Game 12: Duquesne Preview

Freshman point guard Derrick Colter has filled the shoes of transfer T.J. McConnell very nicely thus far.

After their most comprehensive victory of the season against New Hampshire, the Nittany Lions will close out their non-conference schedule against an inconsistent Duquesne.

Who: Duquesne Dukes (7-6)
When: Saturday, 4:00 PM
Where: Bryce Jordan Center
TV: ESPN3.com

Penn State is riding their biggest high of the season after thrashing UNH last Sunday 72-45. The Lions reached the Big Mac threshold for the third straight game and had four scorers in double figures for just the second time this season. They'll seek revenge against a Dukes squad that bested them 66-59 a year ago in Pittsburgh.

Duquesne comes in to this game a week removed from an embarrassing 12-point away loss to a 5-9 Louisiana-Lafayette team, a game in which the Dukes gave up 91 points to their Sun Belt foes. This season, they have suffered defeat at the hands of Robert Morris, North Dakota St., Albany, and noted cupcake Pitt. However, the Dukes have the ability to beat a major conference, as evidenced by their 60-56 win over West Virginia earlier this month (suck it, Staten).

The Dukes are led by true freshman point guard Derrick Colter, who is averaging 13 points and 5 assists a game thus far. Colter was largely unheralded as a recruit; most recruiting services only list other offers from High Point, Quinnipiac, Western Kentucky and DePaul, so it appears first-year head coach Jim Ferry has found a diamond in the rough to replace T.J. McConnell, who transferred to Arizona this summer.

Ferry squared off against Pat Chambers last season as head coach of LIU-Brooklyn, a game won by Penn State 77-68. Ferry led the Blackbirds to two straight NCAA Tournament berths out of the NEC, where he consistently had one of the highest scoring teams in the nation (81 ppg as a team last season). His short sample size at Duquesne has proven less fruitful, as the Dukes are "only" averaging 70 points per contest through 13 games (Penn State is averaging 64 by comparison).

Duquesne's biggest strength comes on the glass, where they average 40 boards a game, good for 32nd in the country (PSU is 135th at 36.3 rpg). The Dukes have five players averaging four or more rebounds per game. Senior guard Sean Johnson averages 4.2 rpg of his own in addition to scoring 13 points per game, good for second on the team. He and Colter will be the focus of much of Penn State's defensive effort.

With Tim Frazier out for the season (PennLive had an excellent feature on the senior today), the Lions have really begun to share the load on offense lately. With the emergence of Sasa Borovnjak since he was given a starting role, Penn State has no less than four players that are capable of putting together 10-point outings. Jermaine Marshall and D.J. Newbill are the obvious choices, but Borovnjak, Ross Travis and Brandon Taylor have all shown that they are able to put up supplementary scoring to enable Marshall and Newbill more time and space on offense.

Obviously, the level of competition over the last few games has been less than B1G-worthy, but putting the ball in the basket has been the biggest issue with this team for quite some time. To see the job getting done without Frazier is a great sign, and the Lions should be able to handle this out-of-form Dukes squad if they can keep hitting shots at their current clip.


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