“Not one, not two, not three, not four, not five, not six, not seven…” Lebron James excitedly said when the “The Big 3” was introduced in Miami.
For now, the DePaul Blue Demons only have the “Not one…” part of the equation down, but they’ve won two conference games in a row for the first time since 2008.
Tuesday night, the Blue Demons knocked off the St. John’s Red Storm 77-75, and one of the key stars for DePaul was Billy Garrett Jr., the freshman point guard; Garrett put up 21 points and dished out 5 assists. The son of the assistant coach, Billy Garrett Sr., also scored 22 points in the thrilling double overtime victory over Butler last Thursday.
Another freshman for DePaul, Tommy Hamilton, has stepped up his game in the back-to-back Big East wins as well. The young big man is averaging 15 points and 9 rebounds in the wins over the Red Storm and Bulldogs. For a player who was once recruited closely behind Jabari Parker and fell off the map for whatever reason, Hamilton is picking his game back up in the frontcourt.
Cleveland Melvin also has played very well within the offense this season; against Butler and St. John’s, Melvin scored a big bucket to put DePaul up by one or two points. The senior forward definitely showed his leadership on the court.
At 10-8 overall and 2-3 in the Big East, the Blue Demons still have their work cut out for them, and the upcoming schedule isn’t too appetizing. DePaul takes on the number six-ranked team in the nation, according to the AP Top 25, in Villanova on Saturday. After a day off, they face off against a 13-4 Xavier squad on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
The opponents might be tough but there’s one thing which stands out the most for the Blue Demons within the past couple of games: their second half play. I was a part of the broadcast last season vs. St. John’s, and the Blue Demons were down two at half, which is almost the same scenario as the win Tuesday night; however, a year ago, they let up in the second half, which is what DePaul has been known for.
The latest win over the Red Storm, and the first one since 2008, proved the Blue Demons might have a change in culture. While on the call for Radio DePaul this time around, it was great to see their resiliency. After they let up their second half lead, it was a fight to the finish. DePaul actually came up with big defensive stops down the stretch and stayed the route of the cliche: cool, calm and collective on offense. It all comes back to Garrett, as well as Brandon Young; the backcourt of DePaul did a terrific job of controlling the tempo on offense and getting their teammates good looks. Along with Garrett, Young also finished with five assists.
If the Blue Demons keep winning basketball games, we’ll also start to see more and more revitalized fans at the Allstate Arena. They won’t just be screaming “D-E-M-O-N-S”.