Demons Prepare for Wisconsin

German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche coined the phrase "That which does not kill us makes us stronger."

It’s a phrase that describes DePaul men’s basketball coach Oliver Purnell’s approach to the Blue Demons scrimmage at Wisconsin on Saturday. The Badgers return all of their star players from a team that advanced to the Final Four of the NCAA Tournament last season. Wisconsin is ranked 4th in the USAToday Preseason Coaches poll.

It will be the fourth year in a row that DePaul has faced Wisconsin in a preseason scrimmage.

“It’s great for us,” Purnell said of the scrimmage. “We’ve done that the last three years in a row. Obviously with them having everybody back, and I just talked to (Badgers head coach) Bo (Ryan) tonight. (Sam) Dekker, who we thought was going be out, will be back. I’m glad. I want them to be at full speed, because we need to understand where we are. We need to become a defense first team. Obviously we’ve got to become a team first team. We’re not quite there. I don’t think we are. I think they expose it. That sends a very strong message to our guys. It’s one thing if it’s coming from me. It’s better when it comes from our players. Sometimes it’s even stronger when you come up against a really good team that exposes what you don’t do well right now.”

Purnell intends to experiment with his lineups in the scrimmage and make sure that all of his guys get to play.

“I think we’ve got 10 guys that we need to play,” Oliver said. “I don’t think we’ll play much more than one game. Then we’ll probably do some six minute type games or two minute games. We’d like to be 10 deep, so we need to find out where they are.”

DePaul right now is figuring out how to play without power forward Rashaun Stimage, who was lost to a foot injury that happened during the team’s intra-squad scrimmage on Saturday night. Purnell likes the makeup of this year’s team which offers him some flexibility and versality with lineups.

“One of the things I like about this team is that we don’t have anybody who plays just one position,” said Purnell. “Everybody now has an opportunity to step up. Let’s say that Myke Henry plays some four, well that opens up some minutes for maybe Jamee (Crockett) and R.J. (Curington), and right on down the line. Because we’ve got versatility, anybody that’s playing well, we can configure a lineup where they can play. We can play Jamee, Myke, and R.J. together and Tommy (Hamilton) and Billy (Garrett). We could be really long and put Tommy in the back of the press where we’re really long in there. It’s going to be interesting. That’s what I like about this team, it’s versatility and length.”

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