Behold, the enlightened Duquesne fan.
I have not always been so, but I have seen the suffering Duquesne fans. I am determined to end it. On one hand you have the pessimists who always assume the worst at the slightest of defeats. On the other you have the optimists who with each passing offseason, assume the best only to be disappointed. There must be a middle path and I set out to find it.
Following the Dukes loss in the County Game this past Sunday, I saw the suffering yet again. I decided to sit beneath one of those ill-thought ginkgo trees on Academic Walk and resolved to remain there until I discovered the middle path. I sat for two long hours and then it struck me — I will distort the noble eightfold path of Buddhism and develop a post about it for The Point of Pittsburgh. Please Duquesne fans, use this path to save yourself from suffering this season as it may not get much better.
Note: this isn’t actually a religion, so following it won’t conflict with the beliefs you already have. Please also acknowledge that I do not have a Buddha-sized ego nor do I think I’m actually more enlightened than any other fan, though the defeat last week did pretty much roll off my back. I just thought this might make for a better read than the “Heard at Palumbo Center” piece I was planning to do. Enjoy!
We had our fun in the offseason with our high hopes for the immediate impact that Keith Dambrot could make. I’ve been harping on it for some time that the transition might not be as smooth as many may have hoped. There are some truths about this team. Dambrot didn’t inherit a young team, but he did inherit an inexperienced team. He didn’t inherit a group of players who would lock step fit right into his system either. The Dukes have five big guys on the roster. Two are freshman, two are injured and the lone returning big is a probably more of a four in Dambrot’s vision than a five. Not exactly going to fit his inside out philosophy.
We also have a coach who has had little more than a month and a half to teach a complex system to a group of players that have never played for him before. The defense is already better, but the offense is still a work in progress. There is a process going on and Dambrot is maybe on step two or three of ten, at best. He knows what he’s doing and has demonstrated that time and time again at Akron. He doesn’t need to prove anything to you or I. The right view at this point is to avoid high expectations for the rest of the season and to use the County Game loss to check your expectations.
At the moment, we have no right to be greedy as Duquesne fans. I saw some fans claim in the offseason that they’d be happy if a team that won 10 games all of last year won 9 or 10 in the non conference season this year alone. The expectations that we would stack wins in year one is being greedy for me because I believe Dambrot has the plan and personnel in place already to turn this program around much faster than most coaches would. While I don’t think it necessarily takes the 10 years Jim Ferry laid out for us, it does take 4 or 5 for most coaches taking over for a fired coach based on my research that I unfortunately can’t link to because Fansided is making more money on the WeWearTheRing domain as a Chinese redirect than it is as anthology of my content.
Next year might not be as smooth for Duquesne as some people think it will be, but I do think we’ll see some big changes in the way Dambrot uses his bench and organizes his offense when he has a full roster in place. When we start feeling angry, we need to remember the Right View and consider better days are coming. However, they don’t happen overnight. We need to be conscious of process not ignorant to it.
I’ve already seen people writing and heard people questioning Dambrot’s ability. This is ignorant and I make no bones about it. We’re not being honest about the situation if we’re resorting to attacks on the coach three games into his tenure. I’ve also seen and heard some player bashing. Remember, these are 18-22 year old amateurs who are still learning the game. I get that this is frustrating to watch, but you should switch to the NBA if you like basketball and players at their peak. We should encourage them rather than insult them or we should simply not comment.
As frustrated as we might be, we should continue going to games and supporting the team financially. This might seem like folly, but if you re-read what I’ve written so far, I hope you can see why it at least makes sense to me.
This one doesn’t make much sense in my Duquesne – Buddhism crossover, but don’t sell drugs or run illegal gambling rings, I guess. If you do and get caught, you can’t come to Duquesne games.
I want to encourage readers to discourage others from having greedy, angry, or ignorant thoughts about the Dukes, but don’t do it in a negative way by attacking the person who is being greedy, angry or ignorant outright. I got nasty and personal in Ferry’s second year and it contributed to a splintering of our online fanbase. Thankfully, I’ve made amends with a lot of people I was a jerk to and things have gotten better. We have a small following with an aging fanbase. We need everyone and we need to encourage them to stay on board. Be decent and friendly about it, but try to get people to change their perspective a little bit. If you do, your efforts actively will help the program grow. Right Speech is helpful here. We also don’t need to bash other fans.
I know what some of you are thinking by now. “I’ve been a fan since x year and I’ve suffered long enough.” That’s a true statement, but it’s also somewhat flawed. As I noted above, it’s a bit greedy as you expected the Dambrot hire to pay dividends from day one. Challenge that thought. You can choose to suffer longer in 2017-18 by continuing to come and expect immediate impact or you can walk entirely away assuming things won’t get better.
Of course, you could also accept there is a process and a plan in place that will take time to execute but has a strong chance to be successful. In that case, you’re going to a basketball arena with your friends from college, enjoying a night out. Even if they lose that still sounds better to me than watching another episode of CSI: Whatever city. On top of that, you get to be one of those proud people that says you’ve “been there since x and suffered but you’re still here” if and when they do break through.
When you feel the blood pressure rise as a 300+ RPI team cuts a deficit to two possessions or the Dukes get blown out by San Francisco, take a few breaths. When they can’t hit a shot or the defense breaks down and you feel the stress creeping in, take a walk around the concourse. It’s better than shouting down teenagers for their inability to make free throws, or giving yourself a heart attack. You’re not making any recruits present this year comfortable by shouting at the bench and you’re no good to us dead. Remember, the program needs you alive and attending games!
Again, please take some aspects of this piece with a grain of salt, but please also take some of it to heart. I do believe that at times the fans have suffered through no fault of their own. We’ve had some incompetent AD’s, dismissive university staff, cheap presidents and short sighted board members who have neglected to understand the benefits of a good basketball program. We’ve also had some bad coaches at the end of their line who kept their jobs solely for financial reasons.
However, we don’t find ourselves in any of those situations at present and any suffering we’re feeling right now is of our own device. If we honestly expected no bumps in the road from day one for Keith Dambrot, we need to look at how we approach the game, not how the coach does.