Sunday May 19, 2013

The person on the other end of the phone couldn't contain his excitement.

Harry Sheehy recruited Pat Duquette to Williams College in the early 1990s, coached the former Wahconah product and has watched Duquette ascend the college basketball coaching ladder to UMass Lowell, where Duquette is the new men's basketball coach.

"I am so thrilled for him," said Sheehy, "and so proud of him from all the good work he's done to make himself a good coach who's earned this chance.

"It's a great opportunity going into the America East. He's a real person of integrity. He's a person who cares about the kids and loves the game. I just couldn't be happier."

Duquette was hired by UMass Lowell on Wednesday night and introduced to the community on Friday. He is the second of Sheehy's former Ephs to take a Division I head coaching job. Dave Paulsen, who won a national championship at Williams, is the head coach at Bucknell.

Sheehy's teams during the Duquette era won three Little Three championships. Those Eph teams did not win NESCAC titles as the conference did not have a formal championship. Despite going 23-4 in Duquette's senior year, there was no NCAA Division III tournament at the end of the basketball rainbow. NESCAC did not allow teams to participate in the NCAAs.

Sheehy is now the athletic director at Dartmouth, and by the way is ready to schedule Duquette's River Hawks in basketball.

"I did actually think about that last night," Sheehy said. "I'd love to get to their place. It would be great to get him up here too."

Duquette's five-year contract spreads across the four years the America East Conference has said the River Hawks cannot play for the conference's postseason tournament title. It will, however, give him an opportunity to build the program and be ready.

Duquette's rise as a coach has been documented from his start as an intern with the New Jersey Nets, to small college stops at Centenary (N.J.), St. Lawrence and Saint Michael's before joining Al Skinner's staff at Boston College in 1997.

"He got into [coaching] pretty quickly. He's a very smart person and he's very good with people," said Sheehy. "The more I'm around this business, the less I think it's about X's and O's and the more I think it's about managing and leading people.

"He's just very good at that."

Duquette was not only a varsity player at Williams but was an "outstanding" captain, according to Sheehy.

"He was a very, very good player," the former Williams coach said. "He was a great defender and he played his rear end off. I actually think that when we got him [from Wahconah] he really didn't understand what playing hard was. He was so smart that he learned it.

"I remember practices when he and [former Monument Mountain standout] Lenny Miller were going at it against each other in an unbelievably competitive way in the best sense."

To reach Howard Herman:
hherman@berkshireeagle.com,
or (413) 496-6253.
On Twitter: @howardherman.