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Dialing ‘Deuce’ from the desert

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You have to know Deuce Skurcenski to understand what makes him a unique character to high school sports in Western Pennsylvania, if not across the state. It’s not just his trademark catchphrases – calling games “frays,” turning Fridays into “Fray-days” – but that he’s a walking, talking historian of the City League and WPIAL.

Deuce knows everyone – I mean everyone – who ever played here.

Not only do they know him, but many cared enough to check in on the legendary stat man after he suffered a stroke this past spring. A prime example came late last month, when Arizona State men’s basketball coach Herb Sendek invited a group of 25 friends with Pittsburgh ties to Tempe for what he called “The ‘Burgh Clinic in the Desert.”

“They were watching my movie out in Arizona,” Deuce said, nonchalantly, “so they took the phone and passed it around and wished me regards.”

That group included former Pitt coach Tim Grgurich, now an assistant with the NBA champion Dallas Mavericks; former Panthers players Kirk Bruce, Cleveland Edwards and Keith Starr; former Duquesne coach Scott Edgar; former Robert Morris and Woodland Hills coach Matt Furjanic; former Carnegie Mellon coach Dave Maloney, who coached Sendek in college; former Tartans teammate Buddy Hobart; former CCAC coach Bill Shay; former Arizona State football coach Frank  Kush; former Arkansas basketball coach Lanny Van Eman former Pitt managers Dom Berardinelli and Tom “Lefty” Booth; and businessmen Frank Gustine and Dave Pober.

“It was Herb’s way of getting a group of guys together that knew him,” said Bruce, now associate athletic director for sports administration at Pitt. “We really didn’t talk specifics of basketball. We talked more about the character of kids, what it takes to be a good coach. We didn’t talk much Xs and Os.

“That was part of Herb’s idea,” Bruce said of watching the DEUCE documentary. “I hadn’t seen it. I’d heard about it. Deuce was telling everybody about it. We popped it in and had a ball. The guys were in tears. There wasn’t one person in there that he didn’t sit around and talk to a bit. Deuce knew everybody in the room, and they all knew him. He knows them all very well. There’s some connection that he knows all of us. Just to show how much Deuce knows, we would say, ‘I’m going to tell you who’s sitting next to me and I want you to tell me what high school he went to.’

“Deuce knew what everybody’s high school average was.”

So it should come as no surprise that as much as Deuce loves football, he’s seen more than three times as many basketball games and hopes to have his driver’s license back in time for hoops season.

“Aww yeah, without a doubt,” Deuce said. “Last year, I caught 220.”

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