By Adam Lindner | Asst. Sports Editor
It’s the dawn of a new day for Duquesne basketball, and as expected, there’s been tremendous roster movement since Keith Dambrot was appointed as Duquesne’s new head basketball coach last month. The fragment of a roster that stands today barely resembles the one that the Red & Blue ended the season with, which leaves the team both excited and uncertain.
For starters, three players exhausted their eligibilities: senior Darius Lewis and graduate transfers Emile Blackman and Kale Abrahamson.
The subtraction of Blackman will hurt the most for the Dukes, as the experienced wing averaged a whopping 30.2 minutes per game. Blackman also finished second on the team with 12.5 points per game amid respectable .44/.39/.76 shooting. His experience will be missed, but losing such a key player will create opportunities for others.
Otherwise, the losses of Lewis and Abrahamson aren’t very notable. Lewis saw his usage diminish severely from last year, and Abrahamson wasn’t able to live up to expectations after breaking a broken bone in his hand during a preseason exhibition game.
Following the firing of coach Jim Ferry, numerous others decided to depart from the program as well.
Along with the three aforementioned losses, Duquesne also loses non-scholarship player David Haus. Haus, a junior, announced on April 2 that he would not be returning to the program for his senior season. Haus will remain a Duquesne student.
As for scholarship players, several key contributors from last year’s squad have announced their intentions to play elsewhere next season.
Most notably, stud freshman Isiaha Mike intends to transfer from the program next year.
On March 25, Mike tweeted, “After much thought, my family and I have decided it’s best for my future to request my release from Duquesne.”
In the subsequent days following his announcement on Twitter, Mike has hinted cryptically at where he may end up. On April 11, he tweeted, “So Many Universities,” followed by an emoticon of a contemplative face.
Forward Nakye Sanders and guard Rene Castro will also be transferring from the program.
While losing six scholarship players certainly generates some warranted uncertainty, it has also opened up six new scholarships for Dambrot to fill.
Each team is allotted 12 scholarships, and with six opening up immediately, Dambrot has been given an opportunity to jump-start his rebuild.
Furthermore, recruits that all signed under Ferry – Jamari Wheeler, John Walker III and Lewis Djonkam – have all been released from their commitments. Those coming in next year will truly be Dambrot’s players.
Thus far, Dambrot has signed several players for next year, including junior college transfer Marko Krivacevic and high school senior Eric Williams Jr.
Krivacevic, a 6-foot-9 forward, will transfer from Miami Dade Community College and be eligible this coming season. Krivacevic is originally from Szombathely, Hungary.
Williams, a 6-foot-5 guard, attends New Haven High School in New Haven, Michigan. Williams will be eligible next season, as well.
Dambrot has also managed to secure commitments from three transfers, all of which must sit out this coming season.
Tavian Dunn-Martin, Craig Randall, and Mike Hughes have all announced their intentions to transfer to Duquesne. All will be eligible beginning in 2018-19.
Dunn-Martin, a freshman guard who averaged 4.0 ppg at Akron, will follow Dambrot to the Bluff alongside fellow former Zip, forward Mike Hughes. Both have three years of eligibility remaining.
Randall, a guard transferring from Memphis, averaged 5.2 ppg as a sophomore. He will have two years of eligibility remaining.
While it is unlikely that Dambrot can utilize each of the remaining open scholarships to attain quality players this late in the recruiting process, it does give him an opportunity to look at players who may have been overlooked by other schools.
Graduate transfers are also very pertinent in situations like these. Considering the bevy of scholarships that Dambrot still has available, the lack of quality recruits that are still available, and the short amount of time left to construct a roster, Dambrot may want to bring in a few graduate transfers to bolster his roster. Doing so would bring in experienced players and preserve scholarships for future years.
While losing such prominent contributors from last year’s squad is worrisome, as is the gaping hole in the frontcourt, there’s much reason for optimism surrounding the program. Mike Lewis II remaining at Duquesne for his sophomore season is a ginormous step in the right direction.
As Dambrot continues to reconstruct the program, Dukes fans must keep in mind that Rome wasn’t built in a day. Remaining patient in anticipation of next season is important, given the circumstances that Dambrot finds himself in.