and “a machine on the offensive glass.”

Brown might be the primary beneficiary, but the offense moves through freshman guard Malik Harmon (11.0 ppg, 3.4 apg). Harmon is from Queens, N.Y., that Ferry knows well from his days at LIU Brooklyn.

“I’ve always recruited Christ the King really hard,” Ferry said. “I know the program really well. Malik plays with great speed and great confidence. He makes them go. He’s an aggressive kid; we’ve got to figure out how to stop him.”

This is only Duquesne’s second game this season played outside of Pittsburgh. The Dukes will travel to face Massachusetts-Lowell (Dec. 21) and Texas Pan-American (Dec. 29) before returning home for conference play in January.

“The schedule was set up like this on purpose to help prepare us for going on the road and try to understand how to win on the road,” Ferry said. “I think it’s the perfect time to go on the road.”

Stephen J. Nesbitt: snesbitt@post-gazette.com, 412-290-2183 and Twitter @stephenjnesbitt.

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