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Vukovcan: Shame On Pitt, Duquesne and Robert Morris

Vukovcan: Shame On Pitt, Duquesne and Robert Morris

Although the 2020-21 college basketball season is scheduled to open a week from tonight, much uncertainty surrounds the sport.

Like it’s done with everything in our country since March, COVID-19 is negatively impacting the sport and casting doubt on how realistic an entire season really is.

Seemingly every day over the past week, we’re hearing about non-conference games being canceled, teams dropping out of tournaments and programs being shut down because of COVID-19 issues.

In normal times, coaches would be in preparation and coming up with game plans for their opening games but not this year because most teams are operating day-to-day.

With such uncertainty and frankly, with teams just wanting–and probably being happy–to get non-conference games in, what’s going on with the three D-I men’s basketball programs in Pittsburgh is sad.

I’ll just be blunt with this statement. I don’t care who’s fault it is, what the reason for it is and who might be mad at whom but it’s just ridiculous and plain wrong that the programs at Pitt, Duquesne and Robert Morris didn’t figure out a way to play each other–particularly in a season like this.

Shame on all three basketball teams for not doing the obvious and right thing which would have been to play each other individually or in a 3-team tournament where each team would play one another.

This is a no-brainer but isn’t going to happen because of the bad blood that developed between the Pitt and Duquesne programs last season when Pitt choose to not schedule the Dukes for their non-conference schedule. The reason for this was pretty obvious, Pitt wanted to stack as many easy games on their non-conference schedule as possible and they didn’t want to risk losing to a very talented Dukes team.

This obvious snub offended many within the Duquesne program and has caused some bad blood between the two sides.

Instead of doing what makes sense, Pitt has chosen to play three non-conference opponents that will generate zero interest while Duquesne is scheduled to play three games in a bubble type atmosphere. The Dukes are also supposed to play two games in Indianapolis, including one against Cincinnati, but those are in jeopardy due to COVID-19. To Duquesne’s credit, at least the teams they’re attempting to play rate well on KenPom’s initial 2020-21 rankings.

While I credit them for attempting to play quality opponents, it doesn’t excuse them for not finding a way to work things out to play Pitt. Shame on Heather Lyke and Jeff Capel as well for letting egos get in the way.

As far as Robert Morris goes, I’m not going to throw any barbs their way because if I know Andy Toole and Chris King, they would’ve been more than happy to play either or both teams but were probably never given the opportunity.

Times are tough for universities especially financially and instead of traveling to bubble sites to play games, our three local teams could’ve done something to generate interest and get people talking about the start of the season but failed.

It’s plain sad that everything that people have gone through over the past eight months that the leaders of these programs couldn’t put aside their differences, insecurities and egos to do the right thing.

Shame on you Pitt, Duquesne and Robert Morris.

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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