DePaul basketball soars into 2019-20 season with blue madness

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The 2019-2020 DePaul basketball season officially kicked off on Thursday night as both the men’s and women’s teams put on a show in front of a packed house at McGrath-Phillips Arena. 

 DePaul’s annual Blue Madness event drew a sold-out crowd and gave students their first look at the Blue Demons in action. In a laundry list of activities that included a women’s three-point contest and full team scrimmages, it was the men’s dunk contest that stole the show and capped off an exciting night. 

 The event started with an open scrimmage with the women’s team showing off their skills. The crowd erupted in cheers as the men’s and women’s teams were playing. The most electric moment was the men’s team throwing down circus dunks during the open scrimmage. It was an entertaining night and both teams had certain players instill excitement into the crowd with the talent they showed.  

 The women’s scrimmage showed that the team is picking up where they left off their Big East tournament championship campaign last year. They dazzled and hit deep shots to put on a show.

 The men’s open scrimmage gave fans a small glimpse of some of the players. Finally, the Blue Demons got to see transfer Darious Hall in action this year as he lit it up from beyond the arc.  

 The crowd was able to participate in a raffle to be part of a contest with the players. After the mini contest, the dunk contest was ready to begin. The contestants were freshmen forward Romeo Weems and guard Markese Jacobs, sophomore forward Darious Hall and junior forward Paul Reed.  

 Freshman guard Markese Jacobs gave the audience their money’s worth as he rattled off a trio of rim-rattling dunks to the delight of those in attendance.  

 “If any of the guys can do a 360 that would be dope, definitely going on my snap story,” DePaul student Sh’mal Price said. 

 Although Jacobs wasn’t able to pull off the 360-degree dunk, his final act more than made up for it. The 5-foot-11 newcomer took off from near the free-throw line, cocked his arm back, and threw down a thunderous tomahawk dunk over fan favorite player Pantelis Xidias.  

The Blue Demons’ other star freshman guard, Romeo Weems, also participated in the dunk contest and showed some impressive athleticism, providing a sneak peek into what fans can expect to see during the season. The contest came down to Romeo Weems and Darious Hall, who put on a spectacular show. Hall emerged victorious and is now the two-time DePaul Slam Dunk champion.  

 While the dunk contest was great, the women’s team looked focused for the start of the season. During the scrimmage, the players looked comfortable and smooth as they played against each other. And the fan support was important for the team.

 “We are gonna go on a journey for nine months from now until March madness starts, and we want them to come along with us and help us on the way,” senior guard Chante Stonewall said.  

 Concluding the excitement, students in attendance were also given free food and encouraged to participate in a variety of raffles. The biggest hits of the night were the free T-shirts and food. 

 “[It’s good to] show our school spirit and there are free t-shirts,” freshman Gabby Virden said.

 Fans should be in for a show this year as the men’s team looks to drastically improve upon last year’s 19-17 record. The women’s team has been a dominant force in the Big East in recent years, and look to make another run at the tournament title.

Students who came to the event were able to receive DePaul basketball shirts as well as the opportunity to buy different athletics merch from a sale. Raffle prizes were also a key part of the night and kept the energy going. 

Food also played a big role in getting students to come out. Under the “L” tracks there was an array of food trucks of some DePaul favorites like Parson’s Chicken and Fish, Cheesies, Buona, and Don Rafa Taco. The combination of food and gear made the event a great opportunity for students to come out and experience basketball events before the season starts.

In what should be an intriguing year for both DePaul programs, Blue Madness ramped up hype for the start of the season. With the first practices getting underway, and the regular-season schedule just around the corner, students are ready to show their school spirit and the teams are ready to play. The men’s team begins the season against Alcorn State on Nov. 5 at 8 p.m. The women’s team opens their schedule against Miami (OH) on Nov. 8 at 7 p.m. Both games will be played at Wintrust Arena.