Friday May 17, 2013

In 20 years as an assistant basketball coach, Pat Duquette said that he wanted to be a head coach at the right place.

Today, the Dalton native said he is there.

Duquette, a Wahconah Regional and Williams College graduate, has been named the new men's basketball coach at UMass Lowell. Duquette, who leaves his position as associate head coach at Northeastern, will lead the River Hawks into Division I as the school joins the America East Conference this fall.

"During the interview process [athletic director Dana Skinner] asked me what my best memories were in the business. It got me to reflect on all the great things that have happened," Duquette said in a phone interview with the Eagle. "I would put this right up there with any moment that I've experienced in the game of basketball as a player or a coach."

The Dalton native is getting a five-year contract to lead UMass-Lowell out of the Division II Northeast 10 Conference. The River Hawks will be ineligible for the America East tournament for four seasons.

Duquette was one of four finalists for the position. One of the other finalists was former Boston College head coach Al Skinner, who hired Duquette in 1997.

The offer was made to Duquette on Wednesday night. He replaces Greg Herenda, who led UMass Lowell to a 95-54 record in five years before taking the reins at Division I Fairleigh Dickinson.

Duquette was part of Skinner's staff from 1997 until 2010, when the former Warrior rejoined former BC assistant Bill Coen at Northeastern. Last year's Northeastern team went 20-13 and was the top-seed in the Colonial Athletic Association postseason tournament. The Huskies lost to Alabama in the NIT.

At BC, Duquette was part of a staff that won the Big East regular-season title in 2005, went to the ACC title game in 2006 and appeared in six NCAA tournaments.

"The search committee saw in Pat all of the attributes they were seeking in a head coach at a crucial time," UMass Lowell Chancellor Marty Meehan said in a statement.

Duquette said that he was in the process of reaching out to every River Hawks player and assistant coach still on staff.

"It's the right job because it's the perfect fit," Duquette said. "They need a young guy who's got a ton of energy and drive, who's most important skills are recruiting and identifying players."