Jim Ferry and Co. Swimming with the Big Fish

By Steve DiMiceli

Jim Ferry hasn't shied away from bigger competition for recruits this summer. I recently noticed a tweet where 2013 offer holder Rene Castro is planning visits to Pittsburgh, Duquesne and George Washington among several other schools. Canadian power forward Isaiah Watkins, who holds offers from Arkansas, Villanova and Temple was already on the bluff this week. Two weeks ago, UConn received a commitment from Kentan Facey another player receiving attention from Duquesne. Three years ago you just didn't see us targeting a lot of players with BCS offers. If we would swim with anyone, it would be PAC-12 or weak SEC or Big 12 schools. While it wasn't uncommon for Ron Everhart to target players at smaller BCS schools, it's becoming the norm under Ferry to not just challenge those schools, but some of the biggest in the country.

Of all the reported offers on our 2013 recruiting list, roughly 80% also have offers from BCS schools or A-10 programs. Most have both. The more recent the offer, the more likely they are to have at least one other high quality offer. Over the years schools, I've found tend to recruit in the same circles and you'll a number of players with same handful of schools targeting them. Pitt, Miami (Fl), UMass, and St Bona seem to pop up often on our prospects recruiting lists. A couple of years ago, it was James Madison, and a couple of MAC schools. I noticed the quality of potential recruits improving starting with the class of 2012 and Everhart fought off bigger competition to earn letters of intent from Donovan Jack and Willie Moore. Looking at last year's list 62% who held scholarship offers ended up at BCS or A-10 schools.  Everhart took a step in the right direction, but it appears Ferry is taking it even further.

In terms of the make up of the class of 2013, Ferry is recruiting bigger players in more ways than one. Newly reported offers are less frequently going to guards and more often to big men. While there are a number of bigs currently on the roster, all but Derrick Martin and Mamadou Datt are upper classmen. I think it signals Ferry's confidence in Derrick Colter and Marvin Binney to man the point long term has grown and he doesn't seem to be seeking insurance any longer. This flexibility provides him with the freedom to concentrate on a different hole.

Recruiting is like hockey in the sense that you never score on a shot you don't take. Jim Ferry is taking his shots at highly pursued recruits, but it remains to be seen whether he can score against the better competition.While I can't say for sure that these players are priorities for the bigger schools they list, it is reassuring to me that Ferry and his staff are fighting the good fight for highly regarded players. The need for versatile big men is particularly pressing given the class distribution of the team and he seems to be addressing it. The truth is Duquesne needs better quality players to not only keep up with, but surpass the competition in the new and improved Atlantic 10. Swimming with the big fish is the only way to make that happen.