The Student Newspaper of DePaul University

The DePaulia

The Student Newspaper of DePaul University

The DePaulia

The Student Newspaper of DePaul University

The DePaulia

Demons score under 40 for first time in 15 years, leave interim coach “embarrassed”

Elijah+Fisher%2C+22%2C+helps+his+teammate+Churchill+Abass+to+his+feet+in+a+game+against+Seton+Hall+Tuesday%2C+Jan.+30%2C+2024%2C+at+Wintrust+Arena.+Abass+and+Fisher+were+held+to+a+combined+10+points+between+them.
Will Robson
Elijah Fisher, 22, helps his teammate Churchill Abass to his feet in a game against Seton Hall Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2024, at Wintrust Arena. Abass and Fisher were held to a combined 10 points between them.

After a 39-72 loss to Seton Hall at home Tuesday, Jan. 30, interim head coach Matt Brady criticized his team’s effort during a postgame press conference.

“This team’s mental strength is fragile,” Brady said. “It’s unusual (for an) athlete in the Big East, scholarship guy, fragile ego, but we have a room full of guys that aren’t confident.”

Brady said a reason for the loss was a lack of toughness from his team, a quality he says their  Seton Hall opponents possess.

“That team is not overly skillful, (but) they’re pretty tough, and the reason why they’re winning is toughness,” he said. “So I’ve got to find a way to extract this group’s toughness.”

Brady has been pushing competitive spirit, zeal, toughness and emotional stability for his group since taking over the head coaching position Jan. 22, but said those characteristics got away from them against a gritty Seton Hall team who is 14-8 and fourth in the Big East Conference standings.

DePaul never held a lead in the game and was outscored 31-18 by the Pirates in the first half.

 “We did not play with the same desperation or the same level of heart as they did,” Brady said. “I’m really disappointed with how we performed.”

Brady said interior scoring is crucial to limiting opponents’ scoring runs because it slows the game down and forces free throw attempts; however, his team only scored 12 points in the paint compared to the Pirates’ 44. The Blue Demons also secured just 30 rebounds compared to Seton Hall’s 46, another indicator of limited interior play. Brady said this was largely due to a lack of confidence in his players.

“All we can do is drive these guys to a higher place emotionally and get the most out of them,” he said. “We’re going to fight with much more ferocity than we just did tonight.”

Brady said he knew a game would get away from the group this season, but he “just didn’t think it would be in our own building.” DePaul has not scored less than 40 points during a game since 2008: a 36-63 loss to Northwestern in Evanston.

After the head coaching change Jan. 22, DePaul played a competitive game against No. 14 Marquette and a strong first half against No. 17 Creighton before falling behind late, signaling some positive momentum against ranked opponents. Tuesday was “two steps back” for Brady’s team.

“I’ve worked with the staff to get our guys in a place where they knew they could win, and I thought for two games, they felt like they could,” Brady said. “I don’t have an answer for this. I’m embarrassed by our performance.”

Injuries affected DePaul’s personnel, as DePaul guards KT Raimey, Chico Carter Jr. and Caleb Murphy were all unavailable, but Brady saw it as another reason for his other players to step up. In the second half, he talked about a bright spot when 6’0 senior guard Jalen Terry forced an offensive foul on the much larger Seton Hall guard Dylan Addae-Wusu by standing strong in the paint and taking a big hit.

“That took real courage that needed to be applauded,” he said. “Those are the players and the plays that can elevate a group, and we need more of that.”

Terry, who scored all eight of his points in the first half Tuesday, played in just his third game in four years of collegiate basketball without his former head coach Tony Stubblefield, who was let go in January. Stubblefield recruited Terry to play at The University of Oregon, who transferred to DePaul when Stubblefield got the job in spring 2021.

Jalen Terry dribbles the basketball past midcourt as interim head coach Matt Brady looks on, in a game against Seton Hall Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2024, at Wintrust Arena. Terry scored all of his eight points in the first half. (Will Robson)

“First it was kind of shocking to me,” Terry said of the coaching change during a Jan. 24 press conference. “He’s a coach I had for about three years and he recruited me to Oregon. I guess you got to be ready for change.”

DeWayne Peevy, the Director of Athletics, was confident Brady was the right person for the interim head coaching position, citing his experience and familiarity with the team.

“For me, it was pretty simple because of the 12 years of head coaching experience that allowed the rest of the staff to be stable and stay in their same roles without a lot of change for our student-athletes,” Peevy said Jan. 23 during a press conference. “Bringing an outside person in was something I didn’t want to do.” 

Brady remains committed to better results before the season concludes in March. To do this, he said the team has to change their mindset.

“We’re not backing up as a staff and as a program. We’re going to figure this out,” Brady said. “I don’t really care about the results right now. I have a team of guys that want to feel sorry for themselves. Can’t do that.”

DePaul is set to visit St. John’s Tuesday, followed by a Valentine’s Day game against UConn, the nation’s No. 1 ranked team, at Wintrust Arena. Brady said his team needs to show up ready to play.

“You’ve got to bring a competitive zeal that’s unmatched, and I’m struggling with where to go with that with this group,” Brady said. “I’m going to keep pointing it out in a positive way. Competitive spirit is where we need to go with this group.”

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