Preseason Preview: DePaul


(Photo by Ryan Messier/Paint Touches)

The first official practices of the 18-19 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 will be releasing one a day ending the day before Marquette’s exhibition with Carroll. That’s right, when this series ends, Marquette basketball will finally be here.

Team: Depaul Blue Demons
17-18 Record: 11-20 (4-14 Big East)
Postseason?: It’s DePaul…
17-18 KenPom: 99
Date: January 23, 2018 & February 12, 2018
Location: Fiserv Forum & Wintrust Arena (Chicago, IL)
Coach: Dave Leitao (4th….or maybe 7th….season)
Projected KenPom Range: 75-125
Projected Conference Finish: 10/10 in the Big East

Departures from 17-18
Brandon Cyrus: Starting SG: 27.4 mpg, 7.2 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 1.6 apg, 0.5 spg, 0.4 bpg, 1.3 tpg, .410 FG%, .346 3P% (Transferred to UC Santa Barbara)
Tre’Darius McCallum: Starting PF: 29.3 mpg, 10.0 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 0.9 apg, 1.3 spg, 0.4 bpg, 1.5 tpg, .456 FG%, .283 3P% (Graduated)
Marin Maric: Starting C: 27.2 mpg, 13.6 ppg, 6.7 rpg, 1.2 apg, 0.8 spg, 0.5 bpg, 2.4 tpg, .554 FG%, .333 3P% (Graduated)
Justin Roberts: 1st Man off the Bench: 15.1 mpg, 4.3 ppg, 1.2 rpg, 2.1 apg, 0.5 spg, 0.1 bpg, 1.5 tpg, .378 FG%, .324 3P% (Transferred to Georgia State)
Peter Rychkbosh: 4th Man off the Bench: 7.6 mpg, 1.9 ppg, 2.2 rpg, 0.0 apg, 0.3 spg, 0.2 bpg, 0.2 tpg, .654 FG%, .000 3P% (Graduated)
Austin Grandstaff: 5th Man off the Bench: 7.5 mpg, 1.4 ppg, 0.7 rpg, 0.8 apg, 0.1 spg, 0.1 bpg, 0.6 tpg, .191 FG%, .184 3P% (Left team to pursue musical career….we’re not kidding)
Joe Hanel: Benchwarmer: Appeared in 14 games (Graduated)
Tobias Dwumaah: Benchwarmer: Appeared in 5 games (Graduated)
Levi Cook: Benchwarmer: Appeared in 0 games (Transferred to Marshall and then again to Bossier Parish CC)
James Anderson: Benchwarmer: Appeared in 0 games (Left team for personal reasons)
50% of scoring, 50% of rebounding, 42% of assists, 50% of steals, 47% of blocks, 38% of 3PM

Jalen Coleman-Lands: Transfer SG from Illinois
Femi Olujobi: Grad Transfer PF from North Carolina A&T
Devin Gage: Backup PG, returns from missing 23 games due to injury
Flynn Cameron: 3-star PG, ranked #169 by 247 Composite (enrolled early and redshirted)
George Maslennikov: 3-star PF, ranked #192 by 247 Composite
Lyrik Shreiner: Grad Transfer SG from Cal State Northridge
John Diener: 3-star SG, ranked #418 by 247 Composite
Jason Malonga: Walk-on SG, returns from redshirt
Pantelis Xidias: Walk-on PG, returns from redshirt
Mick Sullivan: Walk-on C
Josh Azanne: Walk-on SG

Probable Starters:
PG: Devin Gage: 6’2” 195 lb RSSO: 24.1 mpg, 5.9 ppg, 2.0 rpg, 2.8 apg, 1.3 spg, 0.1 bpg, 2.1 tpg, .353 FG%, .200 3P% (only appeared in 8 games)
SG: Jalen Coleman-Lands: 6’4” 185 lb RSJR: 24.3 mpg, 8.0 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 1.0 apg, 0.7 spg, 0.1 bpg, 1.0 tpg, .366 FG%, .380 3P% (16-17 stats for Illinois)
SF: Eli Cain: 6’6” 200 lb SR: 33.5 mpg, 11.7 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 4.7 apg, 0.9 spg, 0.3 bpg, 2.4 tpg, .348 FG%, .313 3P%
PF: Max Strus: 6’6” 215 lb RSSR: 35.6 mpg, 16.8 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 2.7 apg, 1.3 spg, 0.5 bpg, 2.6 tpg, .408 FG%, .333 3P%
C: Femi Olujobi: 6’9” 258 lb RSSR: 31.9 mpg, 16.3 ppg, 7.7 rpg, 1.2 apg, 0.4 spg, 0.7 bpg, 2.5 tpg, .536 FG%, .290 3P% (stats for North Carolina A&T)

Probable Bench:
Flynn Cameron: 6’3” 198 lb RSFR PG
Jaylen Butz: 6’9” 224 lb SO PF
Paul Reed: 6’9” 210 lb SO SF
George Maslennikov: 6’10” 234 lb FR PF
Lyrik Shreiner: 6’3” 190 lb RSJR SG

Probable Benchwarmers:
John Diener: 6’4” 170 lb FR SG
Jason Malonga: 6’4” 180 lb RSSO SG
Pantelis Xidias: 5’9” 155 lb RSFR PG
Mick Sullivan: 6’8” 241 lb FR C
Josh Ozanne: 6’3” 178 lb FR SG
Darious Hall: 6’7” 200 lb SO SF (Redshirtting due to NCAA transfer rules)


• DePaul made some real strides as a program last season, finishing inside the KenPom top 100 for the first since the 2006-2007 season. Despite this lofty (for them) accomplishment, their results in the W/L column didn’t look much different as they still only managed 11 wins, four of which came in Big East play. If KenPom is to be believed, rotten luck is part of what plagued in the Blue Demons last season as they finished 348th (of of 351) in luck. DePaul loses some significant pieces but also brings in a trio of quality transfers and some of their highest ranked freshman of the (second) Dave Leitao era. They should be a top 100 team again this season and with the talent drain facing the Big East could manage five or even six wins in conference this season.
• DePaul may have to go through a bit of an identity shift in order to survive next season. Last year, DePaul was a defense first team that junked games up and used their length to frustrate their opponents. They started five players standing 6’5” or taller including a 6’6” PG and 7-footer anchoring the post. Their two tallest players, Tre’Darius McCallum and Marin Maric are both gone to graduation and defensive specialist Brandon Cyrus transferred. DePaul’s starting lineup is going to be a lot shorter and that could impact their signature defense which finished in the top 50 per KenPom last season.
• Replacing McCallum and Maric was the biggest concern for Leitao this offseason and he addressed it by securing an intriguing grad transfer out of the MEAC. Femi Olujobi was a man amongst boys for the North Carolina A&T Aggies. He led the team in points, rebounds, and blocks in a bit of a surprise season. The Long Island native started his career at Oakland University where he only managed 1.2 points a game for the Golden Grizzlies. The obvious concern for Olujobi is the transition from the MEAC to the Big East. Former Xavier Musketeer RaShid Gaston showed that MEAC players could be successful in the Big East. And, while most of his numbers were put up against bad competition, he did shine in his three games against high majors. He scored at least 18 points in each of those high major contests and put up a double double against Georgetown. Other than Olujobi, DePaul only features three scholarship players who stand taller than 6’6”. Backups Jaylen Butz and Paul Reed were effective defenders last season and true freshman George Maslennikov should get opportunities to fill in for Olujobi.
• Last season, the graduation of Billy Garrett Jr and injury of Devin Gage forced Eli Cain from the wing to the point. Cain did average a very good 4.7 assists per game, which was good for fourth in the Big East, but overall, he struggled. After being the top dog his first two seasons, Cain saw his scoring, rebounding, and efficiency numbers all slip significantly. Cain was the best PG option for the Blue Demons last season, but he was clearly playing out of position and struggled as a result. Gage is back from injury and that theoretically should allow Cain to slide back over to the much more natural wing position. Another option is Flynn Cameron, a New Zealand native and the top-rated recruit in DePaul’s 2018 class. Cameron pulled a Joey Hauser and enrolled at DePaul last semester and redshirted. He is a pass first PG who was rated #169 by the 247 composite. International players are often under ranked by traditional scouting services so he might be ready to replace Gage in the starting lineup.
• DePaul struggled mightily from range last season, making under 200 3PM on the season and shooting 31% overall. Illinois transfer Jalen Coleman-Lands should help in this department as 71 out of his 94 made FGs in his last season at Illinois came from distance. He also shot at a 38% clip, better than anyone at DePaul last season. He was even better as a freshman when he made 87 3Ps with 42% accuracy. His ability should particularly benefit Max Strus. Strus is DePaul’s clear best player and will likely be on a preseason All Big East team.
• Finally, we would be remiss to talk about DePaul without mentioning one of their newest recruit’s connection to Marquette. The lowest rated recruit is John Diener, and yes he is one of those Dieners. John is in fact related to Travis Diener, former Marquette star and member of Wojo’s staff. John decided to follow his cousin Drake to DePaul rather than Travis, though there’s no indication that Wojo ever offered a scholarship. John looks more like a project than an immediate contributor though it will be interesting to see if he can create his own legacy at DePaul.

• On paper, there is no reason for Marquette’s games against DePaul to be close. Marquette should be better at every position that Strus is not playing in. But the games last season shouldn’t have been close either…and Marquette was a bricked three pointer away from losing 2/3 against the Blue Demons. Marquette handles the Blue Demons easily at home before getting a scare…but ultimately a victory on the road.

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Categories: Analysis, Home, Offseason, Previews

Author:Ryan Jackson

Texas A&M Professional, Marquette Fantatic


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