Dave Leitao Returns to DePaul

In what is a surprise move, DePaul has decided to bring former men’s basketball coach Dave Leitao back to Lincoln Park.

Dave Leitao interviewed for the position on Saturday along with Valparaiso coach Bryce Drew and Buffalo coach Bobby Hurley.

At the end of the day, DePaul decided to return to the Leitao days of their program. Leitao, who left DePaul for Virginia 10 years ago, had a career record of 58-34 in three seasons with the Blue Demons.

Leitao takes over the Blue Demons from Oliver Purnell, who resigned earlier this month after five years at the helm of the DePaul program.

Leitao is the only coach to have led DePaul to the NCAA Tournament in the 21st century. The Blue Demons defeated Dayton in the first round of the NCAA Tournament in 2004 under Leitao, before succumbing to eventual national champion Connecticut in the second round.

The Blue Demons made the post season in all three seasons under Leitao. In addition to the NCAA appearance, DePaul played in the NIT in 2003 and 2005.

Leitao then coached four years at Virginia where he compiled a record of 63-60 and advanced to the NCAA Tournament in 2007 after going 21-11 and finishing in a first place tie in the Atlantic Coast Conference. He was named ACC Coach of the Year by the Associated Press following that season.

The 54 year old Leitao’s career coaching record is 143-129.

Dave served as head coach of the Maine Red Claws in the NBA Developmental League for one season in 2011-12. He then left to become an assistant coach at Missouri and this past season at Tulsa under head coach Frank Haith.

What Leitao brings to DePaul, that the program needs desperately, is a coach that stresses defense and rebounding. Those are two areas where the Blue Demons have struggled over the last five years. Leitao’s DePaul teams were always known for their hard-nosed defense and willingness to battle on the boards.

Can Leitao bring back the fire and spark that he brought to DePaul 10 years ago? That’s the question that DePaul fans will be asking as he begins his return to Chicago.

Set your watches back to 2005 and see what happens in Lincoln Park.

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