By Adam Hoge –
New DePaul head coach Oliver Purnell has already heard plenty of naysayers doubt his efforts to turnaround the DePaul basketball program. It started last spring when a couple of Chicago Public League high school coaches voiced their displeasure with the hiring and carried into the preseason when DePaul was picked to finish last in the Big East by the coaches.
None of that criticism is all that surprising, however. Purnell has made a living by turning around programs so he has heard all of that before. But even he seemed a little upset by the reaction DePaul received last week at Big East Media Day.
“It was my sense that there was a little smirking and a little snickering when our name was mentioned (at media day),” Purnell said when he met the media before DePaul’s Tip-off Luncheon Tuesday. “Personally, that bothers me. I take offense to it, not only for myself personally but for my team.”
If there was ever bulletin board material to motivate a team then this is it.
“We have an opportunity to do something about that on the court. Not anytime soon, but that is certainly something that we are going to remember and that’s there. Those are the voices that are there. It’s up to us to prove them wrong,” Purnell said.
New arena talk building
Purnell dropped a vague, subtle hint Tuesday that a new on-campus arena is at least a possibility in the future, just not anytime soon.
Talking about the three games DePaul will play in Lincoln Park at McGrath Arena in the new few weeks, Purnell expressed hope that those games will help establish excitment for DePaul basketball that will then carry out to Allstate Arena for the rest of the season. Establishing that excitment will help “build momentum” towards an on-campus arena, as Purnell put it.
It should be noted that Athletic Director Jean Lenti Ponsetto spoke very highly of DePaul’s relationship with Allstate Arena Tuesday and the fact remains that the Blue Demons’ contract with the arena runs through 2016.
Shaw to announce decision Thursday
It’s no secret that nothing is going to change at DePaul unless Purnell can recruit better players. One highly regarded DePaul recruit is set to announce his decision Thursday, but indications are that it won’t be good news for the Blue Demons.
De La Salle (Chicago) forward Mike Shaw announced on his Twitter account Monday that he will choose from DePaul, Illinois and Marquette at a press conference Thursday, but the Chicago Tribune is reporting that he will likely choose the Illini.