Oui are DePaul: Men’s basketball makes most of France trip

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With every passing year, college sports teams send off athletes– through graduation or otherwise – to do bigger and better things, and introduce new recruits. This endless cycle lends somewhat of a fleeting element to college athletics, which is why team building year after year is so important to team dynamic.

The DePaul men’s basketball team traveled to France for a 10-day excursion, a trip titled “In the Footsteps of St. Vincent,” where they visited Paris, Toulouse and Nice, and won all four of their exhibition games. The trip was not only meant to immerse the players in the history of St. Vincent de Paul, but also presented the men a valuable bonding experience.

Head Coach Oliver Purnell stated three goals he hoped the team would accomplish while overseas. The first goal involved the team’s immersion in the history of St. Vincent de Paul, and gaining a better understanding of the French culture both past and present.

“We really wanted the guys to have a fulfilling experience in France, learning about the history and culture there,” said Purnell. “I was pleased and actually surprised at how much the guys really opened their eyes and appreciated the rich history the country has to offer.”

Purnell’s second and third goals for the team were to play hard and improve on the basketball court, and for the players to become accustomed to being around one another.

“The 10 days we had in France were invaluable for our team to get ready for the upcoming season,” said Purnell. “We’ve got a bunch of new guys in their first years coming on to the program, so it was important for them to get used to each others’ play styles and personalities.”

Overall, Purnell was satisfied with how the team went about achieving these goals.

“I think our guys really worked hard in practice and implemented what they learned on the court,” said Purnell. “We blew out our first three opponents, then had the composure to hold off the experienced fourth team we played.”

Cleveland Melvin, last season’s Big East Rookie of the Year, characterized the team as a brotherhood, a promising outlook for the young squad.

“[Overseas] we really stuck together, enjoying our time with the coaching staff…it really helped our team chemistry,” said Melvin.

While becoming friends is important, their familiarity with each other was most importantly strengthened on the basketball court. Brandon Young, a member of last season’s Big East All-Rookie team, treated the team’s overseas venture as a “business trip,” with overall improvement number one on their priority list. ” We’re really trying to get better as a team,” said Young.

Freshman Charles McKinney, a top-ranked shooting guard from Evanston, Ill., is one of six newcomers on the roster. With little NCAA Division I experience , McKinney has been given plenty of instruction from the veterans.

“The older guys have gotten on us a bit,” said McKinney. “I mostly need to work on listening on the court – I tend to not listen to anybody sometimes, but I’ve been working on that.”

With such inexperience, Melvin and Young have taken the freshmen under their wings and groom them to be composed basketball players.

“They’re really going through the same thing when I was freshman,” said Young.

Melvin echoed this attitude he and the veterans have adopted.

“I let them know it’s gonna be a tough year for us, and everyone obviously needs to come in, work hard and play their role. But they’ve been listening – they’re young guys that can play, so everything’s good.”