Amodio begins search for new coach
Athletic Director Greg Amodio discusses the firing of men’s basketball coach Ron Everhart at a press conference March 23. Fred Blauth / Asst. Photo Editor
Athletic Director Greg Amodio finds himself in the same position he was in in 2006, searching for a new men's basketball head coach who can return the team to its former glory of the 1950s and '70s.
Amodio announcement last Friday that he had fired Ron Everhart capped off a week of turmoil for the team after three players transferred, leaving only one of Duquesne's top-5 scorers returning. The team is also losing two seniors at the end of the year.
Now begins Amodio's search. The former Xavier associate athletic director who oversaw the Musketeer basketball team rise to national status said he will confer with University President Charles J. Dougherty as they embark on a nationwide search for a coach who will continue Duquesne men's basketball on its "natural progression."
"We know we're putting the assets in place," Amodio said, referring to more than $5 million in upgrades to the A.J. Palumbo Center and a 75-percent increase in the operating budget since Everhart took over. "That will allow us to go ahead and attract a very, very quality candidate that will ideally put us in a position to move forward and be successful in the postseason.
Amodio said he will remain mum while the interviews are ongoing, adding that the search would take multiple weeks.
"It's not about when we need to, it's about finding the right person," he said.
Amodio said the basketball program must find an answer for player turnover, an aspect of the program Everhart failed in. In Everhart's six seasons, he lost two former Atlantic 10 Rookies of the Year in Robert Mitchell and T.J. McConnell, in addition to the departures of sixth man Mike Talley this season and Joel Wright last season.
"I think that goes back to the engagement between the coach and the player," Amodio said. "I think that's one of the things as we continue to move forward and look at the coaches, we want to make sure that candidates that we will be having conversations with understand the importance of that."
According to Amodio and Dougherty, who made the announcement on campus last Friday, the boosters and alumni largely supported the decision to move in a different direction, citing Everhart's 3-6 record in Atlantic 10 tournament play including losing in the first round five of six seasons.
"Do you know any alumni that thinks you're winning enough?" Amodio joked. "Everyone thinks we should have won another game, or we should have done better in this game or that game, and I think that's pretty common of a fan base. You always want your fan base to aspire for more."
What that fan base might need is patience, not only for the search, but also for the expected eventual success. Duquesne's program now seems to be in shambles, and despite the 99-89 record compiled over six seasons, including winning seasons in the last four, the next couple years are likely to be rebuilding ones.
Amodio said he is not concerned with having to "sell" the opportunity to prospective coaches in the tier above Everhart, even with the holes in the current roster and uncertainty for the future.
"I think we have got a terrific city, we play in the Atlantic 10 conference, which is a terrific conference, which is one of the most elite and highest level basketball conferences," Amodio said. "We've got tremendous assets in terms of the facilities, a tremendous institution, the possibility to play in the Consol Energy Center."
Amodio hopes the hire of a new coach will put Duquesne on a level similar to Pitt's squad over the last decade.
"This is a great college basketball town, and we want to continue to accentuate our positioning as part of that great college basketball town."
Sean Johnson, one of two returning seniors, and the only player from this season's top-5 scorers said immediately following the news that he didn't know how to feel.
"I'm not sure, I'm not sure. I love Everhart. He's been there for me all the time," Johnson said. "They feel like they need to move on."
Andre Marhold, the other returning senior, was intrigued by the style of play implemented by Everhart when he was being recruited. He said Friday a new coach won't drive him away from the school.
"I've been here for three years, and obviously I know the ropes so as far as adjusting to a new coach or adjusting to something different I don't think it will be too difficult," Marhold said.
Johnson agreed with that sentiment.
"I don't think it's disappointing. I think you just have to adjust to it," he said.
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