THE CONTENTS: No. 7 Duke battles Duquesne at 3 p.m. at Cameron Indoor Stadium today. You can see the game on ESPN with Bob Picozzi and Jimmy Dykes and hear it on 620 AM.
THE EXPOSITION: Duke (6-0) got a much-needed break after playing four games in eight days. The Blue Devils are coming off their 78-58 victory over Montana.
Duquesne (4-0) hasn’t exactly played top-flight competition yet. The Dukes have defeated High Point, Saint Francis (PA), Furman, and South Carolina Upstate. Duquesne was picked to finish 12th in the 14-team Atlantic-10 (that’s a lot of numbers). For context, Rhode Island was picked to finish ninth. It is the first Dukes game to be televised nationally since 1995.
Duke is 4-1 all-time against Duquesne, including a 3-0 mark in Durham.
THE PROTAGONISTS: The Blue Devils’ game against Montana was odd for a number of reasons, primarily because of the weird lineups Mike Krzyzewski had on the court for much of the game. With Greg Paulus out with his nagging forearm injury, we saw a little bit of Jon Scheyer and Elliot Williams at the point, with both proving serviceable. It will be interesting to see (a) if Paulus plays today; and (b) how he fits back into the rotation.
THE ANTAGONISTS: Duquesne had a surprisingly good season a year ago (its first winning campaign since 1993-94), but the Dukes are now one of the youngest teams in the country. Duquesne boasts eight freshmen and four sophomores on scholarship, with just one senior on the roster. That’s versatile senior Aaron Jackson, who’s played the 1, 2, and 3 in his first three seasons. Last season, Jackson averaged nine points per game; this season, he’s stuffing the statline with 17.3 ppg, 7.5 apg, 7.0 rpg, and 3.3 spg.
Duquesne likes to play fast, so expect this to be an uptempo game with Duke making a lot of substitutions.
THE CONFLICT: How do Duquesne’s youngsters handle the Cameron environment? It represents a sizable step-up from the Dukes’ first two road contests at Saint Francis (PA) and South Carolina Upstate.
WHY DUQUESNE?: With the football team hosting the James Madison Dukes earlier in the season, it looks as if the basketball team wanted to follow suit and play a team nicknamed the Dukes. Makes for easy headline-writing.
WHERE IS DUQUESNE?: Duquesne, of course, is in Pittsburgh, close to the old Fort Duquesne where a young George Washington completed one of his first military tasks by delivering a letter to the French. My 8th grade Social Studies teacher smiles.
NOTABLE DUQUESNE ALUMS: It would be obvious to point to German filmmaker Werner Herzog, but since he didn’t graduate and can’t then be considered an alum, I’ll go with everyone’s favorite ESPN NFL reporter, John Clayton. (NOTE: I’m being sarcastic with that “everyone’s favorite” business. Who doesn’t prefer Chris Mortensen?)
FUN FACT ABOUT DUQUESNE VIA WIKIPEDIA: It was founded in 1878 as the Pittsburgh Catholic College of the Holy Ghost before changing its name in 1911 to Duquesne University of the Holy Ghost.
TIM’S FAVORITE PLAYER IN DUQUESNE HISTORY IS…: Remarkably, I have never seen a Duquesne basketball game. Or sporting event, for that matter. Anyone I put here would be a lie.
WHAT THE LOCAL MEDIA ARE SAYING: “Welcome to Cameron Indoor Stadium, where three national championship banners hang from the rafters, where the Cameron Crazies do whatever it takes to unnerve opponents, where legendary coach Mike Krzyzewski roams the sideline and where the Duke Blue Devils almost never lose a game to a team not in the Atlantic Coast Conference.” — Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
DUQUESNE WILL PROVE TROUBLE IF…: Duke comes out flat on the day after Thanksgiving in front of a reduced crowd at Cameron. If Duquesne’s underclassmen get comfortable and confident early, the Dukes could stick around.
THE DENOUEMENT: Duke does come out a little flat, but the Dukes don’t take advantage. The Blue Devils push tempo, Duquesne complies, and Duke builds a big lead before the Dukes make it more respectable late. DUKE 80-62.