City Game II: Local pride on the line when Robert Morris battles Dukes
Share with others:
The way senior guard Eric Evans describes it, Duquesne's rivalry with Robert Morris simply is about pride.
"We're friends. Just like the Pitt guys, we get on the court, it's a whole different story," Evans said. "We all want to get the upper hand on the other."
Expect every shot, loose ball and rebound to be contested tonight when Duquesne (5-3) plays host to Robert Morris, which is off to a program-best 6-2 start.
And a year ago the Colonials beat the Dukes, 69-63, after trailing by 13 at the half, stoking the heat of the rivalry.
- Matchup: Robert Morris (6-2) vs. Duquesne (5-3), 7 p.m. today, A.J. Palumbo Center.
- Radio: WPGB-FM (104.7).
- Duquesne: Coming off a 77-67 victory against Tennessee Tech. ... F Andre Marhold grabbed a career-high 11 rebounds. ... The Dukes got 10 fastbreak points, all in the second half. ... Leading scorer Sean Johnson had 25 points vs. Tennessee Tech and is averaging 17.9 per game. ... B.J. Monteiro is scoring 14.8 per game. ... Outrebounded Tennessee Tech, 37-33. ... G T.J. McConnell had a career-tying worst five turnovers in previous game.
- Robert Morris: Beat Duquesne, 69-63, a year ago. ... Coming off a 69-51 Northeast Conference victory against Monmouth. ... Is off to a program-best 6-2 start under second-year coach Andy Toole. ... Have held opponents to just 40 percent shooting. ... Force 16.5 turnovers a game as a team. ... Leading scorer is G Velton Jones (17.9 ppg).
- Hidden stat: In eight games this year five different Duquesne players have led the team in scoring or tied for the team lead: Johnson, Monteiro, Andre Marhold, Eric Evans and Kadeem Pantophlet.
"I think our guys remember the losses, no matter who it is," Duquesne coach Ron Everhart said. "But when it's a rival, and a school here in town, obviously it's one that gets their attention a little more."
Paramount for the Dukes will be defending Colonials guard Velton Jones, who is scoring 17 points a game and had a 38-point performance against James Madison earlier this season.
"We know he'll be real active and tough," Evans said. "We know he likes to get to the basket and draw fouls. He shot 24 free throws in one of his games."
Jones has 34 assists on the year, 15 steals and is 47 for 65 (72 percent) from the free-throw line.
"He's really good. He has the ability to take a lot of teams and change their level because he's a tough guy who can get in the lane and score, also a good passer," Everhart said. "For that team he's also a really good leader."
Robert Morris shooting guard Coron Williams and forward Russell Johnson are scoring 13.8 and 9.5 points a game.
Colonials coach Andy Toole, who is in his second season with Robert Morris, said the key for his team will be defusing the Dukes' ability to force turnovers.
Duquesne has the best turnover margin in the Atlantic 10 Conference with a plus-7.5 per game.
"They make the game so hectic," Toole said. "They turn you over so much. They make you question your decision-making and it puts a lot of stress on your offense.
"We also need to not allow them transition buckets."
Toole said he will use the surprising victory a year ago as a coaching tool heading into the game.
"That was a really good win for us last year. You have to remind them of what it took to have that happen," he said. "Make sure they understand how hard it was, how well you have to defend. Down the stretch, we had some guys make some really big plays. If we want to have similar success [tonight] we're going to have to have a total team effort."
The two teams are expected to match up well when it comes to playing style and size. Both like to run the court, and neither has an overpowering inside game.
"They play a similar style, like to run, like to rebound just like we do," Evans said. "They have a few good shooters, a few good athletic guys."
Tonight marks the first of two in-state rivals this week for Duquesne, with Penn State on tap Saturday at Consol Energy Center.
"These are two great opportunities to play local teams. We're playing the two of them back to back," Everhart said. "But we kind of want to continue to focus on doing what we do and not spend too much time on what our opponent does."
NOTE -- Junior guard Sean Johnson , who leads Duquesne with 17.9 points per game, has put up at least 13 points in every game this season. ... Robert Morris freshman forward Lucky Jones was named NEC rookie of the week. He averaged 12.0 points and 6.5 rebounds in two victories last week.
First Published December 6, 2011 12:00 am