Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Dukes Downplay Matchup, but Eye an Upset

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Dukes Downplay Matchup, but Eye an Upset

Article excerpt

Heading into its annual matchup against Pitt, Duquesne's pregame talking points remained the same, at least publicly, as if it was preparing for Mississippi Valley State instead of a rival who has pummeled it for the greater part of the past three decades.

Dukes coach Jim Ferry said his team is focusing on itself. Guard Derrick Colter stressed the importance of sticking to the game plan. Even guard Micah Mason, who grew up within 25 miles of both schools, described it as "just another game."

Wedged between, though, were kernels of something more insightful, something that characterizes Duquesne's mindset heading into the game.

"This is the most confidence we've had going into the Pitt game," Mason said.

The statement was far from inflammatory, nor was it an indictment of the opponent. If anything, it's a point that's hard to argue.

After three years of building under Ferry, the Dukes (6-1) enter today's City Game with as good of a chance as they've had in years to defeat their higher-profile, more-accomplished neighbor, something they haven't done since 2000. If there was ever any feeling of being overwhelmed in the past, that's no longer the case.

"This is the first year where we didn't have to reintroduce every single drill," Ferry said. "We're significantly further ahead. Now, you can start to look at our program and say 'OK, I see what the plan is and I see where it's trying to get to.' We're at that stage right now."

A victory against the Panthers would not only be a statement for Ferry and his team, but it also would, at least temporarily, help energize a series that has recently been as much of a rivalry as the Harlem Globetrotters and Washington Generals.

Pitt has won 33 of the past 36 meetings dating to 1982 and has claimed the past 14 games. The Panthers have not only won, but have usually done so decisively, as only two of their past 14 wins came by fewer than 10 points. …

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