DePaul's Basketball Woes Here To Stay

School approves of Jerry Wainwright, but systemic problems run deeper

In an ideal world, the Bulls would be good at basketball. That is not the case. In a second version of that ideal world, bad Bulls basketball could be replaced by good local collegiate basketball. Illinois is one thing, but it's downstate and the games are hard to get to. No, we mean DePaul basketball -- the city's biggest and highest-profile college hoops program. In an ideal world, a good local college hoops team could help us ignore the nightly malaise at the United Center.

This is no ideal world, and so DePaul basketball is bad. Very, very bad. And that's unlikely to change anytime soon.

It would be easy to blame these woes on current head coach Jerry Wainwright -- who received something resembling a vote of confidence from the school yesterday -- but the truth is the systemic problems run much deeper.

One problem is DePaul's conference. The Blue Demons used to be in Conference USA, where mediocre teams can thrive (and very good teams, like Memphis, rarely lose a game). Now the Demons are in the Big East, which has morphed into an uber-conference stacked with potential Final Four teams. Not only is DePaul bad; their conference makes them look far worse.

Other issues are less competitively obvious, but more pronounced. For one, DePaul draws very little student interest, and the school's location -- tucked into the heart of Lincoln Park on the North Side -- is squandered by its travel to the outskirts of the city to play at the All-State Arena. What's more, the school lacks the sort of facilities it needs to compete with other Big East schools in recruiting, and it faces a corrupt local AAU situation that makes retaining local players practically a thing of the past.

Some of this stuff is Wainwright's fault. Some of it is over his head. DePaul basketball has plenty of blame to go around, but the worst part is how much we're all -- DePaul fans and students, and even plain old Chicago residents -- missing out. This city's sports heads deserve a better class of basketball. It's a shame DePaul can't give it to them.

Eamonn Brennan is a writer, editor and blogger hunkered down in Lincoln Park. You can also read him at Yahoo! Sports, FanHouse, MOUTHPIECE Sports Blog, and Inside The Hall, or at his personal site,

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