2008-09 SEASON REVIEW: Duquesne, which began the season as one of the youngest teams in the nation with eight freshmen and one scholarship upperclassman on the opening day roster, posted the school's most wins since 1971 and first 20-win season since 1981 in going 21-13. The `09 Dukes, picked to finish 12th in a preseason poll of league coaches, advanced to the A-10 Championship final where they came up six points shy of the school's first NCAA tournament appearance since 1977. Duquesne was rewarded with a National Invitation Tournament berth - marking the school's first post-season appearance since the 1994 NIT.
MAKING STRIDES: Duquesne was 3-24 with an RPI of 308 the year before Ron Everhart's arrival on the Bluff. In his first season, Everhart took a team that had two returning players (one of whom was senior Aaron Jackson) and was rocked by a preseason campus shooting to a 10-19 record including five consecutive A-10 regular season wins. In 2007-08, he led the Dukes to the school's first winning record since 1994 at 17-13 as DU's RPI improved to 130. This year, despite losing his top five scorers from the 17-win team, Everhart guided one of the nation's youngest teams to 21 wins and a 75 RPI. DU has improved by a total of 14.5 games in the win-loss column in three seasons under Ron Everhart:
Year W/L ATLANTIC 10 RPI IMP. 2005-06 3-24 1-15, 14th 308 N/A 2006-07 10-19 6-10, 10th 219 +6.0 2007-08 17-13 7-9, T9th 130 +6.5 2008-09 21-13 9-7, T5th 75 +2.0
DUQUESNE LATELY: Duquesne was one of the youngest teams in the nation with seven scholarship freshmen and one scholarship upperclassman on the season-ending 12-man roster (freshman Rodrigo Peggau was lost for the year due to Dec. 18 knee surgery) ... despite their youth, the Dukes posted the school's most wins since the 1971 NCAA team went 21-4 ... DU clinched the school's second consecutive winning season with its Feb. 22 victory at La Salle ... the last time that happened was in 1979-80 & 1980-81 ... DU also posted a winning record in league play for just the fourth time in 32 seasons as a conference member (9-7) ... senior Aaron Jackson (19.3 ppg.), a school record four-time conference Player of the Week in `09, was named NABC All-District 4 First Team on Mar. 5 ... he was the 11th player in school history to earn first team NABC district honors ... Jackson finished the year ranked among the Top 5 in seven A-10 categories: scoring (2nd), assists (3rd), field goal pct. (3rd), free throw pct. (3rd), assist/turnover ratio (4th), minutes (4th) and steals (5th) ... Jackson, who was DU's first first team All-A-10 player since 1998, handed out a school record 194 assists - easily surpassing the old record of 178 set by Norm Nixon in 1977 ... 6-7 soph. F Damian Saunders, who led the A-10 in steals per game (2.1), set a new school single-season steals record with 71 eclipsing the old mark of 70 set by Clayton Adams in 1988 ... the Dukes defeated six teams that went on to play in either the NCAA tournament or NIT.
DUKES DOWN SIX NCAA/NIT TEAMS: The Dukes defeated six schools who advanced to either the 2009 NCAA tournament or NIT. Of the six wins, two came on the road and two were at neutral sites. DU defeated NCAA teams Radford (94-75) and Robert Morris (88-62) on the road and also posted a 76-65 home win over NIT participant Bowling Green in non-league play. Duquesne ended an 11-game Xavier win streak with a 72-68 victory over the then-No. 9 (AP) Musketeers in Pittsburgh on Feb. 7. In the Atlantic 10 Championship DU defeated NCAA tournament-bound Dayton (77-66) and NIT Rhode Island (78-74) on a neutral floor at Atlantic City. DU never trailed in handing Robert Morris its worst loss of the season and led Radford from the 19:31 mark of the first half. DU only trailed Xavier at 2-0 and led from the 17:43 mark on. The Dukes rallied from a 10-point second half deficit to defeat Bowling Green and led by as many as 18 in the A-10 tournament win over Dayton.
21 WINS: Duquesne's 21 wins in 2008-09 were its most since the 1971 NCAA team went 21-4. The `71 Dukes, who lost in the first round of the East Regional to Penn, finished the season ranked 15th by AP and 18th by UPI. This was also the first time since 1981 (20-10) and second time since 1972 (20-5) that Duquesne won 20 games in a season.
LEAGUE FINISH: DU, picked to finish 12th in a preseason poll of league coaches, ended the Atlantic 10 regular season in a three-way tie for 5th with a 9-7 record. The Dukes went 5-3 at home and 4-4 on the road in conference play. The fifth place finish was the best since 1994 (T3rd). DU, seeded No. 7 at the A-10 Championship advanced to the title game for the first time since 1981.
DUQUESNE'S RPI: Duquesne, whose final RPI improved by 89 spots in each of the first two seasons under Ron Everhart, jumped 55 more points in 2009. Here is a list of Duquesne's final RPI ratings for the past seven years:
YEAR RPI W-L SOURCE 2001-02 177 9-19 The RPI Report 2002-03 246 10-20 The RPI Report 2003-04 168 12-17 The RPI Report 2004-05 257 8-21 NCAA RPI 2005-06 308 3-24 NCAA RPI 2006-07 219 10-19 NCAA RPI 2007-08 130 17-13 NCAA RPI 2008-09 75 21-13 NCAA RPI
Duquesne finished non-conference play with an RPI of 127 and Sagarin rating of 97 (rankings based on realtimerpi.com & Sagarin polls through Jan. 4).
NCAA'S TOP THREE-SEASON RPI IMPROVEMENT: Duquesne's final RPI has improved by 233 spots since Ron Everhart took over as head coach. It is the biggest improvement among all NCAA Division I programs over the past three seasons:
SCHOOL 2006 2009 +/- DUQUESNE 308 75 +233 Morgan State 329 130 +199 Cleveland St. 245 52 +193 VMI 317 128 +189 Illinois St. 235 47 +188 Jacksonville 331 144 +187 Morehead St. 321 141 +180 Idaho 302 135 +167 SFA 240 74 +166 Liberty 316 151 +165ATLANTIC 10 RPI IMPROVEMENT SINCE 2005-06
A-10 SCHOOL 2006 2009 +/- DUQUESNE 308 75 +233 Dayton 184 27 +157 St. Bonaventure 290 193 +97 Rhode Island 152 68 +84 Richmond 205 129 +76 Xavier 82 17 +65 Temple 81 30 +51 La Salle 104 112 -8 Saint Louis 103 123 -20 Massachusetts 128 152 -24 Saint Joseph's 48 105 -57 Charlotte 99 209 -110 Fordham 133 291 -158 Geo Washington 33 202 -169