Friday, January 19, 2007

Duquesne BBall Team Takes Another Blow

Since graduating from Duquesne University and especially in the past 6 or so months I have become more of a fan of the men’s basketball team for the school then I ever was in my four years there as a student. I probably made it to about one or two men’s games a year with the most exciting games being during their 12 – 17 season my Junior year where we upset nationally ranked Xavier on our home court. The team then went on to beat them on their home court as well making that probably the most memorable season of late. That is of course until this season when for just about the worst possible reason Duquesne Men’s basketball was put on the national spotlight.

After finishing last season with a record of 3 and 24 then head coach Danny Nee retired with two years remaining on his contract as the coach. Duquesne went out and grabbed Ron Everhart from Northeastern who came in and immediately began to stir things up with the team. When the dust settled only two players remained from the previous team and Everhart managed to land the Colonial Athletic Association Defensive Player of the Year in Shawn James who decided to make the move with his former head coach and Kojo Mensah from Siena. (Both will not be eligible until the 07 – 08 season due to transfer rules). The appeared poised to take a strong stride into a new era.

That is when the unthinkable happened and if you follow college basketball at all you probably heard about it. Five Dukes basketball players (including Shawn and Kojo) were shot after a student organizations’ dance on the section of Duquesne’s small campus called Academic Walk. All five went to the hospital right across the street from campus with two in critical condition. All five have since recovered though Sam Ashoulu was left with bullet fragments in his skull and will be forever affected by what happened that night.

When the season began the Dukes started only one of the five players that were shot while Sam was still in recovery and the other three watched from the sidelines. The season started off with 2 straight wins for the diminished team which also had only two players taller then 6 foot 6. Following the two wins the Dukes went on a 7 game slide including a disappointing OT loss to Northern Illinois, a one point loss to cross town rival Robert Morris and a tough game against the national ranked Pittsburgh Panthers.

Following the Christmas break the Dukes had to travel to Boston to take on their first ACC team in Boston College. Right before making the trip Head Coach Ron Everhart was checked into the hospital with abdominal pain and had to miss the big game. The Dukes ended up pulling out the upset of the Eagles in an exciting game for probably one of the biggest upsets in Duquesne’s recent history.

Today I got the latest update of what seems like a feed of all bad news for the Men’s basket ball team. One of our two big men, 6-9 255 pound Almamy Thiero, was hospitalized indefinitely for blood clots in his lungs. Duquesne can’t seem to catch a break for anything this year. Hopefully this will be the end of the bad news for the Dukes for this season and they can finish out this year with dignity and come back even stronger next season. With Shawn James, Kojo Mensah, and Stuard Baldonado who was forced to sit out this season, next years season holds a lot of hope for fans of Duquesne Basketball.

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