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Scoring depth key to Dukes' success

Junior center Darius Lewis goes up for a dunk during the Dukes’ 95-75 win over the New Orleans Privateers. (Photo Courtesy of Joseph Guzy- The Duquesne Duke)

Men’s basketball head coach Jim Ferry spent all offseason focusing on the team’s defense, but on Monday night against New Orleans, the offense was in the spotlight.

Right from the start, the Dukes, who won 95-75, proved that their offense is explosive enough to generate big leads or quickly trim large deficits. Of course, the Dukes won’t convert six of their first eight 3-pointers every night, but it’s clear to see they are a phenomenal shooting team.

Senior shooting guard Micah Mason has said multiple times that all he cares about is winning, not the 3-point percentage record. But for Duquesne to win, Mason needs to shoot more than he ever has before. During his freshman season at Drake University in Iowa, Mason only put up 3.8 shots per game. He raised that total to 12 shots per game a year ago. However, Mason is the most outstanding shooter on the roster, and he needs to increase that number to about 15 for Duquesne to be successful.

The good news is that both Ferry and Mason acknowledged this in the postgame presser after Mason scored a career high 28 points on 6-9 shooting from downtown in their matchup against the Privateers.

“I think the main thing is just being aggressive,” Mason said. “The coaches are telling me to stay aggressive every night and that’s what I’ve been doing and tonight, I got in a rhythm early.”

The Dukes might want to start making that a priority every night, getting Micah in a rhythm early. He is one of the most prolific shooters in NCAA history and it’s time for him to finally unleash on his opponents.

“He’s such a good person and he’s such a good basketball player,” Ferry said. “He’s been taught the right way to play, so he doesn’t want to shoot all the time. Yet, I’m telling him ‘no, we need you to be more aggressive’. This is the way we need Micah to play, it would help us tremendously.”

Not only is Mason’s shooting efficient, the whole Dukes offense showed its efficiency in the win over New Orleans. The Red & Blue finished the game with 25 assists on 32 field goals. A coach can’t ask for too much more than that.

The Dukes have a plethora of guys who can shoot from a distance, so if they continue to effectively spread the ball around, this team will be deadly from just about anywhere on the court.

One guy who displayed efficiency in fullest meaning of the word was Josh Steel. The freshman played 12 minutes, scored eight points, tallied two assists and was perfect from the field, including going 2-2 from behind the arc.

Senior Jeremiah Jones was another guy who displayed a high level of productivity as he shot 80 percent from the field and contributed three assists. In fact, the only player on the squad who shot less than 50 percent from the field was Derrick Colter, a guy that is the least of this team’s worries.

The bottom line is that even though this team doesn’t have a 25-point-per-night scorer, as a team they are going to be able to light up the scoreboard as well as anyone due to their efficiency. And if the guys can move the ball around and create open shots for one another like they did Monday night versus the Privateers, this team has a chance to really find some success this season.

*Originally published Nov. 17 for The Duquesne Duke Student Newspaper*

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