The 2007-08 season was a great one for the Duquesne faithful. It was the second under Ron Everhart and the team was still living in the after glow of the 10/40 run the year before. The Dukes trotted out a pretty good team and I’m not just saying that because of the hot garbage that preceded it. They had a deep roster filled with players with legitimate upside and top end talent. Truthfully, that team may have underachieved a bit, but just establishing a winning season satisfied about anyone who followed Duquesne hoops. For that reason, we fans look back on that team fondly.
In Jim Ferry’s third year, the Dukes once again have a deep team in the sense that he’ll have a couple of players to tinker with at each position. In some cases, the current squad won’t lose much from starter to reserve. Ferry will also have plenty of position flexibility making it easier to find minutes for everyone. This is a deep team, but how does it compare to 2007 – 08?
Both teams are deep but not as deep as they could have been as neither had their full collection of scholarships filled. The departure of Isaiah Watkins and Rene Castro’s transfer redshirt have left Ferry with only eleven men for this season while Stu Baldonado was kicked off Everhart’s team and Sam Ashalou sat out his second season as a result of the shooting. This could be more of an issue for Ferry than Everhart because the former Northeastern coach had an eye for walk – ons with Jimmy Sherwood getting an opportunity early and Jason Duty earning a larger role later on. Of course, a couple of Everhart’s scholarship players never really got involved, while I think everyone on the current Duquesne roster could eat minutes without hurting the team badly.
For me though, the similarities end with the name on the front of the jersey and eleven guys with full rides. While I like a lot of players on the current Duquesne squad, I’m not sure if any save for Micah Mason have the immediate upside of Shawn James, Kieron Achara or Kojo Mensah. The ’07 – 08 team might not be as deep top to bottom as this year’s, but it was deeper at the top. Of course, this year’s team is probably deeper across the middle with less separation from the best and worst players.
It’s also worth noting the roster make up was quite different by class standing:
’07 – 08 ’14-15
Seniors 3 1
Juniors 4 4
Sophomores 1 4
Freshman 3 3
Not only was Ron’s second team one of the deepest in recent memory, it was also one of the most experienced. Now, the team is loaded but still very young.
We still don’t know exactly who will fit where in the current Dukes lineup, but they have a much clearer two deep structure at each position. PG will be Derrick Colter and Desmond Ridenour. Mason will play the two with Jordan Stevens. The wings are Jeremiah Jones and Eric James. It becomes a little more clouded inside as both the players providing depth inside will be fours. In all likelihood, Dominique McKoy starts there and shifts to the five when Jordan Robinson needs a break with Tysean Powell and LG Gill as the reserves. In 07′ – 08′ the Dukes had great depth at the one, two and five, but no one besides Damian Saunders and Bill Clark made much sense at the three or four. Of course, had Everhart been willing to use James and Achara together he wouldn’t have had that problem.
Overall, I like the current roster composition better in terms of both age and position balance than the one in ’07 – 08, but I don’t think the current Dukes have the same upside as their predecessor. If that team had kept it together down the stretch, the NIT was not a reach for them. While I’m optimistic about the Dukes’ future, I don’t see the NCAA sanctioned post season in their immediate future. However, that doesn’t take away from the depth and in the end, I’d probably argue that this is deepest group since Everhart’s second year with the potential to be the deepest in a very long time by next season.