If you have been reading Steve Newhouse's work here, you know the direction the Blue Demons may go in. They could go the proven veteran route and hire a guy like Ben Howland or hire a hungry, young up and comer (like a Bryce Drew).
However, what I'm here to tell you is why this opening is a lot more appealing than it was five years ago. While Purnell ultimately did not live up to any expectations, he did help get the ball rolling in regards to a few changes within the basketball program.
So, let's count the ways this job is not as bad as it once was:
Talent is better
OK, I know what you are saying, “Purnell recruited terribly and the 'talent' he brought in never got DePaul to any type of tournament or even up the ladder in the Big East.” Yes, that's true, but Purnell did recruit some solid players; it just they never fit with his plans. Too many times, he recruited square pegs and tried to fit them into round holes, while also trying to appease Chicago coaches in welcoming in some players he may been better off without in regards to his uptempo system.
However, if the new coach can retain the players he wants (again, that's up to the players), and the players are reciprocal in their interest with the new coach, DePaul has two big-time, high-major talents in Billy Garrett Jr. and Myke Henry (who will likely stay as he transferred once and is a senior to be), as well as a diamond in the rough in wildcard Tommy Hamilton.
We all still would like to see what having a healthy Rashaun Stimage (a senior as well) would be like with a full season to work with. And considering that Aaron Simpson and Durrell McDonald are also both seniors, they are more prone to come back. All of have shown good spurts of effectiveness.
And despite maddening inconsistencies, there is still some untapped potential in players like Darrick Wood and R.J. Curington, who both got minutes either erratically or sparingly. With a decent recruiting class coming in, highlighted by a couple of guys who get at it on defense (Develle Phillips, Oumar Barry), the new coach could have some nice pieces to work with.
While it's not elite talent we are talking about here, nevertheless the talent is not barren in Lincoln Park. After all, there is a reason this team started out 5-2 in the Big East. With proper coaching, there is a good chance they could come close to 9-10 wins in the conference next year if everyone comes back. So, it's a decent foundation to work with. It's much better than what Wainwright left Purnell, that's for sure.
Conference affiliation is more conducive to winning, while at the same time high-profile
Let's talk truth, DePaul was ill-equipped to go to battle in the old version of the Big East with heavyweights like Connecticut, Syracuse, Louisville, etc., especially in a rebuilding mode. But now that the Blue Demons are in a conference with nine other basketball-centric, like-minded institutions, they have a fair shake to move up the ladder while still presiding in a great basketball conference (the Big East finished No. 2 in the RPI rankings this season).
There is a good chance a new coach can take this team and move it up the ladder, while contending for an NCAA bid. Heck, the Big East sent six of its 10 teams to the NCAA Tournament this year and DePaul just finished in seventh place. So, they are not as far off from making the necessary jump that would be needed to be in contention for an NCAA bid or at the very least an NIT invitation.
A long awaited, cozy new stadium will be ready in a few years
Whether it's in 2016 or 2017, DePaul's new stadium at McCormick Place will be ready to be unveiled soon enough and with perhaps a new product on the floor, more fans will come out to see the Demons in a state-of-the-art, spanking new arena, which will seat close to 10,000 people.
With this in his back pocket, DePaul's new coach will have something to sell recruits, especially local players. The new coach can say something like, “Build something special at DePaul, while playing in a brand new arena with all the new bells and whistles.”
For many years, we have heard countless rhetoric how the Allstate Arena was outdated and too far away from campus and that it was negative recruiting disadvantage. Well, that will all disappear in a few years, as the new arena will have all the modern amenities as well as being approximately seven miles away from DePaul's main Lincoln Park campus.
The arena will prove to be a huge selling point, whether you're against it or not.
The recruiting budget is nothing to sneeze at
While DePaul and its coaches can't get to recruiting destinations on private jets, the budget is far from putting the Demons at a disadvantage.
Although DePaul's next coach won't have the luxuries of say John Calipari, the new coach won't be at a disadvantage when it comes to other teams in the Big East conference, as the recruiting budget is on par with programs at Villanova, Georgetown and the like. After all, DePaul can host recruits at the Trump Hotel and have them dine at the finest restaurants in town.
So, don't let previous perceptions interfere with the current facts and other variables working in DePaul's favor at the moment.
That all said, DePaul has to get this hire right, as the move into the new arena is an important, especially in regard to building goodwill with an apathetic fanbase. But, let's set the record straight: this DePaul job does have some appeal.
DePaul Job Has Much More Appeal This Time
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