If there’s a downside to the outstanding college basketball stories this season, it’s that they’re downers.
So. May I present Duquesne basketball.
The Dukes won their ninth straight game Wednesday night, the school’s longest in three decades. At 14-5 overall and 6-0 in the Atlantic 10, they’re a serious contender in a league where Xavier, Temple and Richmond were expected to dominate.
But that’s just the basketball. Considering what happened on Sept. 17, 2006, Duquesne qualifies as a bona fide feel-good story. How many teams could recover from five players being shot after a dance?
“I used to like to think that when it happened that somebody would write about us for basketball-related reasons,” coach Ron Everhart said Wednesday. “Or because we raised $2 million for new locker rooms or that there is a $380 million facility right across the street from our campus or that we chartered here for this game. Those are things that didn’t happen before Mr. Amodio and myself got to Duquesne. I would like to think that our kids are playing at a level that will continue to earn some of the recognition that goes beyond the tragic circumstances that were newsworthy in the past.”
Much of that credit belongs to Everhart, who was steadfast in support of his players and the program after the shootings – and managed to re-build a program at the same time.
And now? Not only are the Dukes winning, but they’re entertaining to watch because of their frantic pace and nasty defense. Another few weeks of this and they’ll surely end that 34-year NCAA tournament drought.
I’d say that qualifies as a feel-good story.
Want more? I’m also on Twitter @MikeMillerNBC.