It has been nearly four months since Duquesne's revamped roster opened the season, but, even after 23 games, the Dukes are missing the point.
And in basketball that's a big problem.
Duquesne coach Jim Ferry has become increasingly disenchanted with the point-guard play of sophomore Derrick Colter and freshman backup Desmond Ridenour.
The rudderless Dukes (10-13, 2-9 Atlantic 10) are on the road to face Rhode Island (11-14, 2-8) today after losing four games in a row and slipping into a four-way tie for last in the Atlantic 10.
When asked whether the prototypical point guard for his up-tempo, transition offense would be a distributor or a scorer, Ferry answered "both."
"I want five guys on the floor to be scoring threats, but we've got to make the right decisions first," he said.
Ferry offered Jason Brickman, his former point guard at LIU-Brooklyn, as an example. Brickman leads Division I with 9.9 assists per game as a senior this season and has also seen a jump in his scoring each season.
"When we needed him to get 16 points per game, he could get it," Ferry said. "A lot of that had to do with decisions. When you're open, shoot it. When you're not, make plays for others."
The problem is Duquesne's point guards haven't played either role -- scorer or distributor -- very well lately. In the past four games, Colter and Ridenour have scored a combined 32 points (11 percent of the team's production) and have more turnovers (12) than assists (10).
Colter, one of two returning starters from last season, has been limited to three points in three of the Dukes' past four games.
Last season, Colter was Duquesne's leading scorer (13.5 points per game) and distributor (5.2 assists per game), but he's down to 9.3 points and 3.4 assists per game this season.
Ferry said it's easier to teach a good decision-maker to score than it is to teach a scorer to make better decisions.
"Scorers are scorers," Ferry said. "Guys that are true point guards play with vision.
"Derrick was a scorer in high school. My thing is: well, play like a scorer now, too, then. He's kind of caught in the middle, not doing either very well right now. You get to the Atlantic 10, and there are bigger guards, and it has affected him a little bit."
Rhode Island and Duquesne find themselves in similar positions in many respects. Both have lost four games in a row, are 2-8 in the Atlantic 10, have lost eight of their past 10 games and had eight wins last season, their first year under a new head coach.
"It's two teams that are fighting for the same thing right now," Ferry said. "It's going to come down to who defends the best, plays harder and gets the game played to their style."
Stephen J. Nesbitt: firstname.lastname@example.org, 412-290-2183 and Twitter @stephenjnesbitt.