On April 10, 2012, Jim Ferry was hired as Duquesne’s 16th head coach in the basketball program’s 95-year history. If past evidence tells us anything, it appears athletic director Greg Amodio has hired the right man to do what former coach Ron Everhart failed to do: make the NCAA tournament. Duquesne has not made an appearance at the “big dance” since 1977.
According to ESPN, Amodio described the new head coach as “a winner at every level.” Ferry’s success in his former head coaching role at LIU-Brooklyn was the major impetus for his hiring. While at LIU, Ferry was named NEC Coach of the Year twice in both 2005 and 2011. He also led the Blackbirds to back-to-back NCAA tournament appearances in 2011 and 2012. During his tenure, he improved the program from 5-22 in 2002-2003 to 25-9 in 2011-2012.
In a career that has taken him straight up the ranks in college basketball, Ferry has proven himself at each level. He started his coaching career as an assistant at his alma mater Keene State College in 1990. After serving in a similar role at Bentley College from 1991-1998, he took his first head coaching job at Division III Plymouth State. There he recorded a 22-8 record in his first season and was hired the following year by Adelphi University, a Division II school in Long Island, NY. He led the school to an 82-11 record from 1999-2002 and a pair of NCAA Elite 8 appearances in his last two seasons there. At LIU-Brooklyn, he showed that he can take over a losing program and turn things around.
Ferry doesn’t exactly inherit a losing program at Duquesne. The Dukes haven’t had a losing season since going 10-19 in 2006-2007. But the program took a major hit last spring when two of its top five scorers, Mike Talley and TJ McConnell, decided to transfer. Top scorer and rebounder BJ Montiero was also lost to graduation.
Duquesne’s basketball program has been thoroughly mediocre since their last NCAA tournament appearance in 1977. In 2005-2006, the program recorded its worst season ever under Danny Nee, going 3-24 and finishing dead last in the Atlantic 10. Duquesne has enjoyed a measure of success in recent years, but the Everhart era proved to be a near miss. Everhart managed to post his best record in the 2008-2009 season (21-14) but was never able to finish higher than 5th in the conference.
Coach Ferry is an aggressive recruiter whose teams are known for their physical play and high-tempo offenses. In this regard he shows similarity to Ron Everhart, whose offense was built around the fast break. However, Ferry has a much better track record. His offense at LIU ranked second in the nation last season with 81.4 points per game.
Look for Coach Ferry’s experience and energy to bring Duquesne back to the NCAA tournament and the top of the Atlantic 10 conference in the years to come.
Photo Credits: Larry Richards – Post-Gazette