Comparing Duquesne to the Top A-10 Coaching Staffs

By Steve DiMiceli

Judging by many of the comments I've read from the Duquesne faithful, it sounds like most are very happy with the new coaching staff for men's basketball. We went from a roster of prep coaches to a group where two assistants have head coaching experience at a 4 year college including Brian Nash who coached 5 years at D-1 St Francis (NY). On paper this is a huge improvement, but where do we stack up against the rest of the A-10?
I want to set a few ground rules before I begin the comparison. First, I only took into account the resumes of coaches rather than actual job performance unless they have a national reputation. This is nearly moot however as Kareem Richardson of Xavier and to a lesser extent Chris Harriman of St. Louis moved on to Louisville and Nebraska respectively. Second, I weighted heavily how long staffs had been together as part of my evaluation. This is somewhat unfair to new staffs, but at the same time, ignoring it would be unfair to the experienced, stable ones. Finally, I will not be ranking the coaching staffs just noting my top 5.

 Let me begin by saying, this was a very difficult task as there are a number of strong schools and staffs. Better than I expected for sure. I narrowed my selection to a top 9 and these were the 5 I thought looked the best.

Charlotte - There is a some serious experience from top to bottom on the 49ers staff although very little of it is in Charlotte. Ryan Odom was an assistant for 7 years under Seth Greenberg at Virginia Tech. His name was in the mix for the Withrop job this past season. Desmond Oliver spent time on Jim Baron's staff at St. Bonaventure and Rhode Island. He also coached at Texas Tech. Orlando Vandross was at Boston University for13 years.

Duquesne - Duquesne have the only staff in the league with two former head coaches at four year colleges. Brian Nash was the top man at St Francis for 5 years to go along with turns as an assistant at Seton Hall, St. Bonaventure, Siena and Fairfield. John Rhodes left the job as head coach at D-III Ohio Northern to join the Duquesne staff. He also coached at St Bonaventure and Ohio University.

St. Joe's - The St. Joe's staff have combined for 23 years on Hawk Hill. David Duda spent 8 years as a D-III head coach. Geoff Arnold spent 7 years on staff with Bruiser Flint at both Drexel and UMass before moving crosstown to join with Phil Martelli.

St. Louis - Even with the loss of Harriman, St Louis still have Jim Whitesell on staff. He has 23 years of college head coaching experience including 8 years at Loyolla (IL) before moving to the Billikens. Harriman leaves big shoes to fill, but Whitesell is the foundation for a very strong staff.

Temple - Probably the best staff in the league. Dave Duke was the head coach at Lehigh for 8 years and has been with Fran Dunphy at both Penn a Temple for a combined 13 years. The key to Dunphy's strong staff comes from stability. The other two members of the staff have been with him almost their entire careers.

One caveat that must be clarified. Duquesne being included in the top 5 is slightly deceptive as they were the last team in and in my opinion, the first staff on the second tier. I barely included them over Dayton, but the multiple head coaches won out over Tom Ostrom's great resume. The other teams in that second tier are Richmond, Rhode Island, and George Washington.

Again, this is all on paper and my methods certainly could be flawed. However, it's my take for now. If the Duquesne staff performs as well as it looks on paper, we should see improvement for the program. However, as Charlotte can attest, solid assistants don't always translate to immediate success.