DePaul Blue Demon fans know the drill. It's the norm for them, really. Getting their hopes high at the beginning of a season and then quickly having those feelings go the way of the dinosaurs. Like, you know, extinct.
It felt like only a few days ago that DePaul's stock was trending upward. That there was hope -- albeit, the smallest of kinds -- for the program. A win to open their season, Cliff Alexander's recruitment going relatively well and a general sense that DePaul might be able to do some damage this season.
Then, well, DePaul basketball happened.
Wednesday saw the Blue Demons lose to Southern Miss. To be fair, the Golden Eagles are not a bad team -- so the loss isn't as horrible as it may seem, but it's still a game they should have won. Also, the fact that Oliver Purnell essentially blamed his two best players, Cleveland Melvin and Brandon Young, for the loss just adds some unnecessary drama to all things DePaul hoops related.
After the loss, but before Purnell could take a minute to rethink whatever first thoughts entered his cranium, he decided to drop a little nugget on anyone who would listen (H/T DePaulBlueDemons.com for the quote), “That’s when Brandon and Cleve have got to do even more. Brandon (six turnovers) has to take better care of the ball and Cleve (two rebounds) has to rebound better even though we have him at the three spot.”
Oh goodie. Purnell, whose coaching could certainly come under question, was quick to throw his two best players under the bus. Maybe he thought it was a teaching lesson or maybe he was trying to assign the scapegoat roles to guys he knew could take it, but as a "leader of men", I'm not too sure negative reinforcement works that well coming from a guy who has had only 31 wins since taking over at DePaul (over three full seasons and two games to start this one).
DePaul's next game is against Wright State. And, oddly enough, it as much a must win game for this early in the season as it could be for any program in the entire nation. The non-conference schedule was supposed to be kind to the Blue Demons, falling to a 1-2 start would be less awesome than signing prenuptials with Kim Kardashian.
But wait, there's more!
The highly sought after recruit -- who goes by the name Cliff Alexander -- is not joining the DePaul Blue Demons. Instead, probably smartly, he is going to play for Bill Self and the Kansas Jayhawks.
Which really leaves us with a few questions. Did he ever really consider DePaul? I mean, it's DePaul, Oliver Purnell and a sea of ineptness only rivaled by the failure for a Ghostbusters 3 to officially get filmed.
Other questions still remaining: How in the world does a program who calls Chicago home, play in a strong basketball conference and have a new arena all lined up, continue to be the laughing stock and cellar dweller of the Big East Conference?
Oh yeah. DePaul, baby! Where a bad early season loss by DePaul is the official sign that college basketball is underway.