COLUMN: 12-game losing streak has things looking bleak for Big East Tournament


Patrick Sloan-Turner

Umoja Gibson (2) played his final home game for DePaul on Saturday. The star guard had one of his roughest outings as a Blue Demon, shooting 2-14 and finishing with just four points.

DePaul (9-22, 3-17) is set to face off against Seton Hall (17-14, 10-10) in its opening round matchup for the Big East tournament in Madison Square Garden on Wednesday, March 8 at 4:30 p.m. The Blue Demons are desperately looking to snap a 12-game losing streak and will have the odds stacked against them, as not many expect to see this year’s team go on a deep tournament run.

The bar is low, but the team’s lack of success over the last two decades unfortunately has not helped its case. Seton Hall is no juggernaut by any means, so if DePaul wants to turn its 2022-23 season around, the time is now.

Even though the fan base may have forgotten what winning feels like, the Blue Demons did find a way to miraculously upset No. 8 Xavier on Jan. 18 by a final score of 73-72. Since the emotional victory, the team has found a way to explicitly lose 12 straight games, marking its longest losing streak since the 2008-2009 season, which was 18 straight losses. 

Finding a consistent path to victory this season has been a challenge to say the least, but head coach Tony Stubblefield remains optimistic as they prepare for Seton Hall on Wednesday.

“These guys are really resilient and bounce back,” Stubblefield said. “They keep a positive attitude, and they know we have a chance. We’ve won games against good teams in this conference against Villanova and Xavier. We’ve lost some games that we should have won. We’re back healthy and our players realize with a healthy team, they can beat anyone in the conference.”

For the second consecutive season, the fan base finally felt a sense of excitement, but the Blue Demons once again showed inability to sustain success at a high level. Stubblefield has faced a lot of adversity this season, but when a team suffers back-to-back second half season collapses, it unfortunately falls on the head coach. 

Stubblefield started off his inaugural season strong with a 10-1 record, but ended the season with a 15-16 record highlighted by losing nine out of 10 games at one point. The team once again failed to meet expectations a year later, but this time around found itself trying to overcome a 12-game losing streak to end the season, just as the Big East Tournament approaches.

DePaul has much more talent than the product that has been shown on the court over the last two months, but what cannot be overshadowed is how disconnected the team can come across to the media, fan base and opposing opponents. How can the team believe it can advance in a tournament as strong as the Big East if they cannot get out of their own way?

Graduate guard Umoja Gibson and forward Javan Johnson have been the heart and soul of DePaul basketball this season, but at what point someone needs to step up and make a play to take the pressure off them. Both Gibson and Johnson combine for a total of 25.89 points per game during losses.

The pressure is on for Stubblefield to find a way to get the Blue Demons into the win column as losing double-digit games along with a first round exit in the tournament could lead to a long list of questions that need to be answered this offseason. Stubblefield’s job is believed to be safe, but when administration does not see any sign of growth, it is difficult to determine what decisions could be looming ahead.