Friday, December 29, 2006

Basketball resurrection in progress

Last night Duquesne won a basketball game in overtime. The Dukes of the mid-major A-10 outlasted the elite ACC’s Boston College Eagles: Duquesne 98, BC 93.

So what?

Here’s what: It’s a story in itself that the Dukes are even fielding a basketball team this season, so beating anybody is somewhat amazing. Stemming from a bizarre Sept. 17 shooting incident in Pittsburgh, following an on-campus party, five of Duquesne’s players suffered bullet wounds. By the way, the players were innocent victims in the melee.

Here’s an excerpt of an early October column I wrote which detailed the status of the injured players at that time; the quotes are from Dave Saba (Associate Athletic Director at Duquesne), who said then the Dukes still didn’t even have a roster they could publish:

“...Shawn James is sitting out this season following his transfer from Northeastern, as is Kojo Mensah who transferred from Siena. James [was] shot in the foot and Mensah in the arm and shoulder. Both should eventually be able to practice with the team at some point this winter. James is currently on crutches and still has to have the bullet removed from his foot. Mensah’s shoulder is still in a sling. Aaron Jackson, who was grazed on the hand by a bullet, did not miss any workouts. Junior college forward Stuard Baldonado, who was released from the hospital five days after the shooting, will have to undergo rehab. [A] bullet severed an artery in his arm, re-entered his body and barely missed his spine. His status for this season is to be determined. Sam Ashaolu is still hospitalized in serious condition - two gunshot wounds to the head.”

Last season the Dukes went 3-24, with none of their players healing from bullet wounds. That was their 12th consecutive losing season, which got the coach fired.

The Dukes new head coach Ron Everhart (Va. Tech ‘85) came in with a reputation for resurrecting moribund basketball programs, having done so at McNeese State and Northeastern. Yes, resurrection sounded like a good plan, but after the Sept. 17th shootings, this year, Coach Everhart had his work cut out for him like never before.

With the season now underway, and all that to overcome, Duquense (4-7) has already won more games than it did last season. Now get this -- last night Everhart had to do his coaching by remote control. He was in the hospital. Click here to read, “From the hospital, Everhart follows a stunning upset.”

Click here for the game’s box score. By the way, Duquense will come to the University of Richmond’s Robins Center to meet the Spiders (4-7) on Feb 14th.

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