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How the Rest of the College Basketball Coaching Market Impacts Duquesne

Athletic Director Dave Harper has his chance to put a stamp on the basketball program with a strong hire.
Photo by Bob Donaldson/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

It’s said in many places, both internally with our fans and externally in the media, that Duquesne is a tough job. Some have even called it a coaching graveyard. “Why would anyone want to coach here?” they say. Probably because they can double a guy’s salary and it only takes one to break the trend.

The market will also dictate how well the Duquesne job plays. If there aren’t a lot of schools in for a new coach, suddenly the Dukes’ job looks better by comparison. Job scarcity!

There are three categories in breaking the market down. There are programs superior to Duquesne and these schools likely aren’t drawing from the same pool of candidates as the Dukes. They might even take coaches from programs who still wouldn’t be drawing from the same pool of candidates as the Dukes in some cases. Here, I’m talking specifically about Illinois, Missouri, California, LSU, and NC State. California simply replaces Missouri on the list and there are still only four Power 5 jobs open. The good news for Duquesne is that this is a relatively small group now, though it can get considerably larger as they poach from other schools.

The TCU job being open last year trickled down and resulted in three Power 5 openings and another position, Valpo, that would be more attractive than Duquesne, but is a team that would be drawing from the same pool. The good news for Duquesne is that took it almost a month for all those dominoes to fall from Dallas to Indiana. Being in the market early helps and if it takes three moves before the Mizzou – California chain gets to a potential competitor, the ink on Ferry’s successor’s contract should have long dried.

The next group are jobs at that are on the same level or more specifically, jobs that would be drawing from the same pool of talent potentially. I will discuss this group in the greatest detail. I’ll also look at some schools that could potentially join this mix and who have already made their changes. It’s worth noting that I think most schools in this category are most likely more attractive jobs.

Finally, there is the group that wouldn’t be able to hire the same caliber of candidates as Duquesne. These are low major positions or schools who simply aren’t doing much.

On the Level – Hires Made

South Florida

Duquesne fans drew a collective sigh of relief when Brian Gregory was named head coach of South Florida. He was on my short list and a number of others for the Dukes head coaching position due to the shared Dayton connection with AD Dave Harper. While I don’t think he’s the awful choice some suggest, we know what his ceiling is as an Atlantic 10 coach and it’s middle of the road, never terrible, but rarely elite. He’s a great choice for a school who wants to put men’s basketball on autopilot.

George Washington

The Colonials removed the interim tag from Maurice Joseph confirming him as the replacement for Mike Lonergan. He did a great job holding the team together in a difficult situation and no doubt has the chops to hang in the A-10 in the short term. The question is does he have enough experience to hold it down in the long run? I like GW and I hope the answer is ‘yes’. Lonergan is a great guy to learn from outside of the interpersonal skills.

To sum up the on the level schools who are now off the market, one hired a coach the Dukes had zero chance of getting in Maurice Joseph and one who hopefully wasn’t what they were looking for in Brian Gregory. This plays very well in the Dukes favor.

On the Level and On the Market

UMass

Before I even begin to talk about the Minutemen, this is a more attractive job than Duquesne. State flagship, more recent history, and their coaches generally speaking get paid more than Duquesne has historically paid theirs. That said, it’s also a very difficult job in the sense that Western Mass isn’t exactly cosmopolitan, nor have they been much better than mediocre since Coach Cal vacated a Final Four appearance and the position for the Nets.

If Duquesne and UMass are going mano a mano for the same coach, they likely break UMass’s way. However, there are quite a few fish in the sea and the chances they will want the exact same guy is slim. If they do, it will likely be for King Rice, who I’m not sure I see as a Power Five guy just yet. His team makeup is a little mid-major for the big dogs, even if his players are fundamentally sound. In the end, it would be great if the Dukes somehow came out with the better coach even if the Minutemen are probably better positioned to hire one.

Quinnipiac

Guess who else is conducting a national coaching search? Our old friend Greg Amodio and he’s supposedly looking to spend Keith Dambrot money (approx. 800K) to get his man. Early candidates include a pair of Duquesne rivals in Mark Schmitt, and Andy Toole, as well as Albany’s Will Brown. Even though they are lower on the conference totem poll, Quinnipiac has some considerable buying power and an aggressive plan for athletics. The good news is that I don’t see any of those names on the Dukes radar anyway.

Cleveland St.

Coach Gary Waters retired after a long time at the helm for Cleve St. So long that it’s difficult to imagine how they’ll respond to a coaching change. There could be some crossover on the lists between the Dukes and Vikings, but this is one situation where the Dukes might have a leg up on the competition. That said, I don’t see them as an ambitious hire and I’d wager they had some conversations with Brian Gregory.

Miami (OH)

This isn’t a job that likely is going to appear more attractive than Duquesne to most coaches, but in the right scenario, it could have certain tie breakers based on personal fit for the coach. I’m sure there will be some crossover candidates. Jim Groce comes to mind. Would his ties to Ohio make that a better fit?

On the Level – Potential Openings

I won’t give everyone their own section here but I think there are a number that could be added to this category. If Rhode Island makes any kind of a run in the NCAA tournament, Danny Hurley could become a hot commodity. I haven’t seen his name connected anywhere just yet, but that could change quickly. Pat Kelsey on the other hand has been and the Winthrop job could be very attractive to top assistants. Likewise, UNC Wilmington could also be an attractive option if Kevin Keats jumps for an elite job after quickly cleaning up Buzz Peterson’s mess. It took him a while, but Kermit Davis has Middle Tennessee St humming. Could he leave after 15 years? I’m sure there are others on the West Coast, but chances are they’re drawing from a different pot.

***

The faster the Dukes can get their next head coach locked up the better, before any top job trickle-down comes their way.  At the moment there isn’t a lot of competition. South Florida and George Washington did the Dukes a favor coming off the market without depleting it of anyone but a potential safety valve for the Dukes. Really, there’s only one other kid, UMass, who might want to pee in the same pool as the Dukes. That could change quickly and you can’t always count on mid-majors like Valpo to staying in house. However, they have a distinct advantage of being in play early against a thin market. In truth, the Dukes are in a great position for coaches, graveyard be damned. A coach that’s motivated to move might see Duquesne in a better light than normal, given lack of other options.

About Steve DiMiceli (129 Articles)
Steve is a naturalized yinzer hailing originally from just north of Allentown, PA. He came to Pittsburgh to attend Duquesne University and decided to stick around after graduation. Steve is best known for his contributions to Duquesne hoops community as the owner of the Duquesne Dukes forum on Yuku and as the former editor of We Wear the Ring on the Fansided network. He is an avid Pirates fan, home cook and policy nerd. He is the co-founder of the Point of Pittsburgh. Easily irritated by people who misuse the word regress.