DePaul Tip-Off Luncheon Ushers in New Era


Oliver Purnell DePaul

Make no mistake, these are not the DePaul Blue Demons of Rod Strickland, Mark Acquirre and Ray Meyer. However, they are also not the Demons you’ve gotten used to seeing lose by 30 night in and night out for the past few years. With the hire of Oliver Purnell away from Clemson, the Demons now have a reclamation project guru in Lincoln Park.

And that’s exactly what they need in a new head coach. Purnell has revitalized programs everywhere he’s been: Clemson, Dayton, Radford, Old Dominion. You might not see a lot of noticeable progess this year, but trust me it’s coming.

Purnell was asked if this situation he’s inheriting at DePaul is similar to how he got started at Clemson.

“Very similar. Clemson was at the bottom of the ACC so you’re obviously building and looking to get better and the bottom line you want to from being in the bottom echelon to the top echelon in a great league and when you do that you have all kinds of opportunities,” he said.

Purnell also talked about the snickering he heard and smirking he saw whenever DePaul’s name was mentioned at Big East Media Day. And how it both offended and motivates him. The Demons are picked to finish at the bottom yet again, as DePaul lost their two best players from a team that was very bad to begin with. They also lost their projected starter at the three, Eric Wallace to injury in the preseason.

So it will be an uphill battle. It’ll also be interesting to see how the players adjust to Purnell’s new up-tempo style. Will they be conditioned for it?

The leading returner scorer is Mike Stovall, who averaged just seven points a game last season.

“We’ll be a balanced scoring team, pretty much every good team I’ve had has been a balanced offensive team, so I think that’s a product of our system and the way we play. The right way to play is to share the basketball and to hit the open man, so it’s our job to discern what is a good shot, an open shot, and get a bunch of those during the game. hopefully our running games will help us do that,” Purnell said about where the offense will come from.

Starting the season at McGrath Arena right on campus is a tremendous step in the right direction.

They’ll host the two exhibitions (Northwood- October 30th and Lewis- November 7th) as well as the season opener versus Chicago State on November 14th. Having these games in Lincoln Park instead of at All State Arena in Rosemont is a great way to build new interest in the program because 1.) it’s on campus and most college students don’t have cars 2.) driving on the I-90 from the city to O’Hare (because that’s where the arena is) can often be a homicidal-inducing experience at any time of day, on any day of the week.

So it’s in their best interests to get as many games as the Big East will allow at McGrath until they are able to upgrade the outdated “Rosemont Horizon.”

Paul M. Banks is CEO of The Sports , a Midwest webzine. He is also a regular contributor to the Tribune’s Chicago Now network, Walter, Yardbarker Network, and Fox

You can follow him on Twitter @thesportsbank

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