Chart Week here at Play For The Garden will be displaying one chart per Big East team; two a day in alphabetical order spanning the week.
Oliver Purnell is a wizard. There really is no other way to describe the head coaching career of this guy. He has had five head coaching jobs since the late-1980s and a record of just over .500 (424-345). He has never won a NCAA Tournament game, but he’s never been fired from a job! And yet, he somehow moves on to a better and better position each and every time.
I’m not sure what’s more impressive: coaching for over 20 years and never winning a NCAA Tournament game OR coaching for over 20 years and never being fired.
Purnell has done a great job over the years of coming into a program in the dumps, building it back up to relevance (which usually means going one-and-done in the NCAAs for a few years), and bailing for a better job before anyone catches on that this is as good as it’s going to get. Smart man. Smart smart man.
The chart above shows such a progression at his last two stops before DePaul, Dayton and Clemson. He also did similar work at Radford University and Old Dominion before moving on to the next school on his own terms.
However, his plan has failed him in three seasons as head coach of DePaul. The Blue Demons have won a pathetic SIX total Big East games in three seasons. That is a 6-48 conference record. It’s difficult to be that bad, and especially for a school so close to the basketball talent hotbed of Chicago.
Recruiting needs to be better and they have a couple promising prospects arriving this season (Billy Garrett, Jr., R.J. Curington and Tommy Hamilton) to run out there with Cleveland Melvin and Brandon Young, so there appears to be some promise on the horizon. But results are needed, and quick.
DePaul and Purnell enter the ‘new’ Big East, which on paper is relatively easier than the ‘old’ Big East, but it’s still going to be a difficult conference (especially this year). I’ve heard nothing but good things about Purnell as a person and as a coach, but this is a results oriented world we live in. He may have one more guaranteed year on the leash, but his seat is definitely warm. Purnell needs to start winning immediately or being fired is going to become very likely. And the run of the wizard will be over.