Heller: Building from the ground up

Posted on Nov 30 2017 - 12:51pm by Jonny Heller
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Don’t let a 2-2 start in the Keith Dambrot era fool you, he and his guys are on the right track. They just have some hoops to jump through. (Photo Credit: goduquesne.com)

We are three weeks into the 2017-2018 college basketball season and the Duquesne Dukes sit at a lackluster 2-2. While it’s not ideal and there have been two painful losses in a row, this is not a season that fans should overly concern themselves with. Anybody with realistic expectations knew to own modest expectations for this season. The reasons are obvious and have been exacerbated in the leadup to this season.

Lack of depth is the biggest issue.

The first two weeks have seen anybody with a pulse find themselves injured at one point or another.

When you’re playing with seven guys — at least four who are routinely playing 30 or more minutes per game — the gas tank is simply going to be empty before you make it the whole way around the track.

“I got to keep reminding myself all I can do is prepare them the best way I can on a daily basis, and I have to remind myself that I’m building this thing from the ground up. When you analyze it I inherited a situation where they lost 14 of 15 games last year, they won 10 games last year and we have fewer guys than they had last year having only six or seven guys healthy right now,” Dambrot said. “I’m not Johnny Wooden or a miracle worker. I just have to try and get them better and build the blocks from the ground up, climb the ladder and try and get them better.”

While Duquesne fans may be leery of an analogy that has to do with home construction after the infamous Jim Ferry “brick-by-brick” line, Dambrot is correct and the home is being built. Right now the basement is being built and fans have to be cognizant of the situation he inherited.

The non-conference schedule has been front-loaded with home games against mid- and low-major teams, but the fact remains that the Dukes simply don’t have the horses right now to win most races.

With Eric James out due to a knee injury, it makes it even more difficult to win games. James seems to be on the mend and graduate transfer forward Chas Brown has been practicing, potentially returning by next week.

The Dukes are slowly gaining some depth, which will lead to some wins in my opinion.

JUCO transfer forward Marko Krivacevic remains out with a broken wrist for an undisclosed amount of time.

With five transfers waiting in the wings and five large freshmen finishing up high school, the Dukes will be a winning program, possibly as soon as next year. At that point, Dambrot will have the luxury of being liberal with substitutions, not having to worry about making it to the end of the game with five players healthy and not in foul trouble.

Any positive growth and development this year is gravy.

As far as the house being built on Forbes Avenue, let’s not call it a “brick-by-brick” project. Let’s just say it’s a mansion being built and the ceilings will have to be high to accommodate all the size that will be present at Palumbo in the fall of 2018. Grab your hard hat, we’ve only just broken ground.

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