Chemistry is key for Blue Demons

The DePaul Blue Demons hosted an open scrimmage on Saturday night and displayed some differences over last season.

The biggest difference that sophomore point guard Billy Garrett, Jr. sees is team chemistry.

“Chemistry, we have more of a team bond,” said Garrett. “We have to feed the post a bit more, but I feel like we’re getting there with that. With this year’s team, I’m happy with where we are, we still have some room for improvement. We’ll get there.”

Room for improvement was a common theme on the night.

“I thought the guys played pretty well together at times,” said DePaul coach Oliver Purnell. “We’ve got a ways to go defensively, as you would expect, but I like this group.”

After the scrimmage, Purnell graded his team’s performance.

“I’m happy with them. It’s a good group, they’re athletic, I think you saw that,” Purnell said. “I give them a ‘B’, or ‘B minus’.”

“There are still some things that I wasn’t too happy with, that I want to work on, especially defensively,” added Garrett.

With three weeks to go before the season opener against the UIC Flames, there is still time for the Blue Demons to work on some things.

“There’s always room for improvement,” Garrett said. “That’s a big point for us. We’ve been working on halfcourt defense throughout.”

Scrimmages like Saturday’s gives the coaching staff the opportunity to experiment with different lineups and see what works well.

“I thought that the second lineup with Aaron (Simpson) at the two and Myke Henry, I thought that was a good lineup, especially from a scoring standpoint,” said Billy.

Simpson and Garrett are turning out to be a good backcourt combination.

“We play off each other well,” Garrett said of playing along with Simpson. “I feel like we have good chemistry out there.”

While Purnell tinkered with the lineup often and liked what he saw, there are some lineups he would still like to try out.

“We wanted to go with a big lineup at the end and we wanted to go with a pressing lineup,” said Purnell. “We saw a combination of Jamee (Crockett) and Myke (Henry) together and we liked that. Those guys are long. We saw a small lineup when we had Greg (Sequele) and (Rashaun) Stimage together. We feel like we can play small when it’s necessary for us to play small. The lineup that’s a little bit intriguing, that we wanted to see, was Forrest (Robinson), Stimage, and Tommy (Hamilton) in a big zone.”

Stimage may miss some time on the court, however. Towards the end of the scrimmage, he left with a foot injury and is being evaluated.

This year’s roster does give the Blue Demons some added flexibility and versatility.

“I like the depth and I like the movable pieces,” Purnell said. “We don’t really have anybody pigeon-holed into one position and I like that.”

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