Envisioning a Stronger Rivalry With Rhode Island and UMass

By Steve DiMiceli

A while back I had a look at who Duquesne's true rival is and as it turns out it was St Bonaventure. However, I noted that there really weren't many strong rivalries between the Dukes and anyone else in the A-10 save for possibly Dayton who they have had a competitive home and away series for several years now. The series never had a chance to get itself off the ground, and could fade with the addition of Butler and a likely end to the annual home and away. However, I see two teams who I think could emerge as a rival moving forward, Rhode Island and UMass.

Aside from the obvious public - private, urban - whatever the hell Amherst is like differences, I see a lot of similarities between these three schools. All of their basketball budgets are comparable. All three are really waiting for better support from their fans particularly their students. And of course, all three have made some waves recently, but are all on the outside looking into that club whose membership includes the more prestigious A-10 elite. Conveniently enough, St Bona and Dayton are right there with us, but we'll focus on the other two for now.

The bad blood is already beginning to boil between the Dukes and the Minutemen. After the 80-69 debacle at the Palumbo, UMass fans were livid with the Jarrett Durham clowning on the frequent mishaps by their players. UMass flat out got beat down and their fans wanted revenge which the got when the Dukes traveled to Amherst for the first round of the A-10 tournament. It would only take a few more important games between these to programs or Durham pot shots to really make it heated. Both teams play a very similar style of basketball and I believe we'll see even more parallels as Jim Ferry implements his up tempo system. This series has the potential for exciting, high scoring basketball moving forward and is one I fully expect to grow.

With Jim Ferry and Dan Hurley both hired from the NEC in the same offseason, Duquesne and Rhode Island  will naturally be compared to one another as long as both men are still the coaches. However, I know there is some resentment on the part of the Duquesne fans that Hurley is viewed as a homerun hire while Ferry is looked at with less enthusiasm by the national media even though Hurley has yet to defeat Ferry in a game. You can include me in that number. Aside from trying to establish themselves with coaches who have a history, both schools seem to be starting over after turbulent off seasons lead to heavy turnover and the loss of star players from their programs. Duquesne and Rhode Island will likely battle just for the right to continue their season in Brooklyn this year, but the dogfight won't stop there as I expect them to go tooth and nail all the way through the process of rebuilding themselves. 

There should also be an internal rivalry with these programs as well.  I've noticed that all three have a tendency to get involved with the same players during recruiting. Trey Dickerson had interest in Duquesne and Rhode Island. Rene Castro, a 2013 point guard, has interest from all three. There are a number of others who I can't recall off the top of my head but bottom line, these three schools will be competing regularly off the court as well.