DePaul gets busy in the gym

DePaul gets busy in the gym

Posted by Lindsey on Fri, 07/01/2011 - 14:19
The calendar might say July 1, but it's mid-to-late October in DePaul’s basketball offices and gym. That’s how far the Blue Demons are ahead of schedule thanks to their planned trip to France. DePaul gets 10 full days to practice before it leaves on Aug. 11, which means Oliver Purnell and his staff are running at least two two-hour practices per day to maximize the benefit. Friday marks Day 4…and their eighth and ninth practices together. With recruiting (and summer school) taking up virtually all of July, the Blue Demons will save their other six days for August. So what does Purnell know at this point? “I think the thing that has been confirmed is we do have a much more athletic team,” Purnell said. “It should be a deeper team. We’ve got what I think will translate on the defensive end of the floor: Some outstanding quickness.” Then Purnell paused and laughed. “And we’re young. Very, very, very young.” DePaul will suit up six freshmen, four sophomores, one junior and two seniors this winter. That means there are only three scholarship guys still around (Jeremiah Kelly, Krys Faber and Tony Freeland) who played for Jerry Wainwright. That brisk turnover becomes obvious when you see the players together. As they trooped down the stairs from their locker room into the second-story conference room Thursday for a meeting with team psychologist Dr. Joel Fish, it’s clear the Demons haven’t had this many wiry, fast-twitch muscle guys since the Pat Kennedy epoch. Freshman guard Charles McKinney, for example, boasts a 6-foot-10.5 wingspan…even though he’s 6-3. It didn’t take Purnell long to notice McKinney’s ability --- and desire --- to play defense. I chatted with freshman point guard Shane Larkin to get a sense of how the newcomers are feeling. They arrived in Chicago two weeks ago and started classes before practices began. “Everybody’s getting along pretty well,” Larkin said. “The first week was kind of like, getting to know each other and not being ourselves. But now, in the dorm, everybody’s got their door open and blasting music and coming into each other’s room making jokes and everything.” I don’t know whether it was a conscious decision, but DePaul split up its six freshmen so that a Chicago guy lives with an out-of-town guy. Larkin stays with McKinney, who played at Maine East through his junior year. Mississippi big man Derell Robertson stays with Crete-Monee wing Jamee Crockett. Baltimore power forward Montray Clemons stays with Rich South guard Macari Brooks. Before the practices began, Larkin and a bunch of the other Demons made a habit of getting in the gym late at night. At least one time, Larkin and his classmates McKinney and Clemons took on Cleveland Melvin, Moses Morgan and sophomore walk-on Edwind McGhee in some 3-on-3 half-court games. Let’s just say the young kids did some learnin’. “We had a little NBA Finals,” Larkin said with a smile. “We let ‘em win, that’s all I can say. We’d get big leads on them --- like, we were up 8-0 and 9-1 --- and then out of nowhere they’d start hitting every shot.” IN OTHER DEPAUL TIDBITS --Apparently Moses Morgan lit up the Sonny Parker League for 38 points, which included 9 3-pointers. I’m a little leery because I think I reported last year that he put up 40-some in a Sonny Parker game, but I’m told Morgan is shooting much better this year. --The Big East schedule came out Thursday. The 18-game slate features home-and-homes with Louisville, Seton Hall and St. John’s. DePaul also gets Georgetown, Marquette, Pitt, Providence, Syracuse and USF at home. --DePaul’s non-conference schedule should be nailed down soon. The Blue Demons’ only true road games will be at Loyola and Northern Illinois. They’re also playing in the Old Spice Classic on Thanksgiving weekend. The home schedule features a Big East-SEC game with Ole Miss, but most of the other opponents are being signed with the idea that the young Demons will get a chance to build some confidence. LW
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