Busy Summer for Wainwright

Summer for a college basketball coach is anything but break time. For Jerry Wainwright it's just another part of a year round effort to take DePaul's program and turn them into an elite program in the Big East and NCAA basketball. In Part two of our exclusive interview with Jerry Wainwright see what the future holds for DePaul basketball and what it will take for the team to succeed next season.

Jerry Wainwright has a busy summer ahead of him. Between his duties at DePaul and coaching the 2007 USA U19 World Championship team at the FIBA U19 World Championship for Men, Jerry will have his hands full. Although coaching a USA basketball team is a tremendous honor, some DePaul fans may worry that Jerry's new commitment might take away from improving the Blue Demon program.

"My job first and foremost is to be a coach," explained Wainwright. "With me spending some time coaching USA basketball I can learn new things about the game. The game is always evolving." The evolution Jerry may be talking about most is the three point line moving back one foot beginning in the 2008-09 season. In international basketball, the three point line is already moved back to a similar distance that college athletes will have to prepare for next year. With the three point line changing, the international game gives Wainwright a sample of some of the direction that college basketball could be headed towards in the future.

Jerry also has high confidence in his staff and players preparing to win while he is gone. Recruiting, another important aspect of a basketball coach's summer is also something that should not slack according to Wainwright.

"I don't think being away coaching will affect the team," said Wainwright. "We feel good about our future recruiting in 08 and 09. Our staff has a lot of experience coaching. We're not leaving these kids alone this summer."

For the team, their job over summer is to improve on the court and in the weight room. Improving in the summer on the court is a must, but DePaul must now find a vocal leader to help lead the team. With the loss of two NBA draft picks in Wilson Chandler and Sammy Mejia, as well as the senior front line of Marcus Heard, Lorenzo Thompson, and Keith Butler, the Blue Demons will be losing a lot of players who led the team on and off the court.

With seniors Draelon Burns, Karron Clarke, Wes Green, and Cliff Clinkscales, and junior Jabari Currie, DePaul will look for a new leader.

"We feel good about finding someone to step up," said Wainwright. "Draelon Burns by the end of the season was as good a player as we put on the floor. He now has to step up as a player and a leader. Karron Clarke should be a better player next year. Wes Green made progress and stayed healthy for an entire season. Wes is as good as any big man in the league when he plays the way he can."

Although the focus of many fans will be on the seniors, there are other players who have also improved since the close of the NIT. "Will Walker and Thijin Moses were our most improved players in the spring," said Wainwright. "They're stronger, better prepared, and they are going to surprise a lot of people."

DePaul fans also have much to be excited about with DePaul's 2007 recruiting class. The class, which features five new players, will be expected to help contribute to the team immediately.

"Those kids are all really physical kids," said Wainwright of his recruiting class of 07. "Stronger than any class we've brought in before. We need some points from our big guys. If we're going to take it to the next level we need to score inside. The game is won in the paint. These kids choose DePaul for the right reasons and they want to help make an impact right away."

Although Wainwright hopes that his freshmen can help put up points in the paint, he is also counting on senior Wes Green to produce. "Wes is in the best shape he has been in since he's been at DePaul," said Wainwright. "He's really like a point guard in the post with his passing skills, and he brings a lot of good things to our team when he plays well."

This recruiting class also features talent from all over the world. Wainwright, who has always been a big international recruiter has filled another class by finding the players he thinks will help the program the most.

"I want our team to have variety," said Wainwright. "Chicago has a great ethnic mix. We're trying to find the best players to help us win the Big East."

Wainwright also had good things to say about his two new European players in Matija Poscic and Mario Stula, both Croatian natives. "They both have tremendous experience playing in some big games," stated Wainwright. "They can definitely help us build some depth."

Although Blue Demon players are improving individually, it will be the effort they display as a team that will determine their fate next season. "The urgency is there," said Wainwright. "The next step for us is playing every game the same. We need to get off to a good start and stay aggressive. It takes awhile for the kids to get familiar with each other, but we need to be ready to play. A lot of people may say a team looks good on paper, but you have to remember that the game is played on wood."

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