***NOTE: Because of the wacky A10 schedule for the Dukes this week, the normal Friday with the Fan feature with the esteemed, highly-regarded, tremendously good-looking, ultra-wealthy, Paul Giuffre was shifted to Tuesday this week.
Posted Tuesday, Feb. 23 -- 12:09 a.m.
Paul Giuffre attended Duquesne from 1983 through 1990. He wasn't on a 7 year plan. He went there both as an undergrad and for law school. He has been a college basketball and Dukes fan even longer. A Pittsburgh area native, Paul has followed Duquesne since 1968-69 NCAA tourney team, when his brother, also a Duquesne grad, began taking him to games. He has been a season ticket holder for longer than he'd like to admit. Each Friday -- and maybe against his better judgment -- Paul tackles five questions from the Post-Gazette's Duquesne basketball beat writer Colin Dunlap about coach Ron Everhart's squad.
Colin: You have to pick a team MVP right now not named Damian Saunders -- who do you go with?
Paul: Tough question. As anyone who has read this blog knows, I like Billy Clark's game. As does Damian, Bill does a lot of things other than score. And he found ways to score even when he was in that long shooting slump. But because of the slump I guess he would not be the not named Damian Saunders MVP.
So, how about Eric Evans. Evans has progressed more than anyone not 7'. All year Eric has shown he can take anyone off the dribble and has finished pretty well. But over the last 2 or 3 weeks, Eric has run the team very well. He continues to get to the rim, has made very good decisions about when to go and when not to, he has cut down on the TO's and he has really distributed the ball, getting his teammates better looks and making them better players. Exactly what a point guard needs to do.
I am sure even mentioning his name here will make apoplectic those people who have a need to pick on him, but I think Jason Duty's contribution to this program over the last 4 years needs mentioned. I am not saying Jason has the numbers to warrant him being the NNDSMVP. I just think his story is a great one. It was nice to hear and see the ovation he received Sunday.
Colin: This wide open style the Dukes have gone to the last few weeks has produced a few wins. But, is it conducive to long term defensive success?
Paul: Depends on how long term you mean.
I think Ron Everhart was not playing as wide open a style earlier in the year both because of some injury/health reasons and because he is trying to build a program for the future not just win games now. Trying to outscore your opponent is a tough way to build a successful D-1 program. Most (most, there have been exceptions) successful programs seem to be some of the better defensive teams year after year. So I don't think you are going to build a top-tier A 10 program relying on constantly playing an up and down game.
They have opened it up more but I think what Everhart and his staff have mixed it up nicely as of late. They have not gone to the all out run and gun sort of 1040 we saw a few years ago. Instead they use a little 1040 early then switch to a more traditional substitution pattern. By doing this and using guys a few less minutes the Dukes seem to be able to play more effective pressure D later in games. Their D dictates the tempo and really helps the offensive flow.
In interviews Ron has said the guys seem to like it and it seems to make them practice and play even little harder and with a little more enthusiasm. All good things.
Bottom line, I think the 'new' system can lead to wins now and to long term success.
Colin: Did Dayton lose that game or did Duquesne win it?
Paul: The Dukes won it. No question. It was close throughout. Each team did lots of the things it needed to do to win. The Dukes turned Dayton over with their pressure, which then created enough offense to win. Dayton took what the D was giving, mainly kick out 3's, and shot it well. Sure, Dayton missed a couple at the end, but if the Dukes make a couple more free throws or hit even one of their 3's down the stretch, those Dayton misses may have been meaningless.
Colin: OK, what's your opinion on the guys in the red and blue bodysuits?
Paul: Love 'em. Nearly every college game I watch there are some 'knuckleheads' like Red and Blue helping create 'atmosphere'. (I am using knuckleheads as a term of endearment, not a putdown.) I am glad to see it at Duquesne. I think it is silly to talk about them taking away from the cheerleaders or band or anything else. These games are supposed to be about supporting your team and having fun. These guys have put their, uhm...necks out there to try to help make Palumbo a real home court. And I think they are having fun with it and with their '15 minutes' of fame. Good for them. And if they are reading this - THANKS GUYS!
Colin: Does the recent play of Eric Evans -- he has been marvelous -- change the impact TJ McConnell and Michael Talley could potentially have?
Paul: I do not in any way mean this as a slight to TJ or Mike. I have heard nothing but great things about both - in regard to their play, their character and their work ethic. But I am not expecting either to come in here and take over and be a star as a freshman. Again nothing against either guy. It is just those kind of players are few and far between. I would love for both of them to prove me wrong. But I think, particularly at point guard, on a Ron Everhart team where a lot is required at the point, these guys will need some time to adjust to the college game. Having said this, the impact Eric's marvelous play could have is that it allows guys more time for those guys to be developed. It will allow Everhart to bring them around a little more slowly. He will be able to pick and choose how and when he uses them. This will be a great thing for the program. To have guys, talented guys, that you do not have to rely on, and therefore live and die with, from day one will be great, great thing for the Dukes. It will also be better for TJ and Mike.