During my lifetime, the Duquesne men’s basketball program has always been considered hopeless. They were looked at as losers and a waste of time. The prevailing thought was that Duquesne was a coaching graveyard and it was impossible to win there.
Keith Dambrot must be a miracle worker because in less than two years on the job, he’s brought Duquesne basketball back from the dead and turned them into a legitimate program.
By no means am I suggesting they’re on the level of Duke or Virginia but I am saying that Duquesne is no longer someone that teams look forward to playing. It’s probably the exact opposite—they’ve become a team you’d rather not play.
Dambrot has transformed them into a fun team to watch. One that plays hard defensively and will battle you for the entire 40 minutes.
Saturday afternoon was another example of that as they pulled out another last-second win at George Mason.
This important win had three things that stood out: 1) Despite playing without Sincere Carry, arguably their best player, they were able to overcome that because of the depth on the roster. Sophomore Tavian Dunn-Martin got the start and responded with a career-high 22 points. 2) The Dukes didn’t fold after falling behind by 19 points on the road without Carry. 3) They made big shots and played well in the last couple minutes of a tight game. George Mason and Duquesne traded baskets down the stretch but Keith Dambrot’s team didn’t blink.
All of the things just listed are a result of a well-coached team and that’s what Duquesne has turned into. Want some more evidence of Dambrot’s magic?
This is Duquesne’s best 27-game start (18-9) since the 1980-81 season when they started 19-8.
With the win yesterday, Duquesne has clinched a winning conference record for just the sixth time in school history (1980, 1981, 1991, 2009 & 2011).
Duquesne currently has nine conference wins and with four games left have a chance of breaking the school record of 10.
They’ve tied the school record for A-10 road wins with four and have a chance to break that record with two more road games left.
Want to know the most exciting part about all of this if you’re associated with Duquesne? This isn’t a fluke and the pieces are in place for this to be a yearly thing. In other words, Dambrot is well on the way to making Duquesne a real program, not just a nice story.
As things stand today, the entire Duquesne roster is set to return next season and will be adding talented 7-foot center James Ellis and Kennedy Catholic star guard Maceo Austin. In other words, this roster will get deeper and with another year of experience, should be better.
That’s bad news for the rest of the Atlantic-10.
When’s the last time Duquesne fans were this legitimately excited about their basketball team? With four games left in the regular season, fans actually have meaningful games to watch and attend.
As things stand today, Duquesne is one of four teams that will receive a double-bye in the Atlantic-10 tournament which is a huge deal if you want to have a chance to play in the NCAA Tournament.
Did I just put the words Duquesne and the NCAA Tournament in the same sentence?
Yes, I did and that is yet another example of what Keith Dambrot has done in his short time on The Bluff. Pre-Dambrot, talking about Duquesne playing in March Madness would have been just crazy talk but now it appears it’s now no longer a question of if but when the Dukes will be dancing.
What a great time to be a fan of Duquesne basketball and it’s all because of Keith Dambrot.