One of the most anticipated non-conference games in recent memory for Duquesne basketball will put the Dukes on their biggest TV stage since 2008.
ESPN announced Thursday afternoon that the Sunday, Nov. 21 game against John Calipari and Kentucky in Lexington at Rupp Arena will be a 9 p.m. tip and be televised nationally on ESPN. When was the last time the Dukes were on the worldwide leader's flagship channel? As far as I can tell, 2008, when they took on No. 7 Duke at Cameron Indoor Stadium and lost 95-72.
The Dukes have played some games recently on ESPN3, including just last year against Georgia Tech, and in 2012 played Georgetown on ESPNU. In 2011, they took on Arizona on ESPN2. But this year they'll be back on the OG ESPN to take on Big Blue Nation.
While beating Kentucky will obviously be a tall task, it can never hurt to have the exposure of playing on ESPN, even if it is on a Sunday night. The Packers play at the Redskins, who could still be winless by then, that night, so more than likely, only the fantasy football enthusiasts will have an interest in that game. College basketball fanatics flipping through channels will probably tune in, and even the casual hoops fan might see Kentucky and want to check it out.
That kind of thing always seems to come up as a talking point in recruiting and promoting the program, and speaking of recruiting, Jim Ferry and his staff have had back-to-back strong weekends there. First it was three-star point guard Jamari Wheeler two weeks ago, then on Sunday it was another Floridian, three-star wing Darius Banks (who looks pretty impressive in this junior season highlight video).
So the Dukes now have a point guard and a win in their 2017 class, and one would think the next logical goal is to land a big man. It looks like a few targets have gone off the board to other schools lately, but they did just extend an offer to 6-foot-8 Virginia forward Lewis Djonkam. It always seems to be tougher for any school to find big men, so we'll see how it shakes out.
One last thing before I go: Co-worker Bill Shackner wrote about new Duquesne president Ken Gormley, who's being inaugurated at Palumbo Center as I type this. Obviously, Gormley is not a new assistant coach, or a new head coach, or even a new athletic director, so he's got much more on his plate than the Duquesne men's basketball program, but I've heard good things about how he works with the athletic department and vice versa, so feel free to check out that story about him. Until next time ...