DePaul Blue Demons Season Preview: Addition by Subtraction or Division by Zero?

Calvin W Boaz@Burrellfan1Correspondent IIOctober 15, 2009

MILWAUKEE - JANUARY 24: Dwight Burke #12 (L) and Jerel McNeal #22 of the Marquette Golden Eagles trap Mac Koshwal #13 of the DePaul Blue Demons on March 24, 2009 at the Bradley Center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Marquette defeated DePaul 79-70. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Head Coach: Jerry Wainright; 52-72 at DePaul in four years

Previous Season: 9-24; 0-18 Big East (16th)

Departures: PG Jabari Currie, C Matija Poscic, F Dar Tucker

Additions: G/F Mike Stovall, G Nate Rogers, G Joe Belcaster, F Tony Freeland, G/F Eric Wallace, G Ryan Siggins

Last season, DePaul became the first team in the Big East since Miami in 93-94 to go winless in the conference during the regular season. The Blue Demons started off the year 4-0, but defeats to California, Northwestern, Morgan State, and UCLA sent the team into a tailspin.

Early on, DePaul had some close losses in conference play. However, as the season progressed, DePaul was getting blown out even by the lesser teams in the conference.

DePaul showed renewed energy during the Big East Tournament by defeating Cincinnati before losing a tough game to Providence.

Coach Wainwright fired three assistant coaches, including his son, Scott. Dar Tucker left two years early for the NBA Draft.

Although Tucker averaged 18.5 points per game, he attempted too many shots as the rest of the team stood around and watched him play. This year, the team will focus on being tougher on defense and working together more as a team.

One has to wonder if DePaul can recover from such an embarrassing season without a total overhaul and a new direction.

Projected Starting Lineup

PG Jeremiah Kelly, 6'1'', 170 lbs, So. (4.3 PPG, 2.4 APG, 1.5 RPG, 33 FG%, 53 FT%)

Kelly was forced to play more minutes than Wainright anticipated after starting point guard Jabari Currie was lost for the season with a knee injury.  Kelly struggled most of the season, but displayed good ball-handling skills and leadership ability during the Big East Tournament.

SG Will Walker, 6'0", 190 lbs, Sr. (14.6 PPG, 2.6 RPG, 1.7 SPG, 42 FG%, 66 FT%)

After struggling in the first half of the season, Walker made 43 three-pointers and averaged 19.8 points over his last 12 games. He moves well without the ball and displays good form on his shot.

The Blue Demons would like to play Walker more at the point this year so the team can present a larger lineup on the floor. However, for this to become an effective strategy, Walker's ballhandling must improve.

SF Eric Wallace, 6'6'', 215 lbs, So.

Wallace is a transfer from Ohio State. As a freshman for the Buckeyes, Wallace averaged 1.8 points and 1.3 rebounds in 15 games. His career high in scoring is 10 points against Iowa.

Wallace provides DePaul with a athletic option at the small forward position.  He will certainly entertain the home crowd with his ability to dunk.

After spending a year guarding Tucker in practice, Wallace is eager to display his rebounding and defensive abilities in real games.

PF Devin Hill, 6'9", 200 lbs, So. (3.1 PPG, 3.2 RPG, 1.2 BPG, 31 FG%, 27 FT%)

Due to his slender frame, Hill is at his best when the pace is fast so he can shoot jumpers off the fast break and use his wingspan to deflect passes and block shots.

Hill needs to get stronger to keep defenders away from Mac Koshwal and help the Big East's second-worst rebounding team.

F/C Mac Koshwal 6'10'', 255 lbs, Jr. (12.2 PPG, 9.6 RPG, 0.4 BPG, 53 FG%, 58 FT%)

Koshwal put his name into the NBA Draft last spring knowing nobody wanted a player from a team that couldn't win a conference game. However, Koshwal received positive feedback during several official workouts.

Although Walker may be the leading scorer for DePaul, Koshwal is the best overall player for the Blue Demons. Koshwal is a physical player who wants the ball inside as much as possible.

Koshwal needs to become more consistent as a player, but is hampered by the lack of inside help as he wears down physically by the end of the season. Fans will look for Koshwal to have a huge season for DePaul and leave after the year ends for the NBA.

Projected Contributors

G Joe Belcaster 6'2'', 160 lbs, Fr.

Belcaster is joining the team as a walk-on from Chicago. As a senior, he led Morton High School to a 23-6 record. Last season, he averaged 14.0 points, 9.0 assists, and 3.0 rebounds.

PG Michael Bizoukas 6'1'', 175 lbs, So. (2.0 PPG, 1.9 APG, 1.6 RPG, 31 FG%, 52 FT%)

Bizoukas will be asked to come off the bench as a point guard. After last season's debut, he is mentally ready to defend the best guards the Big East has to offer. Bizoukas needs to improve his shooting in order to receive more playing time.

C Krys Faber 6'11", 260 lbs, So. (1.8 PPG, 1.9 RPG,  0.3 BPG, 49 FG%, 42 FT%)

Faber had the coaching staff excited when he scored 11 points in his first Big East game. Unfortunately, Faber only scored 16 points the rest of the season.

Faber needs to grow into a solid role player to help with DePaul with rebounding and give Koshwal an opportunity to play less minutes and stay out of foul difficulty.

F Tony Freeland, 6'6'', 200 lbs, Fr.

Freeland was named one of the top 300 players in the Class of 2009 by Athlon Sports. He joins the Blue Demons after averaging 21.1 points, 11.4 rebounds, and 2.4 blocked shots during his senior season at Freemont High School in California.

Freeland plays tougher inside than his height suggests that he would. Freeland is a hard worker that will definitely give DePaul some needed heart and athleticism. On the negative side, Freeman is still waiting for academic clearance from the NCAA.

C Kene Obi, 7'2", 275 lbs, So. (1.7 PPG, 1.3 RPG, 0.2 BPG, 41 FG%, 60 FT%)

Obi is the fifth seven-footer to play for DePaul, but he needs to improve in all areas to ever be considered the best.

Last season as a redshirt freshman, Obi scored nine points against Pittsburgh. His first basket as a collegiate came on a dunk against Southern.

G Nate Rogers 6'1'', 185 lbs, Fr.

Rogers has joined the team as a walk-on from Maywood, Illinois. As a senior, Rogers averaged 13.2 points, 3.3 rebounds, 3.3 assists, and 1.5 steals per game.

Rogers is a strong defensive player but will mainly be used to make DePaul's bench look full.

G Ryan Siggins 6'5'', 210 lbs, Fr.

Siggins is a walk-on from Kettering, Ohio. As a senior at Archbishop Alter, he averaged 18.9 points, 9.7 rebounds, and 3.2 assists. For his strong play, Siggins was named honorable mention All-State.

G/F Mike Stovall 6'5'', 200 lbs, Jr.

Last season, Stovall played for Mineral Area Community College and averaged 8.7 points and 3.5 rebounds per game. As a freshman for Oregon State, he averaged 5.4 minutes per game and appeared in seven contests.

Stovall provides DePaul with some versatility, and the coaching staff hopes he gives the Blue Demons key minutes off the bench and adds needed leadership.

F Mario Stula 6'7'', 210 lbs, Jr. (1.7 PPG, 0.8 RPG, 26 FG%, 80 FT%)

Stula was suppose to become a viable option from three-point range but showed little accuracy from that distance until the win versus Cincinnati. Stula only made 10 of 37 shots from long range all season long.

Hopefully, a positive end to the season will give Stula confidence heading into this year.

Key Games

Nov. 17 Columbia: A good chance of DePaul starting the season 1-0.

Nov. 20 @ Northern Iowa: The Panthers made to the NCAA Tournament last season. A win would give DePaul needed confidence.

Dec. 28 @ Pittsburgh: This is the first conference game of the season. An early upset of an established team would create momentum.

Jan. 14 Providence: Hopefully, the team would have a conference win by then. If DePaul doesn't, this is a must win against a team that may be worse than DePaul.

Mar. 2 South Florida: It is bad enough that DePaul has struggled recently. Matters are only made worse when it loses badly to a team that is only in the Big East for its football program.

Season Outlook

Coach Wainwright's future with DePaul is definitely on the line this season. However, one has to wonder why he chose assistants that are known for recruiting if this is his last season.

Koshwal and Walker are the only proven players on the roster. It will take loads of improvement in all areas for DePaul to finish in the top half of the Big East. Making the NIT would be considered a tremendous accomplishment for this team.

Many fans laughed at Tucker when he was not drafted by the NBA. Those same people believe the team will improve just because Tucker is gone.

However, if the team doesn't buy into Wainwright's system and early losses lead to poor effort on the court, Tucker may get the last laugh.


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