Viral sensation Duquesne bringing aggressive appraoch to face UMass basketball

By KYLE GRABOWSKI

Staff Writer

Published: 01-27-2023 7:15 PM

AMHERST — Duquesne drew national attention this week when a YouTube prankster walked onto the court during play impersonating a DoorDash delivery driver. The Dukes handled Loyola Chicago on Wednesday to win their 14th game of the season, more than doubling their total from a year ago.

UMass’ players saw the video online ahead of Saturday’s 4 p.m. matchup at the Mullins Center (NESN+).

“I want to know who ordered that, and at the same time you’ve got to have the presence and the knowledge to not just walk on the court,” guard T.J. Weeks Jr. said. “You see the guy with the ball In the corner, the play going on right where you’re standing there in the middle of the play.”

Frank Martin was more concerned with how the Minutemen will slow down Duquesne guards Dae Dae Grant and Jimmy Clark III. Grant scores 15 points per game and his 41.2 percent of his 3-pointers, eighth in the Atlantic 10. Clark scores 12 per game and is second in the league at 2.1 steals per game. He leads Duquesne in scoring during conference play.

“Aggression, when I see them play that’s the word that comes to me, how aggressive they are offensively and defensively,” Martin said. “They’re ball hawks on defense. If you’re loose with the ball, they’re coming after that ball. Offensively they’re fearless.”

Martin compared them to La Salle’s guards, which caught fire against the Minutemen in the second half of the Explorers win in the Mullins Center. They’ll miss shots at times, but other times everything they throw up goes in, which makes them even more aggressive.

They’ve got what I call hard shot makers. At any second they can break a play down and get a hard basket on their own,” Martin said. “Those are the guys that worry you. It’s easy to guard structure. It’s hard to guard confident players, and he’s got some really, really confident players.”

Duquesne (14-7, 4-4 Atlantic 10) sits atop a heap of four teams at 4-4 in league play, holding down sixth in the league standings. The Dukes are a game behind Fordham for fifth. They just broke a two-game losing streak but are only 1-4 on the road.

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Picked 15th in the conference preseason poll, Duquesne brought in five transfers and five freshmen.

“We live in this transfer moment. Obviously they didn’t have a good year last year. If you go through (Duquesne coach) Keith (Dambrot’s) career, everyone reacts to last year. Then you’re gonna say ‘oh they stink,” Martin said. “If you go through Keith’s career, he’s never had a bad team. Last year was the first time. He brought in a bunch of new guys, and I think he’s got guys that play more to his liking. They’re really aggressive on defense. They rebound the heck out of the ball.”

UMass (12-8, 3-5) rebounded with a statement win over Richmond on Wednesday. The Minutemen held the Spiders scoreless for the final 3 minutes, 6 seconds and ended on a 12-0 run.

“We’re upbeat, but we’ve got to come back down and prepare again. We can’t be too high off the win,” Weeks said. “We’ve got to come back and work so we can build off the win.”

Weeks spent the Richmond game on the bench in sweats along with Noah Fernandes, who missed his fourth game in a row, after tweaking an ankle against Saint Joseph’s last weekend. He “came back wobbling,” according to Martin but was cleared by the medical staff. Weeks was sore Wednesday and didn’t participate in practice Thursday but participated in a full practice Friday.

Fernandes practiced for about an hour Friday but will still be a game-time decision Saturday against the Dukes.

“He’s moving pretty good,” Martin said. “You’ve got to be at peace with your body. If not, you can’t go.”

Kyle Grabowski can be reached at kgrabowski@gazettenet.com. Follow him on Twitter @kylegrbwsk.]]>