Sunday, May 31, 2009

There will never be another Bob Dukiet

Bob Dukiet, the second winningest coach in Gannon history and maybe the all-time greatest character in Golden Knight lore, died on Thursday at age 61. Duke was my coach for my sophomore through senior years at GU. Looking back, I realize now what a major influence he was on my life. I must quote him at least once a week. On Friday, I was telling my wife how Dukiet would use the phrase "loosey-goosey" to describe players who weren't serious enough. All of my co-workers have heard me say, "If it starts bad, it finishes bad."

I will tell some Duke stories in the near future. I have dozens of them -- most funny, some serious. In the meantime, please take some time to review the Guest Book from the New Jersey Star Ledger. It's clear that Coach Dukiet had a big heart. I saw firsthand how he always respected the "little people" and went out of his way to make them feel special. Several of the guest book entries show that Dukiet behaved in that manner his entire life.

My condolences and prayers to Coach Dukiet's family.

10 comments:

  1. Thanks for the news, Jim. Very sad. I don't think there was a day in the season while he was your coach that you didn't come to the Knight office with a story to tell about him. I have my own memories, too, from lunch with him at the Gannon caf or just running into him on campus. A memorable and admirable man, indeed. Rest in peace, Coach. You did good.

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  2. I never got to really see him coach (as when he coached I was very young, so if I did see him I just don't remember), but I've heard nothing but great things about him. RIP Bob Dukiet!

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  3. Former GU broadcaster Steve Bohen asked me to post this. I think it's quite poignant:

    Jim's assessment of Coach Dukiet being both a man of character and a real character are spot-on. My favorite Duke memory revolves around doing the "Gannon Coach' s Show" on Channel 66. We would tape the program Sunday mornings at 8:00, with a student crew. There was a piano in the studio, and Duke would arrive around 7:30 and procede to put on a great 3 minute show. Then we'd do the show. And more of the character would come out.

    I recall on one show, he was telling the audience about playing defense. He said, "Now, for all you young viewers out there, playing defense involves moving your hands and moving your feet." He's bobbing and weaving throughout, causing the poor camera operator extreme difficulties trying to follow his movement. The student director called for a cut and suggested we do the segment again, without all of the gyrations. Duke, very politely, replied, "We can try, but I don't think I can do it any other way. It's like asking Stan Getz to play his saxophone by reading the music." I then had to explain to the director that the analogy was a good one, and then explain who Stan Getz was.

    Duke was engaging, intense, curious and compassionate. A great coach, and a man who definitely danced to his own beat. Go with God, Coach Dukiet.

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  4. Here's another e-mail from someone who knew Coach Dukiet --

    Jim:

    Coach Dukiet was the best! I had the privledge of being his friend for over 21 years. His legacy is not St. Peter's, Marquette, or Gannon.
    His legacy is the people in the coaching profession he gave opportunites to, and I'm one of those people. I would not have been at Florida Atlantic or Long Island University had it not been for him.
    It's not just coaches, he had time for people who had no interest whatsoever in basketball.
    The lessons learned from Coach stay with me everyday. He was a great coach, but an even better human being.

    Thanks!

    John Bruno

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  5. Here are some comments from a Marquette message board:

    "RIP Bob Dukiet. I lived through the 3 years and despite being painful, it was a blast."

    "I covered him when he coached at St. Peter's. A very very nice guy but someone who was incredibly out of his league at MU. He recruited the same type of kids he did at St. Pete's and it just didn't work. The low points were when he brought the team back to NY and lost blowouts to Fordham and Iona."

    "I still loved the guy for telling Digger to go f himself."

    "Glad to see that this board isn't taking potshots at Bob Dukiet after his passing. I'm sorry the same can't be said for the classy posters on the other board. Nothing like rehashing a man's shortcomings after he's dead. That sounds exactly what being a good Catholic is all about. Having met him a couple times around campus, I found Dukiet to be a very friendly guy."

    "While he was not a strong recruiter, he was not a bad coach. If you had been there, you would know this. Further, he was not flamboyant, nor flip, and didn't fare well with the alumni or press. That's why he failed at MU."

    "Whitey was his nickname due to the blonde hair suffered from stomach cancer for over a year. He also had diabetes."
    -- Who knew that?

    To see the entire message board go to: http://www.muscoop.com/index.php?topic=14855.msg137457;topicseen

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  6. GREAT article -- plus a photo of Duke at a piano -- from the NY Post:

    http://www.nypost.com/seven/05312009/sports/moresports/piano_playing_coach_went_out_on_happy_no_171841.htm

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  7. RIP Coach Dukiet. Ironically, Sunday was the 20-year anniversary of his being introduced as the GU coach.

    I'll second Steve's comments regarding great coach, engaging and intense. I'll go in reverse order --

    Intense: I was the road scorekeeper for a couple of years, including Duke's first. After a tough January loss at LeMoyne, where GU gave up a lead late in the game, I was amazed (and a little terrified) about how an individual could seethe for four straight hours on the ride home. The bus pulls up in front of the Hammermill Center around 3 a.m. and I wearily walk to my car in a near-empty parking ramp. I say near-empty, becuase the only other car in the ramp was -- you guessed it -- Coach Dukiet, his blood still boiling just as it was as he entered the bus. He backs out, knocks over a barrier, and speeds off.

    Engaging -- A bunch of GU fans were at a post-game reception after an even tougher loss -- the 75-69 loss to Morehouse in the national semifinals, again after giving up a late lead. In walks Coach Dukiet, graciously greeting all of the fans who made the long trip. I'm sure that inside, his blood pressure was even higher than after the LeMoyne loss, but nobody could tell. He then sits down at a piano and gives a humorous musical synopsis to the season.

    Great coach -- I am still amazed at how he reinvented the 1989-90 team around Christmas. They were going nowhere fast playing a pressure defense, losing to a bad Northern Kentucky team in the opening round of the Porreco Cup and then deserving to lose in the consolation game to Millersville (but MU was also in a giving mood). Anyhow, they went from being a pressure defensive team to a walk-it-up half court team, walking all the way to Springfield.

    And he had a way of fracturing the names of the opposing teams at the pre-game shootaround, so much so one time that then SID Rick Love and I had to leave because we didn't want to be seen laughing so hard. Jim, you'll remember MCC all-stars such as Shinhizer, Oreo, Herhersky, and Leo Rauch.

    RIP.

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  8. Jim -- Good point on not flamboying, flip, etc.

    He had the misfortune of following Al McGuire and Rick Majerus at Marquette.

    Then he followed Chapman at Gannon.

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  9. Another article on Coach Dukiet highlighting his humility and unique personality. It's from the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinal:
    http://www.jsonline.com/sports/goldeneagles/46677352.html

    Thanks to Joe Mureo for the link.

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  10. off topic (on old topic).. rumor has it Coach Wright signed an extension with Gannon. Regardless if this is true or not, however, Cal U has hired a coach.. not by the name of Cleve Wright...

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