CHICAGO- While many think of senior guard Billy Garrett Jr. as the star of the DePaul Demons basketball team, they sometimes forget that he has other talent around him. And that was evident on Sunday night as DePaul (1-0) opened the 2016-2017 season with a 78-72 victory over Robert Morris University (0-1). Garrett was one of four Blue Demon players to score in double figures against the Colonials at DePaul’s McGrath-Phillips Arena. The Chicago native finished with 10 while senior guard Darrick Wood had 13, junior forward Tre’Darius McCallum added 12, and sophomore guard Eli Cain led all scorers with 21 points.
“You’re always happy to get a victory,” said Garrett after the game. “You’re never upset with a win but there’s always some things you can work on.
All four men combined to make 16-of-35 field goal attempts, 2-of-7 three point shots, and 22-of-28 free throws.
“We just told each other to stay together, trust each other, and have each others backs,” McCallum said. He added, “Coach (Dave Leitao) told us to trust one another and we have to get the job done.”
Cain added a blocked shot and an assist before fouling out in the final minutes. Garrett contributed four assists, a block, and a steal, while McCallum (a junior college transfer) and Wood pitched in a combined 11 rebounds. After losing some key talent during the offseason, the Demons have found some new talent to plug in what could have been some major holes. The key for this team will be to consistently put out these type of efforts each time they take the court.
“Obviously we’re happy to get the win,” said Leitao in his post-game press conference. He continued, “We’re trying to get more definition for each guy, and that’s a byproduct of trust…. Trust in what you’re there to do, trust in your teammate, trust in the process, and trust in what you’re trying to do on both ends of the floor.”
So far the Blue Demons are off to a good start. But Garrett is right about his team needing to work on some things. DePaul committed 16 turnovers which turned into 10 Robert Morris points. They also committed 21 fouls which gave RMU 15 free points at the free throw line. And missed shots were also an issue as DePaul only converted 46-percent of their total shot attempts.
At the end of the day however, the Blue Demons will take the victory and use this as momentum for their next game against Rutgers on November 17th.
“We’ve got to be able to handle both success and adversity (moving forward),” coach Leitao said.
As the season continues, the Blue Demons will certainly be tested in both of those areas.