Last week Duquesne basketball was forced into one of the oddest team-building exercises a program can go through: being trapped on a bus for 72 hours in a blizzard.
It has taken considerably longer than that for Jim Ferry to elevate his Dukes program to A-10 contender, but after three full seasons, Ferry’s fourth might just be the year Duquesne begins to break through.
At 15-7 on the year, Ferry’s Dukes are off to their best start since the 2010-11 season, a season that ended in the second round of the College Basketball Invitational, a season-ending loss to Oregon that began a four-year postseason absence for Duquesne basketball.
Ferry has gradually rebuilt the program, going from a one-win conference team his first season to now 5-4 in Atlantic 10 play, one win shy of the Dukes program-best under the former LIU Brooklyn coach.
Grabbing those sixth, seventh and beyond wins won’t come easy however. Duquesne finishes their regular season conference schedule with six kenpom top-100 squads out of nine games, one of their only sub-100 opportunities coming this Saturday against last year’s A-10 regular season champ, Davidson.
Road games at Dayton, Rhode Island, St. Bonaventure and Saint Joseph’s are far from a clear path to glory. The Dukes will be challenged every step of their final two months in their return to relevance, but so far, have at least given themselves a head start toward getting there. They’ll also be no easy win either, helping improve the depth of the Atlantic 10 with a challenging team wearing the blue and red out of Pittsburgh, PA.
GAMES TO WATCH
Feb 6 – Duquesne v Davidson
Feb 17 – Duquesne v GW
Feb 27 – Duquesne v Richmond
These three games will play a big part in measuring the ultimate success of this year’s Dukes team. With a very challenging remaining road schedule, Duquesne will need to hold serve against sub-175 teams (v UMass, v Fordham) while winning hopefully two of these three. Doing so in my opinion will keep them at .or above .500 on the season, which after finishes of 1-15, 5-11 then 6-12, would count as a success in my book, a CIT or CBI post-season appearance being the likely bonus points to that scenario.