DePaul: 2011-12 Post-Mortem

Posted by mlemaire on April 16th, 2012

Our apologies for plagiarizing borrowing the ideas of our colleagues over at the PAC-12 microsite, but we liked their post-mortem team breakdowns so much that we decided to replicate them with our conference. So over the course of the next two weeks, we will break down each team’s season, starting from the bottom of the conference standings. First up is DePaul.

What Went Wrong

Plenty went wrong although at a program with a recent history like DePaul the shortcomings should be taken with a grain of salt. The Blue Demons headed into the season with only two upperclassmen scheduled to play any meaningful minutes so coach Oliver Purnell had to know there would be growing pains and there were plenty. The problems started when the team lost talented freshman Montray Clemons for the year when he went down with a knee injury before the season even started and they only got worse once conference play began. Unable to stop anybody (#235 in adjusted defensive efficiency), the Blue Demons lost 14 of their final 16 games and were bounced easily in the first round of the Big East Tournament. The problem was depth — which DePaul had very little of — and Purnell’s focus should be building it via recruiting.

Oliver Purnell had his hands full leading DePaul's depleted roster this season.

What Went Right

For a team that won just three conference games, there were a surprising amount of bright spots that should give the program hope for the future. Sophomore stars Brandon Young and Cleveland Melvin turned in impressive sophomore seasons and form a formidable foundation for Purnell to build upon. Another sophomore, Moses Morgan, emerged as a legitimate sharpshooter and freshmen Jamee Crockett and Charles McKinney got plenty of experience thanks to the lack of other options. The bottom line is that there is talent in the program, now it is Purnell’s job to surround that talent with more talent and ensure that the players already on campus continue to develop.

MVP

Young may have been the team’s most dangerous offensive weapon thanks to his versatility, but Melvin has been the team’s best player since the moment he set foot on campus and he continued to prove that this season. The Baltimore native drew the majority of his opponent’s attention, and yet he still finished sixth in the conference in scoring (17.5 PPG) and 12th in rebounding (7.4 RPG) and only had two games all season where he scored less than 10 points. Whether it was because he was pressing or because there wasn’t too many other choices, Melvin’s field-goal percentage dropped from his freshman year (52.2 to 44.8) and his efforts from the charity stripe still leave plenty to be desired. After an excellent start to his college career, it would be a surprise if anyone other than Melvin was the choice for team MVP next season.

Players Leaving

One reason Purnell should be excited about next season is that the only players he is losing are seniors Jeremiah Kelly and Krys Faber (not counting junior forward Tony Freeland, who transferred in the middle of the season or freshman Macari Brooks, who left the program after being ruled academically ineligible before the season). Kelly was a valuable role player on both ends of the floor but he was brutally inefficient offensively and his departure shouldn’t prove too costly. Faber was the team’s only true center and he gave the team a big body in the interior, but he got less and less playing time as the season went on and was a non-factor down the stretch, so he will be missed, but not for very long.

Players Coming In

We will count Clemons because he didn’t play at all this season and he will give Purnell another long, athletic forward to develop. Purnell’s three-man recruiting class is solid if unspectacular. Michigan native Jodan Price is considered one of the top-150 recruits in the country and his deep range will give the Blue Demons another threat on the perimeter. Indiana native DeJuan Marrero used an impressive junior season to throw his recruiting into high gear before signing with the Blue Demons despite offers from Indiana, Illinois, Memphis, and others. He is only 6-foot-5, but he is a physical rebounder who isn’t afraid of contact and he could develop into a key four-year player at DePaul. The final recruit is combo guard Durrell McDonald who will have trouble finding playing time next season in what looks to be a crowded backcourt. The last newcomer is Crandall Head, the brother to former Illinois star Luther Head who transferred out of Champagne following two seasons where he struggled to fit in. Head was a highly touted recruit coming out of high school but it remains to be seen if he can deliver on some of his promise at a new program. At the very least, he should find his way into Purnell’s rotation whenever he becomes eligible.

Reason for Hope

The continued emergence of Cleveland Melvin gives DePaul fans hope. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

Despite their record, the Blue Demons were definitely more competitive this season than they had been in the past. Melvin, Young, and Morgan give Purnell a solid offensive nucleus to build around and there should be more depth in the program as well. The conference should be weaker thanks to a number of early defections and key graduates, so if the Blue Demons can continue to improve, they should be able to climb out of the cellar. Which brings us to the #1 reason for hope — they have nowhere to go but up.

Reason For Concern

There is plenty of talent and plenty of scoring to go around, but Purnell can’t get his team to play defense, next season will be the same old story as this one. The Blue Demons have been an atrocious defensive unit over the past few seasons, and say what you will about the mediocrity of Faber and Kelly, but both players will be missed more on the defensive end than on the offensive end. Faber’s departure leaves the team with only sophomore project Derrell Robertson Jr. as a true big man on the roster and help doesn’t appear to be on the way with scholarships at a premium. They may be better than they were this year, but don’t expect the resurgence to be completed by next season, there is still a long way to go.

Overall Grade

D. There were few positives to take away from this season, but there were positives, and that is enough to ensure that the Blue Demons escaped a failing grade. They showed some fight throughout the season and developed a few talented players to look to for next season. But they still remain irrelevant when it comes to any discussion about the postseason.

mlemaire (230 Posts)


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