Harrison-Docks preaches patience after loss to Northwestern

After trailing by as many as 39 points in the second half of an 80-64 loss to Northwestern, spectators would expect the team’s personnel to struggle for words following the final buzzer. Instead, the 5-foot-11, 194-pound Chris Harrison-Docks stood with a sense of self-discipline.

Although the guard said head coach Dave Leitao harped on a lack of team discipline in the postgame meeting, the graduate transfer from Western Kentucky recognizes what the game could mean in the long run this season. Considering the Blue Demons’ widespread youth, he and the remainder of the roster are learning how to gel.

“You got 30 games, so you can't get bent out of shape because you lose a game,” said Chris.

Nevertheless, in the first half, DePaul was outscored 54-18, shooting a miserable 24.1 percent from the field. On top of that, the unit went 0-of-11 from behind the arc. On numerous possessions, the squad resisted to attack the basket, and, instead, “hero ball” was in full-effect.

Moreover, guard Eli Cain scored eight points during that stretch but went silent in the final 30 minutes, where he notched just one point and one shot attempt. Overall, the sophomore failed to accumulate at least 19 points in a contest for the first time this season.

Yet, the Wildcats deserve some credit, cutting off space to prevent Cain from delivering his signature exaggerated arm flailing off the dribble to draw a foul.

“In trying to grow or change the culture, I think it’s important that we stick to our game plan,” Harrison-Docks. “When we revert back to old ways, we’re unsuccessful.”

Plus, the second half box score, displaying a 46-26 advantage for DePaul, delivers a misleading storyline. Regardless, though, the group exhibited a similar version of their comeback selves in wins over Missouri State and Drake, racking up a 40.6 field goal percentage, along with taking 24 free-throw attempts.

“We were able to get the ball moving (in the second half) and were able to attack once it got to the second or third side rather than the initial movement,” he said.

Currently, the Blue Demons must somehow find a way to demonstrate this effort in the first half of games. Under former head coach Oliver Purnell and now Leitao, they’ve struggled to discover an identity in almost every pivotal affair.

On the other hand, Harrison-Docks was the catalyst within the aforementioned results. He supplied seven points on 3-of-6 shooting in the second frame, as well as two assists.

Once Harrison-Docks was suspended for disciplinary issues a campaign ago at Western Kentucky, the then-senior didn’t step on the court again post-late January. Nonetheless, he found a rhythm over the last two contests, producing 21 points on 8-of-15 shooting.

Additionally, he was the lone positive in the disastrous loss to the Wildcats, as he led the Blue Demons in plus-minus (plus-two) in 28 minutes of action.

“I’m just starting to get more comfortable, and those shots (which weren’t dropping in the first set of games) are going to fall,” he said.

With DePaul possessing a 4-2 record, Harrison-Docks knows the importance of generating a winning culture, especially with a fan base starving for prosperity. The Blue Demons haven’t participated in March Madness in 11 years. Furthermore, the veteran presence realizes that sustained triumph won’t return to the program if the core continues to show shoddy chemistry.  

“It (success) starts everyday in October and in the summer,” he said. “We’re still trying to form a (winning) habit, and they’ve (the Wildcats) already created one.”

Similarly, for Northwestern head coach Collin Collins, he said the toughest obstacle was to stay ultra-competitive in each matchup over his three-plus campaigns while understanding the big picture.

Now, the Wildcats seem to boast a roster capable of earning a trip to the NCAA tournament for the first time in school history. However, without players, like Vic Law, Scottie Lindsey and Bryant McIntosh, who combined for 39 points against DePaul, that could bear an abundance of disappointment, the possibility wouldn’t be discussed.

“When we started this thing, there was a common thing in all of us,” Collins said postgame. “Let’s build a program.”

In order for Harrison-Docks and the rest of the Blue Demons to construct a reason to believe within their viewers, they need to begin to reveal a maintained mindset of refinement.

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