Blue Demons Put First Practice in the Books

On Saturday, the DePaul Blue Demons completed their first official practice of the 2011-12 season. Afterwards, coach Oliver Purnell updated on the team's injury situation and how things are going in practice.

DePaul is off to a shaky start with their roster after losing three bench players on the first two days of the season. Junior forward Tony Freeland will sit out due to season-ending shoulder surgery. Freshman power forward Montray Clemons is also expected to have knee surgery on what looks like a tear to the patella tendon and will be sidelined for the year. Clemons slipped while going through drills during the Blue Madness event on Friday night. Freshman Macari Brooks will be ineligible, but will remain on scholarship for the academic year.

Despite the losses, coach Oliver Purnell is still positive about the team's future.

"We lost a little depth," said Purnell. "We knew Tony was gone, but Montray who plays the same position as Tony, we were saying that he's going to play and it's a great opportunity for him. Now it looks like he's down for the year. That's the way it goes. We had seven new guys at the beginning of the summer and now we're down to five. It's a good thing we got seven."

While Brooks is ineligible to compete this season, he will be allowed to practice full-time with the team come late-November.

"If he does okay academically in the first term, he'll be able to go full bore," said Purnell. "He'll have four years (of eligibility). This is something we've known was probable for a long time. It was appeal after appeal after appeal, we felt it as early as going to France, because we didn't take him to France. "

At Saturday's practice, freshman Charles McKinney was limited by recurring soreness in his knee.

"He can't get through practices right now," said Purnell. "It's basically patella tendonitis or ‘jumper's knee'. We thought we had it pretty much under control, but it keeps bothering him. Some of it he's just going to have to work through early on and we don't want to press it too much."

The Blue Demons trip to Europe this summer allowed them to get in practices during the summer and helped them get a leg up on the season.

"It's a little easier to feel one way or the other, because we had the France trip," said Purnell. "So, we know what a lot of these guys can do. If we can keep the rest of them healthy, we have so much more athleticism. Brandon (Young), Cleve (Melvin), and Moses (Morgan) are so much more experienced. So you couple experience with more athleticism and more talent and you feel good. You feel like if you look down the bench right now and you've got five guys you can go to. Right now, we've got 10 scholarship players healthy and all those guys got to play. If we have to go with (walkon) Edwind (McGhee), just to plug in something, I think we can. Ten is enough, we just can't afford to lose any more."

Coming up this week, Purnell plans to focus on his offensive and defensive schemes to get his team ready for non-conference play.

"We'll be working on pressure defense, fast break, putting in some plays and that kind of thing," said Purnell. "We'll be building on what we did in France. We're just getting more pressure in and just start to play together. I think the main thing is to get some consistency where we're practicing every day. We haven't had a chance to do that and see that we can get better each and every day. We'll scrimmage at the end of this week – Friday or Saturday. After a week of practice we'll see where we are. (Sunday) we're planning on going hard twice."

With the first practice behind them, look for the Blue Demons to continue to work hard and get better for the coming season.

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