- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
- TAMPA BAY buccaneersENEMY lines WHAT A RIVAL COACH SAYSJune 28, 2012
- Faces in the CrowdJune 11, 2001
The 1970s-era scoreboard above the court indicated that there was 4:01 to play in the first half when Bil Duany made his move to the basket. The freshman guard for the Eastern Illinois Panthers sneaked past his man on the perimeter and raised his massive onyx-colored right hand. The Panthers' point guard, Emanuel Dildy, spotted him and lofted a pass. In one fluid motion Duany put a cushion of air between his sinewy body and the court, unfurled his 87-inch wingspan, caught the ball and dunked violently. The alley-oop gave the home team a 30--23 lead over the visitors from Division III Benedictine University. The crowd of about 1,300 at Lantz Arena in Charleston, Ill., responded with the loudest cheers of the day. � It was a fairly routine if exciting play in a lopsided EIU win, but for Bil's parents, Wal and Julia Duany, it was freighted with all manner of significance. On this heartlessly cold Tuesday in December they had made the two-hour drive from their home in Bloomington, Ind., to Charleston to get their first glimpse of their 19-year-old son playing for EIU. As they sat inconspicuously a dozen or so rows up from the court and savored the P.A. announcement, "Basket by Duany," they saw their family's achievement consecrated.
Now that Bil, the youngest of the Duany brood--"My baby," Julia says, "my 6'7" baby"--is playing for Eastern Illinois, the family has scored a sweep. After graduating from Bloomington High School North, each of Wal and Julia's five kids has gone to college on a Division I basketball scholarship. Here's the rest of the starting quintet:
Duany Duany, now 28, graduated from Wisconsin in 2000 after helping the Badgers reach the Final Four. He earned degrees in behavioral science and prelaw and is pursuing a master's degree in sports management at Indiana University.
Nyagon Duany, 26, played for Bradley and is currently in her final year at Indiana's medical school.
Kueth Duany, 24, was the senior captain on the Syracuse team that won the 2003 NCAA title. He graduated with a double major in political science and information management and technology, and until he was cut in January, he played for the ABA's Long Beach Jam in hopes of catching on with an NBA team.
Nok Duany, 23, starred for Georgetown and then, after her 2003 graduation, for a professional team in Portugal. She now has what Bil calls a "yuppie job" in the marketing department of a Chicago bank.
Five children, five full rides. There's some debate as to whether this is an NCAA record. Regardless, the Duanys' feat is remarkable. To say that the family has lived the American Dream is to traffic in understatement as well as clich�. And that's before you consider the Duanys' backstory.
As Bil jogged upcourt after his dunk, brushing palms with a few teammates along the way, Wal and Julia smiled at each other. Spouses for 32 years, they didn't have to say a word to know they were sharing the same thought. We did it. As they had for 20 years, they were finding sanctuary in the bleachers of a basketball gym in Middle America. For a fleeting moment the Duanys could watch one of their kids maneuver a ball into a hoop, and they could focus on something other than the horror in their homeland.
It began with a knock on the door. In late 1983 the Duany clan was living in Juba, a small city in the south of Sudan, the largest country in Africa. At the time Wal was the finance minister for the regional government, and Julia, a recent graduate of a teachers' college, was the mother of four young kids, with a fifth on the way. Wal and Julia had been married by arrangement in 1972--her "bridewealth" included a few dozen head of cattle and some land--and were living a comfortable life.
Oh, there had been hardships. Wal and Julia had died a little a few years earlier when their first child, Urom, had come down with a fever just after his first birthday, lapsed into a coma and never awakened. And more recently the authoritarian, Muslim-dominated national government, based in the north of Sudan, had jailed Wal for five months (without formal charges, much less a trial) for the crime of being a Christian unwilling to convert to Islam.