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Duquesne vows to prove toughness on glass in City Game | TribLIVE.com
Duquesne

Duquesne vows to prove toughness on glass in City Game

John Harris
| Thursday, December 4, 2014 10:51 p.m
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Sidney Davis | Trib Total Media
Duquesne's Micah Mason, who averages 13.5 points, will lead the Dukes against Pitt on Friday in the annual City Game at Consol Energy Center.
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Pitt's Josh Newkirk plays against Samford on Sunday, Nov. 16, 2014, in Pittsburgh.

Duquesne coach Jim Ferry questioned his young team’s toughness, and then repeated his words to make them stick.

“Let me say that again, I’m not sure if we’re tough enough to compete on the glass,” said Ferry, whose team faces Pitt on Friday night at Consol Energy Center. “We’re going to find out.”

Duquesne hasn’t outrebounded Pitt since 2000. That was also the last time the Dukes won the annual City Game. The third-year coach believes that’s no coincidence.

“We have to rebound to compete with these guys,” Ferry said.

In 2000, Duquesne won 71-70 with a 34-29 advantage in rebounds. Pitt has outrebounded the Dukes in all 13 matchups since, and in nine of those times the rebound difference between the two reached double digits.

Twice in the past four seasons, Pitt outrebounded Duquesne by more than 20. The rebound total last season was 45-31 in Pitt’s favor, and the Panthers won 84-67.

“They killed us on the glass,” Duquesne junior Jeremiah Jones said. “That’s what really hurt. That’s a big part of what they do. … We played well in the first half last year and a portion of the second half, but they dominated us on the glass. If we want to win, we can’t let that happen.”

Pitt has rebounded well again this season, especially on the offensive end. The Panthers rank 14th nationally in offensive rebounds per game (15.43) and 30th in rebounding margin (+8.9).

Sophomore forward Mike Young leads with 55 rebounds including 30 offensive boards. With 21 of each, senior forward Derrick Randall has just as many offensive rebounds as defensive.

“Young had 10 offensive rebounds in one game, and so did Randall,” Ferry said. “They’re getting 50 percent of their misses back, which is outrageous. If we allow them to get 50 percent of their rebounds back, then we’re going to find ourselves in a difficult situation.”

Duquesne’s lineup is different than what Pitt faced last season. Junior guard Micah Mason (Highlands), the Dukes’ leading scorer (13.5 ppg), missed last season’s matchup with a broken hand. But it’s the frontcourt that has undergone the most drastic overhaul.

“We have more than two (forwards), that’s the biggest difference,” Ferry said. “They wore us down. They crushed us on the glass. I think now we have more length at the forward position and more bodies to throw out there.”

A year ago, a lack of depth kept Ovie Soko on the floor for 36 minutes and Dominique McKoy for 24. Ferry used only two forwards off his bench, both freshmen. Darius Lewis saw 10 minutes, and L.G. Gill played two.

Now a sophomore, Gill (6-foot-7) starts alongside freshman TySean Powell (6-6), with senior McKoy (6-8), sophomore Lewis (6-11) and freshman Jordan Robinson (6-8) available on the bench.

Gill, with 15 rebounds, had a career-high eight in Tuesday’s victory over Howard. Jones, a 6-3 small forward, and 6-5 freshman guard Eric James lead the team with 19 rebounds apiece. Mason (6-2) is next with 17.

Ferry said he has seen his team play physical in spurts, but hasn’t seen that toughness sustained.

“We might be (tough enough),” Ferry said. “But you have to do it for 40 minutes, and that’s where my concern is.”

Chris Harlan is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at charlan@tribweb.com or via Twitter @CHarlan_Trib.

Categories: Duquesne | Pitt
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