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College basketball:Common bond for Hokies, Dukes

By Alan Robinson
Associated PressPITTSBURGH ó Ron Everhart can’t help but feel a touch of sadness as he takes his team to Virginia Tech for an NIT game even if this is one of Duquesne basketball’s best moments during a quarter-century filled with constant losing.
The Duquesne coach’s team made a surprising run to the Atlantic 10 tournament final. Still, the Virginia Tech campus in Blacksburg is like a second home to Everhart, a former Tech player, and the shootings there nearly two years ago that killed 32 and wounded many others pained him greatly.
Especially when his own team was only beginning to heal from the on-campus shootings of five players seven months before the Virginia Tech massacre.
“Obviously, both places have seen their dark times with the shootings and having to endure adversity,” Everhart said before the Dukes left campus for Wednesday night’s game. “For us having to go through it as a program, we’ve seen it first hand.”
Everhart will see his alma mater for the first time since the April 2007 tragedy, the single deadliest shooting attack in the United States carried out by a single gunman. Everhart will use the visit to remind his players about living life to the fullest and making the most of every opportunity, if only because no one truly knows what tomorrow will bring.
“I’m still trying to make sure these guys understand you still have to look at things in the big picture and keep a level head about you,” Everhart said. “That’s the one lesson we’ve learned about handling tough times or handling prosperity. And this is the first time in two years that we’ve had to handle some prosperity as well as some adversity.”
Since inheriting a 3-24 team three years ago, Everhart has seen the Dukes (21-12) rise steadily.
There are more than a few ties between Duquesne and Virginia Tech, which were briefly co-members of the Atlantic 10 in the 1990s. Everhart and assistant coach Steve Hall are former Hokies players, with Everhart ó once the backup to Tech star Dell Curry ó serving as a co-captain during his senior season in 1984-85.
The Dukes’ 203 losses in the 10 seasons before Everhart took over were the most by any team in any upper-tier NCAA conference, yet they are 38-25 the last two seasons despite fielding one of the nation’s youngest rosters this season with eight scholarship freshmen.

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