Dukes need to start winning big games and recruiting battles

By Steve DiMiceli

The men's and women's teams have had very different seasons in 2012-13. The men are in the midst of their worst year in the past seven while the women are having their best campaign in school history. Until a week ago, they were in solid position on the bubble and probably controlled their own destiny had they split with Dayton and St Joe's. Instead, they lost both games by a combined two points. In spite of their losing ways, the men are involved in some high stakes recruiting battles that will weigh heavily on programs future. Unfortunately, they already lost Rene Castro to Butler. Whether it's a big game or a big name, the Dukes need to start winning when it counts.

Women's basketball was cruising. Their defense is amongst the best in the country, but the offense can be suspect. They had only lost two road games and four total before they dropped their last two. The St Joe's game was probably the biggest in program history as both teams had a lot at stake. The Dayton game became more important when they lost to the Hawks. Its very difficult to make an NCAA tournament from the A-10 in women's basketball and it gets even more difficult when you can't win your big games. League play won't offer many opportunities to defeat a top fifty team and the Dukes came up short twice. Now their fate rests entirely on the conference tournament where they might need to win four games should they lose their bye to Fordham. They still could get an at large bid to the NCAA tournament with a trip to the finals but the only sure way to dance would be to win their first ever championship. That's quite a few big games.

The men are struggling right now. I don't think there is any defending the performance of the current team and the group needs to get bigger and more talented. It's on Jim Ferry to get the job done off the court and obtain the signature of some high profile, high upside recruits. With two scholarships to give, he's targeting a combo guard and another post player. The stakes have been raised with recruitment of New York guard Jon Severe, who picked up offers from Pitt and WVU this week. Still, his coach seems convinced that Severe might be better suited for a mid major program according to an article from Zagsblogs.  Duane Notice, another combo guard, has Duquesne, St Bonaventure and Seton Hall at the top of his list right now. He's explosive and his athleticism should translate well to the A-10. Notice would become the third player from Ontario to commit to Ferry should he come to Duquesne. Wide bodied center Jordan Robinson could become the fourth. He visited during the Xavier game and he and his mother appeared to get the royal treatment. He's a strong rebounder and defender with a more modest offensive game. While Duquesne is the only offer he is currently considering, C7, and Big 10 schools are involved in his recruiting.

 In order to get better, Ferry will need to repeat the magic of landing Isaiah Watkins over his dozens of suitors and hopefully sign two of the three players listed above. In order to go dancing, the women will need to step it up in a few big games in the A-10 tournament while taking care of business ahead of it. Both programs have put themselves into a position to take steps forward in March. The women will try to get the job done on the hardwood while the men's coaching staff will plan their battles at 30,000 feet. Either way, the Dukes will need to do something neither program has done in recently in order to improve. We've come up just short too often in the past in big games and recruiting. Close doesn't count for much anymore.  We need to take steps forward and the only way to move forward is to win.