Firing a coach in mid-season in college basketball is considered to be sacrilegious in some people's minds, but the precedent is there. Pennsylvania coach Glen Miller wasn't getting the job done and the Quakers canned him just 7 games into this season.
He'll get one more chance, but if the Blue Demons don't beat Providence next Thursday at Allstate Arena, DePaul should take the same steps with Jerry Wainwright.
After losing to Villanova, by 27 in a game that wasn't even that close, Wainwright looks and sounds like a coach that is grasping at straws. Sure, he gives great quotes - check out the lede of the AP story from last night's game - but that's not what you pay a coach for. You pay for wins. And the facts are this: Wainwright has a major conference basketball team that's under .500 15 games into the season and 0-3 in the conference play. DePaul has lost a record 22 straight conference games, and blowout losses against Georgetown, Villanova and Pittsburgh seem to suggest the Blue Demons are no closer to being competitive.
Some other reasons Wainwright should be shown the door soon? He's getting desperate for answers on the court as well. Last night the Blue Demons played walk-ons Nate Rogers and Ryan Siggins a combined 54 minutes. Eric Wallace - an athletic player that is still getting the feel of things after transferring from Ohio State - played 10 minutes.
I didn't watch the game, so maybe Wallace had extenuating circumstances, but if it's because of a lack of effort I don't blame Wallace, I blame his coach. The Blue Demons were down by more than double at halftime, 49-24. What would you expect a player to do? Also, these are Wainwright's players. He recruited all of them, he wanted them here for one reason or another. Why not play them?
DePaul is ranked 186th in the Pomeroy Rankings and now has an almost 4% chance of going winless in the Big East for the second straight season. The only time DePaul might be favored? Against Rutgers at home on Tuesday, February 16.
Before the season began I thought that the Providence game would be the one that the Blue Demons ended their Big East losing streak. The Friars lost a lot of veteran talent from last season's team and I thought it might take some time to rebuild. But Keno Davis has his team competitive. Providence already has a win over St. John's in conference. Now that game certainly isn't a gimme. In fact, Pomeroy has DePaul as pretty decisive underdogs in their home gym.
DePaul is the lowest ranked Big East team in every conceivable metric that looks at team play. The Blue Demons and the Scarlet Knights are the only teams ranked lower than 100 in Pomeroy in the conference. DePaul is behind teams from the independents (Seattle), MEAC (Morgan State), Atlantic Sun (makes sense considering it lost to one) and 3 from the Ivy League (Harvard, Cornell and Princeton).
So I'm giving Jerry Wainwright one last shot. Prove to everyone you can still coach. Prove that you can motivate these young men. Work with what you've got, take the week to prepare and beat Providence, because your job might depend on it.