Men's Basketball Preview - DePaul Blue Demons

The Big Picture: The Blue Demons are off to a fresh start with new coach Oliver Purnell, who comes from Clemson with 22 years of head coaching experience. Purnell's last three Clemson teams made the NCAA Championship. Only 21 teams nationally, including five from the BIG EAST, have played in the last three NCAA tourneys. At DePaul, Purnell will be rebuilding a program that has tasted only two BIG EAST victories in the past two seasons. His first Blue Demon squad will include four players who started at least 17 games last season, but lost its two top scorers, center Mac Koshwal and guard Will Walker. Who's Back: Senior swingman Mike Stovall, who showed flashes of explosive scoring ability, averaged 7.0 ppg while making 20 starts last season. He is the top returning scorer. Six-seven forward Eric Wallace averaged 6.3 points and 4.9 rebounds while making 19 starts in his first season at DePaul after transferring from Ohio State. He missed the final seven games of the season with a shin injury. Junior guard Jeremiah Kelly started 27 times and recorded a 5.6 scoring mark. He also led the team with 84 assists. Six-nine junior forward Devin Hill averaged 4.8 points and 2.9 rebounds and was an effective shot blocker. He was helped around the basket by center Krys Faber. A 6-10 junior who gained playing time when Koshwal was down with injuries, Faber averaged 2.4 points and 3.0 boards. Other candidates in the frontcourt include 6-8 senior Mario Stula (2.3, 1.1) who played in 27 games. Six-seven sophomore forward Tony Freeland (3.4, 2.5) will be battling for a larger role in 2010-11. Junior guard Michael Bizoukas averaged 3.7 ppg and made seven starts. Who's Missing: Koshwal, who left the program a year early, averaged 16.1 points and a team-leading 10.1 rebounds. He was limited to 19 games because of foot injuries, so he did not qualify in the league statistics, but his rebound average would have been third in the BIG EAST. Koshwal posted 11 double-doubles in his 19 contests. The dependable Walker averaged 16.2 ppg and made 71 3-pointers. He finished his career with 195 baskets from beyond the arc, which placed him second on the school's all-time list. Walker led the BIG EAST in minutes played, averaging 38.1 minutes per game. Storylines: Purnell will be searching for some of the returnees to step up offensively, especially with the departure of Koshwal and Walker. There should be plenty of opportunity for the three newcomers to make their marks as freshmen. They are: 6-5 forward Moses Morgan, 6-3 guard Brandon Young and 6-8 forward Cleveland Martin.