Five games into his tenure as Duquesne head coach, you might think I’m kidding when I suggest an extension for Chase Brooks. I’m not.
Brooks appears as though he has begun engineering the same kind of immediate turn around he did at Niagara on the Bluff. In his first year at Niagara, the Purple Eagles climbed 56 RPI spots with a lot of holdovers from the previous squad. Based on what I’ve seen so far, I suspect the Dukes could see a bigger jump. The Dukes already sit only three victories shy of last season’s win total under Jake Ouimet. While the victories so far in 2013 came against suspect opponents, they didn’t look over matched against the once #3 Georgetown Hoyas even though Duquesne conceded their first and only goal of the season.
For me there are coaches and managers in the soccer world. Coaches can teach players basic skills and how to take advantage of their strengths relative to others. They teach players how to gain territory and attack or sit back, defend and start the counter attack. They often specialize in doing one or two things well. The United States produces plenty of coaches, but not a lot of managers who understand the game on a higher level. Managers do it all well whether its teaching, evaluating talent, planning before the game and adjusting within it. Managers can teach players to determine when they need to defend and when they need to attack. They stress skills necessary to play at the next level. For managers, forward is only one direction to go. They teach players to think several moves ahead. They are as creative as they expect their players to be or as rigid as their system requires.
Even without the early results, I just like Brooks’ style and I see him as a manager. He’s implementing a sophisticated system that resembles the European game rather than the typical run straight ahead American style. When you watch his team and compare them to their opponents during games and even in warmups, the Dukes under Brooks play and practice the game differently. He emphasizes one touch passing, crossing, decision making and finding the open passing lane in tight spaces. You see it in drills and in games. He brought in some players who fit his fluid system but by and large, he has taught the existing squad to start playing the way he wants. From the CMU scrimmage until now, Brooks’ team bought in and improved so much it looks as if he has fielded an entirely new group.
I believe Chase Brooks could rise quickly through the American soccer ranks, but I hope Duquesne does whatever it can to make as much of that ascent happen here as possible. At the moment, I suspect his reputation doesn’t extend much beyond the organizations he has coached and among the prep coaching circles he’s recruited from. His notoriety would receive a huge boost if he can build something special at Duquesne. I believe Brooks has laid the foundation here and if it were up to me, I’d offer him a contract that doubles his salary and the years left on it while quadrupling his buy out. The longer we can keep Brooks, the more the program benefits long term. Brooks as the manager at Duquesne will have a maturity date. Hopefully, Duquesne pushes that date back, even if it means doing something crazy like giving him an extension less than a third of the way through his first season.