To say it has been quite a week for Duquesne men’s basketball coach Keith Dambrot would be a massive understatement.
When Tuesday started, Lamar Norman Jr announced his intention to leave Duquesne and then the remainder of the team ran out of gas playing its third game in four days after having played less than that in the 300 days prior.
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Then Maceo Austin announced he was taking some time for himself away from the team and Sincere Carry did the same before placing his name into the transfer portal later on.
If that was not enough, Duquesne had limited time to practice with three of its now former starters unavailable and players who did not see the court had to prepare for a Fordham team that has provided a challenging matchup in recent contests.
Indeed Duquesne would grind out a victory over Fordham and fresh off his latest COVID test, Dambrot spoke to reporters for 24 minutes Tuesday afternoon to discuss the week that was and how Duquesne plans to move forward in for a quick turnaround.
Duquesne faces Dayton Wednesday evening in a contest that will be televised by CBS Sports Network, will return home by bus after, practice Thursday and had to Olean late night for Friday’s contest against Saint Bonaventure that ESPN2 will carry.
“For us the brunt of it is mostly over because we’ve tested positive already so our hardest days are behind us,” he said. “We’ve been negative for about two weeks. The hardest part before was getting them to play, we’re still fighting the remnants of conditioning, knowledge and our young guys getting game ready really.”
PUTTING THE PUZZLE PIECES TOGETHER
Following Saturday’s contest against Fordham, Dambrot did not say much regarding Sincere Carry wanting to take time away from Duquesne and hoped he would come back but less than 24 hours later it became apparent that would not be the case.
“I just think it’s straight unhappiness,” Dambrot said. “We all choose to be happy or unhappy. When you’re on the 50 yard line you can go to work and be happy or unhappy. If you’re that unhappy you’ve got to make a change or fight through it. Ultimately it can’t be playing time or role for him. He basically had the keys to the car and could do whatever he wanted for the most part. It must be unhappiness with me, the team or the circumstances.”
Of Carry, Dambrot stated that he was not happy with the team other wise he would still be a Duquesne Duke citing “deductive thinking”.
In terms of fits, Dambrot believes Carry is capable of playing at most levels but surmises the MAC will be his next destination.
Dambrot was more understanding of Norman’s decision which came from wanting both more playing time and additional responsibilities handling the basketball. He also reiterated his support and understanding for Austin’s decision to take time away for now.
As PSN’s Mike Vukovcan wrote earlier in the week, Austin does not intend to transfer from Duquesne.
“We got hit in the mouth pretty good but thank goodness we have good depth,” said Dambrot. “We are capable of surviving it. it’s not going to be easy and the circumstances make it more difficult but I believe in the guys we have in the locker room. I believe we can win.”
Basketball itself can feel like a puzzle and Dambrot certainly has to feel that this season is of the 1,000-piece jigsaw variety.
Just when pieces seem to be put into place, something happens, but Dambrot believes he is ready to make the proper adjustments.
“The good thing about me is I’ve coached in high school, in the NAIA, D-II, D-I at the mid level so I’ve coached at almost every level in a variety of different ways with a bunch of different types of teams,” he said. “I know what way I really want to play but I’m capable of making adjustments if we have good enough players. I’ve been around long enough that I can change gears and adapt to the players that I have.”
DON’T FORGET ABOUT DRE
For the first time since the Louisville trip, Dre Harris got to see the court for more than a couple of minutes, playing 10 minutes while putting a final line together consisting of four points and a rebound.
“I feel like Dre Harris made a big jump in the last week and it’s all between his ears,” Dambrot said. “He finally quit blaming me, our coaching staff and went back to work in practice. I think he can be a good player. At some point you either have to believe what people are telling you or you’ve got to leave.”
Duquesne’s rotation may not be set in stone though it seems clear that Dambrot would like Tavian Dunn-Martin to be the point guard and Tuesday he stated Tyson Acuff would back him up.
Dambrot credits his staff which includes Carl and Charles Thomas who played in the NBA and Ashton Gibbs who had a successful international career. Everyone on Duquesne’s staff save for Gibbs played for Dambrot.
“We just want guys to be successful players, human beings and students,” said Dambrot. “We built our whole career on relationships and I still believe that relationship building is the key. Some guys don’t want that. Dre has flipped the switch and has an unbelievable mom who stood by the process.”