Stanford was ranked 52nd in Ken Pomeroy’s rankings. With the nation’s 24th most efficient offense, the Cardinal’s lone loss came against Duke on a neutral floor by only 11. Led by seniors Chasson Randle, Stefan Nastic, and Anthony Brown, Johnny Dawkins’s squad was picked to finish fifth in the Pac-12 behind Arizona, Utah, Colorado, and UCLA.
On the other end, DePaul was 174th in the Pomeroy rankings and selected by the Big East coaches to finish in last place once again.
Oh, and Oliver Purnell had never beaten a non-conference team ranked higher than 68th or any team ranked higher than 59th in these KenPom rankings in his 4+ years at DePaul.
The Blue Demons entered the game at 2-1 with home wins over #286 Drake and #297 Illinois Chicago (by 1) and a home loss to #215 Lehigh by 12. With a defense ranking in the bottom-100 in the entire NCAA, DePaul did not seem to have a chance.
But then they did.
DePaul jumped on Stanford’s lethargic play and took an 11-point lead to the locker room. In fact, DePaul took control during the second ten-minutes of the first half, winning that portion of the game 22-12.
The second half was more tightly contested, but Illinois transfer Myke Henry poured in a career high 29 points, 16 of which came after the break. Jamee Crockett added 19, and returning Big East Rookie of the Year Billy Garrett Jr. had 9 points and 4 assists. Tommy Hamilton contributed 14 points, 7 rebounds, and 3 assists in 35 minutes.
So, what does this all mean? Is DePaul going to fight for middle-of-the-pack real estate in conference play? Or was Stanford a victim of taking its opponent too lightly?
There is no question Oliver Purnell’s seat has never been as hot as it is now, and let’s also go so far as to say THIS was his best win as coach at DePaul. That is either great news or kind of depressing depending on your point of view.
According to kenpom.com, 14 of DePaul’s remaining 25 games will have point spreads fewer than 7 points. There are games out there for the taking, and this could finally be the year DePaul takes some.
It COULD be, but I do not think it WILL be. The “new” Big East is way deeper than it was last year, and I just do not see the Blue Demons winning more than 4 games. DePaul will have a good chance to jump out to a fast start in conference play like it did against Stanford, however!
On its home court, Oliver Purnell and Co. will take on Marquette on New Year’s Eve and Xavier on January 3. Unfortunately, KenPom does not give them higher than a 30% chance of victory from that game until Tuesday, February 3 at home against Seton Hall.
It appears as though DePaul is finally moving in the right direction with Myke Henry and Billy Garrett Jr., but patience for Oliver Purnell is quickly running out. Will he be able to contend in this conference before his time in Chicago is up?