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Everhart has Duquesne men moving forward

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Thursday, Nov. 12, 2009

If Ron Everhart isn't careful, he might find himself working elsewhere.

In just three years, the Duquesne University men's basketball coach has halted a decades-long tailspin on the Bluff. At this rate, another school may steal him away.

"We're headed in the right direction," Everhart said. "We want to get to the point where we're consistently mentioned in the upper echelon of the Atlantic 10."

As well as in Division I.

It's no laughing matter, Everhart inferred Wednesday, two days before the Dukes open his fourth year on the Bluff with a rare Friday night game against Nicholls State at Palumbo Center.

"My goal with Duquesne basketball is the way I perceived it when I was a kid," he said of growing up in his native Fairmont, W.Va. "They were a power back then. They used to play at the Civic Arena, and people came down after work to watch them play. It was always an electric environment.

"Hopefully, we can get it back to where we're the type of team that consistently competes favorably for an NCAA Tournament bid."

Duquesne surprised virtually everyone last season by playing for the A-10 Tournament championship, nearly earning their first NCAA Tournament berth in 32 years.

They finished 21-13 — their most victories in a season since 1970-71 — and settled for a trip to the NIT against Virginia Tech.

Yesterday, the coach received signed letters of intent from two point guards — high school seniors T.J. McConnell, from Chartiers Valley, and Mike Talley, a two-time Class C state player of the year in Michigan while at Detroit's Melvindale Academy for Business and Technology.

Both players will come highly touted next season. McConnell averaged 22.1 points, 5.7 assists, 4.9 steals and 3.6 rebounds, and Talley averaged 25 points, 9 assists and 6 steals in 2008-09. They will join current point guards Eric Evans, a sophomore from Detroit, and Sean Johnson, a freshman who starred at New York's Christ the King.

The hope is that all the young talent Everhart has brought in will continue to elevate Duquesne's program, which has improved every year since the coach arrived.

"I've never really said we've got to do this or do that," Everhart said. "My whole thing has been for us to just go out and work hard and make it as good as we can make it from day to day and year to year. Let's not worry about the big picture right now. Let's just try to take care of the things at hand. Let's win some basketball games."

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