For the first time in ten years, DePaul has won a game with Dave Leitao on the sidelines. Despite struggling early on offensively, going into the half down by double digits, the Blue Demons dissected a Broncos team in foul trouble, outscoring WMU 45-28 in the second half. Here's three takeaways from the head man's return to Chicagoland.
1. DePaul can't get discouraged by scoring spells
The DePaul offense was slumping in the first half, shooting just 35% from the field. Billy Garrett struggled mightily, going 1-for-7 in 15 minutes. But this was a tale of two halves, and once the Broncos got into foul trouble, the Blue Demons capitalized, going on a 21-5 scoring run in the second half. Myke Henry sparked his team after the intermission, scoring 10 points on a perfect 3-of-3 shooting in the second. Darrick Wood also came in and provided three clutch field goals to push DePaul ahead for good. Offensive spells will happen. The resolve of a tournament team is how they respond to poor shooting. Dave Leitao (at DePaul, at least) only knows how to field a tournament team. They'll need to stay persistent offensively in order to play deep into March.
2. ATTACK THE RIM
DePaul was 2-of-15 from beyond the arc, but just four attempts came in the second half. That's because the Broncos got into foul trouble very early, and the Blue Demons took advantage of the situation, driving to the rim (the team outscored WMU 30-18 on points in the paint) and getting to the free throw line. Billy Garrett went 8-of-9 form the charity stripe in the second. Even if his shot wasn't falling early, he kept attacking the rim, creating scoring opportunities and collecting freebies at the line. The strength of this team will be their ability to slash to the hole and draw fouls. Once you smell blood in the water, you have to strike at will, and that's what DePaul did in the second.
3. Dave Leitao's (re)debut is a success!
The second go-around in Lincoln Park for arguably the program's most successful coach this side of Ray Meyer has gotten off to a solid start. Leitao made the correct adjustments at halftime (and during the second half), and his team capitalized on WMU mistakes, forcing bad shots and taking the ball away 14 times tonight. It's game one, and obviously there's no telling what's to come for this team as the season progresses. But for now, let's rejoice in a triumphant return home for Dave Leitao.