As we count down the days to the start of the 2018-19 season, A10 Talk will be brining you its preseason power rankings, as voted on by its team of writers. We continue the countdown with #7 Duquesne Dukes.
Returnees to Watch
Duquesne is in an interesting position this year with only two main contributors returning. However, both Eric Williams Jr. and Mike Lewis start this season inside of our Top 25 Player Rankings, placing 15th and 12th, respectively. Williams Jr. made an immediate impact for the Dukes last season, averaging 14.3 points and 8.8 rebounds per game. His best game last season came against George Mason, where he scored 34 points on 9-15 shooting from deep, collected 11 rebounds, and led the Dukes to a double overtime win. Last season, he shot 36.4% from deep. If he can take the next step, and improve his 3pt shooting percentage to 40%, he will put himself in the First Team All-Conference discussion. He will likely have to force up many fewer shots this season since there will be significantly more talent surrounding him.
Mike Lewis has led the Dukes in scoring for the past two seasons, averaging 14.4 points per game his sophomore year. Before Duquesne’s horrid stretch to end the season, Lewis was in serious contention for All-Conference honors. Not only was he the leader of an incredibly young team last season, but he managed to score over 20 points eight different times, including a heroic 11 points (25 total) in a triple overtime victory against La Salle. Lewis will be the only important player returning with more than a years experience under his belt, so Dambrot will likely lean on him and hope that he can lead a team with 11 new players on it.
Newcomers to Watch
While there are 11 newcomers eligible to play this season, these three are players fans should be on the lookout for.
Bizeau enters as the most highly-touted of Duquesne’s deep Freshman recruiting class. The 6-11, four-star prospect from Plainfield Indiana was ranked 44th among centers in the country and was named to the Indiana All-Star Team coming out of high school. He’s incredibly agile for his size, quick on his feet, and is able to use his size to his advantage down low. He might be 6-11, but don’t be surprised if he shows his skill from deep, as he shot over 50% from the field in his final two high school seasons.
Dunn-Martin followed his coach from Akron to Duquesne after his freshman season. In his first year at Akron, he averaged only 4 points, 1 assist, and 10 minutes, per game. At only 5-8, Tavian will be one of the smallest guards in the league, however, given the length that this Duquesne team will have, he should have plenty of room to operate behind the arc, where he shot 38% during his freshman campaign.
Hughes made a few stops before finally arriving at Duquesne. As a 3-star recruit out of high school, Frankie committed to Louisville before getting his release and signing with Missouri. Frankie averaged 7.6 points and 19.3 minutes per game in his freshman season. He was the first Missouri player EVER to start a career with back-to-back 20 point games, and he also hit a game-tying three-pointer at the buzzer to force overtime against Auburn in the SEC Tournament. Despite that, Hughes decided to join Dambrot and Co. in Pittsburgh. He will likely play significant minutes right away and could be a surprise star in the A-10.
Games to Watch
Duquesne has a very difficult non-conference schedule this season, with three power-5 opponents on the slate. Their first big game is against Notre Dame in the Gotham Classic on November 20th. The other teams in the field include Radford, UIC, and William & Mary. The Dukes also have the annual “City Game” against Pittsburgh, where Duquesne will likely be favored for a change. Finally, the Dukes get to play Penn State, an NCAA Tournament hopeful, on December 19th. Duquesne’s final five games may determine the tone of the season for them this year, as they have to face George Mason, St. Bonaventure, Umass, Saint Louis, and Dayton, in succession.
The Dukes are in a much different position this year than they have been in a very long time. They’re now expected to win. Even though the preseason poll had them slated at 11th, Dambrot’s squad will be unhappy with any finish in the bottom half of the league. With Eric Williams Jr, Mike Lewis, and the slew of freshman and transfers that will be joining them, they finally have the talent to compete at the highest level in the A-10. Hopefully, with the renovations that will be coming to the Palumbo Center, and lofty expectations, Duke’s fans will start to fill the seats and make Duquesne an exciting place to play again.