Sunday night at McGrath-Phillips Arena, the DePaul Blue Demons won the opening tip off and scored ten seconds later.
They led for the entire game after that.
It didn’t always feel like it, though. The Blue Demons struggled with the Robert Morris Colonials for the majority of the game before pulling away with a 78-72 victory.
The two big problems for DePaul last season — defense and turnovers, were problems again Sunday night, especially in the first half. The Blue Demons turned the ball over 10 times in the first half, but got that number down to six in the second half. The Blue Demons also allowed Robert Morris to grab 15 offensive rebounds. More on that later.
2016 Big East All-Freshman Team and DePaul guard Eli Cain led all Blue Demons with 21 points, his fifth 20+ point performance in his young career.
Blue Demon transfer Tre’Darius McCallum did a little bit of everything in the victory, scoring 10 points, and leading the team with eight rebounds and six assists.
For Robert Morris, Isaiah Still led the all scorers with a career-high 26 points.
Here are three things we learned.
Passing the torch
As mentioned above, Eli Cain led all scorers with 21 points. Billy Garrett, Jr., meanwhile, struggled from the floor, going 2-10 with 10 points. It’s a long season, but Garrett is a senior while Cain is a sophomore. Will there be more “passing of the torch” type games between these two where Cain outperforms the departing leader?
Freshman guard Brandon Cyrus also performed particularly well for the Blue Demons, with nine points on 4-5 shooting in 31 minutes of action.
Wood is good
While it seemed like Cain and Garrett would be the driving forces behind the DePaul offense this season, senior guard Darrick Wood would like to remind you he’s still around, as well. Wood had 12 points in 26 minutes on the floor. Wood only had five double-digit performances last season, so if he can consistently score like he did tonight, DePaul will have another weapon to turn to on offense.
And now, the bad stuff
As mentioned above, turnovers and defense were issues. Robert Morris got 12 offensive rebounds as DePaul tries to address the lack of bigs they have now that Tommy Hamilton and Rashaun Stimage are gone. It’s going to be a work in progress for the Blue Demons. They’ll continue working on it Thursday night when they play Rutgers in the Gavitt Games, and then every game past that. Luckily, they don’t see too many teams laden with big men in the nonconference portion of the schedule.