Monday, September 21, 2009

Preview 2009-10 -- DePaul Blue Demons

Too Busy for the Details?
That the Blue Demons return 4 of last season's starters and over 75% of the minutes played last season ought to be good news, but this squad went 0-16 in conference play. The fans can hope a staff shake-up along with renewed focus on Chicago-area recruiting will energize the squad and in turn resurrect a program that has lost ground steadily over the past four seasons. This team will be better than last season -- they will win a game or two in conference (before they get to the Big East Tournament), but will need another season or two to climb out of the Big East basement. Prognosis -- A 4th quartile finish.

3 Years At a Glance
The last vestiges of the Dave Leitao-recruited teams finished last season. This season was the first with all Coach Wainwright-recruited players. And the results were the worst of the Jerry Wainwright era. This will be the most experienced squad in the past three seasons, but given the lack of accomplishment of this squad, expectations are justifiably tempered.


True, the Blue Demons return more experience, more points and rebounds than any season since 2007, but no that this is also the team that ranked at (or very close to) the bottom of the Big East in virtually everyone of Oliver's four factors (see "According to Pomeroy..." below). DePaul will, given the experience and forecast for a "down" season in the Big East, win a few more games overall than they had in 2009, and also take a conference game or two before they get to New York City. But those fans expecting a big turnaround are due for disappointment.

According to Pomeroy...
Overall ORtg100.1191112.747112.659
Overall DRtg103.5213102.317391.640
Big East ORtg92.015104.6796.611
Big East DRtg117.016111.31696.16
Four Factors
All Off. eFG%45.529949.617851.2117
All Off. TOv%18.35317.21518.542
All Off. OReb%32.617832.916832.7195
All Off. FTA/FGA31.728830.829829.3315
All Def. eFG%51.828653.530647.261
All Def. TOv%19.024919.326117.7328
All Def. OReb%37.932235.628129.424
All Def. FTA/FGA25.7828.33131.469
BE Off. eFG%44.81549.1846.712
BE Off. TOv%18.7916.5217.16
BE Off. OReb%28.81632.01131.612
BE Off. FTA/FGA27.01430.51630.114
BE Def. eFG%55.41653.81647.15
BE Def. TOv%18.6919.3918.99
BE Def. OReb%40.51536.41429.42
BE Def. FTA/FGA28.8430.5429.54
All Gms Cons23.228516.02822.7251
All Gms Luck-.025212-.046259-.029223

For the Record...
Big East0160.0006120.333970.563
Post Season?BET/Rnd 2NoNIT/Rnd 3

The slide has been steady and consistent, much like watching the air go out of a balloon. The regular season conference record has been consistently lower than the Blue Demon's OOC record, consistent with many Big East teams, but when the OOC winning percentage is < 0.500, the signs point to a very bad conference record. The overall record has declined in each of the past three seasons. As Dave Leitao's recruits have moved on, Coach Wainwright has not been able to replace with comparable talent, much less upgrade the position for Big East competition.

The Blue Demon's Nucleus
The question going into 2010 is whether the returning nucleus can progress enough to bootstrap the squad out of the bottom of the conference. As the efficiency numbers (see tables above) suggest, the Demons lack offense. Can the returning group provide it next season, or should the staff look to the newcomers?

On Offense

After the departed #2 guard Dar Tucker (off to Europe), wing guard Will Walker and bf/c Mac Koshwal, who remains the inside threat, DePaul had no offensive options as the balance of last season's squad rarely ventured beyond "role player" status in the offense. While he scores efficiently (when he gets his shot off), defenses know to collapse on him when the ball goes inside. DePaul needs to find a second scoring threat inside of 15 feet to take the pressure off Koshwal. Will Walker took many more shots near the end of the season, but as a catch-and-shoot threat, he was consistent enough to carry the team if Dar Tucker was having an off night. The Demons will need to replace Tucker's scoring, but with someone who can convert more efficiently and consistently than the departed #2 guard if they hope to climb out of the conference cellar.

On Defense
Will Walker86.
Mac Koshwal77.720.812.721.51.42.5
Jeremiah Kelly57.24.419.
Devin Hill41.113.84.614.57.01.1
Michael Bizoukas34.27.623.731.30.92.1
Mario Stula18.64.25.311.90.41.0
Krys Faber16.915.83.516.43.61.1

Significant Additions
The Blue Demons added two transfers (sophomore Mike Stovall, a 6-5 #3/#4 native Chicagoan who spent a year at Oregon State and junior Eric Wallace, a 6-5, 215lb #3 out of Ohio State), to go with freshman Tony Freeland, a 6-5, 215lbs undersized #4 out of Fremont HS in Los Angeles, CA. While Wallace has a good pedegree (cousin of Stromile Swift) and Stovall is reputed to have a good handle and skills as a catch-and-shoot scorer, no one in this group is a game changer. It may take assistant coaches Tracy Webster and David Booth, two well regarded recruiters from Chicago, to bring in a solid class. The staff has also added 4 walk-ons (3 to be eligible this season) in early September.

Explode If...
A lot of things will have to fall into place for the Blue Demons to move out of the bottom quartile (looking for a winning season may be too optimistic at this point) -- Jeremiah Kelly (or Mike Bizoukas...) will have to take the reins as point guard and really make the team hit on all cylinders; Mac Koshwal will have to play defense on every possession; Will Walker will have to become a cold-blooded assassin from the outside; Tony Freeland will have to be another DaJuan Blair.

Implode If...
Clearing out the assistants was a message to Wainwright that this is the year. There was nothing secret about it. If Gary Waters' last season at Rutgers becomes the model for this season at DePaul, it will be painful and over pretty early. If the staff and players rally behind their coach the Blue Demons could put together a better showing than 2009, but will that be enough to save the coach?

Crucial Run/Bellweather Games
The OOC schedule has the Demons matched against preseason MVC favorite Northern Iowa at the Paradise Jam in the Virgin Islands. With a field that includes Tennessee, Purdue and St. Joseph's, the Demons are virtually guaranteed at least two Top 100 RPI matchups before the end of the tournment. Winning 2 (or more?) games in that invitational would be good news for the Demon Nation. Coach Wainwright's squad has two road tests early, as they travel to Nashville, Tennessee to play Vanderbilt the first weekend in December, followed by a trip to Tampa, Florida to take on Mississippi State in the Big East/SEC Challenge. The Bull Dogs have Jarvis Varnado to match up with DePaul's Mac Koshwal. The Demons return to Chicago to host 4 mid-majors at the All State Arena. An OOC record of 9-3 would be terrific, though under Coach Wainwright, the Demons tend to start slowly, usually registering one or two huh??!-type games early.

DePaul will host a down Marquette and Providence, which, by consensus, appear to be facing rebulding years, along with Rutgers (one of the worst road records in the history of the Big East) and South Florida -- four opportunities to notch a win & improve their conference winning percentage from 2009. Their first-best stretch will come 1/14 - 1/20, when they host Providence (1/14), then Marquette (1/20), with an east coast swing into New York City and St. John's over the weekend (1/17). 2-1 would be good news for the Demons. The conference schedule makers gave DePaul a 2 game homestand at the end of the season. The Demons come off of a road game with Rutgers to face South Florida, then St. John's, to finish the regular season. 2-1 in that run, if combined with a 2-1 record from January, might be enough to get the Demons out of the conference cellar.

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