Duquesne Rival: Mutual ID and Location

By Steve DiMiceli

This is the second part of a four part series on who Duquesne's biggest rival is. In this portion I will be looking at mutual identification of rivalry and proximity. If you haven't read it, here is part 1.

Mutual Identification
Over the years, I've come to realize that one sided rivalries are down right pathetic. In the first part, I cited Pitt-Penn St in football as the shining example. Outside of western Pennsylvania, Penn St fans care very little about Pitt. Sure it was a passionate series in the 70's and early 80's but it faded into oblivion first by the ineptitude of Pitt for 20 years and then by the termination of their annual meeting in 2000. I'm of the opinion that identification of a rivalry stems from the players and fans both respecting the other team as an equal or near equal, and through dislike of the other team. Duquesne's rivalry with Pitt is similar in one respect. While the teams still play annually, Duquesne has been so bad for so long that Pitt fans no longer see it as a major basketball rivalry between two equals. Truly, it has not been and I can hardly blame them. Over the past 30 years, the hatred seems to have waned for older Panther fans and for a new generation who have jumped on board the Pitt bandwagon since the turn of the century, the hatred never existed in the first place. Many of the Pitt fans are Duquesne grads who proudly update their Facebook status to declare a Wednesday at the beginning of December as "the only day of the year I root against Pitt." Even the average Pitt fan not affiliated with Duquesne will often declare at a summer league game that they hope Duquesne is successful in the A-10. The passionate antipathy that comes with a rivalry disappeared a long time ago for Pitt fans. The opposite is true for Duquesne hard cores. The problem is Duquesne has not inflicted any damage in a decade. We never have bragging rights and bragging leads to the dislike. Pitt fans have arrived at a place where Duquesne is a little brother type program and a nice story once a year, but certainly not equals.

There is similar paradigm at work for Duquesne and Robert Morris. The Colonials have had some success in the series over the last ten years where Duquesne hold a 6-4 edge. Their faithful think they should be regarded on the same level as the Dukes given their record and their ability to make the NCAA tournament every couple of years through benefit of playing in the NEC. The Duquesne fans don't see it that way and argue that playing in a better conference, with a tougher schedule, and having a bigger budget make them the better program. While the two teams aren't on equal footing it's probably a little closer than the Duquesne fans, myself included, will acknowledge. The difference between the Duquesne - Pitt rivalry and the Duquesne - Robert Morris rivalry is that there seems to be a mutual dislike present. Most fans of either team would never back the other in games outside of the County Game.

Conference rivals seem to have diminished over time. Solidarity with affiliated schools seems like it's at an all time high. In the non conference schedule, I often find myself supporting every A-10 school because I know it helps the profile of the conference and therefore, helps Duquesne both in terms of the potential bids the conference will get and in terms of future strength of schedule. There are a couple of schools I don't care to root for in the post season, but for the most, it's for God and conference in the NCAA's for A-10 fans and we take pride in seeing our own succeed. For that reason, we see the mutual dislike part of the equation subside. However, teams can still get up for games against teams with a similar profile as them and the mutual equality factor is still there. Dayton seems to be a relatively young rivalry and I see this one as still being somewhat one sided. Duquesne fans regard it as one more than the Dayton fans. Since Everhart took over as coach, the teams have traded blows and the series has gone slightly in Duquesne's favor after being dominated for nearly 15 years by the Flyers. Dayton fans are slower to warm to the rivalry and based on their reactions to the most recent match up and subsequent loss at the UD Arena, they seem to perceive a Duquesne as inferior. While hatred in the rivalry has waned for fans, the St Bonaventure series stayed pretty evenly matched over the years. When Duquesne was down, Bona was down. Now both programs seem to be trending upward. I think St Bonaventure fans hold onto the rivalry a little more closely than Duquesne fans do. The players, however, are pretty mutual invested on both sides. This has been a heated series on the court the last few meetings with flagrant fouls and tempers flaring for both teams at least once a year.

The chart below expresses how I would rate each team's mutual feelings about the rivalry:

Id by Them Id by Us Total
Dayton 2 5 7
Pitt 3 9 12
Robert Morrs 8 7 15
St Bona 8 7 15

I factor in the reaction of the players in the St Bonaventure series, and I think that's what keeps it on par with Robert Morris. I think there is a growing minority of Duquesne fans that sees Dayton as a major rival, but they're not engaged yet Pitt is too one sided but the passion of the Duquesne fans still floats it to near the top.


Not many programs have local Division I schools as close by as Duquesne does with Pitt. Only Penn and Drexel are closer by any real margin and that's because their campuses boarder one another across Market St. Proximity ensures that there will always be some level of rivalry and comparisons are inevitable when you're in the same media market as another program. Proximity also allows for fans to travel between games and interact with one another.

Proximity need not be down the street or just up the interstate. It can be in state or across a region. In some professional sports, it's almost completely irrelevant. Look at the Oakland Raiders and Kansas City Chiefs. Still having a team closer only helps to enhance the rivalry.

St. Bonaventure and Dayton rank 1st and 3rd respectively in terms of shortest distance between them and Pittsburgh in the A-10. Olean is an easy day trips for fans to make without having to get a hotel room, and Dayton is still doable though about a two hours longer round trip. Dayton fans travel extremely well and the Bonnie fans do as well, but to a much lesser extent. The problem is that hardly any Duquesne fans reciprocate. 8-0 in conference and I would have expected more than a handful of us in Olean last year.

Here is my breakdown of distance and fan travel:

Distance Fans Travel
Dayton 6 5 11
Pitt 10 10 20
Robert Morrs 10 7 17
St Bona 7 3 10

The City game is played in a neutral arena with equal support from both sides. To me, it ranks as an elite rivalry in terms of proximity. Robert Morris is about as close as Durham is to Chapel Hill and both team's fans travel for that game well. Dayton fans travel to Duquesne in comparable number to the Colonials, but we don't make the return trip. With St Bonaventure, the Bonnies travel in small, but noticeable numbers, but not the Dukes.