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Duquesne Basketball

Weiss: Duquesne Got This One Right



Duquesne. Dru Joyce III

Seven seasons ago, Duquesne was looking for momentum of any kind, not a “10-year plan”, and ultimately decided that Keith Dambrot was that voice.

As the university determined between the right choice and the sensible one following Dambrot’s name, everything circled back to a sole individual.

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Setting young men on the path to a better future.

Dru Joyce III was that person.

For two seasons now, Dambrot once again became his mentor so that he would have all of the necessary skills for the position to where President Ken Gormley, VP of Athletics Dave Harper and the Duquesne board had no choice but to choose Joyce.

While terms of the deal have yet to be made public, this was a search which became more obvious as time passed on.

Many Duquesne fans waited with bated breath for this news to be announced after the season effectively ended Saturday evening.

While Joyce was still the choice, terms had to be agreed to by both sides as the program has been on a historic rise in recent weeks having won the Atlantic 10 Championship, securing its first NCAA Tournament appearance since 1977 and later, its first victory in said event since 1969.

Duquesne did interview multiple other candidates just to ensure it was making the right choice. Though the university did not confirm, one rumored name was Youngstown State’s Jerrod Calhoun.

Of course, having the news confirmed by LeBron James does not hurt a program which has had its name out in the public in ways it has not possibly ever.

Joyce and LeBron were previously teammates and the relationship the latter has with the program will remain if not intensify.

Given Andy Enfield went from USC to SMU, there will be rumors which will intensify that Bronny James may become a Duquesne Duke and perhaps his younger brother, Bryce, down the line. That remains to be seen but even the possibility is something which should excite fans.

Joyce’s announced hire this week means Duquesne can remain aggressive on the recruiting trails but even more so now given there is a clear idea as to who will be leading the team.

The portal is more active than ever before and perhaps names such as Adou Thiero, who departed Kentucky and previously considered Duquesne to the point that it was his first visit, are now in play.

None of this would have been possible without Joyce’s hire, not to mention player retention was paramount in making this decision.

It is quite possible that this Duquesne team, which is a very loyal bunch, would have jumped ship had another selection been made.

Duquesne's 2024 March Madness Tournament coverage is sponsored by Leon's Billiards & More, Moon Golf Club and Archie's on Carson! Their contributions have allowed us to cover the Dukes run in Omaha, Nebraska. We appreciate their support!

Joyce’s voice and fingerprints were all over this season’s run and he found comfort within the team and the latter holds true for those on the team as well.

Why Dru Joyce III? Well, he is the right person at the right time. Both sides were absolutely made for each other.

Joyce coming to Duquesne came after he was passed over for the Cleveland State job, a position many felt would be his.

The Dukes had just come off of a six-win season and Joyce’s insertion changed the team’s dynamic and allowed for a new voice to a team who knew the main tenants of what Dambrot does, could relate to the players and hold them accountable.

It got to the point where during halftime when Dambrot would step away, Joyce lit into the Dukes and challenged them before the former would come back and play the good cop, a story confirmed by multiple accounts.

That defensive intensity which led to so much history? That had so many of Joyce’s fingerprints on it that Dateline NBC’s Keith Morrison could have been called to the proverbial scene.

Joyce will challenge a Duquesne team with buzz around its name to be better and that will help bring out everyone’s collective best version of self.

Could there be growing pains? Sure, moving a seat over is never as easy as it sounds on paper and there will be plenty of new responsibilities that could prove challenging but if Joyce has proven anything it is that he can embrace a challenge and adapt.

After all, the Dukes proved they could do just the same coming back from an 0-5 start in A-10 play to win the Conference Tournament and make the Round of 32 in the NCAA Tournament

Speaking of retention, it will be interesting to see how many from Dambrot’s staff remain and how many voices Joyce will seek. Of course, Joyce is familiar with his staff, perhaps most notably Steve Wright as both were on Cleveland State’s staff in 2020.

This hire gives Duquesne the best opportunity to be a major player in the Atlantic 10 for many years to come, using a lot of the Dambrot model with Joyce’s own personal voice and experiences as the so-called “Duquesne train” continues to gain speed.

Regardless, it is time to see what Joyce can do. The expectations are quite high as is interest in this program. If his desired legacy is the same as Dambrot’s, to leave Duquesne better than he found it, then hitting the ground running will be crucial.

Either way this is a hire that has been universally praised, that Dambrot advocated for through thick and thin and that has the respect of everyone.

Joyce has the resources, belief and support from the top on down. Now it is time to see if the “Druquesne” era can take off.

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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17 days ago

Great hire! One down side. If he wins he will get offered multiple higher major jobs in 2-3 years. Thats a good problem to have!

Columbus Panther
Columbus Panther
17 days ago
Reply to  GDM

Butler, Creighton, VCU and Gonzaga have all had that same happy problem the last 15-20 years. I’m sure the Dukes will accept that.

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