For every positive you're able to find about DePaul basketball, there are about six negatives. I hate to be a Buzz Killington, but DePaul hasn't been a name that's meant something to the city of Chicago since at least the days of Quentin Richardson. It's unfortunate, because a great university in a great city deserves something to be proud of.
It's just DePaul is not that thing.
Ray Meyer and Mark Aguirre are not walking through that door. Instead, it's Oliver Purnell and Billy Garrett Jr. It's not the superhero coach-player tandem you'd hope for, but it's going to have to do for now.
The Blue Demons are not "bad", they just aren't very good. Billy Garrett and Tommy Hamilton have tons of promise, as they were the best players on last year's team not named Cleveland or Brandon. But after that, there are a lot of questions with this DePaul squad going into the upcoming season. So far, very few answers seem to provide any optimism.
There are a myriad of reasons to be down on the Blue Demons this season, but for the sake of your sanity, we'll try to condense your pessimism to just three points.
Lack of Quality Recruits
DePaul lost their only freshman recruit when Ray Doby reclassified to head to Military school for the 2014-15 season, following the footsteps of Jon Davis a few months prior. Their other incoming recruits? All JuCo players. Darrick Wood, Rashaun Stimage and Aaron Simpson are all good players, but none is expected to contribute much this season.
DePaul does get a boost from junior transfer Myke Henry, a Chicago native who sat last year after two seasons at Illinois. But a year after signing Billy Garrett, Tommy Hamilton and R.J. Curington, Oliver Purnell laid a big goose egg in recruiting this year, in what may be the most crucial season of his tenure. DePaul will have some experience, but if there is little or no progression this year, their future will continue to look bleak.
Home Court Disadvantage
Sure, there are plenty of teams in the Big East that play in big arenas off campus. Georgetown has been a Verizon Center tenant for years, and St. John's has made good use of the World's Greatest Arena.
But DePaul plays their "home" in the Allstate Arena, a half-hour drive to the suburbs of Chicago. If you aren't aware, the Rosemont Horizon is a dump (unless you're going for a WWE show, make those CM Punk chants loud next Monday). It's cramped, seating is horrible, and worst of all, the team barely averages 3,000 fans a season. Visiting Big East teams feast on a road atmosphere like this, so the sooner DePaul can move into a proposed new arena on the South Side, the quicker they can bring back the fans and eliminate the stark disadvantage they face at home.
It's impossible to beat around the bush here. DePaul has made two NCAA tournaments in the last 20 years, none since 2004, and they haven't reached the NIT since 2007. They've gone 10-98 in the Big East since 2008.
If DePaul fans weren't already doused in gasoline, SB Nation's Ricky O'Donnell tossed a frag grenade in their vicinity with an April post that included these tidbits:
- .353: DePaul's winning percentage the last four years under Oliver Purnell.
- 6: Consecutive seasons DePaul has finished in last place in the Big East.
- 2,900: DePaul's average attendance at home games over the last three years in an arena that sits 17,500.
- 0: Number of DePaul players drafted in the NBA since Wilson Chandler was picked in 2007.
DePaul has become the laughingstock of college basketball (which seems impossible when you remember Northwestern is the only major school to never appear in the NCAA Tournament). If DePaul can come out of the gates strong, get some quality wins against better programs like Colorado and Stanford leading into conference play, it could play a big role in building a stronger program. But until then, we'll have to wait and see.
Is there reason for DePaul fans to temper their pessimism this year, or are they in line for another bad year in 2014-15? Let us know what you think.