Purnell Upbeat about DePaul's Progress

After winning only seven games in his first year as head coach of DePaul in the 2010-2011 season and then improving to 12 wins in his second season last year, Oliver Purnell likes the trajectory the Blue Demons are on in the beginning of his third year on the job.

Purnell's squad was predicted to come in 13th place in the Big East this year and that's fine with him, as he is more worried about the end results.

"At the end of the year we want to be standing as a team that is much improved," said Purnell. "(If we do that) we'll be a team in postseason play."

Purnell likes the experience and depth he now has to work with. The Demons are returning 84 percent of their scoring, 79 percent of their rebounding and 77 percent of their minutes played from last season. Purnell has now had more than two years to implement his high-octane and uptempo system and his current squad is on the cusp of turning the corner.

"I like our experience and I like having athletes to go with our depth (which will) help our style," Purnell added.

While Purnell likes what he has coming back, he knows in order to make the next step this year, DePaul has some glaring weaknesses to work on.

"Guarding the ball and rebounding the ball," Purnell stressed when asked what his team has to do better in order to have a successful season. "Those were areas that we struggled in last year and when we got those right we really competed at a high level. When we didn't do those two things consistently we struggled in the Big East."

Making things easier for Purnell is the leadership he will get from juniors Cleveland Melvin, Brandon Young and Moses Morgan this year. Melvin (17.5 ppg), Young (14.5 PPG) and Morgan (9.0 ppg) are the top three returning scorers and all three have been through the ups and downs of a tumultuous learning process under Purnell.

Purnell foresees the talented trio stepping up their games and evolving more into leaders this season.

"They are the core leadership group," Purnell said. "They have been through the wars and they know what it's all about. At the same time they are highly motivated to turn our record around."

While DePaul is looking to turn their fortunes around, Purnell is making no quantitative goals. According to Purnell, the only goal is to get better.

"We got to make sure we get a lot better," Purnell said. "We'd like to be in postseason play. As far as wins and losses, it's hard to gauge. We do know if we get to postseason play we clearly have improved."

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