It may not seem possible, but this promises to be a season of new experiences for venerable DePaul Coach Ray Meyer. Early next month, he should become only the sixth coach to have 700 career wins. In mid-December he'll make his first trip to Japan, where the Blue Demons are scheduled to play Texas Tech and Alabama. And when this season ends, Meyer will call it quits after 42 years. "I've done this all my life," he says wistfully. "I'm not really prepared. But I knew three years ago: When I turn 70 [which he'll do on Dec. 18], that would be enough."
Meyer will leave in a blur. He plans to run his players so much this season that in preparation he lost 26 pounds himself. "This is a very quick team," he says. "Everyone will be used. At the speed we intend to play, we'll need a lot of players."
"We don't have to slow up and wait for nobody," says junior Forward Tyrone Corbin, the surprise star of last year's 21-12 NIT runner-up. Junior Point Guard Kenny Patterson, who forms a formidable backcourt with sophomore Tony Jackson, says, "That's the tempo I like. Get the rebounds and kick it out."
Eight experienced players return from the 1982-83 Blue Demons, who were basketball's version of Romper Room, with five freshmen on the roster. DePaul lost nine of 11 outings on the road and shot a mediocre 44.91% from the floor and only 65.6% from the line. The defense thought "Help!" was just another old Beatles flick.
In fact, Help! has arrived in the person of freshman Forward Dallas Comegys (pronounced COMMA-geez). Says Meyer, "Dallas is going to be a great player. Once we teach him some moves to go with his shooting, there will be no one who can guard him."
Helping Comegys will be Corbin, a co-captain. "Last year we needed a leader who played a lot," says Corbin. "When things went bad, we fell apart."
The Demons better hang together this season because, particularly near the end, as Meyer's career closes, the spotlight will get plenty bright. NBC-TV involved nine schools in schedule changes to arrange a regular-season finale between Marquette and DePaul and a goodby for Meyer. But Meyer just shakes his head and says, "The attention's nice, but sometimes I wonder. I hope we make the NCAA and do what we can." Obviously he wants to stretch out this retirement business as long as he can.