Allow me to introduce myself, I am the Lazy Blue Demon of DePaul. I am what is known as a Double-Demon for the insanity of going back to get a 2nd degree from the same place.
My first day on campus as a student was in September of 1993. My first memory of the DePaul Blue Demons came via WGN, which I was able to watch in my hometown in Southwestern Missouri.
One of the first things I did, once I stepped foot on campus, was walk over to the DePaul Athletic Department and bought season tickets for the 1993-94 season. My exuberance paid off in that I had front row seats in the student section. I did not miss a game, other than the games played between Thanksgiving and the New Year, due to me going home for Winter Break.
Your search committee has allowed for DePaul Blue Demons fans to reach out to you to let us know about our dream candidate. Lucky for you, I have a few opinions on the matter.
Finally, after 18 years in control of the fate of DePaul Athletics, Jean Lenti Ponsetto is retiring. It’s happening.
I can remember meeting Jeanie up in Milwaukee at an Alumni gathering before a DePaul-Marquette game just after being named the new Athletic Director. I was excited for her, and I was excited that the University was progressive in its thinking. There are times when promoting from within can be the right choice. If the ship is afloat, why rock it?
This method was an excellent approach when it came to the DePaul’s Women’s Basketball program. Doug Bruno was running a well oiled machine, and the machine has kept humming, making 18 straight NCAA Tournament appearances.
This approach worked well for the Women’s Softball Program as coach Eugene Lenti lead the women to four College World Series appearances over a nine year period.
This approach was working at the Men’s Basketball Program as JLP inherited Dave Leitao in 2002. Leitao brought youth, energy, and experience of being the top assistant on one of the biggest programs in college basketball in the University of Connecticut Huskies. The energy was felt on the recruiting trail. The players he inherited immediately improved. Taking a team that was 9-19 under Pat Kennedy to 16-13 in his first year. In his second year, 2003-04 Leitao lead the Blue Demons to their first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2000, and only the 2nd appearance since 1992. The program looked to be on the rise.
DePaul can play with anyone. No one intimidates the Blue Demons. This team has been in every game. Tonight, the DePaul Blue Demons were screwed. Screwed terribly. Improbably, the Men in Blue took the 14th ranked, Villanova Wildcats, to overtime, losing after Villanova took 8 free throws in overtime. The most egregious were the first set of ‘fouls’ called. But alas, let’s dwell on that later, in the Bad, Bad section.
Down eleven with 2:10 to go in regulation, Charlie Moore hits a three, Paul Reed hustles to get a jump ball, Jaylen Butz catches a tough pass and hits a two. DePaul forces another turnover. Egregious foul called on Reed (when I thought the game was over.) Incredible steal by Reed and a monster dunk. Gillespie travels horribly, but since we are in Villanova, there was a foul called on Reed. He made one of two. Jalen Coleman-Lands hits a 3, his first of the game to cut it to two. DePaul traps the Wildcats who throw it away. The Demons call a timeout and let Charlie be Charlie who delivered. DePaul then stopped Villanova on their last gasp effort, which brought us to overtime.
DePaul started overtime with two awful possession, while Villanova was gifted with the following possessions, which added up to 4 free points. Compare this to the first of 2 consecutive fouls called on the first 2 possessions of the second half when DePaul hosted Seton Hall and Charlie Moore picked up two push off fouls. Which is worse? Maybe no calls across the board would be the answer, but instead 4 calls against the Demons.
Jalen Coleman-Lands then set up Romeo Weems for an alley-oop, which looked like Weems had been hit off the ball by Gillespie, missing the shot. Moore stole a ball and made a layup. ‘Nova made their first field goal of the session. JCL hit his 2nd 3-pointer of the night to make it a one point game. Villanova made a contested layup and after an exchange of turnovers, Charlie Moore was fouled.
Astonishingly, the Blue Demons were still in a One-and-One situation, and Moore missed the front end. Weems blocked a dunk and Saddiq Bey turned the ball over, which set up a JCL three point shot. JCL was short. Reed blocked a Justin Moore shot with eleven seconds left, and ‘Nova fouled Charlie Moore to make sure that DePaul would not get a 3 off.
Moore made the front end, and intentionally missed the 2nd, and the Demons failed to get the rebound. DePaul fouled with less than a second which brought the end game score.
Let’s Start With a Little History Between These Coaches…
March 2, 2005 was a big night of truth for the DePaul Blue Demons. Firmly on the bubble, DePaul traveled to Birmingham to take on the University of Alabama-Birmingham Blazers. The winner of the game would have the upper hand going into the Conference USA tournament and, mostly likely, move up and off the NCAA tournament bubble.
The coaches that night were Dave Leitao, in his final year of his first term at DePaul, and St. John’s Mike Anderson, who was in his 3rd year at UAB after several years as Nolan Richardson’s top assistant at Arkansas. Anderson brought with him Richardson’s famed “40 Minutes of Hell” defense and fast paced, three point shooting and layup lined offense.
This Blue Demon team was one of the last good teams that DePaul has had. Lead by Drake Deiner, Sammy Mejia, and Quemont Greer, the Demons came into the game 18-7 with a 10-4 record in conference. A victory would seal a first round bye in the conference tournament and get them closer to being in the NCAA Tournament. UAB came into the game 8-6 with a need to win their last two games to get the important bye.
The game went back and forth. The Demons were up 2 at the half, and took their largest lead of 8 in the second half. Then the pace and the pressure took its toll on DePaul. UAB tied the game late sending it to overtime. In overtime, UAB hit a 3 pointer with 24 seconds left. DePaul set up Diener for a 3 pointer, which he missed. DePaul rebounded and set up another 3 point shot. Ultimately hitting a 2 pointer shot with a second left losing by a single point. DePaul lost their regular season finale to Louisville and UAB won theirs to secure the 4th seed and 1st round bye in the C-USA tournament.
8 days later, after DePaul won their first round game against Tulane, the Demons once again faced UAB in the quarterfinals. The winner would go to the NCAA tournament and the loser would go to the NIT.
Another back and forth game with DePaul going up by 10 with a little under 10 minutes left in the game. The frenetic UAB defense chipped away at the lead, and with 1:28 UAB hit a 3 pointer to gain their first lead of the game. Mejia scored a game tying free-throw. DePaul got a defensive stop and got the ball to Drake Diener with the hope that he would get fouled and be the iceman that he was. Under intense pressure, UAB forced Diener into a walk. UAB then made a 3 pointer leaving .7 seconds on the clock and DePaul lost. Two brutal losses, in which DePaul had the lead with less than 2 minutes to go in both game.
UAB lost to an excellent, Final Four Louisville team in the next round but was selected to the NCAA tournament the next day. The Blazers won their 1st round game, before being knocked out by the Arizona team that almost knocked Illinois out of the tournament at Allstate Arena.
Meanwhile, DePaul was selected to the NIT, where they beat Mizzou but lost to Texas A&M. Dave Leitao left for Virginia, and a year later, Mike Anderson left for Mizzou.
Well, that sucked. Games are not always lost in the final two minutes. Games can be lost via attrition, lack of offensive flow, or a series of defensive mistakes. Attrition can occur in different ways such as the physical toll taken on the body to the point where players lose their legs, or the gamesmanship of players getting into foul trouble via the ticky-tak foul.
I hate blaming losses on the officiating crew, but in tonight’s DePaul/Seton Hall game, the crew was an abomination. In the first half, DePaul’s Paul Reed and Jaylen Butz both got into foul trouble with minor infractions. We all know that DePaul’s offense is not the most free flowing thing to witness, but Paul Reed’s general excellence and Butz’s ability to rebound errant shots generally propel the Blue Demons to success.
At the half, I could not believe that the Demons were only up 6. They had thoroughly dominated the half. DePaul shot a higher Field Goal percentage, higher free-throw percentage, had 5 less turnovers, and 3 more rebounds than the Pirates. How could they only be up six?
At the high point, they were up 10 and felt in complete control. But then the zebras got involved. In the last 3:53 of the 1st half, Seton Hall did not score a single basket, but somehow cut a 10 point lead to only six at the break. Any idea of how you could complete that magic trick? 6 free-throws. This matters. This is how teams are kept in games when it is not their day.
At half time, it was extremely clear that one coach, Kevin Willard of Seton Hall, got in the ears of the officials, while the other coach, Dave Leitao of DePaul, remained dignified. Within 3 minutes, DePaul’s Charlie Moore picked up two offensive fouls on ‘push-offs’, which happen on virtually every possession by every guard in NCAA basketball.
The combination of 3 of DePaul’s key offensive players all getting ticky-tak fouls disrupted the Demons from expanding their lead.
This all culminated in DePaul being up 1 with 2:18 left. Myles Powell, coming off of a concussion, and being treated by the officiating crew like a lost son, did an excellent pump fake from 3 point land making Romeo Weems foul him.
Powell, gifted fifteen free-throws, FIFTEEN FREE-THROWS!!!!!!, calmly sank all 3, mainly because he had had so much practice through out the game, to put Seton Hall up 2.
Seton Hall then did an impressive alley-oop dunk to Romaro Gill, who just killed the Demons tonight, to go up 3.
Leitao called a timeout, and drew up a play?? It ended with Weems taking a difficult shot which was contested by Gill, and Seton Hall rebounding it.
Powell missed an ill-advised 3 pointer, but during the rebound, Butz knocked it out of bounds. On the ensuing inbounds play, Weems lost Myles Cale for a layup, and that was the ball game. DePaul was now down 6, and it wasn’t going to happen.
After dominating UIC on Sunday, 10-1 DePaul Blue Demons travel to Ohio to meet The Cleveland State Vikings on Wednesday, December 18th. The struggling Vikings come in as the 313th rated team according to kenpom.com. On paper, this is the worst team that DePaul will play the rest of the way by a huge margin.
The Vikings do have 3 Division 1 victories on the year, against Jerry Wainwright’s old UNC-Wilmington team, along with Eastern Kentucky and Robert Morris. So technically, the Demons cannot take them for granted.
After vanquishing the Texas Tech Red Raiders on Wednesday to run their record to 9-0, DePaul prepares to face the Buffalo Bulls in Chicago on Sunday, December 8th, in what may be the trappiest of trap games ever played.
The Bulls have made the NCAA Tournament in 4 of the past 5 years after missing the tournament for over 20 years. This year they are under the coaching of Jim Whitesell after Nate Oats left for the warmer pastures of Alabama. Oats had succeeded Bobby Hurley, who had departed after the 2015 season. Under Oats, Buffalo had their highest seed ever in the NCAA tournament with a seed of 6 last year. Additionally, they had 1st round victories in both 2018 and 2019.
In the 1st round of the 2019 tournament, Oats had the pleasure of defeating Arizona State and his former boss, Bobby Hurley, before losing to eventual National Runner-Up, Texas Tech. Yes, the Texas Tech that your DePaul Blue Demons defeated on Wednesday, December 4th, in overtime at the Wintrust Arena.
Now that was a freaking game! The DePaul Blue Demons defeated the National Runner-Up Texas Tech Red Raiders in overtime, 65-60, winning a game that they have lost so many times in the past. This game was drama in three acts.
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.