When Ron Everhart coached the Duquesne basketball, I recall a number of times when I’d hear “Maybe we should just hold the scholarship to the next class” late in recruiting with a roster vacancy. I recall chiming in and agreeing that maybe the staff should save the open slot and that the Dukes could pass with the 12 guys for the upcoming season. Besides, the staff might steal another Damian Saunders or Melquan Bolding type late when a BCS coach realized he didn’t stop at four when giving scholarship offers. Keeping a scholarship open didn’t seem like a terrible alternative to signing a human whose breathing, taller than 6’0, eligible and without much D-I upside.
In late July, the Times West Virginian reported that Mamadou Datt would join Fairmont St in the fall leaving Jim Ferry with twelve men on the roster. My first thought drifted to a Saunders – esque coup of Sheldon Jeter, because at the time, I had no idea he’d take extreme measures to circumvent the conditions blocking him from an easy transfer to Pitt. With that in mind, I reverted to old habits and said “might as well hold it.”
This year Ferry’s feeling the pain of the unfilled scholarship. When the stars of bad fortune align, you need as much depth as you can get and Ferry has all but tapped his out. The problem isn’t so much them competing. No one expects them to do that. The missing scholarship disturbs Ferry’s plans for the future and might limit his ability to compete down the road with a player redshirted this year. Coaches don’t always require the extra depth but when they need it, they’re glad they have it. If Datt or a replacement were on the team, this recruiting recap would be about some other topic.
I think it’s worth mentioning that I lightly criticized Suzie McConnell – Serio for purposefully leaving at least two scholarships open on the women’s side. With Carly Vandemia out all of last year, an extra post player would have come in handy especially when another forward, Orsi Szeci, missed time during a crucial stretch. I don’t know if having those final two scholarships filled would have made a difference, but when you lose two consecutive one point games with your second best player missing, it’s not outrageous to think it could have. The year before, Vanessa Abel’s injury and a transfer left the Dukes without a true point guard for much of the second half of the season. Using the vacant scholarships could have helped.
I’m over leaving scholarships unfilled. While this year isn’t normal, you never know when you’ll need thirteen men or fifteen women. Of course, I still don’t advocate signing a breathing human just to fill a roster spot either. You don’t just get the kid for one or two years normally and you end up screwing with his life when ultimately, he doesn’t work out. I would now prefer to keep the players you already have if you don’t have a replacement in mind, signing a late JUCO strictly for depth or reaching on a low D-1 prospect headed to prep school with hopes of better offers next year. Holding a scholarship trumps an act of desperation, but if a coach can avoid doing it, I think he or she should.
– If you hadn’t noticed, recruiting has stayed quiet this week and we have no public evidence of Plan B going into effect.
– As far as I can tell, Duquesne basketball remains in consideration for New York forward Michael Nzei, but recruiting people at 247 think his future lies in Iowa City.