Dukes Hire New Assistant Coach

Ron Everhart has replaced Greg Gary, who left for a job under Matt Painter at Purdue, with Senegalese born Amadou Koundoul. Koundoul has had a long a twisting career as both a player and a coach. As a player he played two seasons of Junior College ball before moving on to Cleveland State where he played two seasons and graduated with a degree in communications. Similarly, his coaching career has sent him a number of places in the collegiate and prep ranks, most notably being an assistant under Greg Gary in his one season as Head Coach at Centenary before they moved to Division III. Coach Everhart has said of the hire,

“Pape has experience as an assistant and head coach at a number of different levels ranging from prep school to college,” said Everhart. “That experience, combined with his skill in player development and his ability to motivate young men, will make him a real asset to our staff. I’m excited to have him contribute to Duquesne’s basketball success.”

This is the critical point for me. It seems as if Koundoul’s forte is player development, which is something currently missing on the bluff. Former NFL Head Coach Bill Parcells, as the head man for the New England Patriots famously said, “They want you to cook the dinner; at least they ought to let you shop for some of the groceries.” While he was voicing his displeasure in the lack of say in personnel decisions he unknowingly pointed out the two parts that make up collegiate coaching. So far, during Everhart’s tenure, the coaching staff has done a good job of bringing in talent missed or disregarded by bigger schools with the likes of Damian Saunders, TJ McConnell and Sean Johnson among others, but there is problem when your focus is simply on buying groceries, meals can come under-cooked.

Such has been the case for big men under Ron Everhart. Duquesne has not been able to develop a player over 6’7″ since Everhart has been on the bluff. Big Mike Williams and Oliver Lewison did not pan out, and part of the problem for that is the inability to mold such players. Big men don’ t grow on trees. While it is possible to find hidden gems that are guards or swing men, it is much harder to find post players simply because there are less of them on the planet. This fact points to a truth often missed by Dukes fans, because of the lack of 6’8″ and over talent, small programs like Duquesne end up with the dregs of the abnormally large human basket. So, what we get are unpolished projects that need to be developed through their time on campus. As of now, all the coaches who have manned the sidelines for Everhart have not had this ability. Perhaps now Everhart now has his center whisperer.

I am completely speculating whether or not Koundoul has any felicity in molding big men, but it seems that this hire has the right thinking behind it. Koundoul had to learn how to become a player himself while he was an undergraduate and his professional career has been focused on developing skills as opposed to finding talent. This should have given the skill set needed to help develop the likes of Derrick Martin and Martins Abele. Also, it would be welcomed if he had a ten step method to make all free throws. So as for now, good hire, whether or not he can cook is yet to be seen.

Fan Scouting Report Results

The results of the fan scouting reports are posted here. We think T.J. McConnell is the best player on the team and that Saunders and Clark were second and third. Most of the results make good sense. I think we did a pretty good job.

Ron Everhart Should Not and Will Not (I Think) Take the PSU Job

Penn State Head Basketball Coach Ed DeChellis has resigned to take the same job at the United States Naval Academy. DeChellis was coming off the program’s first NCAA Tournament appearance in ten seasons. This adds to the surprise of a coach leaving a program this late in the recruiting period. It is suspected by David Jones of the Harrisburg Patriot-News that DeChellis felt shortchanged at Penn State.

DeChellis, now 52, is not interested in coaching more than another 8-10 years. He felt a lack of respect and commitment from the Penn State administration. He was unable to get an extension or raise on a contract lasting three more seasons. His daughters have completed college and are out of the house. His wife Kim, I’ve been told, loved the idea of living in a beautiful area bordering the major metro of Washington/Baltimore.

And, most of all, he was wanted.

Salary, according to a dependable source at the Naval Academy, will be a mere $450,000 per year over five seasons. DeChellis was making $650,000 annually at PSU. But not only was he under jeopardy of not being renewed after his contract ran out in 2014 but he clearly believed a sub-par season in 2011-12 would result in his firing. He  apparently decided job security was worth a dip in salary.

With DeChellis leaving, that creates an opening at a BCS program. That should open the eyes of several aspirants, however there are several reasons why it would be foolish to take this job right now. For one thing, last year’s team featured Point Guard Talor Battle who averaged over twenty points on a club that averaged only 63 points per game. As Battle went, so did PSU. He will be gone this year leaving the team in shambles. Furthermore, prized transfer point guard Juwan Staten from Dayton will probably defect along with his coach according to Jones.

Secondly, as DeChellis’ departure demonstrates, the basketball program is a second class citizen in Happy Valley. DeChellis managed to win the NIT and make the NCAA’s in consecutive years and the administration at Penn State scoffed at the notion of a raise or long term contract extension. Such is not representative of a friendly working environment. Why would anyone jump at that job?

It is still a BCS school, but the constraints limit the types of candidates that would be interested. The first group would be coaches looking to parlay the PSU job into a better job. The Second group includes coaches who fell from grace at major programs that are unemployed or working as assistants. The third group are those coaches that were in the second group but are now at mid-major programs working their way back up the ladder.

Ron Everhart falls into the first group of candidates. According to Andy Katz, “Everhart would also listen seriously to Penn State, according to a source.” He certainly would have to listen, but I suspect his better judgment will prevail if he does get offered the job. Its a major conference program! Except that it isn’t. Could he parlay that job into a better job? Probably not. With DeChellis’ unceremonious exit his name is on a list with the likes of Dick Harter, Bruce Parkhill and Jerry Dunn; all of which were PSU’s head man and were not heard from again. PSU is not a stepping stone because of the little attention given to it.

The lack of care taken by PSU will not attract the big time prospects. Thus, I fully suspect that Everhart, were he to take the gig, would have a team that looked like the one he has had on the bluff. He, also, would have to play in one of the toughest leagues in the nation unfortunately. Such does not spell success. I suspect he would be gone within four seasons.

If Everhart waits it out, he is likely to get a better job. Seth Greenberg seems as if he is perpetually on the hot seat as he cannot seem to get Virginia Tech to the dance. They are always on the wrong side of the bubble. One bad season at Blacksburg would likely see his demise. If that happens, Everhart, a former Hokie, would have to be near the top of Tech’s list. Even if that job doesn’t open up, were Everhart to get Duquesne of all programs to the dance, he would be a very wanted man. Bigger and Better opportunities would emerge rather than second class jobs like Penn State.

So, Everhart has an interview with PSU. Big deal. He would be incredible dumb to make such a move. The Penn State job does not open doors and furthermore, his style of play would not gel with what PSU expects. Everhart does not play Big Ten basketball and the administration should know this. For this reason, I suspect they will not offer Everhart the job anyway. So, they won’t offer and Everhart would say no. I think?

2010-11 Duquesne Community Player Scouting Reports

Inspired by Tom Tango’s crowd sourced fan defensive scouting reports for MLB teams, I have come up with a project that I think will be fun for Dukes fans to take part in. Fans who follow a team closely are among the most qualified analysts of that team. So, I implore anyone who has followed the Dukes closely this season to provide his or her input to help get a better handle on the ability of the players.

I have created a survey with Survey Monkey dividing basketball related skills into nine different categories. Those are as follows…

Ball Handling: which measures how well a player can handle the ball

Passing: Measuring a player’s ability as a passer

Shooting: Measuring pure shooting ability

Creating: Measuring how well a player can create his own shot

Post Offense: Measuring how well a player can score from the post

Rebounding: Measuring how well a player is getting rebounds

Defense: Measuring how well a player plays defense considering all defense (man on man/playing help etc…)

Awareness: Measuring a player’s court awareness

Quickness: Measuring how fast a player is in basketball terms

You are asked to rank the players on the 20-80 scouting scale often used to rate baseball prospects. 50 equals an average division I player. The ratings then roughly go up or down by one standard deviation. In other words, if you are rating someone as a 60, that player better be at least in the 85th percentile for NCAA players (97th for a 70 rating and 99th for 80 rating). If you are stuck between two ratings, I would suggest that you round down.

I appreciate anyone who does the survey, and I hope you have fun with it. I’m looking forward to the responses.

To do the survey click here. It should only take a few minutes and you don’t have to sign up for anything.

Dukes Season Ends at Oregon

It is fitting that the final seconds of the 2010-11 Duquesne Dukes mens’ basketball season were sealed with the two primary shortcomings of the team. Down three with 1:54 remaining on the clock Oregon possessed the ball with a chance to get a basket and control the clock. What occurred was an all out defensive effort by the Dukes making sure to contest every shot.

There was only one problem. After running the shot clock down Oregon guard Malcolm Armstead put up a shot, which missed but was corralled by the Ducks allowing them to run more clock culminating in another shot which was grabbed off once more by Oregon.

Finally another miss was rebounded by T.J. McConnell who outletted the ball quickly resulting in a Bill Clark layup with 10 seconds left to play. The Dukes, one of the worst defensive rebounding teams in the nation, allowed Oregon to run 1:40 on the clock in one possession essentially sealing their fate.

The Clark layup briefly gave the Dukes a reprieve. Following a foul of Oregon forward E.J. Singler and two made free throws, the Dukes had 7 seconds to tie the game with a three point shot. In that possession, Sean Johnson cleverly used his deceptive shot fake to get Oregon’s Armstead off his feet leading to a shooting foul and three foul shots.

Johnson was then on the line with the ability to tie the game. The former New York City Catholic League MVP, who led his team to a league title in high school, missed the first attempt complicating matters for the Dukes. He would go on the make the second and miss the third on purpose with the hopes of a Duke scooping up the ball and making a game tying shot. No such luck.

Johnson’s miss was reminiscent of the two free throws he missed in the quarterfinal game against St. Joseph’s with Duquesne up two which could have effectively sealed the game for the Dukes. These failures at the charity stripe are glaring examples of a team that ranked among the dregs of Division I in free throw shooting percentage. Poor Defensive rebounding and abominable foul shooting were the markers of what could have been for this Duquesne club. Its a fitting denouement to a down-and-up and-back-down campaign.

Choruses of “what could have been” are sure to echo through Dukes nation. Were the team able to knock down free throws it would have earned its first NCAA Tournament bid since 1977 with potential wins over West Virginia, Penn State and George Mason.

While it is easy to point to Johnson’s miss, it should be noted that it was his first free throw of the night which is typically the most difficult to make and it was only one of eight attempts compared to 26 for the Ducks. It seems the home team was favored by the officials which is an all to familiar sight for mid-major teams who receive travel compensation to play at a big time school. The home cooking is what won this game for Oregon. All other factors can be taken into account but the uneven officiating stands out as the deciding factor. If the calls were more even, the Dukes would have been victorious despite being a poor foul shooting team. Nobody can tell me differently.

Preview: Dukes at Oregon (CBI)

The University of Oregon’s football team had one of its most successful seasons in history, such has not been the case for the basketball team. Bankrolled by Nike founder Phil Knight, the school built a new basketball arena to help firmly entrench Oregon as a basketball power. After firing longtime coach Ernie Kent, the University’s financiers went on a search to find the right man to lead the program.

After being rejected by Tom Izzo and several other high profile coaches Oregon signed Creighton head man Dana Altman. Altman had much success with the Blue Jays turning the program from an also ran to a perennial power in the Missouri Valley. His tenure in Omaha boasted 11 consecutive 20 win seasons and seven NCAA Tournament appearances. This sustained success is what caused Oregon booster Pat Kilkenny end his search with Altman.

Altman has since learned that simply showing up on campus in the bright lights of a major conference program with a fancy new gym is not necessarily a cake walk. The Oregon program has seen many defections leaving the program without much of a direction. After four players transferred and one went to play professionally overseas, Altman had to try to pick up the pieces. What he thought was going to be an big team turned out to be one he is more accustomed to. Altman is known for having undersized teams dependent on shooting at the expense of rebounding. His 2-1-2 high post offense has been crafted to fit such personnel.

The prototypical example of Altman’s preferred brand of basketball is his only All-American Kyle Korver. Korver was a tall swing forward with a silky smooth shooting stroke whom the Blue Jays ran their offense through. That season he took nearly 20 percent of the teams shots and 39 percent of Creighton’s three point attempts. Altman’s offense will likely feature one player, typically a small/power forward. This season that role has been filled by 6’6” senior Joevan Catron, who is the 67th most used player in the nation. Catron does not fill the Korver prototype because he is not a proficient long distance shooter. He is more in that position because of his status as a senior leader rather than his skill set.

A more natural fit is found in Sophomore swing man E.J. Singler. Singler, the less homely little brother of Duke’s Kyle, is a 39 percent shooter from behind the arc and a 51 percent marksman from inside. Further he has a good handle for someone his size and is a decent passer and defender. Next year’s offense will likely feature the Beaver state native perhaps allowing him to recreate some of the younger sibling magic put forth by Notre Dame’s Ben Hansbrough this season.

Collectively Oregon will run Altman’s high post offense, which is similar to the scheme that Marquette employed to manhandle Xavier. Oregon is not as big as Marquette however so the offense will be run farther from the basket at the expense of rebounding. Unfortunately, for the Ducks there are not many shooters on the team which hinders Altman’s schemes to work properly. On the other hand, this Oregon team has met the high standards Altman sets for his ball handlers doing a good job of taking care of the ball.

On defense there has been a trend over Altman’s recent seasons of decline. The year’s Oregon club is no different. Particularly of note is the increased proficiency with which opponents are getting to the free throw line. Obviously this is not of benefit to a poor free throw shooting team like Duquesne. What is of benefit is the poor field goal defense. Oregon ranks 260th in effective field goal percentage which bodes well for the Dukes as I have explained before.

Duquesne is the superior team in this matchup, however Oregon has the superior coach. That could be the difference. A good game plan could end Duquesne’s season but if talent alone should decide this game the Dukes will likely prevail. Coach Ron Everhart would be wise to deploy the platoon strategy which was so effective in the Montana game. Keeping players fresh will allow the Dukes superior athleticism to shine through as well as allowing the offense to function properly with movement. Do not be fooled, just because Oregon is a BCS school does not make Duquesne an underdog. The Ducks are the inferior team and this game is one Duquesne should win, but playing on the road and a long lay off allowing Altman to devise a game plan could quite well tip this game in Oregon’s favor.

Statistic Duquesne Rk Oregon Rk
Points Per Possession 1.065 89 0.976 87
Effective Field Goal % 52.0% 49 51.0% 260
Turnover % 18.6% 84 22.2% 60
Offensive Rebound % 33.0% 148 33.0% 210
FT Attempts/ FG Attempts 43.3% 48 35.9% 127
Three Point FG % 35.2% 124 36.2% 262
Two Point FG % 51.5% 32 49.1% 233
Free Throw % 62.6% 326
Block % 10.4% 260 8.1% 220
Steal % 7.8% 28 11.6% 36
3P Attempts/ FG Attempts 36.6% 77 36.5% 282
Assists per Made FG 65.1% 8 55.9% 236
Statistic Oregon Rk Duquesne Rk
Points Per Possession 1.045 108 0.933 19
Effective Field Goal % 47.4% 244 47.9% 117
Turnover % 17.9% 49 28.1% 1
Offensive Rebound % 30.5% 241 38.0% 336
FT Attempts/ FG Attempts 31.1% 313 37.4% 163
Three Point FG % 33.7% 201 33.4% 109
Two Point FG % 45.7% 262 46.9% 134
Free Throw % 74.4% 34
Block % 10.5% 270 14.0% 17
Steal % 7.7% 20 13.8% 3
3P Attempts/ FG Attempts 35.1% 119 32.5% 171
Assists per Made FG 55.8% 115 53.8% 167

Jury Returns: Chris Mack is Not a Good Coach

For a while I’ve gone back and forth on whether I think Chris Mack is a good coach. After yesterday’s drubbing at the hands of Marquette I have now realized that he is not. The argument for Mack is clear, after the departure of Sean Miller the program has not missed a beat. The team has not dropped off, thus it is unfair to consider him a poor coach. Xavier has 50 wins since Mack grabbed the wheel. The question is; how much of that success can be attributed to the coach?

Over the past two seasons it is clear that Xavier and Temple have been the teams to beat in the Atlantic 10. How did these teams get to the top? In regard to Temple it seems clear that much of their success has to do with Fran Dunphy taking over the head coaching position following John Chaney’s retirement. It seemed clear that Chaney, legendary architect of the Owls’ lockdown matchup zone defense, had lost his fastball due to his advanced age. After a run of making 17 of 18 NCAA Tournaments, Chaney failed to make the big dance in his final five seasons. Enter Fran Dunphy. Dunphy had paid his dues coaching Penn for 17 years, winning the Ivy League 10 times in that span.

Comparing Chris Mack and Fran Dunphy Over The Past Two Seasons


Mack Dunphy
Record 50-16 55-13
Winning Percentage .758 .809
NCAA Appearances 2 2
2010 Pomeroy Rating 14th 22nd
2011 Pomeroy Rating 35th 36th
2010 RPI 17th 11th
2011 RPI 25th 27th
Expected 09-10 A10 Finish 2nd T-5th
Actual 09-10 A10 Finish T-1st T-1st
Expected 10-11 A10 Finish 2nd 1st
Actual 10-11 A10 Finish 1st 2nd

After an initial rebuilding season Dunphy has led the Owls to the dance four consecutive seasons. Dunphy had taken a sputtering program and breathed new life into it making it the class of the conference. Is the key to his success convincing top flight recruits to spend a few years in North Philadelphia? Not really. While Dunphy has not recruited big names, he has utilized the Philadelphia and New York talent bases well. Below is a table that points to all of Dunphy’s freshman recruits. Notice that only one of them was nationally ranked at their position and he was enrolled this season and has not seen the floor due to injury. Pointing to recruiting as the primary reason for Dunphy’s success seems unwarranted.

Freshman Recruits Along With Their Scout.com Position Ranking


XAVIER



TEMPLE

Class Player Pos Rank
Class Player Pos Rank
2006 Adrion Graves SG 20 2006 Ryan Brooks SG NR
2006 Jason Love C 34 2006 Luis Guzman PG NR
2007 Dante Jackson SG 26 2006 Mike Scott PF NR
2008 Tu Holloway PG 15 2007 Ramone Moore SG NR
2008 Brian Walsh SG NR 2007 Lavoy Allen PF NR
2008 Kenny Frease C 11 2007 Michael Eric C NR
2008 Brad Radford SG 27 2007 Martavis Kee SG NR
2008 Mark Lyons PG 20 2008 Scootie Randall SF NR
2010 Griffin McKenzie PF 43 2009 Rahlir Jefferson PF NR
2010 Justin Martin SF 20 2009 Khaliff Wyatt SG NR
2010 Jay Canty SG 20 2010 Aaron Brown SF NR
2010 Jordan Latham PF 20 2010 Anthony Lee C 23

Lets compare Dunphy’s success to that of Mack. Mack has a nearly identical record. Has he been blessed with better talent than Dunphy? You betcha. Over the past five recruiting periods Xavier has received commitments from 12 incoming freshman, the same amount as Temple. There is a major difference however. 11 of X’s 12 recruits were nationally ranked at their respective positions (see table below). So that is 11-12 ranked prospects for Xavier compared to 1-12 ranked prospects. Considering this condition it is clear that the Musketeers are starting from a better position. With that talent level coming through the pipeline in a league like the A-10, Xavier should never finish outside the top three. Under Mack they have won the league in both of the coach’s seasons, so he is certainly making good use of the talent, but it would seem that recruiting has been the primary reason for success.

Taking into account the level of talent coming through the blue side of Cincinnati, one would expect them to have post season success. Last year’s squad did, making the Sweet Sixteen and then forced Kansas State to overtime once there. The run was largely on the back of do-everything-guard Jordan Crawford who was a first round NBA Draft pick. Crawford transferred from Indiana after the Kelvin Sampson debacle. Temple is not likely to get transfers like that, but I digress. A team with that talent should make Sweet Sixteens, and that is exactly what happened.

No such luck this season, after X took a drubbing by Marquette. Marquette ran an offense and Xavier had five guys try to go one-on-one. The Muskies looked flat at the beginning of the contest and never could get into a rhythm. Buzz Williams’ team shut down Xavier’s three top players Tu Holloway, Mark Lyons and Jamel McLean. Lyons and Holloway payed their typical Kobe Bryant inspired hero-complex games and failed to succeed against a stout Golden Eagle defense. McLean simply had a bad game. There was little ball movement and players largely stood around waiting to get the ball.

Such is not the sign of a good coach. Looking back at the games I have seen Xavier play this season, last night was not an exception but the norm. The only difference between this game and the others is that X’s superior talent did not save the day. Also, Xavier has consistently played to the level of its competition which is a sign of lack of motivation. Mental lapses against bad teams, while not costing many games, still has been apparent and will have to change in order for my opinion of Mack to change. While Mack is by no means Brian Gregory, he is not Fran Dunphy either. Muskie fans should not expect a Final Four any time soon.

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