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Big East Season Preview: DePaul Blue Demons

BECB's Robert O'Neill, Cam Newton and Tyler Freeland break down what lies ahead for the DePaul Blue Demons in the 2014-15 season.

Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Spor

2013-14 in Review: 12-21 (3-15), 10th in Big East; Lost in 2nd round to Creighton

Departures: Cleveland Melvin (16.7 PPG, 6.4 RPG, 1.0 APG), Charles McKinney (3.9 PPG, 1.9 RPG, 1.1 APG), Brandon Young (16.3 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 3.5 APG), Sandi Marcius (4.8 PPG, 4.6 RPG, 0.2 APG)

Arrivals: Joe Hanel (walk-on), Myke Henry (Transfer from Illinois, sat out 2013-2014 season per NCAA rules. 2012-2013 stats: 3.2 PPG, 2.1 RPG, 10.6 minutes per game), David Molinari (walk-on), Aaron Simpson (Transfer from Lincoln College (Ill.), 23.0 PPG last season), Rashaun Stimage (Transfer from Daytona State (Fla.). 13.9 PPG and 7.2 RPG last season), Darrick Wood (Transfer from Hutchinson Community College (Kan.), 13.7 PPG, 3.7 RPG, 2.7 APG last season)

Returnees (All stats from 2013-2014): Billy Garrett Jr. (12.4 PPG, 2.4 RPG, 3.0 APG), Tommy Hamilton IV (7.7 PPG, 4.8 RPG, 0.8 APG), Durrell McDonald (5.4 PPG, 1.8 RPG, 1.2 APG), R.J, Curington (4.1 PPG, 1.2 RPG, 0.3 APG), Jamee Crockett (3.9 PPG, 1.4 RPG, 0.5 APG), Forrest Robinson (3.7 PPG, 1.8 RPG, 0.4 APG), Greg Sequele (1.4 PPG, 1.7 RPG, 0.1 APG) Peter Ryckbosch (1.3 PPG, 1.0 RPG, will miss 2014-2015 with a torn ACL), Cory Dolins (0.3 PPG, 0.3 RPG, 3 games played)

2014-15 Projected Starting Lineup: Durell McDonald, Billy Garrett Jr., R.J. Curington, Forrest Robinson, Tommy Hamilton IV

Allstate Arena is not the Home of DePaul Basketball

Perhaps the largest controversy surrounding the DePaul Basketball program is that which involves their future home court: the McCormick Place Events Center.  When viewed at a superficial level, it is great news that DePaul is getting a new arena. After all, they are currently playing in Allstate Arena, which is consistently beleaguered by low attendance, seeing as it is roughly twelve miles from DePaul's campus.  Only when one delves deeper into the issue is when the controversy surrounding it arises.

A New York Times article from last season illustrated the complaints of many, as the city would provide $33 million to fund the arena, something they announced, "six days before the Board of Education voted to close 50 public schools because of a $1 billion deficit and underutilization issues . . ."  The new arena is estimated to be opened in 2017 and there is no debating that it will continue to be a hot-button issue unless the city sees the, "$1.1 billion investment to boost tourism", come to fruition for the betterment of the city.

Billy Garrett Jr: The Sophomore Everyone is Watching

There is no doubt that if DePaul is going to shift ahead in the top half of the Big East standings, they will need performances from star Billy Garrett Jr. that exceed the numbers he produced last season.  He's the de facto court leader for this struggling team, and he's only a sophomore.  It goes without saying that there is a large burden that is placed on Garrett, the 2013-2014 Big East Rookie of the Year, who has shown a great amount of strength and resilience, as he has persevered with his basketball career despite having sickle-cell anemia.

By all accounts, Billy Garrett Jr. is being predicted to garner a myriad of Big East accolades this season, whether the Blue Demons are able to produce wins or if they slip back into their losing ways that have inundated them since the latter half of the 2000's.  If a few key players can step up and provide some much-needed assistance to Garrett, then the Blue Demons may have a shot at crashing the Big East party.

Season Prediction

DePaul is headed into one of their most unique years in the Purnell era. The team is without a definite upperclassmen leader, Oliver Purnell is on the last year of his contract, and the end of era at Allstate Arena is looming with construction regarding the new arena ready to begin. Young talent, new ju-co transfers, and a few names that have stuck with the program all four years form the DePaul men's roster this year. For DePaul to end a streak of last place finishes, the Blue Demons must have contributions across the starting lineup and the bench.

An optimistic goal for Chicago's college team is simple: They need to compete night in and night out in the Big East, win some big road games, and finish around .500 in conference play. Winning is not just something you compete for, it is an attitude. DePaul opens there season against a number of weaker Illinois and Mid-western teams. They will also been challenged with PAC-12 foes from the west including Stanford and Oregon State.

DePaul is a team that has the talent to compete on any given night. They are not a team that can rely on individual skill alone. Billy Garrett Jr. will have to score more than he did last year while continuing to dish it out to the wings for a consistent perimeter game. This will not only up their scoring, but provide other defenses with a handful being a threat from anywhere on the floor. Aaron Simpson will have to been the #2 that DePaul needs consistency from amongst the forwards. Mike Henry will also need to have a breakout year coming from limited play at University of Illinois in the Big Ten. Tommy Hamilton has add muscle and skill to his play in the paint this offseason. He will need to be the go-to for DePaul's post game. Up and down the lineup, DePaul will need to out-hustle opponents every night.

Record Predictions

Tyler: 15-16 (8-10 in Big East)

Robert: 14-17 (6-12 in Big East)

Cam: 13-18 (5-13 in Big East)