December 2, 2016
I tried a new approach for City Game Day 2016: negativity. Most years I write stuff about how it’s the day anything can happen for Duquesne fans. The day we get to flirt with glory and the local limelight. Not this year. I went salty and it worked great. Here’s an actual text I sent to another Duquesne alum and long time fan, like myself, just after parking my car.
I’m not even sure why I even left the house tonight.
After sending that text, I noticed a tweet from Zach Weiss that Jamel Artis would miss the City Game due to suspension and the usual City Game Day hope crept in. I had to smash it down and remind myself that only negative energy could fuel the Dukes to a win this year.
As luck would have it, I was randomly seated next to another long time fan who I’ve spent many a summer league night with checking out the future of Duquesne basketball. Normally as positive as you can get, he seemed to be taking the same tact as myself for this one. He declared that he’d be happy if the Dukes trailed by five or less at the half regardless of what happened in the second. I congratulated him on his win for the evening at the break as he headed up the steps to the Captain Morgan Club bar to celebrate his moral victory. Sincerely, I was also pleased.
When the Dukes roared out to an early nine point lead, the old City Game me snuck back out from the part of my brain that I was repressing and I began to believe that the Dukes might pull it off. A three-quarter court press that set up a stifling wall of 6’6” or taller guards in Pitt’s 3-2 zone reminded my joy-in-waiting of where to go. Just as he returned to the shadows, Rene Castro hit a late shot clock three he had no business making. To me, that was the turning point that ultimately restored the lead to Duquesne for good. Of course, I didn’t allow myself to celebrate fully until Eric James sank his second free throw before he went all Troy Polamalu on Chris Jones’s notably telegraphed pass to the wing on Pitt’s third-to-last possession leading to a breakaway dunk.
Then and only then could I actually believe. Duquesne fans celebrated like the Cubs winning the World Series or Browns fans beating the Steelers. The fans stormed the court and we chanted in the streets. People drove by honking. For some (not me), this is still the most important game for Duquesne of the season. It’s not, but most who attended likely had no plans to come to another game this year. Hopefully that changes, but it won’t if the Dukes can’t beat Robert Morris in the same venue on Tuesday night.
December 15, 2012
I was still aglow from the Dukes win over West Virginia four days earlier as I bought my ticket at the Sewall Center. It was an ugly contest against a relatively weak WVU team, but a win is a win and Jim Ferry in his first year did something to restore some street cred to the program and beat a team we had no business beating, something the recently fired Ron Everhart rarely managed.
It was a relatively large crowd at the Sewall Center, swelled by a ton of Duquesne fans making the short trip to Moon Township. If I had to guess, I’d have said the Dukes were equally represented in the stands against the home standing Colonials. After beating WVU, a win against Robert Morris seemed like a given, even if we’d lost a couple of fluky contest to them in a row. We had a new coach who had done well against Andy Toole in conference while he was at LIU. The Dukes had all the momentum in the world or so it seemed. I sat with a handful of Yuku Dukes readers and we speculated on the margin of the impending Duquesne victory.
The Dukes lead by five at the 12:10 mark in the first half when I heard someone exclaim from a galaxy far far away…
Admiral Ackbar was correct. It was a trap. The Dukes got absolutely stomped in the second half by a Robert Morris team that just seemed to want it more. After Duquesne trailed by only one at the half, the Colonials outscored them by 21 in the second. All the good will from the WVU game vanished in 20 minutes of atrocious basketball.
December 6, 2016
The Dukes are gearing up for another trap game against Robert Morris. This time it will have the added importance for the Colonials as they’re moving the County Game to the PPG Paints Arena for the first time. Truly, this is a big game for Bobby Mo, likely the biggest of their 2016-17 schedule and probably the most important game of some of their current players’ careers. Don’t think for a second that a win over the school from Oakland guarantees anything over the school from Moon.
The Dukes can’t let up. Ferry can’t let up. Some people said the City Game win secured the Duquesne coach another year in Pittsburgh. It didn’t. I thought he coached a very good game last night, something he is very capable of doing. Some people said this team might be turning a corner. I hope that is indeed true and I hope they use their confidence to believe that they can not only beat Robert Morris but dominate them as well. They are good enough to hang an ugly loss on the Colonials, but they need to want it as badly as they wanted a City Game win. They need to respect Robert Morris as a goodwill vampire. The Colonials would love bite the Dukes in the neck and suck out some of the Dukes goodwill with a surprise victory. They’ve done it in the past and would gladly do it again.
But more importantly the Dukes need to believe they can beat anyone they play. They can. This is a pretty damn good team despite their record. In truth, it’s the best core of freshmen and sophomores they’ve had since the year they went to the Atlantic 10 finals in 2008-2009. The best thing for the program is for Jim Ferry to build on this momentum, find a way to save his job and then keep his core together moving forward. The first step is beating Robert Morris. As a fan, I’m not going to go into this game assuming anything the way I did on December 15, 2012. The Dukes can’t either or all the happy thoughts we’re having today will be flushed down the toilet.
And yes, I’m trying to be negative, because it worked really well on Friday!