Top 68 Team Previews: #45 Wisconsin Badgers
Jordan Taylor is one of the top returning players in college basketball. (Icon SMI)
By Kevin Mallory
Friday, August 19, 2011
Last Season: 19-13 (10-6)
Key Losses: Bill Clark, Damian Saunders
Coach: Ron Everhart
Projected Starting Lineup
PG: T.J. McConnell 6-2 So.
SG: Mike Talley 5-10 So.
SF: Sean Johnson 6-2 Jr.
PF: B.J. Monteiro 6-5 Sr.
C: Derrick Martin 6-9 Fr.
Key Reserves: Andre Marhold 6-6 Jr. SF, Eric Evans 5-11 Sr. PG
Last year the Dukes had a rollercoaster ride of a season. Starting on December 31, they won 11 consecutive games including an upset win over No. 19 Temple and received votes in the AP poll for three straight weeks at the end of January. Duquesne faltered, though, losing eight of its last 11 games.
With an undersized and young roster this year, the Dukes better buckle up, because this season could be an even wilder roller coaster ride. Duquesne is losing All-Atlantic 10 Second Team players Bill Clark and Damian Saunders. Clark was Duquesne's leading scorer and Saunders was the team's second leading scorer as well as a two-time A-10 Defensive Player of the Year. Saunders is also Duquesne's all-time leader in blocks, steals and starts.
Even though the Dukes are suffering major losses, they should have a bright future with three talented sophomores who will most likely start. T.J. McConnell headlines this sophomore class as last year's ECAC and A-10 Rookie of the Year. McConnell led the Dukes in assists with 140 and was fourth on the team in scoring, averaging 10.8 points per game. The sophomore guard should also be able to take over some of the defensive mantle from Saunders. He set a Duquesne record with 91 steals last season. Mike Talley started with McConnell 25 times and the sophomore duo should start each game together this year. Talley was Duquesne's fourth best assister and sixth highest scorer last season.
Duquesne's third starter will most likely be guard Sean Johnson. Johnson brings experience to the squad as a junior and also had the team's fifth highest point total last season.
This small lineup is the most talented group of players the Dukes have, but it could struggle rebounding. The Dukes also had a very quick and undersized starting lineup last season with Saunders, at 6-foot-7, being the only player above 6-foot-5. Duquesne will hope that B.J. Monteiro can fill the rebounding void left with the departures of Clark and Saunders. Monteiro should be the Dukes' top rebounder, shot-blocker and scorer. Last season he was third on the team in points and rebounds behind Saunders and Clark.
Derrick Martin, who sat out the 2010-11 season as a partial qualifier, will likely step in right away as the team's starting center. The 6-foot-9 freshman is a long, athletic big man who can run the floor and block shots.
Eric Evans saw a decent amount of action at guard last season, scoring about five points a game, and should make an impact this season off the bench.
The Dukes have a bright future but whether or not that future realizes itself this season remains to be seen. If they can overcome their youth and their lack of size, they could be very dangerous this season.