Pon­setto: Top half is DePaul goal

Chicago Sun-Times - - Sports - BY TONI GINNETTI

The next DePaul coach should aim to keep the pro­gram in the top half of the Big East’s 16 schools, putting it in po­si­tion to con­tend for post­sea­son play.

That out­look re­mains ath­letic di­rec­tor Jean Lenti Pon­setto’s ob­jec­tive, one she re­peated Wed­nes­day in an ap­pear­ance on ESPN’s ‘‘Out­side The Lines.’’

‘‘From my per­spec­tive, if you’re in the top half [of the Big East], you’ll be pretty suc­cess­ful and on the board to be in con­sid­er­a­tion for the NCAA or NIT [tour­na­ments],’’ she said. ‘‘Our goal is to get back to the NCAA tour­na­ment. DePaul has a proud tra­di­tion from the Ray Meyer days through Dave Leitao [who pre­ceded Jerry Wain­wright] of be­ing in the NCAA tour­na­ment. . . . We’ve had 35 post­sea­son ap­pear­ances in the last 50 years. We’ve been there be­fore and we know what it takes to get there, and we have the re­sources to get there.’’

Men­tion­ing three ESPN an­a­lysts, she said, ‘‘I think this is a great job. I think coach [Bob] Knight would tell you this is a great job. I think coach [Steve] Lavin would tell you this is a great job. I think coach [Fran] Fraschilla would tell you this is a great job.’’

The pool of in­ter­ested candidates to suc­ceed Wain­wright, who was fired two weeks ago, has been grow­ing. The search will be han­dled by Pon­setto, uni­ver­sity pres­i­dent the Rev. Den­nis Holtschnei­der and one or more mem­bers of the school’s ath­let­ics board.

South­ern

Illi­nois coach Chris Low­ery and Ore­gon State coach Craig Robin­son have been promi­nently men­tioned, prin­ci­pally be­cause of their lo­cal ties and po­ten­tial to re­cruit the Chicago area.

DePaul’s mem­ber­ship in the Big East has lured in­ter­est from vet­eran coaches, with USC coach Kevin O’Neill said to be among them. For­mer Blue De­mon stars Ty­rone Corbin and Rod Strick­land also are said to be in­ter­ested.

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