First and worst: Big East opposites

For another year, the men and women are on different ends of the spectrum

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First and worst: Big East opposites

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Before the start of every college basketball season, coaches and players from the Big East meet in New York for Media Day. Just like that has become a tradition, so has the DePaul men’s basketball team getting picked to finish last, while the women’s basketball team was picked to finish first.

All 10 schools met at Madison Square Garden on Thursday for the annual Big East Media Day, they released the Big East Coaches’ Preseason Poll, with Seton Hall being pegged as the men’s favorite and the Blue Demons languishing at the bottom once again.

Since the Big East realignment in 2013, the Blue Demons have been picked to finish last five times, and in those six years they have ended up finishing last four times.

While the coaches around the conference don’t have much confidence in DePaul this season, junior forward Jaylen Butz said the Blue Demons will use this poll as motivation to prove their doubters wrong this season.

“Honestly, it’s something we don’t look to,” Butz said on Big East Shootaround. “It’s a ranking and that’s what people see as us, but I don’t think that takes anything away from us. If anything, it motivates us more, seeing that it makes us go even harder. So, I feel like it doesn’t really take anything away from what we’ve done so far, it’s just [what] someone sees. Again, I feel like it’s motivation – motivation for us to do better.”

With Butz saying the Blue Demons will use this as movativon to drive them this season, his fellow junior forward Paul Reed finds his motivation away from the noise.

“Just a new program we have and us two [Reed and Butz] coming back being more experienced, being more ready for this moment,” Reed said. “The new team we have with all the other assets on the team we have [and] all the more talent we have. And I just know.”

While the Blue Demons aren’t getting the overall respect they would like, one player who’s getting a lot of praise from the rest of the conference is Reed, who was picked for the Preseason All-Conference Second Team.

On the other hand, the DePaul women’s basketball team is the talk of the conference as the Big East coaches unanimously voted Doug Bruno’s squad to finish at the top of the conference. This is the third time in the past four years that the team has been named to be at the top. Yet, this season, there aren’t any questions about it.

With the expectations comes a large target on the backs of the Blue Demons. Even though the coaches voted DePaul as the best team in the conference for the third time in four years, it’s no lock that they will walk their way through the conference.

“This is just a great league,” Bruno said. “The Big East is absolutely one of the best leagues in the country. It’s made great by these great players. It’s also made great by these coaches.”

A big part of their success from last season was down to their two seniors, Chante Stonewall and Kelly Campbell, who helped drive the team to another Big East Tournament championship. Going into this season, they will still be a problem for the rest of the conference, as they were voted to the All-Big East Preseason Team.

“Chante’s [Stonewall] worked very well to make herself a better player every year,” Bruno said. “That’s why I’m excited about this season. Chante is returning as a senior and Kelly Campbell returning as a senior. And they are not just another couple of seniors; they are very mature seniors. I’m impressed with their maturity and their leadership.”

In order to stay on top of the rising competition, the two have taken steps to improve even further this season. With the loss of four seniors, Campbell and Stonewall will be asked to take on a larger role within the team, as they are the only returning seniors.

“Kelly is one of the leading assists to turnover players in the country,” Bruno said. “Chante is a versatile player, so her game is expanding all the time because she has the ability to play a face to basket position and she has the ability to play with her back to the basket. She’s got the ability to play with guard skills so her game’s expanding and they just get better at what they do every day.”

The two will have to step up, along with the rest of the roster, to continue the tradition of success that has made the program a staple of the Big East.