DePaul basketball hasn’t had its most favorable years in recent memory. The Blue Demons have continued to struggle, going 42-77 overall and 9-57 in Big East play in the Oliver Purnell era. With these numbers, there have been question marks surrounding the longevity of Purnell’s time in Chicago, but all signs are pointing up for the Blue Demons this season.
Doug McDermott was the marquee story surrounding the Big East last year. He was the conference player of the year, and one of the most dynamic players Creighton has ever developed. What was his X-factor leading up to his professional career?
McDermott’s dad, Greg, was his head coach with the Bluejays. Similarly, DePaul’s starting guard Billy Garrett Jr. has family on the coaching staff as well. Billy Sr. has been an assistant coach at DePaul since ’09. No one was surprised when his son took a step into a leadership roll as a mere freshman. His knack for quick ball movement and quarterbacking the offense earned him Big East Rookie of the Year in March. If Garrett can find the confidence to move the ball quickly and draw defenders off shooters, we can see a very different perimeter game from the Blue Demons this season.
As for the head coach, Purnell’s fate ultimately comes down to one year. If he can muster together a competitive team in the Big East, he will be on the sidelines when the new stadium opens in two years.
DePaul has struggled to have a consistent "face" at the head of the roster. Crippled by the dismissal of Cleveland Melvin last year and Charles McKinney earlier this month, DePaul can either sink or swim. They haven’t the time to waste.
With their starting lineup shaping up to primarily consist of sophomores and juniors, no one feels tied down to the jaded losing patterns DePaul basketball has typically displayed. The program snapped a 14-game losing streak to Georgetown last March in the first round of the Big East tournament. DePaul showed heart and pride for a team that was kicked around during a good chunk of Big East play. This was the 2nd time DePaul had beaten Georgetown since ’94, when most students at the university were barely born. Flash in the pan, or something the returning players can build off of?
In The Paint
DePaul went 1-11 last year when being out-rebounded. All statistics show that the Blue Demons struggled in the paint last year. They've also lacked a gritty big man in the paint for years. Tommy Hamilton, the 6’11’’ 255-pound center, had a solid first year. He led all freshmen in rebounding in the Big East, was named to the Big East All-Rookie team, and started the majority of the games last season. Tommy has potential as well, being ranked No. 21 among centers coming out of high school. If DePaul is destined to have a successful year, Tommy needs to destroy opposing big men in the key. He is very capable of doing so as Hamilton looked to be in the best shape of his life this off-season.
There are many questions still lingering before the season begins. But DePaul basketball is finally beginning to feel a sense of unity, and its likely the Demons can exceed expectations and avoid a seventh consecutive last-place finish in the Big East.
Can DePaul finishing at the bottom of the Big East for a seventh straight season? Answer our poll and leave your thoughts on the upcoming season.