The Dukes have but one major lineup transition heading into the 2015-16 season as LG Gill will replace Dominique McKoy at the power forward position. Neither player is or was a perfect fit for the role the way Ovie Soko was the year before last and both have the look of positional tweeners. McKoy wasn't quite a four but wasn't quite a five either while Gill is somewhere between a three and four.
Having watched Ferry's offensive system in action the last few years, I think a player leaning small forward could be a slightly better fit overall. McKoy struggled to adjust from his more preferred center position for the first two-thirds of the season and found his minutes dramatically cut early. Outside of summer league warmups, he lacked three point range to force opponents to defend him 20 feet from the basket.
Gill has experience backing up the position and could make for a smoother transition. The extra 4 - 5 feet on his jump shot could result in a more open offense. He'd give the Dukes three reliable three point shooters and four players with mid range jump shots off the dribble in the starting lineup. His perimeter shooting should force opponents to spread out on defense and create space inside for cutters and post players. Darius Lewis and Jordan Robinson willl see more one on one matchups giving them more time to find decent shots. Ty'sean Powell could be deadly, but ideally, he'll be transitioning to the four in a key reserve role.
Gill also gives the Dukes more options off the screen and in sets where the four is in the high post. Pick and pops for three join the pick and roll as off the ball movement from the double high screen. When McKoy stayed high, it was more of a dummy run to put it in soccer terms. They'll have to respect Gill. Shooting also becomes an option for plays run with the four starting the action at the top of the key. If the defender is playing off him, he could elect to turn and hoist one rather than execute the play. With the defender tight in the same set, the Dukes could force more switches on the hand off. The Dukes won't need to reinvent the wheel to plug Gill in, but what they do run could be more efficient.
McKoy and Gill are a virtual push defensively. Both came a long way by the end of the season to the point where opponents were going after Jeremiah Jones' wing in the 2-3. Gill looked comfortable and showed the ability to read when to help and when to close on a potential shooter after looking lost early. The biggest difference between the two is in the defensive rebounding department. Gill is still not as strong, physical or explosive on the glass as McKoy. In the end, rebounding could derail the Dukes chances of taking steps unless a couple guys really improve.
For the first time under Ferry, the Dukes have a veteran squad where they can tweak the offense rather than try to reinvent it. There won't be any point guard experiments, position changes, or philosophy shifts. As a result, I hope to see the Dukes ready to play in November with their slightly modified offense featuring LG Gill at the four.
I like to get greatest games lists out before a player's career officially ends and the Dukes bailed me out by winning one more game. I held off as long as I could to post Dominique McKoy's five greatest games. Why? Because he kept producing great candidates for the list right until the present. He's truly playing the best basketball of his career now. However, I will risk postponing no more. This was one of my more difficult lists to compile because the workman like Domo just got the job done without a lot flash. Still, I think I built a list worthy of him.
#5 January 25, 2014 vs St Bonaventure 13 points, 9 rebounds
Just missed the double - double as he often did, but what sets this game apart was the way he and Ovie Soko got pretty much every St Bonaventure post player in foul trouble. Those two put on a clinic for drawing contact and he also went 5 - 8 from the free throw line.
#4 January 22, 2014 vs St Louis 15 points, 8 rebounds
This one was bittersweet but it is often the game I think about when I think about McKoy, for good and bad. This was two points away from being his best. Not that seventeen points means anything, but with under a minute to play, he stared a go ahead bunny in the face and he missed it. Still, it's difficult to overlook what he did the rest of the evening.He was excellent.
#3 The Entire Month of December 2013
Ok this is a little outside of the box, but when you miss seven times from the floor in six games you're beyond on fire. He also posted back to back double doubles against Penn St and Robert Morris, two very worthy candidates for this list.
#2 March 4, 2015 vs Fordham 16 points, 7 rebounds
Really asserted himself in this one. Played with toughness but also found space in great positions to finish. We didn't see a ton of this from his as a senior, but we did on this occasion.
#1 February 28, 2015 @ St Bonaventure 20 points, 15 rebounds
This is the night Domo announced that he wasn't going quietly into the night. Dukes got beaten badly but the Bonnies didn't have an answer for him.
I'm not a big fan of the Dukes playing home and aways with low majors as I don't see any advantage other than saving the money it would take to buy a game in Pittsburgh. While they handled UMass-Lowell on the road last year and took care of business in a festive atmosphere against Abilene Christian in showcase games for those programs, they took thirty - eight minutes to finally control the game NJIT in Newark last season. It simply doesn't make a lot of sense to put yourself into that position. Of course, the road wasn't the only thing they dealt with last year.