Saturday, December 12th, 2015, a few of my old college buddies, our kids and I made our way on campus to McGrath–Phillips Arena to watch DePaul, with new-old coach, Dave Leitao, take on Arkansas-Little Rock team with their first year, unknown coach.
We were in a hopeful mood after suffering through the lovely Oliver Purnell years. We were ready for a nice, relaxing evening of Blue Demon basketball against a crap, Sun Belt Conference team. Little did we know about who sitting on the Little Rock bench, Chris Beard.
As many of you know, Beard took a 13-18 team, added in a few transfers, changed the culture, took a team that was rated 288th in Defense, and converted them into a defensively dominate squad that finished 33rd in Defensive efficiency. The Trojans won the Sun Belt regular season and Conference Tournament, and then beat 5th seeded Purdue in double overtime before bowing out to Iowa State in the 2nd round of the NCAA tournament.
Back on Campus, my friends and I were treated to a massacre. DePaul managed 44 points in a 22 point loss, and we never forgot Little Rock’s coach’s name.
One of the Blue Demons that night, Tommy Hamilton IV did not forget Chris Beard’s name either. Hamilton transferred to Texas Tech as soon as Beard made the move the next season. After sitting out a transfer season, Hamilton had the pleasure of enjoying a trip to the Elite Eight in Beard’s second season in Lubbock.
On Wednesday, December 4th, Beard is back in Chicago to meet a completely different Blue Demon team.
In the truly Lazy Blue Demon tradition, after a long hiatus, I have returned. Life gets complicated. To remind my tiny, sliver of followers, this blog does some previews of game and some post game reactions of games. I tell it from a fan perspective. If DePaul has an incredible victory, expect gushing, positive reviews about the best plays and players, and expect finger pointing and blame to those who have let us down. If we lose, expect sky is falling exasperation.
I have no connections to the program, other than I am a DePaul Alum. If you peruse past posts, you will see that I have no love for the Athletic Director, and I doubt that I ever will. But this is what makes being a Blue Demon fan so much fun, we always have someone to blame when we are upset.
When we win, it is because of the players…and maybe the coaches. If we lose, it is the fault of the AD and the administration.
Down One with 11 seconds left, the Season Rested in Max Strus’s Hands
On a complete defensive mishap by Marquette, Eli Cain found Max Strus wide open for a potential game winning 3-point shot with 5 seconds left in the game. Strus took the shot, and left it short, and DePaul lost, yet again, by less than 5 points for the 8th time on the season.
I have watched this play an unhealthy amount of times, but hey, let’s relive it again.
Marquette’s Andrew Rowsey completely messed up this pick and pop. Rowsey should be sending Strus a wheel of Wisconsin cheese for the following:
Missing the shot
Not driving to the basket
Not passing to a wide open Brandon Cyrus
For standing around admiring his missed shot instead of running towards the basket in case he missed.
The Blue Demons Meet the Golden Eagles At Madison Square Garden With The Season On the Line
DePaul plays the Marquette Golden Eagles on Wednesday, 3/7/2018 at 8:30 pm Central at Madison Square Garden. It will be carried on FS1 (Channel 237 on Comcast) and on the Score (Radio 670).
Marquette comes into the game with 18 wins and 12 losses overall, with a 9-9 record in Big East games after beating Creighton in a must win game. This will also be a must win game for the Golden Eagles if they would like to keep their chances for an at large bid to the NCAA Tournament.
DePaul is coming off their 7th excruciating loss of the season with a 3 point loss to Xavier. . In games decided by 5 points or less, the Demons are 1-7. Not optimal.
Things looked dire in the early going as Marin Maric picked up 2 early fouls and Max Strus picked up 3 fouls with 8:43 to go in the 1st Half. Strus picked up 2 fouls on one play when he clearly charged into the Xavier defender and then kept talking to the referee.
In the arena, I was pretty sure that it must have been a block for Strus to be so upset, but after having time to watch multiple angles of the various replays, it was about as clear a charge as you will ever see.
When your two most reliable offensive players are out of the game, and you see that the Demons were down by 12 (22-10), it sure felt like game over. However, the lineup of Hanel, McCallum, Cyrus, Roberts, and Cain, scored on 5 consecutive shots, closing the gap to 2 points (25-23).
Down 22-10 with Strus and Maric out with foul trouble, this lineup of McCallum, Hanel, Roberts, Cyrus, and Cain make 5 consecutive shots to bring it to 25-23. Kept #DePaul in the game against #Xavier. #dpubbpic.twitter.com/Y3LWB6iZIC