One twenty win season since 1980. No NCAA tournament appearance since 1976. Eight head coaches since 1980.
That’s the recent history of Duquesne men’s basketball and the monumental task ahead of Keith Dambrot.
Duquesne fans have heard many previous coaches talk about how they’ll be the ones to bring winning basketball ball back to the Palumbo Center. They all tried but unfortunately they all failed.
Did the Duquesne administration finally get it right with Dambrot? A national college basketball commentator and someone that’s known Dambrot for years believes so.
Steve Wolf (@swolfhoops) is a college basketball analyst for CBS Sports Network and he talked to us last night about Duquesne hiring Dambrot.
“Although they’re in the Atlantic 10, this will be a similar situation to Akron. They’re not going to get the best player but he’s going to be able to recruit the guys like an Isaiah Johnson that plays for Akron right now. He was under recruited and he was turned into one of the best players in the MAC, Player of the Year this year,” Wolf.
“What Keith Dambrot does is going to be really perfect for the A-10 and that’s he develops teams defensively. You will see a kid develop from beginning to end. I don’t think they’ve had a coach there since I’ve been following Duquesne that has the pedigree and has the history in college basketball already as Keith Dambrot.”
As I mentioned, Wolf knows Dambrot well and has worked with him covering the MAC for years, so was he surprised he left his hometown of Akron for the challenge of Duquesne?
“If he was ever going to do it this was the time to do it. But I bet if you asked him this he’d have only one regret and that’s he wanted to get Akron their first NCAA win. I think he’s a goal oriented guy but at the end of the day you’ve got to go after and ask what else can I do? He’s given Akron 12-13 great years. He’s the dean of coaches in the MAC and I can tell you that there’s a lot of coaches in the MAC that are happy he’s gone.”
“I think that this is the right time for him and it is a step up for him as far as leagues but I think he’s totally different from the last two coaches they’ve had there. I don’t think he’s ever had anyone transfer out of there. When Ron Everhart was there, there were a lot of transfers, Coach Ferry just wasn’t able to get over the hump.”
So what’s made Dambrot so successful?
“I’ve been in film studies with him and nothing gets past him. Nothing gets by that guy. Nothing. Whether it’s a defense, he knows every player in that league, he knows their tendencies.”
“Not only is he going to develop the players as men he’s going to develop them as people. He graduates his players and he really cares about the kids he’s coaching. He loves his guys but he’s on his guys. He’s not one of these guys that are going to soft shoe it, he’s going to stay on them,” said Wolf.
Wolf doesn’t believe recruiting will be a problem and thinks Dambrot will be able to get players from Western PA, Ohio, Indiana and Michigan. Those are all places he’s had history recruiting well in.
“I really think that this is a great hire for Duquesne. They needed to get someone that’s going to stay and someone that’s going to get them winning year in and year out. They’re in a league where they shouldn’t be the bottom feeders.”
Many people and fans have questioned Duquesne’s commitment to winning and rightly so. However, with this hiring and the upcoming upgrade in basketball facilities, this appears to be a statement by Duquesne that they’re serious about competing and winning.
“Absolutely. Dambrot is a fighter and I think this is a huge statement by Duquesne. I think the other teams in the league, especially with Archie Miller gone, you don’t have Shaka Smart, Will Wade is gone. You have a brand new league. So you have a guy that’s going to come in and who was the dean of the MAC. I think this is a huge statement by Duquesne. You’re going to love him, he’s a great hire. Dambrot is a great guy.”