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A college basketball insider’s view of the Dukes, NCAA Tournament and “Rocky” movies (I know this is a Pitt football blog, but let’s see if you can find the Narduzzi reference)


Tough loss for the Dukes on Wednesday night at PPG Paints Arena. Coach Jim Ferry called it the toughest he’s been involved with since he began his coaching career in 1990.
Well into the second half, with the Dukes beating Saint Louis by as many as 18 points, I was planning my Thursday. I wanted to get everything done in advance of the Dukes’ second-round game against George Washington. Off to the side, Duquesne women’s coach Dan Burt told me he thought the Dukes would win that one, too.
Burt knows his hoops, but it never happened. The victory would have been only Duquesne’s second Atlantic 10 Tournament victory since 2009. More importantly, it would have been a springboard into next season, with four starters returning.
Instead, this season ends with a 10-22 record. Except for the last 24 seconds — where one rebound, one foul shot, one less turnover could have changed everything — the Dukes played better than their record.
Looking for some basketball wisdom, I dialed up CBS Sports Network college basketball insider Jon Rothstein (follow him on Twitter @JonRothstein).
I’m guessing a guy who admits to watching parts of either “Rocky II,” “Rocky III” or “Rocky IV” before going on the air isn’t afraid to swing for the fences. His opinions about Duquesne, the rest of the A-10 Tournament and the upcoming NCAA Tournament are intriguing.
First of all, he said not only does Ferry deserve to keep his job, but he added, “Duquesne should make a commitment to him.”
“There are reasons why Duquesne has had such poor won-lost records. They keep getting rid of coaches every five or six years. You can’t have success that way.”
Didn’t the Trib’s Kevin Gorman write that very thing a few days ago? Yeah, he did.
For the record, I counted up the losing and the coaches: The Dukes haven’t been to the NCAA Tournament since 1977 under John Cinicola. Since then, they have had nine coaches and 27 losing seasons in 40 years.
Ron Everhart never should have been fired, but that’s another story. That’s not a jab at Ferry, who I believe is the right man for the job. He did lure to the Bluff promising freshmen and A-10 All-Rookie team members Mike Lewis II and Isiaha Mike. This is the first time the Dukes have had two freshmen so honored in the same season.
More interesting takes from Rothstein:
— He doesn’t think Dayton coach Archie Miller, a Blackhawk and N.C. State graduate, will take the job at his college alma mater. “Archie is too smart not to acknowledge,” Rothstein said, “that he is in the company of guys who figure out the grass is always greener on the other side until you have to pay the other guy’s water bill.”
His point: Mid-major coaches such as Miller, Wichita State’s Gregg Marshall and Gonzaga’s Mark Few have good situations at their schools, and don’t need to jump (and haven’t done so) at the first Power 5-type job that comes along.
— Put on the spot, Rothstein picked No. 4 seed Rhode Island — not No. 1 Dayton — to win the Atlantic 10 Tournament that resumes Thursday with four second-round games and concludes at 12:30 p.m. Sunday with the championship game at PPG (and also on Channel 2). Rhode Island is 21-9, but more importantly 11-3 since mid-January.
You can see Rhode Island meet either St. Bonaventure or UMass at 2:30 p.m. Friday in the quarterfinals. I wonder if Pat Narduzzi will be there to support his alma mater.
— Rothstein said there is so much parity in college basketball this season that the four presumed No. 1 seeds — North Carolina, Kansas, Villanova and Gonzaga — aren’t locks to advance to the Final Four. Of Kansas, he said: “I have major questions about what the Jayhawks can do defensively up front.”
His pick: Oregon, a team he said has seven starter-caliber players.
“The Ducks have a large number of players who went through the scenario last year. They are older and they have a little bit more firepower than they had last year,” he said.
He added Oregon’s Dillon Brooks “has the gene in his DNA” to carry a team through six games.



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