Blue Demons Tip-Off 2012-13 Season

The DePaul men's and women's basketball team got the 2012-13 season going by hosting open practices for Blue Demons fans on Saturday afternoon.

Both programs got straight to work with the DePaul women practicing for two hours followed by the men's team hosting a two hour 45 minute practice for the fans.

"It's here and it's an exciting time," said DePaul coach Oliver Purnell. "To be honest with you, I've been waiting for it for awhile. Over the last month or so, I've been getting anxious, so we're glad to be back on the floor really building toward something and being able to have full-fledged practices instead of workouts. "

"It's amazing to see the DePaul fans back and just to see them there happy and come to see us play, it's good," said DePaul junior Cleveland Melvin.

Purnell returns eight players from a team that finished 12-19 overall and 3-15 in the Big East. With the returning veterans, the return of redshirt freshman Montray Clemons, and three newcomers, DePaul looks to improve on that record.

"Any time you go through a tough stretch, and you hang in there, and you come back from it, and then you return the next year, that experience is invaluable," said Purnell. "We've had a group that has done that for two years. Three or four of these guys have practically started every game for us. They've been through the wars. They've won some tough non-conference games and a few Big East games, and now that should pay off for us. We played really well at the end of the year. Now with some carry over, with the influx of some new guys, some talent and some athleticism, I think we'll be much better."

Critical to DePaul's success this season is the health of his team. With 11 healthy scholarship players and Clemons returning from a knee injury soon, Purnell has what is the healthiest team he's had since he arrived at DePaul.

Last year, the injury bug bit the Blue Demons early. Tony Freeland was lost for the season with a shoulder injury and Clemons sat out with a ruptured patella tendon in his left knee.

Then in the middle of the season, Donnavan Kirk missed games with a back injury and Moses Morgan spent time on the bench after suffering a concussion.

"Other than Montray, who we're hoping will start doing some stuff at least halfway on Monday, everybody else is ready to go," said Purnell. "Last year we had Donnavan Kirk and Moses, two critical guys for us being out. That really hurt. Hopefully we can be very fortunate this year as far as the basketball gods are concerned and can stay healthy."

Women's Hoops Notes:

- DePaul senior center Katherine Harry sat out Saturday's practice with a stress fracture.

- DePaul coach Doug Bruno picked up a verbal commitment from Class of 2013 point guard Jessica January. January, a 5-9 point guard from Richfield, Minnesota, was on campus for her official visit this weekend. She is ranked by ESPN Hoopgurlz as a 4-star prospect, 16th best point guard in the class of 2013, and the 74th best overall prospect.

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