COLUMN: These last two games will decide DePaul’s fate

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Alexa Sandler/The DePaulia

DePaul senior guard Charlie Moore goes up for a layup against St. John’s on Wednesday at Wintrust Arena.

Losing sucks, doesn’t it?

The former athlete in me would be irate if I went through the abysmal display shown to basketball fans this season. You’d like to think that after six seasons, some improvements could be made – but alas, Blue Demon fans and alumni were bamboozled once again.

DePaul has now been mathematically eliminated from catching any team in the conference, which makes this the fifth consecutive season that the Blue Demons will finish dead last in the Big East. 

This season has seen everything go wrong for the Blue Demons – from having the first three weeks’ worth of games canceled or postponed due to Covid-19 to a 4-11 overall record, this team can’t catch any kind of break.

Losing teams can usually find a sense of optimism at the end of the season by beating higher-ranked opponents  to prevent playoff chances. But DePaul won’t even get that opportunity with their final two games of the season in Georgetown and Marquette, who sit at eighth and ninth in the Big East, respectively.

I’ve always been intrigued with teams who have losing records, especially during the end of the season. They can’t move up in the standings. They can’t tank and move up in a draft. They don’t gain an advantage in terms of recruiting new players. And these reasons make it all the more exciting to watch because the Blue Demons have every reason to quit – but they should choose not to.

For a guy who played on numerous losing hockey teams growing up, the thought of defeat alone was enough to make my blood boil in the locker room. The 1-35 record I endured in 2013-14 has burned a permanent spot in my brain. Winning never did much for me – I just didn’t want to lose. It moved me. It drove me. But the 12 years I spent on the blue line teeing up slapshots doesn’t mean anything if the team has no identity.

DePaul reminds me a lot of an old show titled “Oil Change” that followed the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers rebuild period from 2010 to 2014. Similar to HBO’s 24/7 series, the show featured unfiltered footage of a team struggling to find themselves, tied with endless amounts of tumultuous player, coach and ownership problems over the four seasons.

Even after the Oilers drafted and signed three consecutive first-overall picks – Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Nail Yakupov – the team still found a way to place last in their division three times and twice in the western conference, all while accumulating a 105-151-38 record during those four seasons. Sound familiar?

To the seniors: sports offers very little closure to begin with and this is no exception. Your team owes everything to the contributions you’ve made on and off the court with a record that does not define your legacy. 

To the returning players: these next two games are your future. When you have nothing to lose and everything to gain, your character will be defined by the way these final games play out and the way you handle yourselves, in victory or defeat. And don’t let your seniors go out with their chin down. 

The next season begins with Georgetown and Marquette, and both are winnable games. DePaul should especially know this by now with Marquette, because one of the Blue Demons’ two conference wins came against the Golden Eagles on Jan. 23 in Wisconsin. 

Will DePaul cruise to victory when they have nothing to win? Only time will tell.