Welcome back to another edition of Bulls Recon. We have our good friend John from Chicago College Basketball back for another talk about DePaul basketball. In this edition we talk about DePaul's first conference win in ages, the emergence of Jeremiah Kelly, and of course Big East expansion.
1. First of all, congrats on your first conference win in two years. How big of a win confidence wise was it to finally get the 500 pound gorilla off your back?
Getting that first conference win was absolutely huge for DePaul. The Blue Demons had gotten so close a couple of times and then to finally hang on against Providence was a really sign of growth. Of course now everyone is getting greedy and wishing there could've been one more stop in the Villanova game. The Blue Demons came oh so close to being on an honest winning streak in conference. But it's good to get one win. You can build from it.
2. Cleveland Melvin looks like he's showing no signs of fatigue carrying the load for DePaul. How is he holding up during his first season in the Big East?
Melvin keeps playing better and better. He's had 16+ points in four of his last five games, with the one hiccup being at West Virginia. He's really accepted the role of go-to scorer. Now that DePaul is starting to hit some outside shots Melvin is getting better mid-range looks and he's taking advantage of them. Also, he's so quick. It's really impressive to watch.
3. Jeremiah Kelly has come out of nowhere to play some of his best basketball over the past week and a half? What has he done differently to go on this run?
Sometimes it just comes down to confidence. I think that was the big thing for Kelly. He's really taking shots with more authority. Against Providence and Villanova he hit 14-31 shots, including 10-18 from three. If you're shooting that well you're going to be a good scorer. The hot three-point shooting actually continued against St. John's as well as he went 3-5 and scored 9 points.
Scott Powers of ESPN Chicago wrote a nice little piece about Kelly recently. It has some really good stuff, but the most amazing thing is that Kelly, a junior, had never scored in double-figures in back-to-back games in his career at DePaul. He's such a good shooter that it's really amazing to think about.
4. What are your thoughts on Big East expansion? With DePaul not living up to expectations since joining the conference, do you fear that the Blue Demons might be kicked out?
If you expand the Big East you're only doing it for football. This is the best basketball conference in the country and adding TCU is certainly not going to do anything for it. Of course it's football revenue that drives the conferences now and I don't want to see the Big East broken up. So I guess I'm lukewarm on the whole expansion idea.
I don't think DePaul is any danger of being "booted" out of the Big East. The Blue Demons are very competitive in the conference in all of the other sports they participate in. While the Blue Demons suffered a bit of a rough patch over the past few seasons, they've brought in a coach that has a remarkable history of turning programs around and winning in very competitive major conferences with fewer resources. (See, Clemson in the ACC.) Oliver Purnell is going to get this team turned around.
When DePaul starts winning again the Blue Demons are going to be the conference's biggest draw in the third biggest media market in the country. I don't think there's any way the Big East would want them to leave.
5. I always ask this when we are on the road, but where do you go to grab a bite to eat around campus?
Well you see, when you come to play DePaul you actually won't be on campus. You'll be at Allstate Arena out by O'Hare Airport. There's a Chipotle and Panda Express in the shopping center across the road. I sometimes eat at the Chili's by there before games as well.
But, if you want to make the 35-minute drive back into Lincoln Park. Well then I'd personally recommend Lincoln Station.
6. How do you see this one ending up?
Honestly, I think DePaul has a good shot. The Blue Demons didn't really show it the last time these two teams played, but they should match up well with South Florida. With a win already in the bank there's no pressure on the young Blue Demons to have to get this victory and they can just play. This isn't as tense a situation as it seemed like it could've been a week ago. It's going to be close, but I hope that DePaul can pull out the victory late
Thanks to John for taking care of us once again. If you aren't following him on Twitter, you should. We'll have more about the Battle of 15th early tomorrow morning.
PLAY THE MARCH TO THE CHAMPIONSHIP GAME AND YOU COULD WIN A TRIP FOR TWO TO LAS VEGAS! LOOK FOR THE CODE INSIDE SPECIALLY-MARKED PACKAGES 12-PACKS OF BUD LIGHT ENTER CODE AT FACEBOOOK.COM/BUDLIGHT ----- No Purchase Necessary. Open to U.S. residents (except CA & TX) 21+. For a chance to win a Grand or First Prize, Game Period 1 begins 3PM CST on 2/14 & ends 3PM CDT on 3/18. For a chance to win a First Prize only, Game Period 2 begins 3:00:01PM CDT on 3/18 & ends 3PM CDT on 4/30. To participate, obtain a Code from inside specially-marked pack ages of Bud Light beer or to request a Code without purchase, visit budlight.com/freecode during a Game Period. Limit one (1) free Code request/day/person or email address. To play, text HOOPS to BEERS (23377) & follow prompts or visit budlight.com/freecode & follow instructions. See Official Rules inside package or at budlight.com/freecode for complete details. Void in CA, TX & where prohibited. Enjoy Responsibly – ©2011 Anheuser-Busch, Inc., Bud Light® Beer, St. Louis, MO