Big East Preview Part I: Key Questions for DePaul & Georgetown

Posted by Justin Kundrat on October 19th, 2017

With the season just a few weeks away, Rush the Court’s Big East preview will tip off its coverage by posing season-defining key questions for each team.

#10 DePaul – Is this the year the Blue Demons finally embrace perimeter-oriented basketball?

DePaul’s Dave Leitao Needs a Good Season (USA Today Images)

DePaul hasn’t had a team that finished among the top 100 in three-point shooting in 13 years. That’s right, the last time the Blue Demons posed any sort of perimeter threat was the same year Connecticut’s Emeka Okafor was embarrassing opponents in the post. Last year’s squad had just one player shooting better than 35 percent from deep, and he graduated. So it should come as no surprise that DePaul has struggled mightily on the offensive end of the floor, relying on a hard-to-watch “free throws and rebounding” offense, to which most teams responded by simply packing the paint. Thankfully help is on the way in the form of a pair of wings who have the potential to reshape the offense. The first is Max Strus, a 6’6″ Division II standout sporting a career 35.7 percent mark from deep. The second is Ohio State transfer Austin Grandstaff, a player who saw little court time with the Buckeyes but was a highly-touted perimeter shooter coming out of high school. Both will see significant minutes on the wing alongside leading scorer Eli Cain. The hope is that these three will provide enough spacing and production for the Blue Demons to run a perimeter-oriented offense. Moreover, 6’10” graduate transfer Marin Maric, the team’s only post player with any real experience, shot 46.9 percent on two-point jumpers last season, which is better than all but one of Dave Leitao‘s players. Big men who can consistently knock down shots out of pick-and-rolls don’t grow on trees. Bottom line here: There is a variety of shooting threats on the roster, so perhaps this is finally the year in which DePaul starts to run an efficient half-court offense. Let’s not go any further than that just yet.

#9 GeorgetownWill Patrick Ewing’s legacy at Georgetown carry over to coaching?

Patrick Ewing Takes Over the Reins at Georgetown (USA Today Images)

It took years of complaining, but the Georgetown basketball community finally did it: John Thompson III is no longer on the sideline. In his place slides Patrick Ewing, a two-time basketball Hall of Fame inductee who led the Hoyas to its only National Championship in 1984. His playing accolades are nothing at which to scoff, but Ewing has never been a head coach, instead spending the last 15 years in the assistant coaching ranks with various NBA teams. Combining his lack of leadership experience with a prevailing and widespread pessimism at Georgetown has resulted in a bunch of question marks. Moreover, six players from last year’s team have departed, including its two leading scorers. The one thing that isn’t up for debate is that this will be a rebuilding year for the Hoyas. If there is any reason to watch Georgetown this season, though, it will be because of the dynamic frontcourt that Georgetown retained. 6’7″ Marcus Derrickson and 6’10” Jessie Govan are both big-bodied forwards with exceptional shooting abilities. Both should see a significant increase in touches provided Ewing steers his offense to its strengths. Backcourt production remains an uncertainty at this point, but fans will presumably be more excited to monitor the Hoyas’ next recruiting class than watch this season’s games anyway. Ewing has lined up a trio of four-star recruits for this season, the most impactful of which is JaMarko Pickett, a lanky 6’7″ wing who figures to see immediate playing time. And the early signs of hope in the 2018 recruiting class represents evidence that Ewing will continue to make his mark with elite commitments. On recruiting alone, Ewing’s status is definitely pointing up — but can he manage a game?

Justin Kundrat (175 Posts)

Villanova grad, patiently waiting another 10 years for season tickets. Follow Justin on twitter @JustinKundrat or email him at

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