Duquesne coach Jim Ferry joined the Atlantic 10 coaches teleconference Monday morning, two days after a thrilling buzzer-beating win against St. Bonaventure, to provide his insights on a few topics.
Opening statement ...
"I think we've been playing significantly better since the St. Joe's game. We went down and really competed well and played hard against VCU, and then this week I felt we really played well. Against Saint Louis I thought we played maybe our best game of the year. I thought we defended them well and really executed well. I think they're one of the best defensive teams in the country -- if not the best -- and we were able to shoot 50 percent from the field and score 72 points against them. We actually had two shots to win that basketball game, down one with under 30 seconds to go, and we missed some tough layups. They're a tough team to beat. I thought they played with just unbelievable poise, as a senior-laden team that has won championships usually do. We couldn't rattle them. It was a tough loss for us; our kids really took that one hard. We had to bounce back quickly against a really good St. Bonaventure team that had just played well and beaten La Salle. I thought that was just a great college basketball game. That's easy for me to say; I'm sure Schmitty [Bonnies coach Mark Schmidt] doesn't feel as great. The kids made plays all over the court for both teams. It was just an exciting basketball game. We had two free throws to tie the game or go up one with Derrick Colter, who is shooting like 75 percent from the foul line, and he missed both free throws. The kid was devastated, but we work on situations every day in practice, and the kids really reacted well. They stayed true to form and kept believing. St. Bonaventure missed two free throws. We executed the play we had practiced for Derrick, and he made a spectacular basket at the buzzer. It was a great win for us. It was needed, because we'd been playing well but just hadn't been able to get over the hump. It was a great win for us, and now we've got to just focus on getting better. More so, we have to get better defensively; we're not defending in Atlantic 10 play to the level we need to in order to win. Obviously, this league is a beast and there are some great players, but our defensive field-goal percentage is way too high. We have been competing on the glass better; we've out-rebounded our opponents the last two games, which is vital for us to have success. We've just to keep focused and keep getting better defensively to make sure we're ready for the tournament.
On what this dramatic win can do for a team's mindset ...
"You hope it increases the team's confidence. This game is so fragile. We were 3.8 seconds away from losing five in a row, and now everybody is excited because Derrick's shot is on ESPN, and you win a game. It's so fragile because now there's a confidence level with the kids that they kept fighting, played really well at VCU and played great against Saint Louis and play well against St. Bonaventure. Now you win one like this and you hope it increases the confidence level. But more importantly, as a coach you hope the kids learn that the game is never over and why we do all the situations late in practice every day. You hope everybody understands that it's such a long season and we've got to focus on getting better. But in the short term, obviously, the confidence you get from winning this game ... what a turnaround for a kid; Derrick Colter misses those two free throws, and he's devastated, But what a lot of people don't realize is that his mindset to go foul right away when he missed that free throw gave us a chance to win that game. We all felt bad for Derrick at that point in the game. Here's a kid who is in the gym every single day; New Year's Eve, 11 o'clock at night the kid's in the gym working on his free throws, shooting jump shots. When he missed the free throws, my first thought was, 'Oh man, I've got to make sure I go hug this kid at the end of the game if we don't win it.' And then we have a chance and he makes the basket, so I think everybody felt great for him, and I think the team feels good that we're headed in the right direction.
On what's working on offense ...
"I think we're playing really unselfishly. We're sharing the basketball. Our spacing has been great. I think we've tightened up our execution. And a big key has been we've out-rebounded our last two opponents, and that's something we always talk about, because we can play so quickly in transition if we can rebound the basketball in this league. I think some of those easy baskets are now putting pressure on people. And, obviously, it's our ability to have five scorers on the floor at the same time. When we understand how to play the right way, and when we do play the right way -- unselfishly, with ball movement and player movement -- we can be difficult to guard. It's the defensive side of the ball that we have to get significantly better at quickly for us to really compete in this league.
Any update on Jordan Robinson?
"You know what? There is.
"Yeah, and it's not good for the Dukes. Jordan is going to sit out this year. He's on scholarship. He's in school. He is not able to practice, and he is not able to compete. ... What do you want to call it, a partial? I guess, because he's able to keep his scholarship. It's disappointing, real disappointing, but he's taken it well. He'll have four years of eligibility after this."