With Duquesne entering the end of a week-long break -- its longest of the Atlantic 10 slate -- coach Jim Ferry discussed the end of his team's six-game losing streak, the ramifications of that time off and an unappealing matchup against a Davidson team that ranks among the top 10 teams nationally in offensive efficiency (averaging 117.2 points per 100 offensive possessions).
Matchup: Duquesne (7-13, 2-7 Atlantic 10) at Davidson (14-6, 5-4), 7 p.m., today, John M. Belk Arena, Davidson, N.C.
TV, Radio, Internet: Atlantic 10 Network (PCNC locally), WJAS-AM (1320), iHeartRadio, GoDuquesne.com.
Duquesne: Coming off 62-54 victory Jan. 31 vs. George Mason. The win snapped a six-game losing streak. ... F Dominique McCoy had a career-high 16 rebounds in the win. ... Looking for first road win since Nov. 22 at Abilene Christian.
Davidson: Coming off 62-61 loss last Wednesday vs. St. Bonaventure. The loss was its first one at home this season. ... Five players are averaging double figures in scoring, a group led by G Tyler Kalinoski's 16.5 points per game.
Hidden stat: Three of Duquesne's nine Atlantic 10 games have come down to the game's final possession. The Dukes have gone 1-2 in those contests.
With with that losing streak finally over, is a week off in this kind of an instance a benefit or does it halt some of that progress?
“It’s a double-edged sword. You always want to roll in with confidence after a good win and you want to play right away. But at the same time, I think it allows us to really focus on ourselves and tighten some things up defensively. This week, we had some really good practices and we were really focused on ourselves and tweaked a couple of things. We started preparation today [Thursday] for Davidson. I’ll take it either way. I would have liked to have played sooner, but we had this little break and I thought we used it to really help ourselves.”
Was the end of that skid a burden off your team’s shoulders?
“We never even talked about the losing streak. It’s always one day at a time and one game at a time. We never even talked about the losing streak, to be honest with you. Every game is different and every game that was played was significantly different. It was more about getting better and getting prepared for the next game.”
Nonetheless, have you noticed a difference in your team this past week, having finally gotten a win?
“Always after a win, there’s significantly more confidence in young guys, so you saw that. I thought we had some pretty good practices leading up to this game right now. We’re prepared. We have one more practice before we go out and play Saturday. The group looks good.”
In a number of offensive categories, Davidson’s one of the top teams in both the A-10 and Division I. From what you’ve been able to see of them on film, what makes their offense so good and so effective?
“They’re an exceptional, exceptional 3-point shooting team. They play really fast and they’re a rhythm team. They attack you on made baskets, missed baskets, steals. They play so fast and aggressive. They spread the floor and have at least four 3-point shooters on the floor at all times. And they’re really unselfish. They play really good motion offense. It’s a group that’s played off of each other and there are threats all over the place. It’s a high-octane team that can get 80 at any moment. They’re averaging about 27 [attempted] 3s per game and they’re making around 11 3s a game. That’s mainly what their game is – tempo and firing 3s.”
Your team’s obviously one that likes to play at a pretty fast pace, too. So even with those challenges on the offensive end, do you feel your guys might feel a sense of comfort playing that familiar tempo?
“We’ve been better against teams when it’s an up-tempo game, more so than when we’ve been against a team that wants to grind it and pack it in. Hopefully, we can come out with great energy and defend the 3-point line well. Then we can get our game going by getting tempo and pushing it back at them. It’s going to be interesting to see how it plays out. It still comes down to defending the 3-point line, rebounding and executing against them offensively.”
This season, your team has struggled on the defensive end. Against a good 3-point shooting team with so many weapons, how do you feel like you guys match up?
“I don’t think anybody’s matched up really well against these guys in the league. They really spread you out and shoot it. Hopefully our zone is going to keep us extended on the 3-point line and take us to the shooters quicker. I thought we did a good job last week of really crowding the paint and I feel like we have to adjust our zone differently in this game to extend and guard that line.”
Davidson has gone 5-4 in nine conference games after going 9-2 in non-conference games. Does that speak to the strength of the A-10? Or maybe just the difficulties and growing pains schools face in their first year in a new conference?
“I think it has more to do with how challenging the Atlantic 10 is. Every single night is a brutal night out. Everybody’s well coached, there’s good players, different types of styles from different teams. I think they’ve found it’s a little more difficult, like everybody else has, on the road in conference play. It’s tough. It’s a great conference from top to bottom. There’s no easy night out and you’ve got to play well every night. Whichever team does play well wins the game. I think that’s what all teams in our league are finding out, not just Davidson. Davidson’s a very, very good team that plays exceptionally at home. I think it shows how tough this league really is."