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Fixing What’s Broken Because of Changing Something That Wasn’t

Micah Mason has a chance to be the most efficient 3-point shooter in NCAA history Photo courtesy of @StephenNesbitt

Micah Mason has a chance to be the most efficient 3-point shooter in NCAA history
Photo courtesy of @StephenNesbitt

Last season, Duquesne’s Micah Mason was one of the most reliable shooting guards in the country. He led the nation in three point shooting, offensive efficiency and nearly topped the NCAA in the assist to turnover ratio, falling one assist short of qualifying. The problem was he didn’t get enough touches and with the loss of the Atlantic 10’s leading scorer, Ovie Soko, Jim Ferry needed to get Mason more involved in the offense. One way to do it would have been to leave Mason at the two and run more designed plays for him. The other would be to move him to the point where he would control the offense.

Last season, Dominique McKoy finished in the top five single season field goal shooting percentage in Duquesne University history from the center position. While he might be a more natural power forward, he took full advantage of the space created for him opposite of Soko. Like Mason, he showed excellent efficiency.

Jim Ferry chose to change both players roles coming into the 2014-15 season. Mason would play the point and McKoy would come off the bench as a power forward. Mason started well enough at his new position with 13.5 points per game to go with 5 assists per in the first four games. While he passed the statistical test, he just didn’t look comfortable in his own skin. Against stiffer competition in the next four, he scored a total of twenty points with only three assists while shooting 18.4% from three. The discomfort turned to dysfunction and the team suffered as a result, averaging less than sixty points a game.

McKoy came off the bench presumably to create a spark inside, but he never got involved. While he possesses more skill than he needed to show last season, he just looked a little awkward facing up defenders compared to posting them up or catching the ball in stride for a lay up.

Yesterday, Ferry went back to what worked last year shifting Mason back to two and slotting McKoy back into the starting lineup. As a result, Mason found his grove from three going six for seven and McKoy got to play with guys he played with frequently last year. While he didn’t score much, his three assists and six rebounds led to his most effective game of the year.

Sometimes, coaches find solutions to problems. Sometimes, coaches try to adjust to make their teams better. Sometimes, they create new ones. In the case of Mason and McKoy, there really wasn’t a problem and the adjustments didn’t have the desired effect. Ferry took some risks and they didn’t work, and in the end they may have cost the Dukes a couple of games. Changes needed to be made to halt a four game losing streak and Ferry fixed two that probably never needed to be created to begin with.

The Changing Starting Lineup

Ferry has had to take nearly all of his first ten games to find the right combination for his team. Here is how they have evolved:

Bluefield St (3 games)

PG Micah Mason
SG Derrick Colter
SF Jeremiah Jones
PF LG Gill
C Jordan Robinson

Howard (5 games)

PG Micah Mason
SG Derrick Colter
SF Jeremiah Jones
PF LG Gill
C Ty’sean Powell

UMass – Lowell ( )

PG Derrick Colter
SG Micah Mason
SF Jeremiah Jones
PF Ty’sean Powell
C Dominique McKoy

I said earlier in the season that the starting lineup likely doesn’t matter. After watching the Dukes lose two games in the first seven minutes against NEC teams, I’ve reevaluated my position. The ‘who’ hasn’t changed a lot since day one but there are now four players in different positions than the original lineup. Only Jeremiah Jones remains unchanged.

One More Change I’d Make

While I love the way he’s played, I would like to see Ty’Sean Powell come off the bench with Jordan Stevens. The two played together in the summer league and they seem to have an established chemistry I would hate to see wasted. They won’t get as many opportunities with one starting and the other coming off the bench. After his performance against UML, I like the idea of giving Jordan Robinson another shot. He might be getting a little more comfortable and I think he could create the most space for McKoy to clean up on the glass.

Did the Mason Experiment Help Colter?

It’s always difficult to fill big shoes and Derrick Colter had to fill ex – Duke TJ McConnell’s immediately upon arriving on the Bluff. He did so admirably having one of the best seasons statistically for a Duquesne point guard, albeit on a bad team, though never really garnering the praise he deserved from fans. He’s not TJ. He’ll never be TJ, but now, he doesn’t have to be his direct replacement anymore. Now, the Maryland guard who is on pace to surpass 1000 points as a junior could be seen as a savior by reprising his role after the Mason experiment ended. There is nothing more than a shift in perspective here, but it could turn into a shift that could positively impact Colter’s perception.


Steve is a naturalized yinzer hailing originally from just north of Allentown, PA. He came to Pittsburgh to attend Duquesne University and decided to stick around after graduation. Steve is best known for his contributions to Duquesne hoops community as the owner of the Duquesne Dukes forum on Yuku and as the former editor of We Wear the Ring on the Fansided network. He is an avid Pirates fan, home cook and policy nerd. He is the co-founder of the Point of Pittsburgh. Easily irritated by people who misuse the word regress.