There's no chance that DePaul holds another team to 36 points for the rest of the season. Yet for a team with questions on the defensive end, the Blue Demons came out with intense ball-pressure and a strong overall defensive effort that will be the key to the season. DePaul forced 22 turnovers and came away with an 81-36 exhibition victory over the University of Chicago.
The most welcome part of the DePaul offense in the first half was the motion and teamwork the five DePaul starters showed on the court. Devin Hill, Jeremiah Kelly, Mac Koshwal, Eric Wallace and Will Walker showed that, unlike last year, the offense won't revolve around standing in one place and hoping for a one-on-one opportunity. The Blue Demons had 10 assists on 17 made field goals in the first half and assisted on 52 percent of their baskets overall (16 of 31).
Three players scored in double-figures. Hill had 15 points, Koshwal 10 and Walker 15. The highlight of the night was Michael Bizoukas throwing an alley-oop to Wallace. The athletic 6'6" transfer from Ohio State showed off his athleticism as he finished over a Maroon defender.
Wallace had eight points and nine rebounds in 17 minutes. He looked rusty at times on the court, especially from the free throw line, but he finished around the rim.
"I thought he was 1,000 percent better than he was at Bradley," said DePaul head coach Jerry Wainwright. "Nine rebounds in 17 minutes makes a big difference for us. He's got to rebound the basketball. He's a great athlete. I thought he started to loosen up a bit today. He's got a lot of rust in his pipes, I don't care how athletic you are it's important that you get some game experience."
DePaul's defense was very effective. Chicago shot 6-31 from three-point range, had just seven offensive rebounds compared to DePaul's 31 defensive boards and scored 36 points in 68 possessions. The Maroons committed 22 turnovers as heavy ball pressure from Bizoukas, Kelly and Walker bothered the Chicago dribblers.
"I thought we really worked hard defensively all night," Wainwright said. "Our guys took pride in it and did a good job. That's across the board it went from our oldest player Will Walker all the way down to our non-scholarship kids."
The Blue Demons were able to press all game because walk-ons Nate Rogers and Ryan Siggins could play a large number of minutes against Chicago. Siggins had five points and four rebounds in 14 minutes of play.
The only eligible Blue Demons player that didn't get any minutes was Mike Stovall. The junior swingman is expected to be a key part of DePaul's rotation this season, but a sprained ankle kept him out of the game. Wainwright said that Stovall could've played if the game was a Big East contest, but DePaul is taking things slowly with Stovall.
Even with the blowout score there were a few negatives for the Blue Demons. DePaul didn't spend any time posting Koshwal up. Most of his 10 points came on put backs and drives. He also had five turnovers. Kelly shot 4-11 from the field, though he did have seven assists. DePaul attempted just 20 free throws compared to 64 attempts, the bigger problem was the Blue Demons connected on just nine of their attempts from the charity stripe. Wallace was 2-5 and Koshwal was 2-6 from the line.
"Those are guys that have had problems in the past and they just have to continue to work on it. We can't give away point at the free throw line. It didn't matter in this game but it will."
Even after 45-point blowouts there's always something to work on.