2007 started with high hopes after a five game non-conference winning streak to end 2006 that gave DePaul a 9-5 record and some hope of an NCAA berth. As dreams were shattered later and hope arose from the NIT and a promising recruiting class, this current season has been marred by inconsistency, lack of leadership, and injury. Let's take a look back month by month at the year that was:
January – The Demons were 9-5 heading into Big East conference play, but quickly saw those NCAA hopes disappear as a split with St. John's and a three game losing skid to Louisville, Georgetown, and West Virginia gave DePaul fans little hope for the Big Dance. Highlights of January included a home win over Connecticut, and a road win at Villanova. Record after January: 13-10 (4-5). Record for month: 4-5
February – After dropping the first game of the month to Syracuse, momentum appeared as the Blue Demons won three straight including back to back home wins over ranked rivals Marquette and Notre Dame. After winning on the road at South Florida that momentum quickly disappeared as DePaul looked flat in a double-digit road loss at Notre Dame. A win over Cincinnati however kept DePaul's slim chances for the NCAA's alive. Record after February: 17-12 (8-7). Record for month: 4-2.
March – After disposing of South Florida on Senior day, DePaul fans said goodbye to Sammy Mejia, Marcus Heard, Lorenzo Thompson, and Keith Butler as those seniors played their final game at Allstate Arena. It was then off to the Blue Demons first ever Big East Tournament in New York where DePaul was greeted rudely by Villanova in the first round. With hot shooting from Scottie Reynolds and Curtis Sumpter, the Wildcats knocked the Demons out and essentially ruined any semblance of hope that Blue Demon Nation had in making it to March Madness. The season however was extended as the re-formatted NIT gave DePaul a chance to continue playing and gave Demons fans and students a chance to see the men's team at McGrath Arena for the first time all season. The sold-out crowd helped DePaul get past Hofstra as DePaul next traveled to face Kansas State in front of 14,000 screaming fans. The crowd was hostile, but the Demons got big performances from Wilson Chandler, Sammy Mejia, and new star Draelon Burns to pull out a close win. The Demons next advanced to play at Air Force where they lost by a point after Draelon Burns missed a shot at the buzzer. No doubt the miss hurt, but the tournament gave DePaul fans hope that the emergence of Draelon Burns would make next year's transition seamless. Three Blue Demons are also honored with All-Big East conference honors as Sammy Mejia and Wilson Chandler earned second team honors while Draelon Burns is honorable mention. Record after March 20-14 (9-7). Record for month: 3-2.
April – Future Blue Demons Mac Koshwal and Darquavis Tucker play in the Roundball Classic All-Star Game at the United Center. WeAreDePaul.com reports on the two as they play with some of the best high school seniors in the nation. The season has ended for the Blue Demons but the first piece of bad news hits as sophomore star Wilson Chandler declares the NBA Draft and hires an agent. The move hits DePaul fans hard as it initially seemed like Wilson was coming back for his junior season.
May – Jerry Wainwright and staff hit the recruiting trail and strike with 2007 wing Mario Stula. Stula's commitment is reported by WeAreDePaul.com on the eighth. The very next day, WeAreDePaul.com reports that the Blue Demons receive a verbal commitment from class of 2008 point guard Jeremiah Kelly. Kelly is the Demons first member of the ‘08 class and was a former teammate of Thijin Moses and Mac Koshwal at Boys to Men Academy in Chicago.
June – Future Blue Demon Mike Bizoukas plays with the Indiana All-Stars as they sweep the Kentucky All-Stars in a two game series. Two Blue Demons are selected in the NBA draft. Wilson Chandler is drafted in the first round at number 23 to the New York Knicks, and Sammy Mejia is drafted in the second round at pick 57 to the Detroit Pistons. They become the 45th and 46th players drafted to the NBA in school history and Chandler becomes the ninth player taken in the first round.
July – While summer workouts and recruiting are in full swing, Jerry Wainwright coaches the USA U19 team to a silver medal finish at the FIBA U19 World Championship as they lose in the championship game to host Serbia. Kene Obi, a center originally hailing from Nigeria becomes the final member of the class of 2007 as he verbally commits towards the end of the month. At the end of the month, it is also announced that DePaul will face Ole Miss, Clemson, and LaSalle in the San Juan Shootout.
August – August is a quiet month for Blue Demon fans as little happens except for recruit watching.
September – The schedule for the 07-08 season is announced and gives Demons fans something to talk about besides recruiting. Devin Hill, a wing forward from New York takes an official visit to campus in the middle of the month. Devin enjoyed his visit to campus and WeAreDePaul.com reports that he verbally committed to join the Blue Demon family on September 25th. A day after Hill commits, former fan favorite Marcus Heard, who worked his way to a solid senior season, is drafted into the CBA as a second round pick (13th pick) of the East Kentucky Miners.
October – The month starts out with the announcement that Wilson Chandler has signed a shoe deal to be a national spokesman for Pony who has they re-launch their basketball shoe division. Wilson's print ad is featured in national magazines such as Slam, ESPN, and Sports Illustrated among others. Blue Madness comes, and with it the official start of practice and the season. Dar Tucker and Mac Koshwal give fans something to cheer about with a fantastic show in the slam dunk contest. The Blue Demons meanwhile are picked to finish 11th in the Big East conference by the conference's coaches.
November – The season finally begins as the team starts exhibition season with a win over Trinity Christian. Once again the nonconference season is full of tough games and DePaul opens on the road against Creighton. After jumping out to a hot start, the Blue Demons lose to the Blue Jays in the opener. In the home opener against Northwestern, Draelon Burns shakes off the miss in the Air Force game and hits the game-winner to give DePaul a one point win. The Blue Demons officially welcome Devin Hill and Jeremiah Kelly to the program as they sign their national letters of intent. The month is finished as DePaul splits home games against North Carolina A&T and Texas A&M-Corpus Christi as the Blue Demons start off a disappointing 2-2. The Blue Demons also part ways with sophomore Thijin Moses and release him from his scholarship for violations of team rules and university policies. Record after November: 2-2. Record for November 2-2.
December – The month starts on a positive as Draelon Burns is named Big East player of the Week after back to back 32 point games to end November. The good news ends there, however, as the month starts in ugly fashion when the team drops five straight games to four undefeated teams and loses an embarrassing home game to city rival UIC. The team takes their trip to Puerto Rico for the San Juan Shootout and drops the first two games to Ole Miss and Clemson before salvaging a win over LaSalle. The Demons end the year on a two game winning streak after their first road win of the season at Detroit.
Record after December: 4-7. Record for December 2-5.
Outlook for next year:
The Big East season now begins and with it, another stretch of tough games for DePaul to play. Although the team is off to a rough start at 4-7, playing a tough nonconference schedule will make the Demons more prepared for the rigors of the newly expanded 18 game conference schedule. A postseason at this point looks unlikely, but the team is still full of young players, and experienced seniors who all have a lot of prove before they call it quits this season. Optimism is not high in the eyes of Blue Demon fans, but next year is here, and with it comes high hopes for the future. I want to wish all Blue Demon fans a Happy New Year as we can all look forward to the future of DePaul basketball.
Overall record for 2007: 15-16 (9-7)
2007 DePaul Men's Basketball Year in Review
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