DePaul's season with so much promise. After a miserable 0-18 campaign in the Big East during the 2008-09 season things looked up when the Blue Demons beat Cincinnati in the first round of the Big East Tournament. Now though, a year later, it is obvious that the moment was a blip instead of a sea change in DePaul's fortunes.
The Blue Demons spent the afternoon on ESPN getting blasted on ESPN with Tracy Webster finishing up the slow march of a season and Big East play. They finished with one fewer wins than a season ago (8 versus 9). The commentators speculated about Isaiah Thomas and Bob Knight and pondered what it would take for the Blue Demons to be relevant again. (Well, when they said Blue Demons even that was a little victory as Blue Devils and Demon Deacons were used interchangeably.) It was a long way away from better days for the program.
Things started out well for DePaul. The Blue Demons were 5-1 at one
point this season. They had a victory over Missouri Valley Conference
champion Northern Iowa and a close loss to a good Tennessee team in the
But things went south in December. The Blue Demons lost at home to
American and on the road at Florida Gulf Coast right before Big East
play began. Jerry Wainwright was replaced after a 99-72 blowout loss
The lone bright spot was a thrilling 51-50 victory over Marquette. It
is DePaul's only regular season Big East victory in the past two
seasons and broke the longest losing streak in conference history. Mike
Stovall was the hero that night, but the streak shooter never became
the third option DePaul desperately needed during conference play.
And so Mac Koshwal and Will Walker tried to go at 2 on 5. And when
Koshwal was injured the Blue Demons tried to play 1 on 5. It didn't
work. The smart teams keyed on Walker and let DePaul's inability to
score baskets doom them to a low-scoring, frustrating game.
That style reached its apex in the finale. South Florida locked down
Koshwal with constant double teams and forced Walker and company to
beat them. In the first half the Blue Demons found themselves in a
30-15 hole by the end of the first half. South Florida's Dominique
Jones almost outscored the Blue Demons in the first half. In the end the deficit was too much as DePaul fell 58-49.
Thus it ends and the off-season of discontent begins. This process
could've happened last season, but the administration gave Wainwright
one last chance. That exploded and left a giant crater in its place.
DePaul won't be a factor anytime soon. The hope is that a big name
coach, or a hard-working young one, will come to DePaul and change the
team's perspective and change the national opinion about DePaul.
Walker will be gone next season - and he went out with a flurry of
threes and 20 points, but it was all for naught. It might be said that
the Blue Demons were close. Close to winning a few more games. Close to
turning a corner. But close doesn't matter anymore.