It seems to me that DePaul men's basketball is sort of like Eugene from Hey Arnold. Anything that can go wrong for DePaul, does go wrong.
Like yesterday, as Tom Negovan of WGN News reported senior guard Charles McKinney was dismissed from the Blue Demons and charged with three counts of battery.
"HEY DEPAUL! YOU'RE A JINX!"
The news only adds salt on a gaping wound that's been widening all summer, starting with the news last month that three-star commit Raymond Doby is reclassifying and heading to a prep school for the upcoming season. Doby was the lone high-school recruit for Oliver Purnell, and the fifth Purnell recruit - yes, FIVE - to decommit in four years: former Miami All-American and New York Knick Shane Larkin, Nebraska starter Walter Pitchford, former Kansas and current Fresno State big Braeden Anderson, and class of 2015 recruit Jon Davis.
And while DePaul has never reached the top of the roller coaster, they seem to be stranded on the tracks, never able to move forward. Which is unfortunate, seeing that DePaul had their best Big East season in years in 2013-14. After winning three Big East games in 2010-11, and only two wins in their 2011-12 and 2012-13 campaigns, the Blue Demons upped the ante last season, winning an astounding FOUR BIG EAST GAMES! Four conference wins may seem like a failure to most teams, but for DePaul, it looked like a sign of things to come.
Then life, as it always does, through the Demons a curveball, and now it's back to square one.
But it's not all bad in Lincoln Park (or Rosemont, if you really enjoy driving to the northwest suburbs 30 minutes from campus). With new season comes new promise, and while DePaul don't have much to look forward to right now, fans have to hope the tide will continue to slowly turn, without McKinney.
For Oliver Purnell's sake, they need to.
In order to keep moving forward, the Blue Demons need to win a few big games this season. They likely won't finish higher than 7th, but with a couple wins against these rivals, perhaps DePaul can finally creep out of the cellar and into the middle of the pack (at least the bottom half of it).
Jan. 3 vs. Xavier - The Big East decided to open the conference schedule with a dud in the Allstate between DePaul and Marquette - arguably the two worst teams in the Big East. DePaul's next game against Xavier is the bigger test for the Blue Demons. Xavier could've been a favorite to win the Big East if not for Semaj Christon declaring for the NBA Draft two years early. But don't doubt returning senior Dee Davis, who finally gets to run the show as the primary ball-handler. Matt Stainbrook will give defenders fits in the low post, and this Musketeers bench is crazy deep. Is this a win for DePaul? You'd have a better chance winning the Pick-4. But it's an interesting, early Big East conference home bout.
Jan. 18 vs. St. John's - DePaul hung on to beat the Johnnies at home last year, notching their first Big East winning streak in six years. St. John's loses JaKarr Sampson to the NBA, but bring back their two leading scorers from that loss - D`Angelo Harrison (24 points) and Rysheed Jordan (16 points). The senior Harrison will make a case for Big East player of the Year, and Jordan is a dangerous guard that'll generate a lot of attention from the DePaul back court. Steve Lavin's crew also return big man Chris Obekpa, who nearly transferred, but elected to return for his junior season. Had he left, the next tallest player for St. John's would have been 6-foot-5 senior Sir'Dominic Porter, avoiding a nightmare scenario against Hamilton
Feb. 3 vs. Seton Hall - Losses like last February's 65-60 defeat at DePaul will certainly cripple your NCAA tournament hopes, as they did Seton Hall's last season. Fuquan Edwin leaves without ever making the Big Dance, so it'll be up to junior guard Sterling Gibbs and backup Jaren Sina to take the Pirates to their first NCAA tourney since 2006. Joining them is five-star recruit Isaiah Whitehead, who along with Gibbs, makes up the best backcourt in the Big East. But where DePaul can have them beat is in their frontcourt. Pirates big Patrick Auda left to sign a professional contract overseas, so it'll be interesting to see who emerges as the No. 1 option in the paint for Seton Hall.
Feb. 7 at Butler - The Bulldogs would like to forget last season, as their first year in the Big East - and without head coach Brad Stevens - turned into a catastrophe rather quickly. DePaul rallied to beat Butler in double overtime at Hinkle Fieldhouse last year, so the Butler faithful will be looking to avenge a bad loss come February. Junior Roosevelt Jones is healthy after a preseason wrist injury in 2013, and Kellen Dunham put the team on his back at several points last season. DePaul has to find a way to score - and certainly a way to defend Jones - in order to combat will be a much-improved Butler squad in 2014-15.
Feb. 21 at Georgetown - DePaul pulled the ultimate upset in the Big East tournament in March, stunning the Hoyas in the first round, 60-56. Georgetown let Billy Garrett Jr. break out for 17 points in the contest, and John Thompson's team settled for an NIT bid. GU will be chomping at the bit to get a home win against DePaul. The Hoyas return four starters, including D`vauntes Smith-Rivera, Big East player of the year candidate and the leading scorer in March's game. They also bring in one of the top recruiting classes in the Big East in Isaac Copeland, L.J. Peak, Tre Campbell, and Whitney Young product Paul White. Don't expect an upset, as Georgetown looks ready to jump back into the Big Dance this season.
Can DePaul avoid another last-place finish? And what will it take? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below.