I was able to get John over at Chicago College Basketball to spend some time out of his busy schedule to talk a little about DePaul hoops, their coaching situation, and USF commit Lavonte Dority.
1. How has the team responded after Tracy Webster took over for Jerry Wainwright?
When Tracy Webster took over there was a new feeling of life breathed into the program for a while. The win over Marquette certainly helped things as well, but in general the team has played harder under Webster than they appeared to towards the end of Wainwright's tenure. Now the problem appears to be that the Blue Demons can't put two halves together. They've been able to get a jump on teams like Rutgers (twice actually) and play tough for a half, but they haven't been able to get another victory. The team has a little bit of a different look now too because Webster trusts his talent a little more than Wainwright and Mac Koshwal has been consistently healthy while he's been coaching.
2. Can you give everyone a brief breakdown on what DePaul likes to run on offense and defense?
In general the Blue Demons like to inside-out on offense. They'll feed the ball into Koshwal and hope that he can create. In the half court set DePaul just isn't that effective because they're not good enough shooters. Thus forcing turnovers and getting into transition is something that can really help the Blue Demons. If they don't force a turnover though the other team is probably scoring. While DePaul mixes up the defensive looks, nothing has worked particularly well. Syracuse is the only team to score less than a point per possession during DePaul's 10-game losing streak and that was just cold shooting.
3. Willie Walker looks scoring has improved immensely this season. Is his increase in scoring just added touches from the departure of Dar Tucker, or has he made the leap?
Walker has had to do pretty much everything for DePaul at times this season. He's play off-guard, point guard. He's been the primary ball-handler and go-to-guy when Koshwal was out and he's the lone senior on the team so he answers 90% of the media's questions. It has to be exhausting. And that's before accounting for the fact that Walker has played over 93% of DePaul's minutes this season.
Most of the uptick in output has come from being the only consistent scorer on the team when Koshwal was injured. You can neutralize Will Walker. Louisville did a great job of it in their win at Allstate Arena a little over a week ago. If you put a big, athletic guard that is committed to running through the screens on him he'll have problems.
All of that though isn't to diminish what Walker has accomplished this season. He's a good player and he's had a wonderful career at DePaul. It's just that he never should've had to be the lead guy for a Big East caliber team.
4. Have there been any coaches campaigning for the job yet?
Rick Majerus would apparently love to leave St. Louis and come to Chicago. Steve Lavin seems to want in. DePaul doesn't want either, I don't think. It seems like the administration is trying to get a young, hot name this time around and might be willing to pay a bit more to do it. Wishful names like Dayton's Brian Gregory, Butler's Brad Stevens and Siena's Fran McCafferty keep coming up in discussions amongst the DePaul fan base. My guess is the Blue Demons will have to settle for something a little below that tier of coach, but they'll find a guy who can energize the fan base. DePaul has to.
5. USF has a commit from Chicago G Lavonte Dority. Have you seen him play, and if so can you give us a scouting report.
I haven't seen Dority and Foreman this season as covering 5 NCAA Division I schools keeps me quite busy during basketball season, but I make it a point to attend the Chicago High School Classic (http://www.chicagohighschoolclassic.com/) which features a lot of the talent from the area. Hopefully Dority will be at the event this season and I'll be able to give a report then. Check back with me after April 9.
Thanks to John once again, and if ever want to read up on Chicago's College hoop scene, head on over.