Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Defensive Lapses Continue

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Defensive Lapses Continue

Article excerpt

Nine games into this season, something became obvious to Jim Ferry -- his Duquesne team was playing the wrong defense, like a square peg trying to fit into a round hole.

Ferry prides himself on being a man-to-man coach, but after exploring the issue, he decided it was time to commit to a 2-3 zone.

It was a move he believed would be the best for his team, but it became a theme for a Dukes squad that has spent much of the season searching for answers on defense.

Entering the game today against George Washington, the Dukes rank at or near the bottom in the Atlantic 10 and Division I in several key defensive statistics.

The Dukes are giving up 73.3 points per game, 319th among 351 Division I teams in scoring defense and last in the A-10. Duquesne's fast pace is one factor, but statistics that remove a team's tempo from the equation don't paint a flattering picture.

Duquesne is 322nd in Division I and last in the A-10 in defensive efficiency, allowing 110.4 points per 100 possessions. Kentucky is first in the nation, allowing 77.7 points per 100 possessions.

Ferry said he believes the Dukes (7-14, 2-8 A-10) are getting better, though they are still adjusting to a change in defensive schemes.

"We're trying to evolve and get better at it," Ferry said. "We've tried to simplify everything. My defensive scheme didn't fit the personnel we have. ... We thought it would, but it didn't."

Though Ferry is adamant about his team's defensive progress, there have been few statistical signs of improvement over the past few weeks. Duquesne's four worst performances, as measured by points per possession allowed, have come in its past five games.

The reasons for the defensive lapses are wide-ranging. The switch to zone has played a role, but so have Duquesne's struggles away from home. The Dukes are 6-6 at home, 1-7 on the road. …

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