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New Coach, New Conference for DePaul

By Benjy Lipsman in News on Nov 22, 2005 8:24PM

2005_11_sports_depaul_logo.jpgDePaul opened it basketball season last Saturday with a thud, losing to Bradley 75-60. Was their opener a sign of what to expect from the Blue Demons this year?

DePaul enters the season with more questions than answers. There have been many changes since last season's squad went 20-11, their season ending in the second round of the NIT. Head Coach Dave Leitao bolted for Virginia, and the Blue Demons brought in Richmond's Jerry Wainwright. While Wainwright found success with the Spiders, how will he fare in the Big East?

Big East, you question? Yup. Another of the big changes for DePaul is that they've moved from Conference USA to the Big East. The Big East saw the likes of Boston College, Virginia Tech and Miami leave for the ACC which resulted in a game of conference musical chairs. DePaul joined Marquette, Louisville, Cincinnati and others in a new 16-team Big East Conference. This conference promises to be a powerhouse, including 3 teams in the Top 10 and 5 in the Top 25.

In preparation for the move to a much stronger conference, Wainwright gave each of his players assignments in terms of getting ready for the season. All were told to get stronger. Some told to gain weight, others told to lose weight. Even though the returning players have succeeded in getting into better shape, will it be enough? The team lost Quemont Greer, Drake Diener and LeVar Seals. They will be hard to replace. The team will look to Sammy Mejia for leadership, scoring and ball handling. He'll likely be joined on the court by Miami transfer Karron Clarke, freshman Wilson Chandler, Marcus Heard and Cliff Clinkscales. But with lots of young players and lots of new players, the lineup could be very fluid early in the season.

With all the changes for DePaul this season, this likely will be an adjustment year. There are just too many new faces and too many new opponents to think that this team has any real chance to crack the Top 25. They'll be lucky to finish in the top half of the Big East. Very, very lucky.