John Templon runs the blog “Chicago College Basketball”, focusing on well, Chicago College Basketball!
I exchanged some questions for our matchup on Thursday night.
Friarblog.com: Last year, DePaul’s only win against a BIG EAST team came against Cincinnati in the BET, a win that diluted two of our supposed big BE wins against them, while also causing us to have to beat you for a 3rd time thus diluting our 19th win. So thanks for that. Did that win give Wainwright more time? Why wait until 3 games into conference play to fire him?
John: I don’t think the BET win was the reason they kept Wainwright around this season. It seems like the administration genuinely liked Wainwright and wanted him to succeed. Thus they gave him one more season and told him to produce or else. Unfortunately it was clear through three games in conference play that there was almost 0 change from last season and that the Blue Demons are still way over matched in conference play. Thus the change had to be made. The timing comes from this being DePaul’s longest break during the remainder of the season. It was the most convenient time to do something like this.
Friarblog.com: OK, so I’ll ask a loaded question that I saw in the Chicago Tribune: Can anyone win at DePaul anymore? What are your thoughts on the whole recruiting / spending / competing in the BIG EAST discussion?
John: The thing that hurts the program the most isn’t the lack of spending, but playing at Allstate Arena. There aren’t any plans to create a downtown arena anytime soon, so I don’t think DePaul will be fixing that problem. It’s going to take a special coach to win at DePaul. My guess is it will take someone younger and hungrier to make a name for himself in the Big East because that person is just going to have to outwork every other coach in terms of recruiting, getting campus energized again, etc. You need to have a winning team to convince fans to drive 15 miles from campus to attend the game. Honestly, recruiting should be the easiest part of coaching at DePaul. You play in the Big East, you can offer immediate playing time and you’ve got Chicago as a media market and hot bed of talent. It’s possible to win at DePaul, it won’t be easy, but it could happen.
Friarblog.com: With interim coach Tracy Webster, should we expect any big changes, such as lineup / playing time shuffling, or style of play?
John: This is a tough thing to figure out. Webster has never been a head coach at the collegiate level. He’s spent most of his time recruiting for bigger names. I’m not sure what Webster will do in terms of strategy, but if I had to guess he’ll probably stick with the top talents on the team a little bit longer. Wainwright tended to have a very short leash during games. DePaul can’t afford to be playing walk-ons for significant amounts of time and thus the minutes of players like Eric Wallace, Mac Koshwal and Will Walker will probably be extended. The few things I can gleam from the quotes that came out of his brief conversation with the media is that Webster really wants to push the tempo. Other than that though, your guess is as good as mine.
Friarblog.com: We know about Mac Koshwal from the last few seasons. What other player do you think could have a big impact against the Friars?
John: I think you’re going to see a lot of transfer Eric Wallace in this game. Wallace is in his first season of playing time since coming over from Ohio State and he’s shown tremendous athleticism. If the Friars force DePaul to run he’s going to be a guy that benefits. He’s a good rebounder and makes at least one amazing play per game – typically a follow-up dunk – but the consistency hasn’t been there. I think a change in coaches might benefit him.
Friarblog.com: DePaul has one of the slowest adjusted tempos in the nation (62.9, ranked #330), but it seems in BIG EAST play opponents have been forcing their style on the game. Is DePaul doomed if the Friars create a fast game?
John: Teams have been speeding up the Blue Demons and they just don’t have the talent to compete at that pace. At least not when they go deep into the bench. Are players like Wallace, Koshwal and Walker able to play significant minutes at that pace? If so then maybe DePaul can compete, otherwise Providence might make this thing ugly very quickly. Of course, if Webster truly wants to push the pace, than that could make for a very different game then what we’ve seen at Allstate Arena thus far this season.
John: Providence gets a somewhat more difficult than expected win, 82-74 or so.