TDD: Your contract was extended over the summer, how are you hoping to improve the program and earn respect in this conference in the time that you have been granted?
DB: We’ve been in the post season for seven consecutive years. Yet, we’ve fallen short of our ultimate goal of the NCAA Tournament, and I think that speaks to how difficult it is to make the NCAA Tournament from a non-power-five conference. For us to do something like that, we have to continue to recruit better. We’ve had good players in the past who have gotten better through player development, and I really think that we have a very good group, but we’re very young.
TDD: Do you see yourself coaching at Duquesne for the majority of your career?
DB: This is my last coaching job. I’ve had my name mentioned with a couple things, and I’ve had people contact me and ask me questions like that. And my simple answer is I plan on being at Duquesne for the rest of my career.
TDD: Do you think the team is capable of earning an NCAA Tournament bid this year? If so, what will it take to get your team in the tournament?
DB: Absolutely. Youth is a positive and negative. We’re awfully talented. The Atlantic 10 coaches picked us third in the league. We have the youngest team in the A-10. We have the toughest conference schedule in the A-10, so to be picked third is a real sign of respect.
TDD: The expectations are very high for your squad heading into this season. What is the main goal for the year?
DB: Stretch goals for us would be [winning] 25-26 games, making the NCAA Tournament, and winning a game. Are we capable of that? Yes. We’ll have to be a little lucky. We’ll have to be healthy.
TDD: Would not making the tournament be considered a failure?
DB: No it’s a failure, the first week, the first month, after it doesn’t happen. When your 46th in the RPI, like we were, and they take a 70 RPI from a power conference, who has a poor conference record, yeah it hurts. It hurts really really bad. But I don’t judge our seasons totally on making the NCAA Tournament, I judge it based off of some intrinsic goals that are hard to measure.
TDD: Have you seen any changes in the team’s style of play since last season?
DB: I’ve seen Bri Thomas step up, and really understand what it takes now, the drive and consistent drive that she has to have to play minutes for us. I thought Emilie Gronas had the best summer of anyone.
Interview done by Natalie Fiorilli | The Duquesne Duke
TDD: How has your philosophy changed since coming to Duquesne in 2012?
JF: The first thing was getting things squared away talent-wise.We wanted to have a great program and it took a while to do that, but now we’ve finally done that. Now, we’re really focused on winning and competing. We have guys in the program that [we’ve] recruited. You [also] have guys that have fit your style, fit the university, so now it’s about the program taking the steps forward. You can’t move a broken bus forward. You’ve got to have a good bus, get plenty of people on it and move it forward.
TDD: Do you feel comfortable going into the season after having four years of experience?
JF: Yeah, I feel like we have the right pieces here. I feel like we finally have depth at the right positions.
TDD: How has your relationships developed with the players who joined you when you came into the organization here at Duquesne?
JF: They’re great. I mean, it’s going to be a sad day on Senior Night when I say goodbye to [Derrick Colter], Jeremiah [Jones], Micah [Mason] and [Nick Foschia] and all those guys that came in when I came in. It’s really always special and it will always be a special part of me, and hopefully I’ll be a special part of those guys too.
TDD: The ultimate goal is winning, but is there one goal that you guys must hit by the end of the season?
JF: Well it isn’t a must-hit, but we want to have a winning record. I want the seniors to leave here as winners. You know, there’s only been a couple of winning seasons in the past 30 years, so we want to make sure this group sets the bar for what’s in the future ahead of us.
TDD: Who are some of the guys that you think need to step up over the course of this season?
JF: You know, everybody has to have an opportunity, but I think L.G. Gill and TySean Powell need to step up at the forward position to really help us. I think our guards are going to play really well for us. Darius Lewis, if he can take another step like he did last year, that will be really helpful for us.
TDD: Do you still have butterflies in the weeks and days leading up to a new season?
JF: Yes. When I lose that feeling, I’ll stop coaching. I’ve been doing this since I was probably 10 years old, and we have a scrimmage tomorrow, and I’m excited. I won’t sleep much, and it’s just a scrimmage. If I ever lose that, though, I think it’s time to move on.
TDD: What does 100 years of Duquesne basketball mean to you?
JF: It’s really special. When anything can be 100 years, that’s really special, so I’m just fortunate to be a part of that 100th year, and that’s pretty special. Hopefully we, as a team, can play well for those guys who came before us.
Interview done by Joseph Sykes, Sports Editor