Wainwright and DePaul Aim for Rebound Season

DePaul head coach Jerry Wainwright is looking to put the disappointment of last year's winless Big East season behind him. It was difficult to navigate a team through the treacherous waters that is the unforgiving Big East. For that reason, Wainwright likes to keep things in perspective.

"I've been through tough times before," explained Wainwright. "The older you get, professional times pale in comparison to personal. You ultimately have to maintain perspective, stay to your guns and follow the process. I learned that there is no substitute for kids of high character. Tough times expose character and I thought our kids did a great job of hanging together and not finger point. I think what it does is, really points to the value of leadership, and if we're going to win, we have to continue on that vein throughout the year."

DePaul had a season to forget with the team failing to win in the Big East and going 9-24 overall. Previously, only the 1993-94 Miami Hurricanes held the distinction of not winning a league game.

However, if there is a silver lining, it was the fact that DePaul did not fold and came into the Big East Tournament with renewed focus and stunned the eighth-seeded Cincinnati Bearcats, 67-57, on the opening day of the tournament. They followed that victory up with a hard-fought battle against Providence before succumbing to the Friars in the second half and eventually losing 83-74.

The fact that the team didn't fold left an indelible mark, which Wainwright hopes can carry into this season.

"They were a different team," Wainwright admitted. "They kept getting better and you would hope that's where we start this year."

Wainwright thinks it could be a springboard for success this year adding, "I think we know that we are capable of playing at a higher level and in all honesty we have to play better."

For DePaul to get better, Wainwright is trying to instill discipline and try to avoid the same mistakes and bad habits that plagued last year's Demons.

"First and foremost we have to clean up some of the things (of last year) that we can," Wainwright asserted.

Wainwright said rebounding and free-throw shooting are two aspects the team has to improve on.

"We were punished last year on the glass, we didn't lose on the glass, we were punished," said Jerry. "Until we become a good rebounding team, you can't win in this league."

Sometimes it was Mac Koshwal doing all the work. After all, he did post a respectable 9.6 rebounds per game, second among Big East returnees. But Wainwright said Koshwal has to get help from sophomores Devin Hill and Krys Faber.

Wainwright also added that free throw shooting can't be a turnover. DePaul shot a porous 61 percent from the line last year.

"Before you can win, you can't beat yourself, and right now we have to make sure that we concentrate on what we can control," Wainwright explained.

At Big East media day, Wainwright had high praise for senior guard Will Walker and Koshwal and how they are good examples of being good leaders on and off the court. However, Wainwright said that for the team to be successful, he has to get contributions from more of the team and that it needs to have balance.

"We need better contributions from all of the other players in our program," Wainwright commented. "We really need to be better six through nine than we were in the past"

Despite the tumultuous season that just passed, Wainwright and the rest of the Demons are battling on and ready to turn the page.

DePaul does lose leading scorer Dar Tucker and his 18.5 points per game, but returns most of the team as well as the addition of three key players. Ohio State transfer 6-6 forward/guard Eric Wallace will be eligible after sitting out last season. Wallace brings a fair amount of athleticism to the table as Wainwright has declared him one of the best athletes he has ever been around. Also joining the team will be 6-5 junior college transfer Mike Stovall (who also played at Oregon State) along with 6-6 freshman forward Tony Freeland. Freeland is expected to miss the first few weeks of the season, but is expected to be eligible after the end of the Fall Quarter with Wainwright not expecting him to redshirt.

Wainwright said that last season struggles has instilled the team with a lot of resolve and that Walker and Koshwal in particular are motivated to not let the season they had last year happen again.

"Both of them are committed to making sure that there's no letdown from their teammates," Wainwright concluded. "That's probably the most important contribution."

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