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2016-17 Big East Basketball Summer Check-In: DePaul

The Blue Demons were bad again last year. Can Dave Leitao show some improvement in his second second year in Chicago?

NCAA Basketball: DePaul at St. John
Dear DePaul: Please change these uniforms. They’re garbage to anyone sitting more than 10 feet away.
Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

Team: DePaul Blue Demons

2015-16 Record: 9-22, 3-15 Big East

2015-16 Big East Finish: 9th

Final 2015-16 KenPom Ranking: #184

Postseason: Uh, no.

Key Departures: Myke Henry (13.7 points, 6.2 rebounds, 1.0 assists), Tommy Hamilton (8.6 points, 5.5 rebounds)

Key Returners: Billy Garrett (12.6 points, 2.9 rebounds, 3.5 assists), Eli Cain (10.3 points, 3.0 rebounds, 1.8 assists)

Key Additions: Tre’Darius McCallum (JUCO, averaged 11.6 pts, 6.3 rebounds for Indian Hills), maaaaaaaaybe Austin Grandstaff (transfer, left Ohio State for Oklahoma in December, needs a waiver to be eligible this season)

Coach: Dave Leitao, in his second/fifth season with DePaul (152-151 overall, 67-56 at DePaul)

Outlook: DePaul was bad for the 9th consecutive season last year, and there’s not a lot out there to make you feel like that’s going to change any time soon. I mean let’s put it this way: I had to have a serious conversation with myself about whether to include outgoing senior Rashaun Stimage as a “Key Departure.” On one hand: top 60 offensive rebounding rate. On the other hand: averaged just 5.7 points and 4.2 rebounds while playing just 17.7 minutes per game. If you’re playing less than half of the time on a bad team, I don’t think you can be a key guy.

Billy Garrett and Eli Cain should be quality contributors for the Blue Demons in 2016-17. Because of their record, it probably went largely unnoticed that Garrett finished the season with a top 150 assist rate in the country, while Cain was one of the 100 best three point shooters in the country in terms of percentage. He only attempted 73 shots, but with Myke Henry gone, DePaul’s going to need scoring from somewhere.

As alluded to earlier, this is Dave Leitao’s second go-round with the Blue Demons, and, well, it’s off to a worse start than his first go-round. Leitao went 16-13 and 8-8 in league play in his first first season at DePaul, so yeah, things are going downwards here. Admittedly, he’s starting from a worse spot. In his first attempt at steering the boat, Leitao was taking over for Pat Kennedy, who had a reasonably successful tenure in Chicago, and he was doing so in Conference USA. Now he’s in the Big East, where things are a bit more difficult, and he’s doing so with less interesting pieces to get things started.

Leitao lasted three years before leaving to take the Virginia job last time. His replacement, Jerry Wainwright, got five seasons before giving way to Oliver Purnell, who also lasted five seasons. How long will Leitao get if things don’t show some kind of improvement in relatively quick order?