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Duquesne MBB releases non-conference slate

Akron, OH — The Duquesne men’s basketball team unveiled its non-conference schedule Thursday afternoon and it includes contests against NCAA Tournament participants Marshall and Radford, NIT champion Penn State and NIT participant Notre Dame.

Here is the full schedule as it lays out:

Nov. 10 vs William & Mary

Nov. 12 vs UIC

Nov. 17 vs Radford

Nov. 20 @ Notre Dame

Nov. 25 vs UMass Lowell

Nov. 30 vs Pitt @ PPG Paints Arena

Dec. 5 vs Marshall

Dec. 9 vs Longwood

Dec. 13 vs Maryland Eastern Shore

Dec. 16 vs Maine

Dec. 19 vs Penn State @ PPG Paints Arena

Dec. 22 vs Eastern Kentucky

Dec. 31 vs NJIT

“In year two we tried to upgrade our schedule a little bit,” Duquesne men’s basketball coach Keith Dambrot said. “Obviously last year with eight scholarship players, we knew what we were getting into and kind of monitored who we played. We haven’t gone full-blown into a high-major scheduling but we took a big jump when you figure we have Notre Dame, Penn State and then Marshall and Radford. It is a very improved schedule, but with that being said, a lot of home games which really gives you an advantage.”

In this schedule, Duquesne faces two opponents that were on last season’s schedule in Pitt and Maryland Eastern Shore.

Pitt has been an annual game for 49 seasons now and the rivalry will be played for an 87th time with the Panthers winning 16 of the last 17 contests played between the two teams including a 76-64 Dukes loss last season. Jeff Capel was hired by Pitt to be its coach this offseason which will provide a new wrinkle.

Duquesne beat Eastern Shore 86-61 Dec. 4 but the Hawks now have a new coach in Clifford Reed Jr. who was given the interim honor in March.

After a season off, Duquesne has resumed its contest with Penn State. Penn State won last year’s NIT defeating Temple, Notre Dame, Marquette, Mississippi State and then Utah in the finals. Former Duquesne coach Jim Ferry is currently on the Penn State coaching staff as an assistant coach.

Notre Dame just missed out on an NCAA Tournament berth but has seemingly been a perennial powerhouse led by coach Mike Brey and Duquesne’s lone true road game, which comes as part of the Gotham Classic. Duquesne leads the overall series advantage 5-2, but the two teams have not played since 1995.

The Marshall contest is the first of seven straight at home. This is the first meeting between these two teams since 1978.

More over, Duquesne will get to experience Marshall coach Dan D’Antoni, who is a noted fan of analytics.

Additionally hosts a Radford team led by coach Mike Jones which won its First Four NCAA Tournament game last season, before falling to Villanova at PPG Paints Arena,

Duquesne also faces the University of Illinois-Chicago which advanced to CIT finals among other teams.

This non-conference schedule joins with the announced Atlantic 10 home and road pairings which were revealed mid-June which are as follows:

Home: Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Saint Joseph’s, VCU

Away: Davidson, George Mason, La Salle, Richmond

Both: Dayton, Fordham, George Washington, St. Bonaventure, Saint Louis

Duquesne’s non-conference slate is similar to last year in the sense of being very home heavy. Dambrot has repeatedly stated in the past that in order to be a good team, 90% of home games must be won, and that will be put to the test this season.

The Dukes were 13-6 at the A.J. Palumbo Center last year.

Last season, Duquesne was 16-16 and earned a first-round bye in the Atlantic 10 Championships before falling to Richmond.

Duquesne returns two starters from that team in junior guard Mike Lewis II (14.4 ppg/82.6 FT%) and sophomore guard Eric Williams Jr (14.3 ppg/8.8 rpg).

This season will have a much different look to it with Duquesne recruiting several post players, something which fits Dambrot’s overall vision both offensively and defensively.

Dambrot likes hard-nosed defense and tries to get post touches to force opponents to match up, something which can be uncomfortable especially now with Duquesne’s depth which can be used to sub in and keep a similar edge.

Still with many new faces, Dambrot will have to put his team through the paces to meet his expectation, something which earned him the nickname “tasmanian devil” from last year’s team.

“We have to put in our work really,” said Dambrot. “We have to make sure that we’re prepared to play good basketball early. We have to be in great conditioned and settled into what we want to accomplish, and build it at the defensive end first. If you keep it simple, you have a much better chance to win games.”

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