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The Dukes were just Tougher - Duquesne 71, Western Michigan 66

Written by Paul Zeise on .

The thing about tonight's game that jumped out at me is this:

Western Michigan was much taller than the Dukes, the Broncos play to their strengths well as they pack it in and try to pound it in but the Dukes found a way to win and they did so by doing the things they have done so well all year.

The Dukes lost the rebounding edge, true, but only by three -- 44-41 -- which tells me they fought and scratched and clawed to make it happen on the glass against a bigger, stronger team. 

Duquesne also hit 12 3-pointers, which helped negate some of that size disadvantage, and I also think the Dukes were smart in that they got the game moving up and down a little more than the Broncos wanted it to be.

Derrick Colter was outstaning on offense as he scored 25 points - he really hit some clutch shots and made some very nice passes to set up others and Sean Johnson added 18. I thought Johnson maybe had a couple of forced shots but for the most part those two really carried the load and did well offensively.

But this game was about toughness and rebounding and defense and Andre Marhold provided a lot of that under the basket while the Jones diuo really defended the heck out of Western Michigan star Nate Hutcherson.

I think this was a big bounceback sort of game for the Dukes as they needed an effort like this to get back on the winning track after that debacle against Robert Morris.

This team is tough and getting tougher - I think it will be a while and like I have written they are a few players short but you have to love the foundation that Jim Ferry is laying here with this team.

I know this is a long way off, but Ferry will have this team playing extremely hard just about every night and that is half the battle. 

People get caught up in Xs and Os and while there is a lot of that in any game, the reality is this - if you can get your kids to play as hard as they can play every night and get them to be tough, both mentally and physically, you have a chance in every game.

Butler coach Brad Stevens is a great coach, he is smart and has some good Xs and Os - but you know what Butler's edge is?

They are committed to playing as hard as they can possible play on every possession, they will defend you from the minute you get off the bus and they are as hard-nosed and tough as any team I've seen.

You have that trio going for you and add some talent and some guys who can put the ball in the basket and you have an excellent basketball team.

That's the vision Ferry has for the Dukes and nights like tonight reinforce to his players that all that hard work on rebounding drills and toughness drills is paying off.

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