Luke Henne | Editor-in-Chief
Feb. 9, 2023
Behind a combined 37 points from starting guards Dae Dae Grant (20 points) and Tevin Brewer (17 points), the Duquesne men’s basketball team coasted to a 75-52 victory over George Mason at UPMC Cooper Fieldhouse Wednesday night.
The win was a historic one, as Duquesne Head Coach Keith Dambrot secured his 500th career victory at the collegiate level. Yet he’s not too worried about that in the present.
“I think it’ll mean a little bit more to me once I’m done [coaching],” Dambrot said. “I just want to win as many games as we can and get these guys to get what they deserve, really. They put a lot of time into it.”
Dambrot said that he purposely wore a LeBron James Nike-branded sweatshirt, just one day after James made history of his own by passing Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and becoming the NBA’s all-time leading scorer. Dambrot, an Akron, Ohio, native, coached the fellow Akron product during James’ high-school career at St. Vincent-St. Mary High School.
Dru Joyce III, Duquesne’s associate head coach, was in attendance to watch James — his high-school teammate under Dambrot — achieve history in Los Angeles. Dambrot said that he wasn’t awake to watch it, but that his wife woke him up.
“I knew that [James] was going to get it last night,” Dambrot said, “because ‘Bron wouldn’t have asked him and those guys from Akron to come if he wasn’t going to get it last night. And, quite honestly, I get up at 5 in the morning, so I wasn’t watching the game because I knew he was going to get it anyway … My wife watched the game, and I didn’t.”
Brewer said that he was grateful to witness Dambrot’s milestone win.
“Not too many coaches get 500 wins,” Brewer said. “But just being a part of that, and being a part of his legacy, I thought that was a great game and a great team win.”
Grant (from Miami of Ohio) and Brewer (from Florida International) both transferred into Duquesne prior to this season. The two guards praised the belief that Dambrot instilled in them.
“What a guy,” Grant said. “A loyal guy, a loving guy. And not just a guy, a coach and a mentor as well, on and off the court. He cares. He just plays a big role in all of our lives, that’s just not only basketball. He cares for our academics, [about] us getting our degrees. And it’s just more than basketball.”
“He’s going to worry about you as a person, not just as a basketball [player],” Brewer said. “He’s going to always check up on you, make sure you’re straight. And then on the court, he’s not going to let you slack … He means a lot to me because he gave me a second chance, to prove myself again, at a bigger stage. So I very [much] appreciate him for that.”
The meeting between the Dukes and the Patriots was the first since Feb. 29, 2020, as Covid-19 issues prevented scheduled meetings in each of the past two seasons. The win was also Duquesne’s second in a row, marking the first time the Dukes have won consecutive games since securing wins over Rhode Island (Dec. 31) and VCU (Jan. 4) over a month ago.
“It [the team’s confidence]’s skyrocketing,” Grant said. “And we’re just continuing to gel. We’re continuing to stick to our game plan, our defensive principles, to help us win games and continue to string out wins like this.”
Grant and Brewer said that they “drowned” their head coach with water in the locker room afterward to celebrate the achievement.
“Might as well say he jumped in the pool,” Grant said.
Although Dambrot enjoyed the praise, he remains focused on the season in front of him. With seven regular-season games left, the Dukes (6-5 in Atlantic 10 Conference play) sit a half game behind St. Bonaventure (7-5), which they’ll host at the fieldhouse Saturday afternoon.
“For me, it’s nice, but now we’re 16-8,” Dambrot said. “Let’s see where we can go from here. That’s kind of how I view the night. I think we can go pretty good.”