Oliver Purnell is a bit of a college basketball transient. Now that he's headed to Chicago to take over DePaul he'll have held five different college basketball coaching jobs. He is certainly someone who has won during the regular season, if not in the NCAA Tournament, and he should be up for the rebuilding job he'll have to do at DePaul. The fact that he's leaving the ACC for the Big East, and that he's leaving a school that's currently in the upper echelon of the ACC in basketball, suggests to me that he really wanted out. Or that DePaul's dollars were just too much to pass up.
Everyone is putting up their take on the news. Andy Katz has a quote where Purnell says that, "DePaul presents a great opportunity." What Purnell might be referencing is the contract which is said to be around 7 years, $15 million. That's a big pay raise from the $1.6 million he was making at Clemson.
Of course, now he won't have the home court advantage of Littlejohn Coliseum, one of the best in college basketball. Hopefully though if he brings the wins to Lincoln Park the fans will head out to Allstate Arena in Rosemont to watch the games. (See what's happening there...)
But what is DePaul getting exactly? Let's look at Clemson over the past 7 seasons to try and find out.
Purnell has at least made the NIT in each of the past six seasons. He's never advanced past the first round in the NCAA Tournament, but he has put together four consecutive 20-win seasons. This past season Clemson lost to Missouri in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. While this might seem like a disappointment, the Tigers (Mizzou version) were a bit underseeded.
This though is a trend for Purnell. He's lost in the first round of the NCAA Tournament each of the past three seasons and he never made it out of the first round when he coached at Dayton or Old Dominion either. He's a not-so-perfect 0-6 in the NCAA Tournament. Purnell has also been eight NITs during his years as a head coach. He knows how to win in the regular season and get to the postseason.
Purnell brings a defensive style that is predicated on forcing turnovers. His Clemson teams have ranked in the Top 30 in the country in adjusted defensive efficiency in all but one of the past six seasons. They do this by forcing many empty possessions with intense ball pressure. The Tigers defensive turnover percentage has been consistently in the Top 20 and has been in the Top 10 on two separate occasions.
On offense Purnell seems more content to play to his personnel's strengths. His offenses are always alright, but never fantastic. The only time this wasn't true was the 2008-09 season when the Tigers finished 16th in adjusted offensive efficiency, but 52nd in adjusted defensive efficiency.
If Purnell's treatment of Trevor Booker is any indication, Mac Koshwal might want to think about sticking around instead of trying to crack the second round of the NBA Draft. Purnell gave Booker a lot of touches on offense last season. Booker was incredibly efficient, and that was while taking 25 percent of Clemson's shots when he was on the floor. It seems like Koshwal would benefit from a season under Purnell.
Before leaving Clemson, Purnell had locked up just one player, a 6'7" power forward from Georgia named Marcus Thornton. The Tigers were also chasing after a number of other recruits in the south. This appears to be where Purnell's recruiting base is. That will be the big question, can he recruit in the Midwest and in Chicago specifically?
Those two big questions of postseason performance and area recruiting make this a tough hire to grade, but while not a home run, DePaul has done a good job of finding someone that should be able to pilot the program back to respectability.