A small trophy made of marble and glass sits on coach Pat
Kennedy's desk. The engraving reads: CONGRATULATIONS ON THE
RESURGENCE OF DEPAUL BASKETBALL. Two months after he received
that keepsake from his staff, at a surprise 48th birthday party
last January, Kennedy was directing the Blue Demons in their
first NCAA tournament game in eight years. DePaul lost that
opening-round game to Kansas, but there's no denying that the
Blue Demons, who were coming off a 3-23 season when Kennedy took
over in June 1997, are back among the nation's top 25.
Though the Blue Demons lost their leading scorer and rebounder,
6'6" sophomore Quentin Richardson (the 18th player taken in the
NBA draft), and third-highest scorer, Paul McPherson, Kennedy has
replaced them with two other blue-chippers from Chicago, freshmen
Andre Brown and Imari Sawyer. The 6'9" Brown was a McDonald's
All-America power forward, but he will have to jostle for minutes
with 6'7" Bobby Simmons and 6'9" Lance Williams, both juniors, as
well as 7-foot sophomore Steve Hunter, who has as much potential
as any center in the nation.
The size in the frontcourt will make up for a serious lack of it
in the backcourt, where the 6'2" Sawyer will team with 5'7"
junior sparkplug Rashon Burno, who was second in Conference USA
in assists (4.6 a game) last season. The obvious question of how
DePaul will replace Richardson's offense and star quality is not
that big a concern to the Blue Demons. "When Q had the ball last
year, a lot of times the rest of the team would stand around,"
Burno says. "It was like the Michael Jordan syndrome." DePaul
will now have a more balanced attack, which could mean more
trophies in Kennedy's future.
COLOR PHOTO: BOB ROSATO CROSSOVER The Blue Demons will likely look to Burno to do less playmaking and more shot taking.
POS. PLAYER HT. CL. KEY STAT
SF [**]Bobby Simmons 6'7" Jr. 13.1 ppg
PF [**]Lance Williams 6'9" Jr. 6.0 ppg
C Steve Hunter 7'0" So. 1.7 bpg
SG Imari Sawyer 6'2" Fr. 32.3 ppg*
PG [**]Rashon Burno 5'7" Jr. 4.6 apg
1999-2000 record: 21-12 Final rank (coaches' poll): unranked
[**]Returning starter *As a high school senior