- John Gasaway, ESPN Insider
When you think of the Atlantic-10 conference, you probably think of perennial powers like the Xavier Musketeers or the Temple Owls. But did you know that the Duquesne Dukes were present in 1976, when the A-10 was founded? (The other original members still in the league are the Massachusetts Minutemen and George Washington Colonials). Or, did you know that in 1977 the Dukes won the first A-10 tournament behind future NBA star Norm Nixon?
Then again, this sort of illustrates the problem for Duquesne basketball. You have to go back a long, long way to find this program's last taste of success. Other schools cycled through the A-10 on their way to the bright lights of the Big East (Villanova Wildcats, Pittsburgh Panthers, Rutgers Scarlet Knights) or Big Ten (Penn State Nittany Lions), but the Dukes stayed right where they were -- in more ways than one. To this day, that A-10 championship in 1977 is also Duquesne's only conference title. The Dukes made the NCAA tournament that year, but they haven't been back since. A thrilling and tantalizing ride to the A-10 championship game in 2009 notwithstanding, DU has been mired in the league's midsection for years.
Until now. Ron Everhart's 14-5 team is 6-0 in A-10 play, tied with Xavier for first place. It's not easy to attract attention when you share your city with the AFC champions and the Big East's first-place team, but Duquesne is starting to turn heads. The Dukes even garnered a vote (singular, as in one vote) in this week's AP poll.
In other words Duquesne's been waiting for this bandwagon for a very long time, but now it's filling up fast. I invite you to hop on. Here's why:
John Gasaway breaks down the many reasons why you'll love the Duquesne Dukes. A steal-happy defense and uptempo pace make the Dukes worth watching -- and they just might be a tourney team come March.