As new Duquesne basketball coach Jim Ferry begins to prepare for his first year in the Atlantic 10 Conference next season, there is already one team on the Dukes' 2012-13 schedule with which Ferry is very familiar.
As head coach at Long Island Brooklyn, Ferry coached against Robert Morris the past 10 seasons in the Northeast Conference. His Blackbirds beat the Colonials in the past two NEC tournament championships, and he is 3-2 against Robert Morris' Andy Toole.
Duquesne has not beaten Robert Morris since 2009. The Colonials victory at the Palumbo Center in December marked their first back-to-back wins in the cross-city rivalry since 1983 and '84.
It will be several months before the schools finalize their 2012-13 schedules, but they will play at some point next season -- likely in November or December-- at Robert Morris' Sewall Center.
"Obviously, our guys look forward to that game every year," Toole said. "It'll add a little bit of a wrinkle to the game, but I think it's always fun when you go up against guys who you know are going to have their teams prepared and have their teams ready to play in a good rivalry like us and Duquesne."
Ferry's jump to Duquesne also will have an impact on the NEC next year. Long Island returns most of its players from this season and is expected to contend for another NEC crown. The Blackbirds quickly hired associate head coach Jack Perri as their new head coach after Ferry's move to Duquesne.
Toole will be the only head coach returning from the top three teams in the NEC's regular-season standings. Wagner's Danny Hurley took the job at Rhode Island, and assistant coach Bashir Mason was promoted to the top job.
Despite the changes, Toole said he still expected Wagner and Long Island to be at the top of the league next season. Because both coaches were hired from within, there shouldn't be much shake-up in terms of playing style or with potential transfers.
Perri has been coaching at Long Island for seven years, and Mason at Wagner for two seasons.
"I think Bashir and Jack are going to be well-prepared to step in and continue to move the programs in the right direction," Toole said. "I think the teams at the top of the league are going to continue to be strong. I don't think anyone's going to take a step back by the hires that they've made."rmusports
Sam Werner: firstname.lastname@example.org and Twitter @SWernerPG.