DePaul had one of the roughest seasons in recent Big East history last season when the Blue Demons went 0-18 during the regular season. A victory over Cincinnati in the first round of the Big East Tournament showed that DePaul could play with members of the conference, but the young squad never really seemed to put it together. Freshman and sophomores played the majority of minutes for DePaul last season and it's possible that the experience could translate into a few more wins this season.
Last Season: 9-24 (0-18 Big East)
'08-'09 Pomeroy Profile: 198th overall (191st on Offense, 213th on Defense)
Departures: F Dar Tucker, G Jabari Currie, C Matija Poscic
Arrivals: G Nate Rogers, G Joe Belcaster, F Tony Freeland, G/F Eric Wallace, G Ryan Siggins, G/F Mike Stovall
Key Non-Conference Games: Nov. 20-23 Paradise Jam; Dec. 10 vs. Mississippi State (Tampa); Dec. 13 vs. UIC; Nov. 28 vs. Detroit; Dec. 5 @ Vanderbilt
Summary: Gone is Tucker and his tendency to use possessions (26 percent of DePaul's total possessions last season went to Tucker) instead there are a number of other options awaiting the chance to be the go-to-guy this season.
While players don't typically increase their total possession load by a significant amount from year-to-year, Will Walker and Mac Koshwal both have the chance to get more touches this season. Walker will be DePaul's guy on the perimeter. His senior leadership will have to offset the inexperience the Blue Demons have at point guard with sophomores Jeremiah Kelly and Michael Bizoukas handling much of the load. An injury to Currie last season forced both to play significantly more minutes than expected. Kelly showed a nice shooting touch towards the end of the season while Bizoukas is a strong on-ball defender at the top. It's possible that Wallace might see some minutes at shooting guard with Walker sliding over to the point position. That lineup would give DePaul a more dynamic offensive set.
Of course Wallace - a 6'6" sophomore transfer from Ohio State - also has the ability to play in the paint. Koshwal should be more opportunities to score in the paint, but it will again be his rebounding that will be the most important part of his game. Freshman Tony Freeland is DePaul's highest rated recruit and is expected to pick up some minutes in the front court when he becomes eligible. Another player to watch is Devin Hill. Hill is back bigger and stronger for his sophomore season. He played quite a bit during his freshman season and had an amazing block rate (7.0 percent - 84th in the country), but he needs to be more efficient on offense this season.
Depth is a place DePaul has struggled lately and that might be the case again this season, especially in conference play. Mario Stula and Krys Faber will be counted on when Hill and Koshwal need a breather and 7'2" Kene Obi is also an option. Mike Stovall - a very athletic junior transfer - should help out as a swingman. Beyond Walker and the two young point guards there is not a lot of depth in the back court. Walker played over 86 percent of DePaul's total minutes last season and it's possible he could end up playing even more in 2009-10.
Best Case Scenario: Koshwal's offensive game develops, Wallace helps pick up Tucker's scoring load in a more efficient manner, Walker stays healthy and becomes a go-to-guy in the clutch, Hill provides size and rebounding, Kelly and Bizoukas prove that a year of seasoning has prepared them for the Big East and Freeland is able to help right away. Six wins in the Big East would be a great accomplishment - anything more is an amazing season.
Worst Case Scenario: Injuries expose the Blue Demons' lack of depth, Koshwal and Walker can't pick up the points left behind by Tucker, Wallace is a non-factor after a year away from basketball, the sophomore guards are turnover prone or struggle from three-point range and Hill can't find any offense. This would lead to another long season in Lincoln Park and the probable departure of Jerry Wainwright.
Chicago College Basketball's Bold Prediction: DePaul pulls at least one major non-conference and one Big East upset. The Blue Demons pick up a few wins and finish 13-17 overall during the regular season.