Jim Ferry comes to Pittsburgh off back-to-back NEC championships at LIU Brooklyn upon introduction as new head coach at Duquesne. (Photo courtesy of Yahoo! Sports)
Two coaches have now left the Northeast Conference for the Atlantic 10. Incidentally, both of these coaches had top three programs in the NEC prior to making the jump.
Three weeks after Dan Hurley arrived at Rhode Island after two years at Wagner, Jim Ferry has followed suit, leaving LIU Brooklyn in favor of Duquesne University. The 44-year-old Ferry, whose ten years at the helm of the Blackbirds made him the third-longest tenured coach in the NEC behind Dave Bike (Sacred Heart) and Howie Dickenman, (Central Connecticut State) officially replaced Ron Everhart as the head coach of the Dukes in a press conference held yesterday on Duquesne's Pittsburgh campus. While Ferry heads to the Steel City to take the reins of a program that has not made an NCAA Tournament appearance since 1977, his former position at the helm of the reigning two-time NEC champions was taken by former associate head coach Jack Perri.
"It would have to take something special for me to leave," said Ferry upon his introduction. "When I met these guys, (president Dr. Charles Dougherty and athletic director Greg Amodio) it was just automatic. It just came together." Ferry takes over a team that finished 16-15 last season, but lost star guard T.J. McConnell after the homegrown talent transferred to Arizona.
Ferry did bring a piece of Brooklyn with him, however; as both Rich Glesmann and Danny Lawson, each of whom served on his staff at LIU, will join his new staff at Duquesne. In addition, the new coach hired Brian Nash as his associate coach in a move that may be surprising on the surface, but not when you consider the history between them. Nash played with Ferry in college at Keene State, where Ferry eventually served as assistant coach; and the two grew even closer through the Battle of Brooklyn rivalry, as Nash matched wits with Ferry twice a year for five years at the helm of St. Francis, just a ten-minute walk from the LIU campus.
Speaking from an NEC media member's perspective, I always enjoyed having the opportunity to cover Jim Ferry over the years, and will miss him greatly despite still getting to cover him when Duquesne travels to Fordham. His desire to run a program the right way and build it from the ground up will resonate instantly with Pittsburgh's blue-collar history and nature, and Duquesne will realize sooner rather than later that they hit a Roberto Clemente-esque grand slam with this hire. The addition of Brian Nash to his staff helps both recruiting and in-game strategy as well as the overall image of the program. I never got to cover Nash personally during my tenure at St. Francis, but mostly everyone associated with the Terriers who did still speaks very highly of him as well as his boss. Moreover, his system will be a great fit for the Atlantic 10 as well, as he will find it easier to get guards to fit his style of play, not to mention being able to recruit big men that he could not necessarily get at LIU. In a world where Xavier and Temple consistently serve as the class of the conference, it would not be a surprise to see Duquesne make a run toward the Atlantic 10's upper echelon.