Ron Everhart with Jim Lachimia
More with Duquesne University's head basketball coach...
PM: Recruiting is always highly competitive with so many programs looking for players and a fixed number who are Division I-caliber. But is it easier to recruit now that you’ve had some success on The Bluff?
R.E.: I don’t know if recruiting ever gets a lot easier. If we wanted to go after the same type of guys it would become much easier. The challenge in recruiting is being able to step up and maybe attract a kid who in the past may not have looked at Duquesne and seen it as a viable option. But all of the sudden, with everything that’s happened, he does see it as a viable option now.
When we first got here, we had some kids nationally ask us if we were Division I, and even some of the local kids didn’t know too much about us. So from that perspective it has become much easier to access kids in recruiting because they have now seen us play on television. They saw us play for the Atlantic 10 Conference championship. They saw us in the NIT in a postseason tournament. That’s how we’ve been able to talk to some kids that, maybe in the past, we would not have been able to talk to. Whether we get them or not, I don’t know, but at some point if we get those kids to come to Duquesne, hopefully that’ll be a real springboard into being able to further elevate the program.
PM: During your first season as head coach of the Dukes, you created something positive even through the adversity of the shootings. How rewarding was that first season, given everything that happened?
R.E.: In a lot of ways it was a living hell and in a lot of ways it was one of the most rewarding years as a coach I’ve ever had. We needed a refuge from a lot of the tough things that were going on, and the basketball court became that place. Instead of it being a job, it was, "Hey, let’s get away and get as much done as we can and have some fun doing it." We worked extremely hard, and the kids embraced that and really made a year that was a tough year in every other sense a really enjoyable and fun year on the basketball court. It’s one of those years you’ll always remember as a coach because they performed at a level higher than anybody expected them to.