Waiting for the Dust to Settle

By Steve DiMiceli

This has been a turbulent offseason for the Dukes. Last year was a turbulent off season for the Dukes. Reflecting back on what it felt like to be a Duquesne fan last spring, my anxiety level is way down now in comparison. While we've had some turnover, we have what would appear to be a serviceable option at every position. On April 20th, 2012, we didn't have a point guard or a true center. We never did get that center, but a week later we got the PG. We're waiting for dust to settle again but its not nearly as dusty.

I admit that I was on edge from the time Jim Ferry took the job until Derrick Colter committed. Up to that point, I couldn't look away from the computer for fear that the next "(1) Twitter" on the dedicated Mozilla tab would be that Duquesne commitment and I would miss it. I needed to know and I needed to know instantly.  I wrote primer after primer of JUCO and prep players available. My nerves eased a little when I knew that we had a PG in tow even though I knew next to nothing about him. It was pretty irrational to be satiated at the time by Colter, but anxiety is irrational by nature. It got a little easier after that but I still had twitter on constant refresh even though Spring 2012 recruiting was quiet save for Trey Dickerson watch and Caris Levert drifting steadily out of reach.

The dust hasn't settled on 2013 yet and there are almost as many scholarships available now as last year. The same quiet has settled in, but the edge and anticipation haven't.  We've still got decent sized holes the 3 and maybe the 5 in the short run, but there are no blank spots on the depth chart like we had last year. I  don't feel like the future of the program is hanging in the balance on the last scholarship openings. The five incoming players already signed make for a solid foundation when you pair them with Jeremiah Jones and Colter. I have seen that  Ferry and his staff can find quality late in the recruiting period.  They nabbed the two mentioned above and Quevyn Winters at the last minute, so I'm more comfortable with his talent evaluation and recruiting chops in the spring than when he was an unknown commodity. All three project as average or better A-10 starters at their respective positions with Winters and Colter possessing all league upside. If he did well last year without much time, Ferry could do well again this year. We haven't heard much lately on recruiting and I'm not expecting to hear anything concrete for at least another week or so. There are a few names out there. Gabe Levin the 6'7'' SF and former Hofstra commit. Errick Peck, the Cornell grad transfer. Nothing seems close.

Now, I'm waiting for the dust to settle only so I can begin breaking down the roster and projecting what the 2013-14 season might look like.  I'm feeling better because I think the 9 players eligible for next season could be at least a borderline CBI team without further additions.

The big question I have is how quickly can the team gel?  The personnel dust will settle soon enough, but we'll still have questions of chemistry until the team plays a game. Only three returners have played a full season for Ferry. It will take time for the newcomers to get comfortable with the system. Hopefully, the Dukes can follow a path similar to  George Washington who overcame early season struggles and got off to a hot start in the A-10. Difference being, I'd like to see Duquesne maintain that strong start for the entire conference season.

So emotionally, I'm not a wreck like I was last season, even though there is still a lot we don't know about this team. We'll learn some things pretty soon, others we'll have to wait on. Either way, it doesn't feel like there is as much at stake with recruiting and the late spring signings aren't as crucial as they were in 2012. While small forward is an issue right now, there isn't the same urgency as there was with point guard last year. The rest of this class is building blocks to fit on top of what I believe to be a strong foundation.