To prepare for the tip-off of another great year of college basketball, CHD is reaching out to coaches and players around the country to get the inside scoop on what we can expect this time around. Jon Teitel continues our season preview series by chatting with new UMass-Lowell coach Pat Duquette about becoming the brand-new coach of a brand-new D-1 program.
This is your first year as head coach and your school’s first year in Division I. What is the best part about being in Division I? The overall excitement is the best part. I am excited to be a coach and our whole school is excited for this move, but it is a lengthy transition that will take time.
You return 13 of 14 players from last year’s team. Do you feel like this is a rebuilding year or is your team ready to win right now? I have a good core of returning guys, but we have had a couple of injuries over the past few months so we are certainly not at full-strength. However, we will try to be competitive in year one.
Your non-conference road schedule includes trips to Michigan, Rhode Island, and Cincinnati. Which of these games do you feel will present your biggest test? Clearly our first game against the defending runner-up will be a huge test, but our players are excited for those types of games. It is a chance to get some good exposure for our school and let everyone know that we are in Division I.
What are your expectations for the upcoming season? I expect us to be competitive, establish our style of play, and continue to grow our culture both on and off the floor.
You were captain of the basketball team at Williams College. How good a player were you back in the day and how did you get into coaching? I graduated in 1993 and played SG on some good teams that were ranked in the top 10 nationally. I was not sure what I wanted to do after college, but my brother and cousin were both involved in pro baseball so I did an internship with the Mets. It was then that I realized that I wanted to get back into basketball. After that, I just used some contacts to move up the ranks. I got to learn a lot under Coach Dave Paulsen, who is now at Bucknell.
Your brother Jim was GM of the Mets and Orioles and your cousin Dan is VP of Baseball Operations for the Orioles. How much were sports a part of your life growing up? We came from huge sports families where all the kids played a bunch of different sports. Jim played baseball at Williams and Dan played baseball at Amherst. They were a huge influence on me and showed me how to follow my passion. Seeing them have so much success gave me confidence.
You spent 13 years on Al Skinner’s staff at Boston College. What made him such a great coach and what was the most important thing you ever learned from him? Al was a great evaluator who laid the foundation and developed a recruiting philosophy. He manages people really well, both his staff and the players. He focuses on what is important and does not worry about what he cannot control.
In the 2006 NCAA tourney, Craig Smith had 25 points and 13 rebounds and made a pair of free throws with 4.3 seconds left in the first overtime en route to a double overtime win over Pacific. Where does that rank among the most exciting games you have ever been a part of? That is right up there. In 2001, we went from worst to first and won the Big East tourney, which obviously changed our entire path. The 2006 team was the most talented team we ever had and could have competed for a championship before losing to Villanova by a single point in the Sweet 16.