This is a weekly piece I will do for the blog which provide my thoughts and opinions on certain matters. This week I will lean Duquesne since I am consistently on campus and provide other local thoughts.
- Duquesne men’s basketball’s 67-65 road win against Saint Francis was by far its biggest win of the season. Yes Penn State was a big win, but it served more as note that the players have bought in and positioned themselves in a positive direction. The UW Milwaukee win was away from home but on neutral site and higher scoring where the Dukes are more comfortable. The win versus the Red Flash involved a game with scoring in the 60’s, a vanishing Houdini act on offense from Darius Lewis, a 1-for-11 performance from 3-point range in the second half, no one stepping on up offense besides Micah Mason and a lack of aggression in getting to the foul line in comparison to the opposition. Duquesne loses this game in every single way each of the past three years. It is a win against a weak NEC team, but this win positions them for a possible double-digit win total before Atlantic 10 play.
- Jeremiah Jones is the glue of the Dukes team. Everyone has looked at Mason and Derrick Colter but they need to look harder. Both have improved this season on both ends of the ball while embracing a leadership role but it is easy to tell when Jones is on the court. Saturday against Saint Francis, Colter was on the floor with four bench players and a six point lead became a two point deficit. After Duquesne tied the game, Jones came in, and immediately things began to settle down towards a pace the Dukes were more comfortable with. Jones is a natural leader and does not force his will upon players, but rather does it in a more reserved, yet healthy way. All three of these players will be hard to replace, especially if Rene Castro continues to play in his current form.
- Why is no one paying attention to the Duquesne women’s team? This is a 9-1 team (at the time of this writing) which leads the Atlantic 10 and really should be receiving votes towards the top-25 poll. One Pittsburgh columnist called this team “sturdy” and while it shows this team are winners, the term does not provide the necessary justice. This is a family from several parts of the world, which has not only won, but done so for years and will continue to do so. I called the Dukes an NCAA Tournament team going into the season and they still have work to do in order to make the tournament. The bench minus Conor Richardson and Deva’Nyar Workman need to step up and this needs to happen now, but the starting five have done a fantastic job on both ends of the ball while finding several different ways to win games this season. A team with this many new faces often takes time to gel, but this team has shown signs of already being in sync. That is dangerous to any opponent the Dukes face. I still have a very good feeling about this team.
- The Pirates made the right decision cutting their losses with Neil Walker. Covering the Pirates last season, I always enjoyed talking with Walker, but kept it to a minimum, because the poor man was approached by media every day. That is part of the territory of being from Pittsburgh and playing for the hometown team. This fact though is why he is an overrated baseball player. He could not hit left-handed pitching if his life depended on it. The Pirates knew this and would start Josh Harrison against lefties on occasion towards the end of the season. Walker did not like that, but it was clear he knew he was struggling against southpaws. Walker’s defense also needs work, to put it nicely. The many shifts the Pirates employ masked that, however being with the Mets, he will not shift nearly as much and he will be exposed. Fans will miss him, but Harrison’s glove at second base will be welcome.
- Pedro Alvarez had to go. This is the most obvious point I can make. Alvarez was very misunderstood by many fans and media. Some of that is on him and his very limited access but a lot of that is also on the media who elected to throw him under the bus. Alvarez busted his butt while he was with the team and he did not want to leave this team. He wanted playing first base to work, but it did not. The team essentially conceded that each time Sean Rodriguez would jog out there in the seventh inning of a game. Alvarez needs to land with an American League team and the Baltimore Orioles would be a great destination for him, assuming Chris Davis does not land there.