Although DePaul—who finished last season 11-21 (2-16 in the Big East)—has finished in last place the last three years (and are once again picked by Big East coaches to finish last this coming season) under Purnell, The DePaul coach believes his team finally has a chance to turn the corner and enjoy a renaissance in the new Big East this season.
"(The team) is highly motivated," Purnell said while at Big East Media Day. "We got seven new players. We got some size and strength that we're excited about. We got some young perimeter players that we think can be brought along. We have a motivated group of upperclassmen led by Brandon (Young), Cleveland (Melvin), and Ed (McGhee) (along with) Sandi Marcius, Jamee Crockett and Charles McKinney. All those guys are highly motivated."
In order for DePaul to get over their recent struggles, a commitment to rebounding and defense must be made. DePaul finished last season 14th in rebounding margin (-6.8) in the Big East, while finishing last in scoring defense (allowing 81.6 points a game).
"It really starts with defense and rebounding," said Purnell. "We haven't been very good in that area and there is no secret to it. We addressed (that issue) through recruiting. That's 20 percent of it; the 80 percent is recognizing and wanting to improve in those areas."
With the additions of Butler, Creighton and Xavier and the defections of Louisville, Pittsburgh, Syracuse, etc, the Big East has taken on a whole new shiny look. Gone are the days of football ruling the roost. All ten institutions in the current Big East share the same philosophies and are in unison as a basketball-centric league.
Purnell loves the idea of the conference sharing the same background and ideologies.
"I like the number of schools (10), the location—they're all city, metropolitan schools," said Purnell "The uniqueness (is great), double round-robin, no football; there is no other league like it."
With the new schools entering the league, Purnell said he has been studying how the teams play.
"We are obviously studying the new teams," said Purnell. "We haven't played any of those teams in years. (I've) started to think about, in general, what kind of league it is, what kind of defenses we'll face. Safe to say, you might see more zone (from us)."
So, with the new league, new team and new momentum heading into a new season, it's all about renewal this year for the DePaul basketball program.
Purnell excited about "new" Big East
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