Having just finished practice at Allstate Arena, their first time on the floor they'll be playing on for the next four years, the Blue Demon freshmen -- 6-8 forward Cleveland Melvin, 6-5 swingman Moses Morgan and 6-4 Point Guard Brandon Young -- were anxious to begin tackling the admirable task of helping rejuvenate the DePaul program.
"As soon as I got out there, I just started feeling it," said Young. "Like we were in season already. It was a good feeling, getting used to the court. I had fun out there."
"When we walked out there, it gave me the chills," said Morgan. "Just knowing that's where we're gonna play at, imagining the fans being out there."
"It was big, huge. It was cool, man," added Melvin.
One week earlier, the three got a chance to make their first impression on the DePaul community and the fans they'll be playing in front of all year at DePaul's Blue Madness.
Morgan showed his stroke during the three-point contest, but Melvin was especially impressive, slamming home a game-winning tip-dunk as time expired in the team's intra-squad scrimmage.
"The whole team was happy to see me win the game like that, it was great," said Melvin.
"I felt that dunk made a statement. Just letting people know that we're here, the freshmen are here," added Morgan.
Young was in attendance a year ago at Blue Madness while he was still a high school senior. Being on the other side of things this year was admittedly a different experience, however.
"It was real different," he said. "[Last year] I was just watching it and waiting to get to Blue Madness. So when I finally got to it, I was a little nervous, but once I got on the court, everything changed."
"It was a crazy experience," said Young of Blue Madness. "People cheering for me, putting a show on for the crowd. It was fun."
Blue Madness, of course, marked the beginning of official practices for the team. As much as they're looking forward to the season, hard work on the practice floor must obviously come first. Thus far, it's been challenging, but welcomed.
"The first week was tough, man," said Young. "Coming out of high school, I never expected it to be like that. A lot of running, a lot of getting up and down, real quick. It's all been tough. Everybody told me what to expect. I never believed it, though. But I believe it now, I can tell you that."
"The first week of practice, it's gone real well," said Morgan. "We got a lot done. It's just the tempo that we play at is something that we got to get used to."
Tempo will be a common theme this season, as the Blue Demons will look to employ Purnell's high-speed style of play. Morgan pointed out that none of the Blue Demons have played for Purnell before, so the transition is something they are all going through, even the upperclassmen.
"It's been hard, but it's been fun at the same time," said Morgan on picking up Purnell's system. "Getting up and down, pressing, pressuring all the time. He just let's us play."
"The pressing has been great," added Melvin.
"The system is great, I love it. I love getting up and down the court," said Young.
As the Class of 2010, Morgan, Melvin and Young have developed an expected camaraderie with each other and, in many ways, handled dealing with a new city, school and team as a unit.
"It's a great relationship," Young said of Melvin, Morgan and himself. "We're always around each other, laughing, joking, you know. Sometimes we might get mad at each other on the court, but at the end of the day, we're still all family."
"Us coming here as big contributors to the team right away, we're gonna have to do that, just be there for each other," added Morgan.
"In practice we pick each other up a lot when we make mistakes," said Melvin. He and Young, both from the Baltimore area, actually knew each other before coming to school, albeit in small capacity.
"We knew of each other,"said Young. "We were cool, said 'what's up' here and there."
Young and Morgan each arrived in Chicago mid-summer, giving them not just an opportunity to get a few classes out of the way and learn their way around the city, but also a chance to get a feel for what college ball will be like playing in the famous Sonny Parker League at Homan Square.
After the team's practice at Allstate Arena, they dined at Gibson's Steakhouse. Such a meal ironically describes what the young bloods are feeling right now as they prepare to get their college careers officially underway.
"I'm hungry right now," said Melvin. "I'm just ready for the season to start."
Morgan agreed: "We're all hungry and excited to start. We're gonna try to make a statement, and like he [Melvin] said, just take everything one game at a time."
"The attitude [entering the season] is being mentally prepared," said Young. "We're good right now. We're still working hard, getting ready for the season. But once that season comes, it's season time. Put our heart on the line; all that hard work we're doing now is gonna have to pay off in the season."
The Blue Demons will play their first exhibition game of the season on Saturday, when they take on Northwood at McGrath Arena at 7 PM.
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