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Preseason Preview: DePaul

Marquette Men’s Basketball

The first official practices of the 17-18 college basketball season are in the books and Paint Touches is celebrating by counting down every Marquette opponent from worst to first. Each preview will contain a look at how the opponent did last season, who they lose, who they gain, reasonable expectations for their season, and our own prediction of how their matchup(s) with Marquette will go. This series will start with the most under of underdogs and progress all the way up to most unbeatable of opponents. We have moved on from the cupcakes and onto the worst of the high major opponents. To no one’s surprise, it’s DePaul.

Team: DePaul Blue Demons
16-17 Record: 9-23 (2-16 Big East)
Postseason?: It’s DePaul….
16-17 KenPom: 184
Date: 1/15/18 & 2/24/18
Location: Wintrust Arena and  BMO Harris Bradley Center
Coach: Dave Leitao (3rd…or 6th season, depending on how you look at it)
Projected KenPom Range: 125-175
Projected Conference Finish: 10/10 in Big East

Departures from 16-17
Billy Garrett Jr: Starting PG: 29.3 mpg, 14.9 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 3.3 apg, 1.2 spg, 0.2 bpg, 3.3 tpg, .388 FG%, .363 3P% (Graduated)
Chris Harrison-Docks: 1st Man off the Bench: 18.8 mpg, 6.1 ppg, 0.7 rpg, 0.8 apg, 0.6 spg, 0.0 bpg, 1.0 tpg, .362 FG%, .348 3P% (Graduated)
Levi Cook: 3rd Man off the Bench: 10.1 mpg, 2.4 ppg, 2.1 rpg, 0.1 apg, 0.0 spg, 0.4 bpg, 0.8 tpg, .604 FG%, .000 3P% (Transferred, destination currently unknown)
Darrick Wood: 4th Man off the Bench: 8.8 mpg, 3.8 ppg, 1.2 rpg, 0.5 apg, 0.2 spg, 0.0 bpg, 0.7 tpg, .427 FG%, .333 3P% (Graduated)
RJ Curington: 5th Man off the Bench: 8.2 ppg, 3.4 ppg, 1.7 rpg, 0.5 apg, 0.3 spg, 0.1 bpg, 0.7 tpg, .481 FG%, .227 3P% (Graduated)
Al Eichenberger: 6th Man off the Bench: 7.6 mpg, 1.6 ppg, 1.2 rpg, 0.0 apg, 0.1 spg, 0.3 bpg, 0.4 tpg, .762 FG%, .000 3P% (Transferred to Cleveland State)
Erten Gazi: Benchwarmer: 3.7 mpg, 1.2 ppg, 0.7 rpg, 0.1 apg, 0.1 spg, 0.0 bpg, 0.2 tpg, .667 FG%, .500 3P% (Only appeared in 15 games) (Transferred to Fordham)
David Leitao III: Benchwarmer: 0.7 mpg, 0.0 ppg, 0.1 rpg, 0.0 apg, 0.0 spg, 0.0 bpg, 0.0 tpg, .000 FG%, .000 3P% (Only appeared in 7 games) (Graduated)
42% of scoring, 26% of rebounding, 43% of assists, 31% of steals, 29% of blocks, 52% of 3PM

Arrivals:
Marin Maric: Graduate Transfer C from Northern Illinois
Austin Grandstaff: Transfer SG from Ohio State…and Oklahoma
Max Strus: Transfer SG from D2 Lewis University
Paul Reed: 3 star SF, ranked #267 overall by 247sports
Jaylen Butz, 3 star PF, ranked #273 overall by 247sports
Justin Roberts, 3 star PG, ranked #284 overall by 247sports
Peter Ryckbosh, Walk On C, returns from redshirt
Tobias Dwumaah: Walk On SG
Jason Malonga: Walk On SG
Pantelis Xidas: Walk On PG

Probable Starters:
PG: Eli Cain: 6-6 200 lb JR: 33.1 mpg, 15.6 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 2.7 apg, 1.0 spg, 0.4 bpg, 2.4 tpg, .398 FG%, .345 3P%
SG: Austin Grandstaff: 6-4 185 lb RSSO: 11.5 mpg, 4.4 ppg, 0.3 rpg, 0.0 apg, 0.3 spg, 0.0 bpg, 0.6 tpg, .390 FG%, .333 3P% (15-16 stats for Ohio State [only 10 appearances])
SF: Max Strus: 6-6 215 lb RSJR: 36.2 mpg, 20.2 ppg, 8.4 rpg, 3.6 apg, 1.2 spg, 0.8 bpg, 3.3 tpg, .455 FG%, .360 3P% (15-16 stats for D2 Lewis University)
PF: Tre’Darius McCallum: 6-7 220 lb RSSR: 31.0 mpg, 9.7 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 1.3 apg, 1.5 spg, 0.8 bpg, 1.6 tpg, .443 FG%, .282 3P%
C: Marin Maric: 6-11 240 lb RSSR: 28.5 mpg, 14.4 ppg, 8.4 rpg, 0.8 apg, 0.7 spg, 0.5 bpg, 2.3 tpg, .568 FG%, .227 3P% (stats for Northern Illinois)

Probable Bench:
Brandon Cyrus: 6-5 190 lb SO SG
Joe Hanel: 6-7 215 lb SR SF
Devin Gage: 6-2 195 lb SO PG
Paul Reed: 6-9 210 lb FR SF
Jalyen Butz: 6-9 224 lb FR PF

Probable Benchwarmers:
Justin Roberts: 5-11 165 lb FR PG
Peter Ryckbosh: 6-10 230 lb RSSR C
Tobias Dwumaah: 6-4 185 lb SR SG
Jason Malonga: 6-4 180 lb FR SG
Pantelis Xidas: 5-9 155 lb FR PG
Jalen Coleman-Lands: 6-4 185 lb JR SG (Redshirtting due to NCAA Transfer Rules)

Notes:

• Oh DePaul. Everyone’s favorite cellar dweller. They did pop their head out a little bit back in the 14-15 season but firmly fell back into the bowels of the Big East basement winning a grand total of 5 Big East games over the last two seasons. Could this be the year the return to relevancy? No. However, they do bring in some nice pieces and should be a significantly tougher challenge than the past two years. They will still finish last (unless Georgetown is even worse than expected), but they may manage a couple of more upset victories.
• The biggest question mark for the Blue Demons is the starting point guard position. Four year starter and perpetually overrated Billy Garrett Jr graduated in May and leaves a bit of a void. There are only two true point guards on the roster, lightly used backup Devin Gage and true freshman Justin Roberts who was the lowest ranked member of DePaul’s class of 2017. If Gage and Roberts are not ready to go, the job will likely go to wing Eli Cain. Cain has been the Blue Demons best player since arriving on campus two years ago. He led the team in points, 3P shooting, and was second in assists. And unlike the aforementioned Garrett Jr, he put up these numbers with great efficiency and a reasonable number of turnovers. Even though Cain is not a true point guard, this will be a case of putting the ball in the hands of your best player.
• DePaul landed one of the first impact grad transfers of the offseason when they got Marin Maric to sign up after graduating from Northern Illinois. Maric is a native of Croatia and plays the rule of skilled big man that we have come to expect from Eastern European centers. He was a force in the post for the Huskies, netting 12 double doubles last season, including 6 in a row to end the season (though it didn’t help his team much as they lost 5 of those 6 games). Maric gives them a reliable scorer in the post who can step back and knock down shots from 10 to 15 feet and a strong rebounder. One thing he does not bring is rim protection. He shies away from contact and was consistently abused in post up situations.
• In addition to having an amusing surname, Austin Grandstaff had quite the roundabout path to landing at DePaul. Coming out of high school he was a consensus top 100 recruit and several services listed him in the top 50. Known for knock down outside shooting, Grandstaff committed to Ohio State and there were big expectations that he could help the Buckeyes get back to the tournament. Instead, he saw about 11 minutes a game and struggled with his shot early. Grandstaff was so disappointed with his playing time that he transferred midseason to Oklahoma. He sat out the spring semester before announcing that he was transferring again, seemingly in response to the commitment of Jordan Shepherd (which is amusing because Shepherd was very meh in his first season as a Sooner). This time, Grandstaff picked a program where he should be guaranteed playing time. If he used the year and a half off to hone his shot, he should be an immediate impact player for DePaul and give them a much needed boost in the 3P shooting department. Also CAIN and GrandSTAFF in the backcourt together? Hilarious.
• The last intriguing addition to the Blue Demons is a transfer from the D2 ranks. Its not often that a D2 player becomes an impact player for a D1 team….even less so if that D1 team happens to be in a high major conference. Max Strus, previously of D2 Lewis University might just be the exception to that rule. Strus scored a whopping 20.2 points per game for a Flyer squad that won the GLVC conference tournament and made an appearance in the 2016 D2 NCAA Tournament. Strus could score at all three levels, backing down opponents in the post, pulling up in mid range, and shooting 3Ps with a 36% clip. The transition from D2 to the Big East is a steep one but Strus has had a year to prepare. It would not be surprising to see him start for DePaul but he won’t put up nearly the numbers he did during his last stop.

Prediction:
While DePaul has been a doormat for over a decade, they have never been a team you can truly sleep on. Marquette should win both games by double digits but expect a stiff fight, especially at the new Wintrust Arena. Marquette by 10 on the road game and a nice comforting Blue Demon beat down in the return game in Milwaukee.

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Categories: Home, Offseason, Previews

Author:Ryan Jackson

Texas A&M Professional, Marquette Fantatic

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