Purnell Ready to Tackle Rebuilding Job

Although new DePaul head coach Oliver Purnell has been on the job for a little more than six months, he is still getting used to his surroundings.

"(I'm) learning an awful lot about (DePaul)," Purnell said. "I'm learning my way around, learning more about the administration, administrators, all the way down to the people who take care of the facilities."

While he may be adjusting on the fly, and is getting up to speed with the city of Chicago, what Purnell does know is rebuilding programs.

This is not Purnell's first rodeo.

Purnell came over from Clemson in April to tackle the very special job of rebuilding DePaul. His forte has always been that he has been able to rebuild programs, which he has successfully done at Clemson, Dayton, Old Dominion and Radford in his 23 years of coaching.

DePaul is coming off its third consecutive losing season, with the last two years being especially tough with the Demons only winning one game in Big East play. Incremental improvement is the number one priority for DePaul.

"I don't necessarily have a goal for wins and losses," Purnell said of his reclamation time line. "My plan is to get better every year in every aspect, including wins and losses, get better at recruiting and (gaining) experience."

Purnell stresses to his team the importance in consistency and the mantra that practice makes perfect.

"The major thing is being consistent in our system," Purnell said. "Players need to understand our culture, and what we ask them to do. We have a saying in our program, ‘do what's next'. You got to consistently do that, and if you do that then you're going to have a chance to move forward."

Move forward is definitely what DePaul is striving to do. It's not going to be easy. Purnell was handed no favors. Last year's leading scorer Will Walker used up his eligibility and last year's leading rebounder and second leading scorer Mac Koshwal departed early to pursue professional endeavors. Compounding matters is the fact that Eric Wallace, another key returner from last year's squad, was lost for the season with a fractured left tibia and fibula.

Despite the limited resources at his disposal, Purnell says he would like to go 9-10 players deep and that the team is excited with the new opportunities that await them.

Purnell likes the character and fight he sees in his team. Purnell says the team is eager to learn and adapt to his up and down fast-paced brand of basketball he is well known for implementing.

"Our guys have tried to do everything we've asked them to do, that's an outstanding characteristic," Purnell added. "I haven't had many teams I can say that about, and what that tells me is if we continue to work hard and we continue to have that attitude, we have a chance to be better than the sum of our parts. We have a chance to overachieve."

Purnell has his work cut out for him, but if his resume is any indication of what lies ahead, then DePaul is in for a rebirth.


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