Duquesne Coach Dambrot Not Satisfied With ‘Close’

Dukes hang with No. 7 Dayton, but rally falls short

Josh Rowntree
January 29, 2020 - 10:31 pm
Duquesne Dukes head coach Keith Dambrot reacts on the sidelines against the Dayton Flyers during the second half at PPG Paints Arena. Dayton won 73-69.

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Keith Dambrot is not content with coming up short against good teams. 

Dambrot, Duquesne’s third-year head coach, watched his team nearly rally back to score a signature, upset win over No. 7 Dayton Wednesday night at PPG Paints Arena. 

But, in the end, ‘close’ was all the Dukes could claim, as the Flyers won, 73-69. 

"In my mind, we showed what we're capable of, but we just have to be more consistent really,” Dambrot said. “It’s as simple as that. We’re just inconsistent. We're consistently inconsistent, which just cost us a game tonight.”

The Dukes trailed by eight points at halftime, and the Dayton lead ballooned to 19 midway through the second half. But Duquesne, behind a crowd that had an NCAA tournament feel to it — with a hearty amount of Dayton faithful in the building — cut the lead to two points late before Dayton's Obi Toppin put the game on ice with clutch free throws.

“I think we have develop to really become a championship quality team,” Dambrot added. “We have enough to be good on certain nights, but we haven’t shown that we can consistently be — but look, we’ve played with every good team in the league.”

Case in point, Wednesday night. But Dambrot, postgame, sounded much like Pitt coach Jeff Capel a night earlier, when the Panthers fought back but lost at No. 9 Duke. After that game, Capel said he wants to build Pitt’s program to the point that players aren’t ‘patted on the back’ for close losses against good teams.

"I’m never going to be happy when fans are happy with a loss at home," Dambrot said. "In order for us to take the next step, we can’t lose to Dayton at home. I don’t care if they’re No. 7 in the country or not.”

“I heard coach Capel’s interview. Nobody’s more competitive than me, so I have to agree with him. Just because you play close doesn’t mean that you’re ready for the next step. We played close, but what does that mean? We’ll found out in the next game, and the next game, and the next game.”

Duquesne started the season with ten straight wins, and was 5-0 in the Atlantic 10. But the Dukes have cooled off, falling to 15-5 and 5-3 in conference. 

Dambrot’s goal is to get Duquesne back to the NCAA tournament, a place it hasn’t been since 1977. This still looks to be Duquesne’s best chance in quite a while. But does this team have what it takes to get over the top?

“We have enough toughness, enough edge, enough size, that if we just get a little more consistent it could be this year,” Dambrot said. “But we haven’t shown, through 20 games, that we’re consistent enough to be an NCAA tournament team yet. 

“And, really, that’s on me. We have to practice better. We have to just become more mature. We have to bess less emotional.”

Hear more from Keith Dambrot below.