Last week, Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports stopped by the University of Duquesne while in town for the Atlantic 10 Conference’s media day. While in Pittsburgh, he had a chance to visit the Duquesne men’s basketball team for some preseason scouting. Pittsburgh Sports Now spoke with Rothstein today concerning his views on the program, and the outlook of the Dukes’ upcoming season.
“They’re an old team,” Rothstein began. “I think Duquesne has really adopted the transfer model under Jim Ferry. They’ve got guys that are older that have been through the wars a little bit. I think that the kid Tarin Smith from Nebraska is obviously an older player. Kale Abrahamson is an older player. So you have to find creative ways to recruit when your program hasn’t been fortunate enough to play in the NCAA tournament since 1977.”
It is true that Duquesne will feature, and rely upon, multiple upperclassmen this year. However, Rothstein expressed his excitement over Mike Lewis, a freshman that he believes could contribute immediately.
“Duquesne has done a good job getting older, but they also have a really good promising young freshman in Mike Lewis from St. Louis.” Jon adds, “I think Mike Lewis is the guy that you want to put in bold print. He played with [Duke Blue Devil freshman] Jayson Tatum when he was coming up the circuit in high school. So if there’s one guy you want to put in bold print right now, it’s definitely him.”
When asked about his assessment of fifth year head coach Jim Ferry, Rothstein referred to the 2015/2016 season that almost was for the Dukes.
“Well, I think the disappointing thing for Duquesne last year was, you know, what happened from a health perspective. I mean, they were playing some really really good basketball and there might have been a parade if they would have stayed healthy, because they would have won over twenty games. This is a team that was really playing some good basketball before it went through some injuries. I think right now it’s just a matter of finding the right mix and then moving forward from there.”
Prior to joining Duquesne, Coach Ferry led Long Island to two consecutive births in the NCAA tournament. Rothstein would not rule out such success at Duquesne, though he believes it remains premature for NCAA tournament expectations.
“I don’t think the NCAA tournament can be the goal at Duquesne before you can get the ball to the other side of the hill. I think when you look at the history of Duquesne basketball, it’s such a difficult job. Duquesne, as I mentioned earlier, was in a situation where it had not been to the NCAA tournament since 1977.”
So if further incremental improvements are necessary before the Dukes reach an NCAA tournament, how does the analyst believe Duquesne will fare in the 2016/2017 season?
“I kind of need to see, you know, how it unfolds from a chemistry perspective first before you make any type of prognosis in that regard. I mean, they’re playing a good schedule; there’s road games at Penn State and Kentucky. There’s obviously a game against Pitt that they play every year. It will be interesting to see how they get out of the gate in the Atlantic 10.”
While he could not predict what will happen in the upcoming season, Jon returned to the success experienced last year, and the positives that can be taken from a 17-win season.
“There’s only been seven 17-win seasons in the history of Duquesne basketball. Duquesne had one last year. So by Duquesne’s standards, they’re coming off a great year, even though they would have had a better year if they had remained healthy.”
Without a doubt, it is a good sign that Jim Ferry has Duquesne garnering the interest of national analysts. Perhaps with a little luck on the injury front, the Dukes will get the ball to the other side of the hill in the near future.