In order to have a successful college program, it’s a team effort.
The team needs support from the administration, the coaching staff needs to bring in talented players and the program needs support from the fan base.
The Duquesne men’s basketball program is trending up and has taken major steps since the hiring of Keith Dambrot. It’s obvious to anyone that’s paying attention that the veteran coach is building a solid foundation and they’re not far from being a major player in the Atlantic-10.
In his first year with the Dukes, Dambrot went 16-16. This year, they currently sit with a record of 13-5 and are on pace for a 20-win season. While that might not sound like a big deal, consider that Duquesne has had only one 20-win season since 1980.
When you look at the makeup of the roster, this isn’t a one year run. Eric Williams, Sincere Carry, Tavian Dunn-Martin, Brandon Wade, Lamar Norman, Gavin Bizeau, Amari Kelly, Austin Rotroff and Mike Hughes are all freshman and sophomores and will only get better, with redshirting big men Dylan Swingle and James Ellis waiting in the wings.
Dambrot has the Dukes positioned to be a A-10 title contenders for the foreseeable future and a team that can make a run at playing in the NCAA Tournament.
Yes, I put Duquesne basketball and the NCAA Tournament in the same sentence.
How monumental would that be? It was 1977 the last time Duquesne qualified for the NCAA men’s basketball tournament.
Earlier when I referenced things needed to be a successful program, it’s safe to say that Dambrot and his assistants are doing their job.
So is athletic director Dave Harper and the Duquesne administration. That was evident when they paid the price and showed a commitment when they lured Dambrot from his hometown of Akron.
The university also realized the importance that the arena and training facilities have in a successful program and raised the necessary funds to give AJ Palumbo Center a much-needed makeover. The construction on that will start after the season.
That’s tangible evidence that Harper and Duquesne have shown a major commitment something that wasn’t done in the past.
There’s only one thing missing from this puzzle and that’s support from the fans.
Hey, I get it and honestly don’t completely blame fans for not showing up in the past. Quite frankly, with what the Dukes were putting out there and how little the school seems to care about basketball and athletics in general, they didn’t deserve 500 people in the stands.
But times have changed and so should the level of support for Duquesne basketball.
Over the next seven days, the Dukes have three major home games, starting Wednesday night against conference-leading St. Louis. The game is for first place in the A-10.
I realize that regaining the trust again from fans takes time and that Palumbo Center isn’t going to be filled every night. However, it should be packed for Wednesday night’s game.
There’s nothing on the sports calendar for Wednesday. The Penguins are on break, there’s no Pitt, not even Robert Morris. The Palumbo Center only holds 4,400 people and I know the city of Pittsburgh holds more basketball fans than that.
Every time that the Dukes draw a nice crowd or have a full student section, Dambrot makes it a point to recognize them in his postgame interviews.
The reason for that is because it’s important to building his program and motivates and has an impact on the game. As this team improves, they’ll be hosting higher quality recruits and you can bet they don’t want to play in front of an empty arena.
You hear it all the time that winning is a group effort. Dambrot and company are doing their part, it’s time now for the Duquesne fans to step up and do their part.