Coaching Search: Day 10

By Steve DiMiceli

It's difficult to believe that it's been ten days since Ron Everhart was dismissed as head coach of men's basketball. In the days since, we've had high drama from pundits pretending to know something about Duquesne basketball, cries for Greg Amodio's head, declarations of the class of 2012 being the best in 50 years, top recruits endorsing candidates, accusations of a fixed search and couple of high profile candidates publicly declare that they are not interested. We've seen hyperbole and overreaction along with the rare well thought opinion piece. We've had an overwhelming interest in Duquesne basketball that at times, I wish would go away. However, ten days later I can't tell if Greg Amodio is any closer to hiring the next coach than he was last Monday.

Information on the coaching search comes in bits and pieces, and many of them are contradictory. We'll get a lead here or a rumor there followed by a counter rumor debunking the first. It's difficult for me to identify what has legs and what does not, so I'll just be slightly cynical. We've repeatedly been told that Orlando Antigua is among the favorites, but we also hear he has not been contacted. We hear that Keith Dambrot was offered low BCS money to coach at Duquesne, but we're also told the money was not right for Dino Gaudio leading him to withdraw his name. Later, Dambrot said he was never offered and simply rebuffed an inquiry by Duquesne (which I don't believe). Based on what I know at the beginning of day 10, I would describe the coaching search with the same word I would use to describe the state of program under Ron Everhart, stalled.

Now, I don't take this as a black mark on the program or some reason to flame Amodio. I see it as part of the process. Sometimes, your first angle works out. In this search, it probably didn't. Look no further than the Illinois coaching search where top choices Shaka Smart and basketball Harry Potter, Brad Stevens both turned the job down before John Groce was hired. It took three weeks to get the contracts signed in Champaign, but they still ended up with a very good hire. At the same time it took three days to convince Jim Christian to return to the MAC to coach the Bobcats. Coaching searches are an inexact science, but the Duquesne search is beginning to look more like Illinois' than anyone else's.

The good news is competition is relatively weak this year for head coaches. There are limited high profile openings in the current off season compared to others. Most years, division I has between 10-15 big opening while this year there are only about 7 or 8. One might even argue that Duquesne is one of the 10 highest profile vacancies available while last spring we would be somewhere around 20. In a normal cycle, Duquesne would have never been in the conversation for Groce, Dambrot and probably not even Brett Reed of Lehigh. This year they are. Amodio can afford to take his time in the sense that he does not have to worry about the best candidates being snatched from under his feet. For the sake of the long run. I hope Amodio remains deliberate even if it does cause immediate frustration. After all, better to get it right so that we can do it all over again in three years when the next coach gets snatched up by a bigger school after our sweet sixteen run in 2014-2015.    :)