Pat Duquette named UMass-Lowell basketball coach

Pat Duquette, a former associate head coach under Al Skinner at Boston College, has been named head basketball coach at UMass-Lowell.

“It’s been a long time. I feel blessed,” said Duquette, who has been associate head coach at Northeastern the last three years. “It’s competitive. There are not enough spots for all the qualified coaches out there.”

Duquette, a Dalton native and cousin of Baltimore Orioles general manager Dan Duquette, replaces Greg Herenda, who recently accepted the head job at Fairleigh Dickinson. UMass-Lowell athletic director Dana Skinner said there were three other finalists, including Skinner, but he withdrew because “our discussions with Al didn’t go quite in a direction that would work as well for Al.”

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The other finalists were former Celtic Kevin Gamble, now an assistant coach at Central Michigan, and Jay Young, an assistant at Stony Brook.

“The search committee felt Pat’s passion and strategy to achieve excellence on the court and in the classroom were a winning formula,” said Dana Skinner in a statement. “He has been a major piece of the success achieved at Boston College and Northeastern working for two of the area’s finest coaches in Bill Coen and Al Skinner. We believe he is an excellent fit at UMass-Lowell.”

UMass-Lowell is entering its first season in Division 1, having joined America East.

“It is important when you make the transition from Division 2 to Division 1 that you have a good conference, and that’s already happened,” Duquette said in a statement. “It’s a school on the rise with all the ingredients of a successful basketball program.”

UMass-Lowell will return 13 of 14 players, including four of five starters, from last season.

“I’d be crazy to coach the same as NU,” Duquette said. “”You need to work your offense around your best players. I’m going to get in there, find out who the best players are and pick an offense that suits them.”

Duquette, a Williams graduate, worked his way up at BC, starting as an administrative assistant in 1997 before becoming an assistant coach in 2001 and then associate head coach in 2009. A highly regarded recruiter, Duquette helped develop three Eagles — Troy Bell, Craig Smith, and Jared Dudley — into All-Americans.