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Vukovcan: Despite Roster Turnover, Duquesne Is Fine



It’s been quite a week for Keith Dambrot’s program which experienced a good bit of roster turnover.

Eric Williams, Jr., Brandon Wade, Gavin Bizeau and Dylan Swingle all announced their intentions of transferring from Duquesne.

Normally, it’s never a good sign when four players leave, especially when one of those players is the team’s leading scorer.

The news has many Duquesne fans wondering about the direction of the program and saying to themselves “same old Duquesne, nothing ever changes.”

While some share this opinion and frankly, considering the program’s history, I don’t blame people for feeling that way. But I’m not one of them.

The reality is that whenever a new coach takes over, change happens. The hard thing for fans to understand is that the change doesn’t happen overnight and isn’t complete after just one season.

Dambrot has only been on The Bluff for two years and inherited a roster with very little talent.

Keith Dambrot December 19, 2018 — David Hague/PSN

As one person put it, “he was basically taking over an expansion team and like expansion teams do, did whatever he could to acquire talent/players.”

Even if those players didn’t fit his system or if he wasn’t sure if they were his type of player, Dambrot needed to fill a roster, try to be competitive and start to develop his culture.

In that first season, Duquesne won 16 and then 19 games this past season.

Dambrot didn’t take the Duquesne job just to make them a 20-win program. He left his hometown of Akron and came here with the intentions of transforming Duquesne into a real basketball program and a NCAA tournament team.

Dambrot is a proven winner and knows what must happen in order to make that happen even if that includes heavy roster turnover.

Before you’re able to change the culture of a perennial losing program, everyone must buy into it, or it won’t work. The buy=in must happen from the teams best player all the way down the roster.

In sports, you often hear of a coach needing to get “his players” before he’s truly comfortable and feels he can have success. The bottom-line is Dambrot didn’t have enough program guys on the roster.

While I’m not criticizing or singling out any of the players who transferred, I do believe that they didn’t fit Dambrot’s vision or plan for the future.

Most times when you here about someone transferring, you immediately think that something is wrong with the team or it was totally the player’s decision to leave. I’m very confident that wasn’t the case with most of these transfers and most realized they didn’t have a clear or easy path for real playing time.

While some may question what’s happening, I believe Duquesne is on course for its best season under Dambrot next year.

Sincere Carry (35) December 19, 2018 — David Hague/PSN

Yes, they’ll have to replace Williams’ 14 points per game but they’ll have the talent to do so. In fact, don’t be surprised if incoming freshman Maceo Austin makes up for all of Williams productivity himself. Austin will be that good.

Sincere Carry is a future star and the unquestioned leader of the team. They’ll also be returning Mike Hughes, Tavian Dunn-Martin, Frankie Hughes, Lamar Norman Jr., Marcus Weathers, James Ellis and eventually Austin Rotroff and Amari Kelly. That’s also not counting any graduate transfers they’ll no doubt attempt to sign. Depending on how many transfers come in, there could be more turnover.

The sky isn’t falling at Duquesne and could actually be the exact opposite.

Although it’s hard to envision that today, the upcoming season could be a special one for Duquesne. In fact, I’m predicting that not only will Dambrot’s team win 20 games but they’ll be a team in the hunt to qualify for the NCAA Tournament.

While turnover sometime can be hard, it can also be beneficial, as I believe it will be next year for Duquesne.

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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