Thursday, March 27, 2008

One and done? Shawn James talking about going pro broke the story

James has said that he will test the NBA waters and see how much interest pro scouts have in drafting him before he hires an agent. James can still come back to Duquesne if he does not hire an agent. This shouldn't be much of a shock to Duquesne fans, James is 24 years old, and if pro scouts tell him he has a good shot at being a 1st round draft pick there is no reason for him to come back to Duquesne. 1st round NBA draft picks receive 3 year guaranteed contracts, so being slotted as a 1st round pick would be huge for James. If James isn't being considered as a 1st round pick he should come back to Duquesne to improve his draft stock. James battled shoulder and back injuries most of the 07-08 season and a healthy 08-09 season could help improve his NBA draft stock for the following year's NBA Draft.

What does this mean for Duquesne?

If James leaves the program Duquesne will have no legit post players on their team. Other than James the only other players on Duquesne's roster over 6'7 are little used sophomore David Theis, and walk-on redshirt freshman Brandon Harris. Theis is more of a jump shooter than a post player, and Harris hasn't shown he is a Division I caliber basketball player. Duquesne has not added a player over 6'5 to their roster so far in their 2008 recruiting class, but they still have scholarships to give and are actively looking at some big guys. Check for all Duquesne recruiting news and info.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

What to do about the A.J. Palumbo Center?

Now that the 07-08 season is over for the Dukes the focus is on recruiting and other issues for the program. As the Duquesne coaching staff recruits potential prospects they have to sell Duquesne University and the basketball program, and one of the biggest negatives about coming to Duquesne is the A.J. Palumbo Center. The Palumbo is old, (it was built in 1988), small (has a capacity of 5,358), and lacks the amenities of newer arenas in Pittsburgh and at other Atlantic 10 schools. When a recruit has been to Temple's beautiful 10,000 seat Liacouras Center or Pitt's 12,000 seat Petersen Events Center (pictured below) that features five courtside luxury suites, six club suites, six loge suites, 193 supersuite seats, and five building levels the A.J. Palumbo Center looks like a dump. More than half of the seating at the Palumbo Center is still bleacher seating after all.

The question remains, what can/should be done? In my mind there are several options: 1. renovate the existing Palumbo Center, 2. build a new arena, or 3. move some or all of Duquesne's games to the new Penguins arena. Duquesne recently made a large investment in renovating and improving Rooney Field, and Duquesne spent 2 million dollars renovated the Palumbo in 2006 so there is no way a new arena will be built, and it is doubtful Duquesne will put more money into the Palumbo in the near future. The most realistic option in the short term is to play some or all of Duquesne's games at the Penguins new arena.

An artists rendering of the planned Penguins Arena

There are some pros and cons to playing at the Pens new arena.

  • The Pens arena will be a brand new arena used primarily by a pro team with all of the accompanying amenities and luxuries.
  • The Pens arena is extremely close to Duquesne's campus making it easy for students to travel from campus to the facility.

  • The Pens arena will be sold out for every Pens game and tickets to Pens games are extremely expensive. By playing some or all of Duquesne's games at the new arena it will allow sports fans in Pittsburgh an opportunity to see the new facility while also exposing them to Duquesne's basketball program which is on the upswing.


  • The Pens arena has an 18,500 seat capacity. Duquesne can't fill their own 5,300 seat facility, more than 3/4 of the Pens arena would be empty if Duquesne played there.

  • Two years ago Duquesne invested 2 million dollars into renovating the AJ Palumbo Center, why would the University want to move the arena's main attraction, (the basketball team), out of the facility?

This is a difficult spot for Duquesne. I'd love for the Dukes to play at least one home game a season at the Pens new arena, preferably a against a big time opponent. Duquesne needs to make a decision, either make a major commitment to renovating and updating the Palumbo Center or start fund raising and planning for a brand new state of the art facility.