Can Stubblefield Restore DePaul Basketball in Chicago?

DePaul Director of Athletics, DeWayne Peevy has named Tony Stubblefield the new head men’s basketball coach for the Blue Demons. Stubblefield replaces Dave Leitao, who coached the Blue Demons from 2015-2021 in his second stint at DePaul. Stubblefield comes to DePaul after being a part of the coaching staff at Oregon for the past 11 seasons and reached the NCAA Tournament eight times under Dana Altman. Before that he spent time on the coaching staffs at Cincinnati with Mick Cronin, New Mexico State, UT-Arlington, UT-San Antonio and Nebraska-Omaha. This will be the 51-year old’s first head coaching job.

The Staff

Recently, Stubblefield announced that Paris Parham, Steve Thomas and Patrick Scully will join him as members of the DePaul coaching staff. Parham is a Chicago native who joins DePaul from his previous position of assistant coach at Milwaukee and also was an assistant at Illinois under John Groce. Thomas joins the Blue Demons after being an assistant coach at Richmond. He also spent time with Stubblefield as a grad assistant at Oregon from 2012-2014.

Program Direction

DePaul went 5-14 last year (2-13 Big East) finishing 3.5 games behind the second worst team in the Big East (Butler). Below we look at DePaul’s recent win-loss records since 2003-04 (Last time the made the NCAA Tournament). They’ve only been above .500 in conference play once since joining the Big East (9-7 in 2006-07).

Stubblefield knows it’s going to be a rebuilding process; the Blue Demons had seven players enter the transfer portal this offseason. But as a Big East team in a great basketball city, there’s no reason DePaul shouldn’t be competing for NCAA Tournament bids year-in and year-out. Stubblefield has been referred to as an elite recruiter and that’s one of the main reasons he got this job. He looks to not only use the transfer portal, but to get back to recruiting the talent in Chicago. Stubblefield said, “I think you got to start at home, you got to try to keep the local talent at home”. DePaul hasn’t been able to attract the top Chicago talent in recent years, but this is something DePaul is committed to changing.

DePaul fans want to get back to what DePaul was in their glory days. Below we see DePaul’s winning percentages from year-to-year. Those years where DePaul was so dominant with 14 NCAA Tournament appearances in 17 seasons between 1975 and 1992. Including four 1 seeds in five years from 1979-1984 and a Final Four loss to Larry Bird and Indiana State in 1979.

They’re clearly in the worst stretch in program history. It’s going to take a lot to get DePaul back to where they’ve been before, but the goal is to have a team that competes in the NCAA Tournament year-in and year-out. New coach Tony Stubblefield will have his hands full, but it starts with small steps in the right direction; coaching staff, recruiting and creating a culture within the program. Stubblefield wants the Blue Demons style of play to revolve around hard-nosed defense and pushing the ball in transition. He sees DePaul being competitive in the Big East next year and has set his expectations: “We will become Chicago‚Äôs team again”.

Published by Will McClaughry

Sports fan, data enthusiast and former division 3 college basketball player

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