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Author Topic: Leitao Expectations  (Read 7722 times)

Offline Q3DePaul

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Leitao Expectations
« on: January 31, 2016, 03:34:47 PM »
I was going to post this in the shoutbox but things sometimes get lost in there.  I thought this might generate some good conversation.

By the mere fact that we are all reading, posting, arguing on this site, it shows we are all DePaul diehards to a some degree.  With that being said, I am really not understanding how one single person could defend DL (or give him a pass) and this season so far.  Everyone keeps talking about how we need this and that and how player A or player B sucks, etc. (I've been guilty of it too.)  Bottomline is DL has been a complete failure and things aren't pointing in the right direction for the future.

When DL was first hired, I thought it was a horrible decision but I eventually "bought in".  He was able to take a bunch of solid pieces from PK and turn them into a team.  The ONLY reason I bought in was b/c I thought this could be a similar situation.  We have some solid pieces who DL should have been able to turn into a competitive team.  Halfway thru the conference season are we are on pace to get 3, maybe 4  conference wins.  The arguments have been the Big East is a lot better this year and I think that might be true.  However, shouldn't we be better too?  That was the whole point of bringing in a guy who NO ONE wanted and was on track to be a mid-major assistant coach for the rest of his career.  Numbers can definitely be deceiving but the bottom line is virtually this same group was able to get 6 wins last year (and that includes them losing 7 games when they basically quit on OP.  (I am NOT asking for OP back so please don't twist my words...Only pointing out this team should AT LEAST be a 6 win team this season.)

I know my words will get twisted and I'll be ripped.  "Our players suck." "We need stronger players, better shooters, better ball-handlers." "Give DL some time."  Let's keep in mind the first time DL was here he wasn't here long enough to see the program as he built it.  He brought in Mejia and coached him but most of his success came with PK guys.  Let's also keep in mind the one time he was able to stick around long enough to "build" his own program, he was 10-18 in year 4 at Virginia and then got canned.

For those who think my expectations for the season / progress we should have seen this year were too high, remember that King DL & Queen JLP both thought the same thing...

CHICAGO -- There was absolutely no mistaking the message new men's basketball coach Dave Leitao delivered to a media throng and several hundred members of the DePaul community attending the introductory press conference Monday at the Student Center.

The time to win is right now.

It's not next week, not next month, not next year.

Forget about rebuilding this or replenishing that. There are no excuses or extenuating circumstances.

The winning began the moment Leitao agreed to finish the job he had started back in 2002. That's when he took a 9-19 Blue Demon team and proceeded to orchestrate one of the nation's biggest turnarounds going 16-13 his first year in Lincoln Park and earning a berth in the NIT.

After leading DePaul to the second round of the NCAA tournament in 2004 and another NIT the following season, Leitao took over the program at Virginia and promptly led the Cavaliers to the NIT his first season (2005-06). The next season, Virginia claimed a share of the Atlantic Coast Conference regular-season title and advanced to the second round of the NCAA tournament.

When Dave Leitao arrives in town, the articulate 6-foot, 7-inch coach hits the ground running---and winning.

"It's about infusing your players with an understanding of how to win and making them realize that winning is part of your DNA," Leitao said. "And it's not limited to winning for 40 minutes on a basketball court. Winning is a process you engage in every day.

"It's about believing in yourself and in what the program is going to accomplish. You win games, get to the NCAA tournament and win some more games.

"People are going to see us play and then pick up the phone or text or tweet to their friends that you've got to come and see this. If not, you're going to miss out on something very special."

In three seasons at DePaul (2002 to 2005), Leitao was 58-34 with a Conference USA title, a pair of NIT appearances and an NCAA tournament berth in 2004 where the Blue Demons defeated Dayton 76-69 in double overtime as Drake Diener scored a career-high 28 points and Delonte Holland added 13 points and 14 rebounds.

DePaul lost 72-55 to BIG EAST champion Connecticut in the second round as former UConn assistant coach Leitao went against his coaching mentor, Jim Calhoun.

In his final two seasons at DePaul, Leitao's teams won 44 games.

"We were looking for a coach with a background and history to compete in the BIG EAST Conference," said DePaul athletics director Jean Lenti Ponsetto. "We wanted a proven winner who could recruit all over the country.

"We don't see this as a rebuilding project, but an opportunity to take the next step in the process. Our expectation is to win now. We have talent here that needs to be re-engineered. It was clear to our search committee that Dave Leitao was our No. 1 choice."

Leitao certainly demonstrated he could coach against some of the best during his first stint at DePaul. He won that Conference USA title going against the likes of John Calipari at Memphis, Rick Pitino at Louisville, Bob Huggins at Cincinnati and Tom Crean at Marquette.

The new Blue Demon coach has a clear vision of how to win immediately.

"To defend and rebound is absolutely necessary to win games," Leitao said. "It's in my blood, and it's what I know.

"Playing defense is the most controllable asset in sports. You don't need to jump out of a gym, shoot three-pointers or be super athletic to play defense. It's a mindset, and you can bring it every single night. That's why I love defense.

"This is a very blue-collar town, and your coach is a blue-collar guy."

Ponsetto and Leitao remembered sharing the tears 10 years ago when the up-and-coming coach left Lincoln Park for Charlottesville. Amidst that emotional time, Ponsetto said she realized college basketball was still a business and that such a move could occur.

That didn't make it any easier---on either of them.

"This day fills me with a lot of emotion," Leitao said. "Coming back here to the place where I shared so many great memories is really inspiring to me. I am overwhelmed by the outpouring of support from the DePaul community."

Leitao said he is grateful to DePaul President Rev. Dennis H. Holtschneider, CM, for giving him the opportunity to finish what he started.

"I absolutely love this school and everything that it stands for," Leitao said. "There isn't anybody more special in college athletics than Jeanne, and I am honored to help raise the basketball program to the level that she deserves."

Most recently, Leitao was an assistant coach at Missouri and Tulsa under Frank Haith. Missouri posted back-to-back 20-win seasons during his time in Columbia that included one NCAA and one NIT appearance. Last season at Tulsa, Leitao helped lead the Golden Hurricane to 23 wins and a NIT berth.

He was scouting at the junior college national tournament when he took a phone call from DePaul expressing an interest in hiring him.

"I was pleasantly surprised," Leitao said. "After our conversation, they said we'll get back to you. I had a very good interview, and here I am today."

Leitao's recruiting prowess prevailed over Michigan State, Indiana and Ohio State to land future pro Wilson Chandler. Along with Chandler, Leitao also signed eventual NBA Draft picks Sammy Mejia and Dorell Wright. At Virginia, Leitao helped develop NBA Draft pick Sean Singletary.

"I believe in myself and have always been around programs that have been winners," Leitao said. "Winning is part of my DNA.

"To our players, this is a new day. What I heard about you and what you heard about me---we're all starting with a clean slate. I challenge them to go out and realize your dreams and let us dream together.

"To everyone else out there, I dare you to give us a try. We are absolutely going to make you proud."

Offline VUWildcat2103

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Re: Leitao Expectations
« Reply #1 on: February 01, 2016, 08:09:41 AM »
A post that absolutely kills so many arguments. There are no excuses for this year, and the coaching staff and athletic department said exactly that. So absolutely has this team and staff underachieved.

Excellent post from Q3.

Offline hbomb

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Re: Leitao Expectations
« Reply #2 on: February 01, 2016, 11:42:17 AM »
The hire only made the slightest bit of sense in the context of a quick turnaround.  If he was hired to slowly rebuild the program than this was categorically the wrong hire as DL's history proves he is not that type of coach.  If OP, the known rebuilder couldn't get it done here, DL certainly isn't.  Does JLP realize she has egg on her face, again? Or does she just not care anymore?

Offline VUWildcat2103

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Re: Leitao Expectations
« Reply #3 on: February 01, 2016, 11:56:23 AM »
Frankly, I don't think missing out on what was targeted matters to most of the big names tied to DePaul. Are the kids graduating and staying out of trouble? If the answer is yes, mission accomplished.

Offline Hayes-Healy Superstar

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Re: Leitao Expectations
« Reply #4 on: February 01, 2016, 02:43:09 PM »
Well, where to start. Ok I'll start here.

Dave has failed this season.  If you were to judge him based on what he said in this article, then yes he has failed. However if you personally are judging Dave a failure based on him not having a winning record at this point, then you too figured this team was good enough to make the postseason.  I always expect DePaul to make the tourney, but that's my inner nut fan wanting to see them play after the conf tourney. 

Then I watch the games and realize what the team is made of. I don't know when DePaul might make the tourney again.  But it won't be this year and more than likely won't be next year.  Not with these players, not with this staff. Is there a combination of players and recruits that Dave can succeed with next year or beyond? I don't know. I don't hold much hope for any improvement over the remaining games this year, and any success that does happen I highly doubt will carry over.  But I am fair, and will give Dave until the end of this calendar year before I throw in the towel. I figure one more recruiting season and one non con season is about enough at this point.

Comments here reflect a larger problem at DePaul.  A lack of institutional urgency and expectations.  The BOT and Pres don't see this as a focus, despite the huge investments to be made.  It's almost like they do things so they won't be bothered by discussions about.  People carp about a new stadium, so they half ass it by partnering with the city for another off campus solution so they can say they "did something".  The fire JW, throw millions at a new coach so they could say they "did something".  The rebuilder fails, so they fire him, eat salary and hire a safety blanket they can point to as someone who succeeded before.  Each case thinking money alone can fix the problem and not addressing real accountability issues.

Is Jeannie the sole reason we are where we are.  Not by a long shot.  She's just one cog in a very broken machine. She made a bad hire in JW, made a horrible decision in forcing BG on JW.  Made a worse situation on handling the OP hire. And again dropped the ball in the last round by forcing BG on the next coach, with the WRONG mindset that you needed Jr apart of THIS team if you wanted to WIN NOW.

The problems with DePaul go all the way back to Ray, sadly.  Ray demanded nothing from the school, even as the school began to reap the huge dividends of what HE built. The school NEVER supported Joey, even as he began to continue the success his dad built in 86-87.  The mechanics of what ils DePaul now stem from the school never being held to the fire of what's needed institutionally to succeed at high major D-1 sports.  And through that entire time, JLP worked her way through the DPU athletic department "family". 

I see Rev Holtzy as someone who doesn't want the athletic department to embarrass the school.  Embarrassment defined as bad press related to misbehaving players, sketchy recruiting practices.  Losses he apparently can tolerate.

Another detriment to DePaul, a complete lack of vocal, well monied boosters who demand a winning sports culture.  DePaul has no season ticket base to speak of.  They don't have a large number of millionaire alumni who call the Prez to complain about the team.  If we did, we would see a markedly different set of decisions.  The few (2-3?) boosters that do pay attention to DePaul sports are firm JLP supporters.  And taking that into account, is anyone surprised she still is in her position.  Who's name is on the softball field? Whose land was needed to purchase to build the stadium?  What other name is on the McGrath arena? You think she's close to Jeannie?  As deep throat told Woodward.... Follow the money.

There are plenty of schools out there with better profiles than DePaul that underperform from a management perspective *cough.. Illinois.. Cough*. Again, we are dealing with institutions that are largely run by academics in a non profit setting.  The programs that do succesed have a) a winning mindset b) some business acumen behind their decisions c) a profit motive that drives their deciding (I.e. Realized booster donations tied to winning) d) accountability based on wins/losses.

Now what does DePaul have going for it currently? We do have a brand new stadium going up that should alleviate that negative recruiting aspect.  The city CAN be a recruiting tool to the right players and coaches.  The new stadium is much closer to potential recruits on the south and west side.  And after the stadium goes up, there will be increased scrutiny on the performance of the team... And may drive DePaul into a more business minded approach.

Has Dave and DePaul failed so far. Yes he has.

Have I made my final decision on him. No. He has 11 months (or sooner) before I do.
Smart men learn from their mistakes, wise men learn from the mistakes of others.

Offline lovethedrake

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Re: Leitao Expectations
« Reply #5 on: February 01, 2016, 11:28:20 PM »
I am one of the biggest DL supporters on this site and even I will admit that based on those quotes by DL and especially JLP they should both be fired after this season.   They said this team is good enough to win now and clearly they were inept at their job.

Personally, I strongly disagree with JLP on this matter as I think this is not a roster capable of competing in the Big East this year.  Not by a long shot and not even with Tom Izzo or John Wooden at the helm.

However, her words were very clear that in her opinion this is not a rebuild and the expectation is to win NOW. 

DL gets one more year for me.  If there is not a clear change in culture next season than he is not the answer.

Offline chisox0617

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Re: Leitao Expectations
« Reply #6 on: February 01, 2016, 11:37:11 PM »
A couple brief thoughts that have been eating away at me,
  • I honestly can't even imagine DePaul being even on the bubble of the NCAA tournament in the near future or really anytime because what needs to happen won't as long as the current BOT, President, and AD are assembled. Unless of course the stadium does change the program THAT much.
  • About that new stadium, I think it will be really, really interesting to do some surveying of about the Allstate crowd (age, race, commute to games, etc) and compare it with let's say 1-2 years at the new arena. I think it would be entirely different.
  • Also, as a relatively recent undergrad (now grad student) I've been around the players personally and have A+ sources for basically the last 6ish years and get really tired of hearing about how the university prides themselves on the players being high quality character guys even though they may not win. Yeah there were some genuine great guys , ex McGee and Kirk, and a lot of guys who seemed like good people, but there were also at least a couple significant players who did some really truly terrible stuff that to some extent was covered up. That really made it difficult to root for them team until those guys left. Now I'm sure that happens almost everywhere but if that's something that we constantly have to hear about in place of being good at basketball, well eff that
  • About Dave, I'm on the side of expected a bit more this year but not going to call him a complete failure, he needs to be judged in more time
  • Make no doubt about it though, it bugs the hell out of me that we hired a guy who would have been lucky to ever get another MID LEVEL HC offer again and that's who we choose when we finally looked like we were going to correct prior mistakes
DePaul Class of 2013, will I get to see a NCAA tourney team by then...

Offline OldSchoolDemon

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Re: Leitao Expectations
« Reply #7 on: February 02, 2016, 11:17:06 AM »
thank you Q3 for posting that article...that article is the reason why I continuously quote the "esteemed" AD that this is not a rebuild. I find some reasons for hope because I love 2 of the 3 recruits being brought in, but that won't resolve the rest of the roster issues unless there is major turnover forced by the coaching staff. HHS, great post. I think all of us here are at the point of no return...we've just not taken the step to completely turn our backs. I'm giving Dave until December 31st 2016, but am leaving the door open for sooner if the roster configuration does not change dramatically between mid-March to mid-April and if the 2017 recruiting does not show an uptick
The right path is sometimes the tortured path...DePaul fans are the definition of "tortured"

Offline Hayes-Healy Superstar

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Re: Leitao Expectations
« Reply #8 on: February 02, 2016, 04:22:28 PM »

I'm too old and my DePaul roots run too deep to completely leave the program. I did for a short time (2+years), and can't see completely giving up again as an option.

Call it being a dumb fan. I know many fans have left the program in some manner, but I also know if they ever got the teams shittake together, they would dust off those old shirts and show up again.

Dave has ten more months to keep me engaged with HIM, past that, we need to move on.

And perhaps Dave might only have this year and next to turn it around. If Dave fails next year, Jr is gone, OPs $ has been paid and perhaps JLP tries to make one last splash hire for year one stadium.  I don't know.... As John Fox says... It's all a problem.
Smart men learn from their mistakes, wise men learn from the mistakes of others.

Offline Big Kid

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Re: Leitao Expectations
« Reply #9 on: February 02, 2016, 10:56:13 PM »
HHS, if Devil in the Blue Dress makes the next hire then that will be my official exit from this Program. Unless of course she's making the hire because Leitao turned us around in a very short time into something grand and carpetbagged out of the Chi once again for a bigger payday.

Her abysmal failures in coaching decisions (and decisions tied or within those decisions) have haunted this Program for the last 10 years and without a big turnaround next year, it will be 11. How on Earth she should be given another opportunity to "correct" her decisions one more time by the BOT and Pres. would show me they really and truly just don't give a F about MBB and why should I then. I mean they've pretty much gave us a middle finger with the Leitao hiring but that would be the Piece D' Resistance. I'm hanging on by a thread and will give Leitao some time to clean up this mess but if he's fired down the road without her being relieved of her duties, I'm gone.


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