2008-09 Basketball Game Preview: Virginia Tech vs. Duquesne

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Virginia Tech hosts Duquesne tonight at 7pm in the first round of the 2009
National Invitation Tournament. The Hokies are the #2 seed in their bracket,
while the Dukes are a #7 seed despite making it all the way to the A-10 finals.
The winner will move on to face either Baylor or Georgetown.

Duquesne is coached by former Virginia Tech guard Ron Everhart, who was a
team captain back in the 1984-85 season. One of Everhart’s assistants, Steve
Hall, played for the Hokies for two seasons and was a captain of the 1992-93
team.

Everhart has done an excellent job for Duquesne, transforming a program that
won just three games the season before he arrived into a team that almost made
the NCAA tournament this year.

Duquesne
Basketball
Last Four Seasons
Season Record

2005-06

3-24

2006-07*

10-19

2007-08*

17-13

2008-09*

21-12

* Coached by Ron Everhart

Everhart has also turned around programs at McNeese State, where he was named
Southland Conference Coach of the Year in 2001, and Northeastern, where he was
America East Coach of the Year in 2005. Overall, he has a career record of 222
wins and 216 losses.

This is what his starting lineup looks like this year at Duquesne.


Duquesne Starting Lineup

Pos.

Name

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

PPG

RPG

Assists

G

Aaron Jackson

6-4

185

Sr.

18.5

5.6

184

G

Jason Duty

6-1

175

Jr.

7.4

1.8

44

G

Melquan Bolding

6-4

190

Fr.

9.7

4.3

36

G

Bill Clark

6-5

205

So.

13.2

5.1
89

F

Damian Saunders

6-7

210

So.

13.3

7.6

75

Everhart has the luxury of having the best point guard in the A-10 on his team.
Aaron Jackson is the only senior in the playing rotation, and he does it all for
the Dukes. He is their leading scorer, he has over twice as many assists as any
other player on the team, and he is their second leading rebounder.

Jackson was first team All-Atlantic 10, and he could potentially sneak his
way into the NBA Draft this summer. He likes to play the game at a very fast
pace, and he leads a 4-guard lineup that likes to drive and shoot the
basketball.

Containing and closing out will be the key to success for Virginia Tech in
this game. They have to contain Jackson and the other guards off the dribble,
and they have to close out on three-point shooters. Duquesne averages 24
three-point attempts per game. They live and die by the outside jumper. In many
ways, they are similar to Duke and Villanova.

Jackson is not the only talented player on Duquesne’s team. Melquan Bolding
originally committed to Louisville, but eventually ended up at Duquesne. He had
scholarship offers from a number of power conference programs, and he’ll likely
develop into the star of the Duquesne program after Jackson leaves.

Bill Clark and Damian Saunders are the biggest players in the starting
lineup, but they are the size of wings. They both average over 13 points per
game, and Saunders is the team’s leading rebounder.

Saunders is also a terrific shot blocker. As a team, Duquesne has 106 blocks
this year. Saunders has 78 of them, despite being only 6-7.

With so many guards in their starting lineup, Duquesne is an excellent
three-point shooting team. They shoot 35.2% from the outside as a team. They
have six very good three-point threats, including all five starters.

Duquesne
Three-Point Shooting
Name 3PM 3PA 3P%

Jason Duty
51 127 40.2%

Bill Clark
62 156 39.7%

Aaron Jackson
36 97 37.1%

Melquan Bolding
35 102 34.3%

Damian Saunders
35 102 34.3%

Eric Evans
36 125 28.8%

Duty is the Dukes’ top three-point shooter. He is a walk-on and not terribly
athletic, but shooting the basketball is his specialty. Evans comes off the
bench to average 9.7 points per game for Duquesne.

Obviously with such a small team, Duquesne is not a great rebounding team.
The Hokies should have an advantage on the boards, though they’ll have to go
small themselves to be able to guard against the Dukes’ three-point shooters.

Duquesne presents some matchup problems in this game, and it’s likely we’ll
see very little of Cheick Diakite and more of J.T. Thompson. Diakite struggles
defending on the perimeter, and Thompson is a much better option against a team
like Duquesne.

Overall, this is a much tougher game than the Hokies’ first round NIT
opponent last year, which was Morgan State. The Dukes have talent, they appear
to be well-coached, and they play in a solid conference. They have already
defeated Xavier and Dayton, two teams which earned at-large berths to the NCAA
tournament. They will not be an easy out for Virginia Tech, but the Hokies
should be able to win the game on their home court.

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