Blue Demons Prepare for Trip to France

DePaul is preparing for a 10-day trip to France in order to gain some more experience with some exhibition games while also getting some educational value and class credits. Under new head coach Dave Leitao, the trip to France will be a valuable learning experience because of the 10 additional days of practice, as well as the practices and games in Europe.

Although the team is learning a new offense and a different philosophy on defense, Leitao's main goal for the team is to help everyone on the team get closer before the upcoming season.

"For me, if we get back to the states having been over there for 10 days and having practices 10 days before that, if I know we're a closer knit team and we understand each other a whole lot better, then I'll look past anything offensively or defensively that we might not do well," Leitao said. "I think history shows that when teams go over there and learn about each other more off the court than on the court then they have more successful seasons. We're going to try to accomplish that during this time."

Team-building and understanding each other is an important component to the 10-day trip to France, but it's also a chance for the offense to understand the new concepts that have been taught to them since Leitao and his staff could begin working with the team.

"Those hurdles that we run into in October, we're running into in July and August," junior guard Billy Garrett Jr. said. "We're certainly getting a headstart and we can roll into October with a foundation already laid and we can just grow from there."

As one of the team's top returning players and an experienced upperclassman, Garrett Jr. is comfortable with how things are in the team's new offense under Leitao.

"One thing I'm liking about our offense now, we've developed some continuity and it's a flowing offense and we know what we're looking for," Garrett Jr. said. "If I'm off the ball, it's a lot more fluid. I'll be on the ball, I'll be off the ball. But it's a read and react offense. It's a good offense."

Leitao is also seeing the development of the offense as an incremental build, although he's happy with the way certain parts are coming together.

"We've only done portions of it so I'm trying to teach it incrementally so they have something to grab hold of and be good at. Thus far, I think it's getting better every day and we're learning. We're comfortable with each other and the spacing needed to be effective," Leitao said.

Building the offense and getting some team building time are some major points of interest on the floor, but Garrett Jr. wants to start winning games now before the season begins to get some momentum going.

"We want to win, that's goal No. 1, we always want to win. Just go out there and play at a high level and put together everything that we've worked on these last couple of weeks," Garrett Jr. said. "Mainly when we go out there, just a chance to get to know each other before the year. Give us a bit of a head start. It gives us some momentum. If we can win in France, that would be great for us."

DePaul leaves for the trip on Aug. 10 before returning on Aug. 21. During the trip, the team will play in four games and tour all around France and Monaco before returning to America.

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