Dukes eager to face old coach Everhart
What should be the pregame etiquette when your former coach returns as an opponent? Ignore him until later? Say hello? Good luck? Duquesne's Sean Johnson hadn't decided.
“I might say, ‘What's up?'” he said.
Ron Everhart, the coach who recruited the New York City shooting guard to Pittsburgh and helped him rank among Duquesne's all-time leading scorers, will have a seat on West Virginia's bench during Tuesday night's game at Consol Energy Center.
Everhart, now a Bob Huggins assistant, was Duquesne's head coach for six seasons until he was fired in March. This will be the Dukes' first encounter with their former coach, who has been replaced by Jim Ferry.
“It's going to feel weird,” Johnson said, “playing against a guy I played for.”
The Dukes were 99-89 under Everhart, including 16-15 last season. A native of Fairmont, W.Va., Everhart joined WVU's staff in May, having shared a longtime friendship with Huggins. Everhart declined an interview request to discuss his return to Pittsburgh.
Duquesne's roster has several new faces, but the lineup should look familiar to Everhart. Johnson and fellow senior Andre Marhold were starters for him, and a few teammates were key reserves a season ago.
Johnson welcomes the reunion.
“I've known him for three years, and he brought me into this program,” Johnson said. “It's going to be fun. It's going to be weird and fun at the same time. I'm just happy and ready for it.”
Ferry said Everhart's return won't be a distraction. He and Everhart spoke cordially after Ferry got the job and again during the summer.
“Ron's a good guy,” Ferry said. “He did a good job. I'm good personal friends with him. ... It's not me against Ron. It's not me against coach Huggins. I would never approach it that way, and the kids haven't approached it that way.”
When Everhart was fired, Dukes players were surprised. Three left the program about the time Everhart was fired, but Johnson remains pleased he stayed.
“I didn't know what to do at first,” he said. “I didn't have a coach for like a month and a half. I was real confused, but I just waited to see who was coming in. When I saw it was coach Ferry, I just knew I wanted to stay.”
Note: The Dec. 19 game against Western Michigan will be televised nationally on NBC Sports Network. It is scheduled for 7 p.m. at Palumbo Center.
Chris Harlan is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at email@example.com.