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DePaul basketball hopes changes lead to wins

SCHEDULE

Nov. 9 vs. Grambling State-x 3

Nov. 13 vs. Southern Miss-y 8

Nov. 16 vs. Wright State-y 1

Nov. 19 at Milwaukee 7

Nov. 25 vs. Wichita State-z 9

Nov. 26 vs. BYU/Texas-z 6:30/9

Dec. 1 vs. Oregon State 3

Dec. 6 vs. Arizona State 6

Dec. 12 vs. Florida Atlantic 8

Dec. 15 vs. Chicago State 3:30

Dec. 18 vs. Houston Baptist 8

Dec. 22 at Illinois State 7

Dec. 27 at Northwestern 8

Dec. 31 at Georgetown 4

Jan. 4 at Marquette 1

Jan. 7 vs. Creighton 8

Jan. 9 at Butler 6

Jan. 14 vs. St. John’s 6

Jan. 18 at Villanova 3

Jan. 20 vs. Xavier 3

Jan. 25 at Seton Hall 5

Feb. 1 vs. Providence 12

Feb. 3 vs. Georgetown 8

Feb. 7 at Creighton 8

Feb. 12 vs. Villanova 6

Feb. 15 at Providence 1

Feb. 19 at Xavier 6

Feb. 22 vs. Marquette 1

Feb. 25 vs. Seton Hall 8

March 2 at St. John’s 11 a.m.

March 6 vs. Butler 8

x-at McGrath-Phillips Arena; y-CBE Hall of Fame Classic at Allstate Arena; z-CBE Hall of Fame Classic at Kansas City, Mo.

ROSTER

0 R.J. Curington G 6-4 Fr

1 DeJuan Marrero F 6-5 Fr

2 Tommy Hamilton IV C 6-10 Fr

4 Edwind McGhee G 6-3 Sr

5 Billy Garrett Jr. G 6-5 Fr

11 Forrest Robinson F 6-10 Jr

12 Cleveland Melvin F 6-8 Sr

20 Brandon Young G 6-4 Sr

21 Jamee Crockett F 6-4 Jr

25 Durrell McDonald G 6-1 So

32 Charles McKinney G 6-3 Jr

42 Greg Sequele F 6-9 Jr

55 Sandi Marcius F 6-10 Sr

Updated: November 3, 2013 8:23PM



Almost everything is different about DePaul this season, from its overhauled roster and revamped coaching staff to its membership in the realigned Big East.

But one thing hasn’t changed: The Blue Demons are picked to finish last in the 10-team league.

Changing that image — and that potential reality — remains coach Oliver Purnell’s greatest challenge as he begins his fourth season.

“We were close in a lot of games, but I didn’t like how we played in the last game, and that told me the way to get over the top is not to stand pat,” Purnell said of a futile 11-21 season. “We got two new staff members [assistants Renard Phillips and Ivan Vujic], and we got eight new players, if you count Myke Henry [a transfer from Illinois who won’t be eligible this season].

“But we do have a core of guys who have some talent, mainly Cleve [Melvin] and Brandon [Young], who averaged 16 points a game for us.”

Seniors Melvin and Young have carried the load since their freshman year, when they were all-Big East rookie selections. They have had only six regular-season conference victories to show for it.

The new league of basketball-centric schools should be a better fit for DePaul, and perhaps for the turnaround that has eluded Purnell after success at Old Dominion, Dayton and Clemson.

“Every place is different,” he said. “But every place we were at, the year we turned it around could have gone the other way because of close games. And then you lose a guy like Shane Larkin [the Miami star who committed to DePaul in 2011 but asked for his release a month before the season began] — in basketball, one guy can make a big difference.

“I think we’re right there, but being close isn’t good enough. We’re not there, so we made the changes we think we need to get there.”

The changes will be visible in the front court, where lack of size often hurt the Blue Demons in the old conference.

Purnell brought in three 6-10 players — freshman Tommy Hamilton IV, Purdue transfer and fifth-year senior Sandi Marcius and junior-college transfer Forrest Robinson — and 6-9 junior-college transfer Greg Sequele.

They will allow the 6-8 Melvin to play more on the wing, his best position.

But the change that will draw the most attention will be in the backcourt, where prized recruit and Chicago native Billy Garrett Jr. debuts.

The son of DePaul assistant Billy Garrett and star of Morgan Park’s Class 3A state championship team could be the impact player the Blue Demons long for.

“He’s good, and he’s going to play,” Purnell said. “He has to make an impact for us, and I think he will. He’s mature beyond his years. He comes from a great family, and all those things will help him make the transition pretty quickly. We won’t be hesitant in giving him things to do. He’s a bright kid, and he’s skilled.”

Garrett Jr. already has embraced the high expectations for him, as well as the task of resurrecting the program.

“This is home for us,” he said. “We’re representing our home. It’s like you don’t want to represent your mother in a bad way by behaving badly. This is home, and we want to put a good product on that court and represent Chicago in the right way. That’s what it means. It’s Chicago basketball, and we want to represent Chicago well.’’

Next: Loyola

Email: tginnetti@suntimes.com

Twitter: @toniginnetti



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