The DePaul Blue Demons won their one and only exhibition game of the season when they raced past Division II squad Rockhurst, 79-53, on Friday night.
Everyone knows exhibition games come with a huge disclaimer. It’s hard to fully judge a team on how they play an exhibition game, as coaches usually like to tinker with the rotation and throw out multiple looks to see what they are working with. Circumstances like that usually lead to sloppiness and a lack of cohesion early on.
And that’s pretty much happened Friday night for Dave Leitao and his Demons. While they won in convincing fashion, it wasn’t a thing of beauty.
With that said, let’s look at four key takeaways.
Foul trouble led to terrible game flow
An unfathomable 53 fouls called led to a very uneasy game. DePaul was called for 23 fouls, while Rockhurst was called for 30.
Making matters worse for the Demons was the fact that R.J. Curington and Tre’Darius McCallum were called for technical fouls. Every time DePaul wanted to get into a rhythm, it would take a step back with an untimely foul—with many of them coming on the offensive side of the ball.
With DePaul incorporating six newcomers, this was kind of expected—albeit the whistle being used excessively.
DePaul made up for it by limiting Rockhurst to an ugly 24.1 percent shooting from the field.
Billy Garrett takes over early and asserts leadership
At the onset of the game, Garrett got to right to work and established himself as the leader everyone expects him to be.
With DePaul’s other main scorer Eli Cain and key newcomer Tre’Darius McCallum saddled with foul trouble, it was clearly Garrett who set the tone. He did what he does best and that is attacking the basket and making a living at the free-throw line.
Garrett had made 10 free throws before half and was a perfect 14-14 from the charity stripe at the end of the night. In all. Garrett led the way with 26 points, while chipping in four assists.
He is one constant Leitao can lean on.
— DePaul Athletics (@DePaulAthletics) November 5, 2016
DePaul’s freshmen make terrific contributions
Considering Cain was in foul trouble and never got into a flow (2 points on 0-3 shooting from the field), it was a few Blue Demon freshmen who stepped up to the plate and picked up the slack. Namely, Brandon Cyrus, Devin Gage and Levi Cook.
Cyrus was second on the team with 14 points and he was all over the court. Known as a defensive dynamo, Cyrus used his length and quickness to bother Rockhurst. He almost recorded a double-double, as he also pulled down nine rebounds.
Also very active on the court was Gage. Although he scored just five points, he played with a lot of energy and gave DePaul a huge spark off the bench. While not expected to be huge contributor this season, he may play a nice role with his ability to give the team a lift emotionally.
Cook was also a revelation.
He attacked the glass like a beast and pulled down a team-high 11 rebounds, while posting eight points. Cook has the desire you want in young big man. Although still a tad unpolished and still rounding into shape, Cook gives the Demons some legitimate toughness in the interior—something they have been lacking for years.
R.J. Curington gives scoring boost off bench
The senior guard, who is one of DePaul’s better shooters, has languished on the bench for most of his three years at DePaul, but Curington showed he still has something left in the tank.
Curington was the Blue Demons’ third scorer in double figures, as he added 11 points on 4-7 shooting from the field (2-3 from three-point range), while adding five rebounds to his line.
If he can consistently knock down jumpers, he can give DePaul a tremendous lift off the bench.