It was just two weeks ago when Mike Stovall was playing limited minutes under former DePaul coach Jerry Wainwright. He was singled out by Wainwright as a guy who needed to step up. In the team's 99-72 loss at Villanova, Stovall started, but played just five minutes. Impatient with Stovall's play, Wainwright played walkons instead.
Then came his first performance under interim coach Tracy Webster. In a breakout game, Stovall dropped a career-high 30 points in a 79-62 loss to the Providence Friars. He also came up with five rebounds and two steals.
In a 67-47 loss to St. John's, Stovall struggled with his shot, but went a perfect eight for eight from the free throw line and finished with 11 points.
Then came Wednesday night's clutch performance in a 51-50 win over Marquette. Stovall scored nine points in the game, with five points coming in the game's final twenty seconds including the game winning jumpshot with 0.7 seconds left on the clock.
What brought about the immediate turnabout in Stovall's play?
Confidence instilled in him by his new coach.
"I would say the difference between (Webster) and Coach Wainwright, is with Coach Wainwright if I made a turnover or anything, I was out for the rest of the game or whatever," said Mike. "With (Webster) if I make I mistake, it's you can mistakes during the game. You just got to go through it."
Stovall realized he was being too hard on himself.
"That was my biggest problem," Mike said. "If I make turnovers, I'd get down on myself, like I'm causing the team to lose."
Now Stovall doesn't find himself looking over his shoulder any longer if he makes a mistake.
"Now it's like if I make a turnover, I miss a shot, an airball or whatever, I just pass it on, don't pay any attention to it, just go to the next play," said Stovall. "That really brought my confidence up."
Stovall's play has been recognized on a national level. Twice in the last week, he has appeared on ESPN SportsCenter's nightly Top 10. Following the Providence game, Stovall's scooping layup came in at number five on the countdown. The game winning shot against Marquette was ninth on the show on Wednesday night.
But, that hasn't phased Stovall much. For now he's focused on Saturday's game at Notre Dame.
"I don't really get hyped up over that," said Stovall. "We've got to do it again, we have to go out and prove ourselves to Notre Dame."
As a star at Marshall High School on Chicago's west side, Stovall initially decided to go to Oregon State. That didn't last long as he left the Pac 10 school after one semester for Mineral Area junior college in Park Hills, Missouri.
The 6-5 guard then decided to return home to Chicago to play for the Blue Demons. He chose DePaul over interest from UAB, Colorado State, Iowa State, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma State, Washington and Western Kentucky.
Stovall also credited senior guard Will Walker for helping him with his new found confidence.
"Will Walker helps me a lot every day in practice," said Mike. "That's my roommate. We talk all the time about the next game."
With Walker's help, Stovall has learned never to get down during a game.
"We're starting to learn how to pick each other up after every little mistake, even if we're down 10 or 20, we're starting to learn how to come together and just grind it out."
DePaul's Stovall On the Rise
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