Big East Season Preview: DePaul Blue Demons

Looks about right - Jonathan Daniel

Is this the year the DePaul Blue Demons finally turn the corner in the Big East? Probably not, but they still deserve a season preview!

2012-13 Record: 11-21 (2-16)

Coach: Oliver Purnell- Fourth Year; overall 30–64 (.319) in-conference 6–50 (.107) with DePaul, 424–345 (.551) overall.

"Key" Returning PlayersCleveland Melvin SR PF (16 ppg, 6.8 rpg), Brandon Young SR PG (16.7 ppg, 4.6 apg), Jamee Crocket JR G/F (8.7 ppg, 3.6 rpg), Charles McKinney JR G (5.3 ppg) , Durrell McDonald SO G (2.9 ppg)

Departures: Worrel Clahar, Moses Morgan, Derrell Robertson, Donnavan Kirk, Montray Clemons

Additions: Billy Garrett Jr PG  (94th rated 2013 recruit), Sandi Marcius PF/C (transfer from Purdue), R.J. Currington SG (three-star prospect), Thomas Hamilton Jr. C (high two, low three-star grade), Forrest Robinson C (JUCO), Greg Sequele PF (JUCO)

Projected Starting Lineup: Point guard: Brandon Young, Shooting guard: Billy Garrett Jr, Small forward: Jamee Crocket, Power forward: Cleveland Melvin, Center: Sandi Marcius

Consensus Projection: Most experts are picking a last place finish for the Blue Demons.

Team Overview:

It is really hard to argue with the experts' predictions of a last place finish for DePaul. The thing about DePaul, other than how inept the athletic department is, is that they can't play defense. In fact, they haven't been able to since Purnell got the gig. The question going forward for this season -- as well as for the program as the whole -- is about the importance of the basketball program to the university. That does not have anything to do with this specific season, but it will be a major storyline looming over the team and, more importantly, Purnell.

As for the starting lineup, outside of Melvin, Young and Crockett, there is no real, set rotation for tip-offs. Garrett Jr comes to the program as a pretty highly sought after recruit, but McKinney is just as likely to start -- well, at least to start the season. It should be noted, however, that Garrett Jr comes to DePaul with some strong ties. His father is an assistant coach for the Blue Demons.

There is, however, really good news for the Blue Demons. Melvin and Young, the team's leading scorers from last year are back.

Melvin is an intriguing player. Outside of the fact that it feels like he has been with the program for decades now, Melvin is very productive. Really, the only flaws in his game are ones that he can't fix. A small power forward (6'8"), Melvin will go a long way in helping the team as well as his potential as a pro if he continues to improve upon his mid-range game. Melvin will need to attack and get to the charity-stripe a little bit more this season. Last season, Melvin attempted less than 4 free throws a game. That's not going to cut it for a player who shoots roughly 14 times a night.

Young, however, might be even more important than Melvin. Since Melvin's game is limited (solely due to being an undersized four), Young is going to be asked to go above-and-beyond. It's strange to think that DePaul will ask more out of a guy who scored almost 17 ppg last season, but if we were to be honest, DePaul will not exactly be throwing world-class bucket-makers out on a nightly basis.

All of that brings us to their role players. Even more so, how good is Billy Garrett's good? If you're not a fan of the Blue Demons or are unfamiliar with the program, just think about it this way: DePaul's role players are about as ho-humish as a M. Night Shyamalan movie. Garrett, however, might be the exception to this trend.

The Schedule:

Well, the Blue Demon's non-conference schedule is not exactly filled with cupcakes, but there are only a few tests. After opening against Grambling State, DePaul has to face Southern Miss, then nine days later begin a rough stretch facing Wichita State, Oregon State and Arizona State. This stretch is really the only major test of their non-conference schedule -- sans DePaul being, you know, DePaul-ish.

After that, though, it is off to the new Big East Conference. You would hope they would treat joining the new version of the old league as a rebirth of sorts. Unfortunately, this team just doesn't have enough to turn it around that quickly. Despite my thoughts about the athletic department (another piece for another day), always pondering about Purnell's job security and how a university can go about putting out such a horrible product but excepting tax-payers to pony a slew of money up for a building -- the Blue Demons do have some talent on their squad. Seriously.Their one-two punch of Melvin and Young is that potentially potent. There is unlikely enough help, however, to put them over any fictional hump that awaits them for the season.

Our Projections:

Record: 11-19 (2-16)
Purnell: Jobless
Athletic Department: Still inept
Fans: Craving what they rightfully deserve (Hint: It's the university at least caring)

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