Jim Ferry jogged onto the court at the A.J. Palumbo Center for Dukesfest Friday night, his new team around him -- some new, some returning.
In less than three weeks, he will have a starting lineup from the group and a bench he believes he can count on. For now, it's about building a team on "The Bluff."
"It's certainly not a lost season by any means, but lets be realistic. We're starting over a little bit," said Ferry at the team's media day that preceded the fan festival. "As a coach it's exciting, you get to build and see what you're missing and need to get done.
"I've done this before and everywhere I've been, with a little bit of patience, we've over-exceeded expectations."
Ferry said his team will be physical, make rebounding a focus and compete to win a championship in the Atlantic 10 Conference.
That's right, a championship.
"The goals every year are to compete for a championship. If you're not going to do that, I think you're in the wrong business," Ferry said. "Our short-term goals are to get better every day. Even in practices, we take two steps forward one step back.
"We have to get consistent first. But the goals are to be a tough physical team, to outrebound our opponents which was an issue last year, and then again to compete to put ourselves in a position to compete for the championship"
Ferry mentioned many times that he will count on leadership from returning seniors, guard Sean Johnson and forward Andre Marhold.
Johnson led the Dukes in scoring 10 times last year and Marhold made 21 starts.
But make no mistake, the lineup is nowhere near set in stone.
Ferry has four newcomers -- three freshmen and a sophomore transfer that will be competing for playing time.
"This is a tight-knit team. Bottom line, every position is open," Ferry said. "Everything is up for competition. That's healthy. I have not sensed any animosity amongst the team. They're really working hard."
The focus on rebounding was music to some players' ears.
"It really changes because now you know it's not the [No.] 4 [man] and the 5 down there with four other people," Marhold said. "Now, you have your teammates crashing. We're going to do everything it takes not to just get the rebound, but to at least tip it.
"If we even touch the ball, one of our players might end up getting it. It feels more of a team-rebounding thing rather than just the bigs."
Ferry said he does not pick captains.
"Captains emerge," Ferry said. "I haven't had captain in four years. I've had leaders. When a leader emerges, that stuff takes care of it self, doesn't need to be a 'C' put on someone's shirt."
NOTES -- Forward Mamadou Datt will not play until the second semester because of academic issues, Ferry said. No other eligibility problems exist. ...Two walk-ons have joined the roster: Nick Foschia, a 6-foot-4 forward from Northfield Center, Ohio, and 5-10 guard Christian Johnston who is from Shaler.
First Published October 20, 2012 4:15 AM