IT’S DEPAUL’S HOMECOMING
Demons hope return to city, opener vs. Irish help spark momentum for rebuilding program
No matter what happens, the game Saturday against No. 14 Notre Dame is a special one for the DePaul Blue Demons. It will be their first regular- season game in the brand- new Wintrust Arena and marks their return to Chicago.
But just throwing a party isn’t enough for the Demons. The game is an opportunity to beat a traditional rival, make a statement against a top 15 team and prove that talk about the changes in the program isn’t idle.
“I think that’s really important,” junior guard Eli Cain said. “We all obviously want to perform well. We want to play well and win the game. We want to show that the change of DePaul’s culture is real. It’s not just talked about. It’s not just something we can go around saying in interviews and put on social media. We want to show that that’s the real deal.”
DePaul’s slip from the top of the Chicago sports scene has been well- documented. Poor seasons and small crowds at cavernous Allstate Arena in Rosemont made the Demons an afterthought. Now they’re back in the city with an opportunity to get back into the bloodstream.
It’s a chance the Demons don’t want to squander by having another rough season. They can build momentum for a solid season. And a solid season can build momentum for a program that sorely needs it.
Cain is keeping his eye on the big picture, not just the festivities Saturday.
“We want to show that we can win a lot of games, we can compete in the Big East, we can compete nationally,” Cain said. “It’s more than just this one game. I think it’s about the whole season.”
But the game is an early measuring stick for the Demons. The Fighting Irish have missed the NCAA tournament just once this decade ( 2014) and have one of the country’s most stable programs.
If the Demons lose control of their emotions on an important day for their program and fans, it could turn bad on the scoreboard. Cain, who averaged 15.6 points per game last season, knows it will be crucial for the team to stay calm, even during such a momentous occasion.
“At the end of the day, everybody’s going to be jittery,” Cain said. “We’re going to make our mis- takes, but we’ve got to stay evenkeeled as long as we can.”
Sky feeling draft
The WNBA draft lottery is Monday. The Sky have two lottery picks, one the result of missing the playoffs and the other thanks to a midseason trade with the Atlanta Dream for their 2018 first- round pick.
“We want to show that the change of DePaul’s culture is real. It’s not just talked about.” — Eli Cain, DePaul junior guard
DePaul’s first regular- season game in the new Wintrust Arena is 3 p. m. Saturday against No. 14 Notre Dame. ARTIST RENDERING