Feb 13, 2013; South Bend, IN, USA; DePaul Blue Demons forward Cleveland Melvin (12) reacts to a foul call in the second half against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at the Purcell Pavilion. Notre Dame won 82-78 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Big East Preview: DePaul Blue Demons


 

Record last season:  11-21 (Conf: 2-16)

Postseason:  None

Coach:  Oliver Purnell

Coach’s record at school:  30-64

Offensive efficiency:  103.7 (113th in the country)

Defensive efficiency:  104.9 (253rd in the country)

Returnees:  Brandon Young (16.7 PPG, 3.3 RPG), Cleveland Melvin (16.6 PPG, 6.8 RPG), Jamee Crockett (8.7 PPG, 3.6 RPG), Charles McKinney (5.3 PPG, 2.5 RPG), Durrell McDonald (2.9 PPG)

Notable losses:  Worrel Clahar (7.3 PPG, 3.5 RPG), Donnavan Kirk (6.2 PPG, 3.9 RPG), Moses Morgan (5.9 PPG, 2.3 RPG)

Newcomers:  Sandi Marcius, Billy Garrett, Jr., DeJuan Marrero, R.J. Curington, Tommy Hamilton, Jr., Forrest Robinson, Greg Sequele

Projected lineup:

G:  Brandon Young

G:  Jamee Crockett

G:  Charles McKinney

F:  Cleveland Melvin

F:  Sandi Marcius

Outlook:

DePaul plays as one of the fastest teams in the country (4th highest tempo last year), but that speed has resulted in an inefficient offense and defense.  With their in-your-face press, they stole the ball at an above average rate (11.5% of opponents’ possessions), but when they weren’t forcing turnovers, opponents were scoring at will (as their 253rd adjusted defensive rating shows).  And on offense, they had trouble putting the ball in the basket (ranked 231st if effective field goal % at 47.4), while also turning it over almost as much as they took it away (turnovers on 11.2% of possessions).

The Blue Demons have one of the better one-two scoring punches in the league in Young and Melvin, but help is needed.  Crockett and McKinney have shown flashes, but they need to be more consistent.  Newcomers Garrett Jr. and Curington will also contribute, but as freshmen they will be difficult to depend on regularly.  And a better low post presence would help open things up (along with rebounding which was another significant weakness of last year’s squad).

Purnell welcomes three players that are 6-foot-10 (Hamilton Jr., Robinson and Marcius), and one player that is 6-foot-9 (Sequele).  If one, or preferably two, of these guys can give the team significant effective minutes, it could turn things around for DePaul. Melvin would be able to roam more freely and the guards would be able to get to the rim easier.  And if the defense can get a couple stops here and there without allowing as many offensive rebounds, they might find themselves in more ball games.

It appears the pieces are there for more wins (even though they only return five players from last year’s team), but the fact they they’ve only won six conference games in the last three seasons still lingers.  Purnell has been awful in his three years at DePaul, winning 7, 12 and 11 games, and may have to rethink his team’s strategy.  Playing fast and scoring a bunch of points is good, but is worthless when you’re yielding even more on the defensive end and wearing your team down in the process.  Melvin and Young are a great foundation, and maybe this is the year that Purnell has the correct pieces around those two to make some noise.  But until we see it, it’s rather difficult to predict anything other than another last place finish in the Big East.

Projected Big East finish:  10th

Tags: Big East Cleveland Melvin DePaul Blue Demons Oliver Purnell