Ex-Duquesne coach relates to team's continued losing
A former Duquesne University men's basketball coach said Wednesday he understands the frustrations of current coach Danny Nee, a 25-year veteran of the college ranks who is in his fourth season with the Dukes but has yet to turn around the struggling Atlantic 10 Conference program.
It has been no different with the Dukes' previous coaches, including Scott Edgar, an assistant at Alabama-Birmingham and a Penn Hills native who spent three seasons at Duquesne from 1996 to 1998 before the school fired him with one year remaining on his contract.
"Everywhere else I've been, the head coach runs the program. I didn't feel I was running the program at Duquesne," Edgar said.
Although his 29-55 record was a major factor in his dismissal, Edgar came to Duquesne after a very successful run as coach of Murray State, where he spent four seasons and led the Racers to a 79-40 mark, two NCAA Tournament appearances and one trip to the NIT.
"Despite my three years at Duquesne, I'm proud of my resume," said Edgar, who also has served as an assistant at Tulsa, Arkansas and Texas Christian.
Nee, who has won a total of 404 games during his long coaching career, is just 36-71 at Duquesne following Sunday's 83-70 victory over St. Bonaventure at Palumbo Center. He is fed up with the program's lack of progress before, during and after his arrival and feels the school is continuing to approach the situation with a passive attitude.
"We're in an uncompetitive situation here," Nee said in a story published Sunday in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. "No one's helping me. We're not getting any help from any other direction. You want to blame the coach• Blame him ... But you go (John) Carroll, (Scott) Edgar, (Darelle) Porter, Nee -- nothing's changed since Carroll was here."
And, Edgar, for one, said he understands Nee's plight. The Dukes haven't enjoyed a winning season since the 1993-94 team, under Carroll, posted a 17-13 record and played into the second round of the NIT. This season, they are saddled with a 5-14 record, including Sunday's victory, and have lost to city rivals Pitt and Robert Morris.
"There's some things that are going to have to be changed. We're going to have to make a commitment, or we should go to another league," Nee said.
He is unhappy that a proposed expansion of Palumbo Center, which was to be part of an overall makeover of the campus, has yet to get under way, despite the university having publicly announced plans nearly a year ago. The school said it would improve the 17-year-old, 6,200-seat arena by adding a recruiting center, new office space and an improved weight room.
Duquesne reportedly since has agreed to a revised plan with the city to expand the campus along Forbes Avenue, near Palumbo Center. The agreement, which may cost as much as $70 million, is to include an athletic and recreation complex.
But school officials have been reluctant to respond publicly to Nee's concerns, though sources say there has been increased tension between the two sides.
"I've said all along, we're not going to comment on the current season until after it's over," athletic director Brian Colleary said. "I don't think that would be fair to our student-athletes."