The moves stem from the high amount of postponements the conference had during the season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The updated schedules now allow for make-up games to be played as soon as possible and for potential tournament postponements if a team has an outbreak.
On Friday, Duquesne athletic director Dave Harper addressed the recent schedule changes, speaking on why the conference decided to switch things around.
“What gives us the best opportunity to deal with current circumstances, so the bandwidth allows us to have two teams prepare going into that final game and there’s also not a quick turnaround, so if there is a false positive or something along those lines, we can deal with it,” he said. “It was such a fast turnaround for everybody. Also we have the flexibility. We have teams that are at-large in that week leading up to championship game, they’ve got to be able to pick up a game that is of some value. I think it’s a good strategic move and the turn for both teams in Dayton to go to Indianapolis is a two-and-a-half hour bus ride from Dayton so collectively we’ve discussed it a lot. it was one of the better discussions I’ve ever been in in the athletic director meetings. Ultimately we wound up with the right decision.”
While the men’s tournament was moved up, the majority of the women’s tournament that is taking place in Richmond, Virginia has been pushed back to March 10-14.
“Logistically it was easy because the tournament was in Richmond already,” Harper said. “You just flip it and I think again the value of the NCAA Tournament, you have to protect your opportunities there. I think that’s what we did best. The women will have a great championship too, so we didn’t compromise either one and we protected what is the potential to get into the NCAA Tournament.”
Men’s basketball head coach Keith Dambrot also took to the microphone on Friday after the Dukes’ practice, mentioning how the moves made by the conference would affect his team.
“So Dave Harper and I discussed this, and I don’t think it is particularly good for us, but it is good for the league,” he said about the new-look scheduling in the conference. “We have to bite the bullet for the league. The more interesting part is going to be the schedule adjustments, when that comes out that will be the interesting dynamic of the whole thing.”
After Duquesne seemingly found its identity and won three straight, the Dukes were hit with a long layoff due to postponements, missing three straight games.
“I think, and I have told this to other people, I think this is a really hard year for old people like me,” Dambrot said. “For old coaches like me, it’s a really hard year because we have set ways we like to do things, and those set ways just don’t work right now. We didn’t practice more than an hour all week. I don’t know if that’s right or wrong, but I feel like it’s a mix between being physically ready and mentally ready. I think the disappointments of not playing, and having played 13 games on February 18 is ridiculous, mentally. Not having a college experience is ridiculous, mentally. So we have to make sure that we have fun. Believe me, that’s a hard thing to say, an old school guy like me, but I think that is the most important thing right now is we go out and have fun. If we have fun, we will win our share of games.”
Duquesne women’s basketball head coach Dan Burt also took the time to address the recent changes, saying he thinks they will benefit his team.
“If there is any theme this year, it is constant change,” Burt said. “Our players are adaptable and that won’t affect us much, it will actually benefit us. Hopefully it will give us an extra game or two where we can play so we can play our best basketball in 25 days. Our kids are healthy now which we are really happy about. We’re sane and we’re in a really good place regardless of this win tonight. We’ve shortened our practices and drilled down to what we really need to work on and then some individual skill work to compliment that and the scouts. You’re really looking at a team that I think is going to be very dangerous.”
The men’s team will return to the floor on Saturday, taking on Richmond at 4:30 p.m. After the postponement of its game against UMass, the women’s squad is off until Monday night, when it will visit St. Bonaventure at 6 p.m.