Purnell and Blue Demons Enjoying Extra Time During Summer
July 17, 2012
CHICAGO – For Brandon Young, there’s nothing like playing the game he loves in a nice, cool, air-conditioned gym during a summer heat wave.
And thanks to a new NCAA rule, DePaul coach Oliver Purnell and his staff can provide two hours of coaching per week over an eight-week period over the summer.
Men’s basketball players receiving this off-season instruction must be enrolled in summer classes.
“When I found out about the new rule, I was shocked and happy at the same time,” said Young, a junior who will be leading the Blue Demons this season along with classmates Cleveland Melvin and Moses Morgan. “I never thought the NCAA would make a rule like that. It’s great because you should be able to practice as a team all year round.
“It’s always more beneficial to take more classes. You can stay ahead when the fall starts up. This summer I’m taking a class in communications and doing what I love to do, which is play ball.
“Taking a class in the summer can help make up for taking a little lighter load during the basketball season when we’re doing a lot of traveling. I’m taking a class that I enjoy.”
Purnell relishes the extra coaching for a younger team with only one senior.
“It gives us more access to our players and access to them on the basketball court,” Purnell said. “That is a unique place to communicate with the players.
“It’s a place that we’re all comfortable with, and we’re all relaxed. It’s a way of getting across our message on a different level.
“This is so important. I really believe that we battle for the hearts and minds of these kids all year long. They are exposed to so many things. We try to be mentors and a strong positive influence on their lives. Basketball is one of the biggest tools we have to accomplish that.”
Impetus for the new rule came from research showing that student-athletes perform better academically during the structured schedule of basketball season.
It’s a big step,” Young said. “Playing basketball during the academic year and doing all your school work can take up a lot of your time.”
Perhaps the biggest beneficiaries of the rule change are the new Blue Demons.
“The new rule really helps incoming freshmen with their transition,” Purnell said. “Before, we’d have orientation for two days to get them accustomed to the academics.
“Now, they’ll be going through that for six to eight weeks this summer and be ready for the season academically, socially and basketball-wise.”
Young regrets the change didn’t come sooner.
“I wish I had this when I was a freshman,” Young said. “I had to learn so many things quickly and try not to make too many mistakes. Being a point guard in coach Purnell’s system, there was so much to learn and it was real hard. If I had been able to do this, I would’ve had a better first year.
“It’s great that the new guys get an early start in learning coach Purnell’s system. They are going to be two or three steps ahead of normal and will learn it faster.
“When you’re not in season playing games, you can coach us more. That’s a great thing.”
It’s a good head-start into the 2012-13 season.
“Our first practice we watched as the guys went up and down the floor,” Purnell said. “The next day we did some drill work.
“This is a good opportunity for the new guys to learn our system---man-to-man defense, fast breaks, everything we do.
“We want to stress that they learn the right way to play the game.”