Vukovcan: The Excitement of Meaningful Basketball is Back in Pittsburgh
Today marks the last day of the regular season for both the Pitt and Duquesne men’s basketball team.
At the start of the season in November, how many fans of either team were predicting that so much would be on the line for this last game?
Sorry, but even if you raised your hand, I don’t think you’re telling the truth. No one would have guessed that both Duquesne and Pitt would have so much to play for entering today but that’s the case.
Jeff Capel’s team was forecasted to have another miserable season and to finish near or at the bottom of the ACC. However, with a win today at Miami, the Panthers would become ACC regular season champions for the first time in school history.
Keith Dambrot’s Duquesne Dukes were picked to finish dead last in the A-10 following a season in which they finished 6-24 overall, 1-16 in the A-10 and ended the season on a 17-game losing streak.
A year later, the Dukes close the season with a game at Fordham with a double-bye in the Atlantic-10 tournament on the line.
Instead of worrying about their job security, both Dambrot and Capel find themselves as front runners for conference coach of the year honors. Considering the preseason expectations and the on-court results, both should be runaway winners.
The legitimate excitement we’ve had this year in Pittsburgh for college basketball is something we haven’t had in a long, long time.
Winning sure helps with the excitement and both Pitt and Duquesne have done their share of winning. This is just the second time in the history of both programs that the Dukes and Panthers have won 20 games in the same season.
Considering how long these two teams have been playing college basketball, that’s a mind boggling stat but it shows how truly special this season has been.
Winning is fun so I hope the two fanbases enjoyed the season and really get into the next few weeks as conference tournaments approach, along with the possibility of NCAA Tournament games. Although both teams, especially Duquesne, look like they’ll be strong again next season, with the transfer portal, nothing is guaranteed.
Dae Dae Grant, Jimmy Clark, Quincy McGriff, David Dixon and Halil Barre will allow the Dukes to be legit contenders, while Jeff Capel has a legit young nucleus of Federiko Federiko, the Diaz-Graham twins , a strong 2023 recruiting class plus the return of Blake Hinson.
I’m not going to assume anything and will just see how the next few months play out with each respective roster but it sure looks like meaningful college basketball is back in Pittsburgh, which is tremendous for both universities.
Regardless of what happens today and in the next couple weeks, this season should be viewed as a success.
The only thing that will make it better is hearing both Pitt and Duquesne’s names called on Selection Sunday and with what’s happened this season, I think that’s a distinct possibility.
Let’s bring back The City Game
i haven’t followed the Dukes since the late 70s early 80s but yeah, it’s good for everyone to win. hope it continues …. and, throw Robert Morris into the mix as well.