Purnell Era Begins at DePaul in Style

DePaul students wore T-shirts Sunday night at McGrath Arena that bore the slogan "Out with the Old, In with the Blue." That phrase couldn't have better described the start that the Blue Demons put together for the beginning of the Oliver Purnell era.

DePaul (1-0) routed Chicago State (1-1) by a 114-81 margin in their season opener in Lincoln Park tonight.

The Blue Demons opened the game with a 7-0 run and never looked back.

"I was pretty pleased with the opening game from the standpoint that I thought we really moved forward this week after four or five tough days of practice," Purnell said of his team that never trailed in the contest.

DePaul had five players finish in double-figures. With starting center Krys Faber in foul trouble, sophomore Tony Freeland came in off the bench to lead all scorers with 21 points.

Senior Mike Stovall contributed with 19 points on six of seven shooting from the field.

"I think Stovall the last two weeks has been playing better and better," Purnell said. "With Tony, that's his game. He's attacking. He finds it easy to fit in our style because that's his personality."

Freshman Cleveland Melvin chipped in with 19 points off the bench. Junior Jeremiah Kelly scored 12, had four steals and dished out five assists. Freshman guard Brandon Young finished with 11 points to go along with six assists and two steals.

If there was a weakness in this game for DePaul, it was on the boards. With Faber limited to only seven minutes due to foul trouble, the Demons were outrebounded by a 42-37 margin.

"Rebounding, that finishes your defense off," said Purnell. "If you don't have the stuff, the shot goes up and they get the rebound, it can be all for naught and it can be very frustrating. We've got to do a better job in that area."

One area where DePaul improved over last week was at the free throw line. The Demons shot 73.5% from the charity stripe including 76.9% in the second half after shooting 57.7% as a team in their exhibition loss to Lewis a week ago.

"At the beginning of practice, we shoot a lot of free throws," said Stovall who was six of seven from the charity stripe tonight. "If we miss a certain amount of free throws, we run. We just keep shooting until we get to where we want to get to. It showed up on the court."

Christian Wall led the way for Chicago State with 15 points. Afterwards, CSU coach and former DePaul assistant Tracy Dildy felt relieved.

"I'm happy it's over and I don't have to seem these guys for another year," said Dildy.

The Blue Demons capitalized by scoring 40 points off of 30 Cougar turnovers.

"That's the style that we want to get to, to that level where we are playing with that much energy and playing as hard as DePaul plays," said Dildy. "They're a measuring stick for us. That style did just what it's set out to do. It wears you down for 40 minutes. You can stay with it. You can get some baskets, but over the long haul it's going to wear you down. It's going to wear a lot of teams down."

Purnell's full court press can disrupt a team's offense.

"It's disruptive because they're long and very athletic," Dildy said. "So they can make mistakes and then recover."

Dildy didn't seem to think that DePaul was going to be a Big East doormat again this season.

"I think it's going to mess with a lot of Big East teams," Tracy said. "You only have a few teams that play this style. You can't have a two day window and then prepare for this style. So teams that aren't playing this style, it will cause problems (for them)"

The Blue Demons have certainly done away with the old and are bringing the blue this year.

"We're disciplined now," said Stovall. "We're tired of everybody putting us down and telling us ‘we ain't this and we ain't that'. Even though this is the first game and we still got a lot of work to do, we as a team want to just get better and go ahead and just move on from all of that downtalking."

Notes

- The Blue Demons are 9-0 all-time against Chicago State

- Former walkon Jimmy Drew has been awarded a scholarship for this season. The senior finished with eight points, eight rebounds and four assists in 20 minutes of play for the Demons.

- DePaul's 114 points was the most scored by the team in over a decade. They scored 114 in a win over American University of Puerto Rico in Novermber of 1999 in the San Juan Shootout.

- The Blue Demons move out to Allstate Arena in Rosemont on Tuesday night where they will take on the Catamounts of Western Carolina.

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