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Sleeping With The Enemy: The Blue Demons of DePaul

When life brings you lemons, make lemonade.  When the schedule brings DePaul, the Hoyas better friggin' win.  As usual we here at THE GLOBAL PHENOMENON are bringing you everything you need to know about Georgetown's next opponent.  Special thanks to John Templon of Chicago College Basketball and Dan Tombasco of Radio DePaul for providing answers to our always intriguing questions.  Gentlemen, this Milwaukee's Best is for you. 

   I'm still trying to figure out this logo.  (via Creative Commons license)

But first...a preface from our new best friends at DePaul!

I realize this might start sounding like an Obama campaign speech, but we're going to talk a lot about change during this Q&A. It's a transition time for DePaul, so I guess that's what you'd expect.

Would you say you were happy when DePaul joined the Big East? What is your feeling on the matter now?

I was really excited, I still am very excited. DePaul is a school that should be in a conference like the Big East. Many of the other teams in the athletic program have been very successful and hopefully the men's basketball team is headed in the right direction. My feelings are a little tempered now because basketball has sort of become a laughingstock in the conference, but if real change happens under Purnell then it will continue to be a great decision.

More fun with fun people after The Jump:

Why isn't DePaul better? Chicago is a hotbed for basketball talent, and it plays in the Big East. I don't understand.

No talent means no wins. The problem with DePaul over the last few seasons has been a decline in the overall talent at the school. It seems like Jerry Wainwright was still recruiting Conference USA athletes even after the school moved up to the Big East. Considering what the city of Chicago has in terms of high school talent that's really inexcusable. Purnell is jumping back into the Chicago scene in a good way and he's also bringing in talented prospects from around the country. So hopefully this is going to change.

When I say the name Jerry Wainwright, what immediately comes to mind for you? 

A great guy that was overmatched at a major conference school. He's an excellent coach, but he failed to deliver the results that DePaul expected.

On a scale of 1-10, how happy were you when Oliver Purnell was hired?

I'd say I was about an 8. First of all I was relieved that I could stop writing about the coaching search, which got drawn out for quite a while. Also, this was about the best the Blue Demons could've done. Purnell is a proven winner from a major conference who brings an exciting system to the school. The fact that he's rebuilt a number of programs was also a major positive. This was a very good hire for DePaul.

Who are the team's best scorers and rebounders?

Freshman point guard Brandon Young leads the team at 13.4 points per game. Sophomore forward Tony Freeland averages 11.8 and freshman forward Cleveland Melvin - who just won a Big East Rookie of the Week award - averages 10.4 and has come on lately. DePaul really struggles to rebound the basketball, it's been a theme of this season, but junior forward Krys Faber leads the team at 5.8 boards per game.

How do you think DePaul will do in the Big East? After 2008-2009 yielded an 0-18 in-conference record and 2009-2010 yielded a 1-17 in-conference record, things have to be looking up, right?

Things are looking up for the Blue Demons. I think DePaul will surprise at least two teams in conference play this season, doubling their win total from the past two seasons combined! (Like you said, nowhere to go but up.) Purnell's system is a tough one to prepare for on short rest and should give a few Big East teams a "They lost to who?" question mark come Selection Sunday. (Casual note: This better not be us.)

Who does DePaul consider its biggest basketball rival? Chicago Simeon is an acceptable answer.

While Whitney Young (one ESPNU 100 - Class of 2011, three 80+ rated players in the Class of 2012, one ESPNU Top 25 recruit in Class of 2013) might seem like it could give the Blue Demons a good game right now - which I actually doubt - the Blue Demons' real rival is Marquette. The two came over together from Conference USA and the Golden Eagles have flourished while the Blue Demons have struggled, but man was that win last season sweet.

If you were to make an All-DePaul starting 5 to play a game today, would you start George Mikan at center?

I most definitely would! I did a series last season about the Top 10 players in Chicago College Basketball history. Mikan was number one. 

I am a high school senior applying to DePaul and Loyola (IL), why do I go to DePaul?

You go to DePaul because of the Big East atmosphere (it's big, the largest Catholic university in North America - and you probably thought that was Notre Dame), the fact that Lincoln Park is a better neighborhood than Rogers Park - and I live right near Loyola, and the school's academic tradition. DePaul also has a diverse campus, as it was named the "most diverse school in the country" by Princeton Review a few years ago.

I want the best deep dish pizza in town. Where am I going?

You're probably going to Giordanos, but as someone who is originally from the east coast, I'd tell you that you're making a mistake by getting anything other than New York style pizza. I still haven't figured out how to eat pizza with a fork and knife.

Have you ever been to a city that is as awesome in the summer and as miserable in the winter as Chicago?

It is staggering how much the weather changed my experience.  I first came to Chicago in the summer and the weather was positively wonderful. Of course then when I was walking around the city in February in wind chills that go below zero I found out what the city is really like. The city itself seems to have a dual personality as well. It's so vibrant during the summer when everything thaws out around April or May. Thankfully the summer lasted a little longer this season. Actually, My Boys - I'm a Jordana Spiro fan - had a great episode about this once.

It is Friday night on DePaul's campus. Where am I going to meet some girls, drink some beers and get my groove on the dance floor?

(From Dan) One of the great things about Lincoln Park is that there is no shortage of bars, and you can party until 2 or 3 in the morning. Personally, I'm a bit "old school" so I went to BW (Buffalo Wild Wings) quite a bit. However, Lincoln Station was pretty cool because it has both a bar and a dance floor to get your groove on (I'm not a big dancer though = it's called being slow and white haha). McGee's has great wings and sandwiches to go along with the drinks if you can ignore all the Buckeyes stuff (it's an Ohio St. bar). And Toasted Ox usually has great deals on shots (i.e. buy one get one free). I would have to say that Lincoln Station is probably the best site to meet girls because it is smaller than most bars thereby giving you the chance to talk to more people as well showcase your moves on the dance floor.

(From John) I'd like to add that I really like Lincoln Station as well. It's also a cool place to go watch a Bills game on a Sunday afternoon.

Were you surprised when Purnell decided to take this job and leave Clemson? Why do you think he did so? On a related note, I hear his picture is posted in elevators all over campus.

(From John) I was a little surprised, because I didn't expect DePaul to get someone of his caliber, but athletic director Jean Lenti Ponsetto had said she'd hire a top-notch coach and she held up here end of the bargain. I think Purnell took the job at DePaul because Clemson fans were upset that he kept going to the NCAA Tournament and losing. Also, I think he got a nice paycheck. Now he gets to do what he likes - rebuild a program. If he makes the NCAA Tournament, the fans here will probably throw him a parade. That's a big change from Clemson.

(From Dan about the elevators) Yes, there has been a big marketing push to promote both Coach Purnell and the team itself including elevator ads. The DePaul Athletic Department has gone with the motto "New Era, Same Tradition" for this year's team. As a part of that, they put ads in the elevator with Coach Purnell on the left side and the women's coach Doug Bruno on the right with the all the information about game times and ticket information in the middle. The athletics website was also redone - this time with CBS College Sports providing a much easier layout and better online store. They also completely redid the weight room. Finally, as you get on at the Fullerton exit on the expressway to go northbound, you will be greeted with a huge billboard of "New Era, Same Tradition" with Coach Purnell on it.

I'd ask if you thought DePaul would make the NCAA Tournament this year, but I think both of us know in our hearts that's not going to happen. How many years do you think it will take Purnell to get them back in the big dance?

It looks like it's going to take a while. I think the timeline is something like two to three seasons. The talent is coming and the Blue Demons should play in some sort of postseason next year at the latest. If that's the NIT then the NCAA's become the goal in year three, but it could be delayed a bit. Still, with Shane Larkin coming in and Brandon Young showing a lot of promise it's certainly possible sooner than people might think.

Why does DePaul play all the way out by O'Hare International? If I'm a student on campus why would I want to go to a game?

Allstate Arena is the best the Blue Demons can do right now in terms of facilities. It's not the worst place to watch a basketball game, but it takes at least a half hour to drive there from campus. (But if you're a student there are free bus rides and the activities fee covers your tickets!) People are clamoring for an on-campus arena, but it's going to take a while. The Blue Demons played a few lower-level opponents at McGrath Arena, where the women play, this season. If you're a student you go to the game because you get good seats behind the basket, the "Warm Up the Bus" cheer is excellent on the occasion the Blue Demons are winning, and you get to see Big East teams. Purnell's exciting system is also going to draw some more people out to Allstate this season. Of course, it takes basketball fanatics or a winning team to get you to the arena, so the crowds haven't been great lately.

Are you a Cubs fan? Will they ever win the World Series? Do you think baseball will continue to be a major force along with basketball and football in the next 50 years?

Random fact about me: I'm a Seattle Mariners fan. Yeah, didn't see that curveball coming, did you? The Cubs aren't going to win a World Series anytime soon as they're a financial mess. I believe baseball has a lot of staying power and it seems the lack of a salary cap might actually help the sport as others endure ugly lockouts over the next few seasons. I think people like the lazy summer feeling of watching a baseball game. Not sure what could replace a relaxing evening in the bleacher seats at a ballpark like Wrigley Field or U.S. Cellular Field.

I understand there's an interesting story behind how the Blue Demons nickname started.

(From Dan) Yes, there is. When DePaul started playing basketball, they were initially called the "D-Mens." Eventually that changed to "Demons."

Are you upset or eternally grateful that Eddy Curry decided to go pro straight from high school rather than play at DePaul?

Are you kidding. I would've loved to have Eddy Curry play some basketball at DePaul. He would've dominated in college. Of course my guess is wallet would probably be a little lighter right now.

How do you see this game playing out and what is your final score prediction?

I've watched a lot of Georgetown this season because I grew up a Princeton basketball fan and loved the work that John Thompson III did there, so unfortunately I know how talented this Hoyas team is. I expect that the Blue Demons will struggle a lot on defense and get pounded on the boards on the way to a double-digit loss. Say 80-66?