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Title Quest Takes Blue Demons to Cancun
Durrell McDonald hopes to be celebrating on Thanksgiving if DePaul can win the Cancun Challenge.

Durrell McDonald hopes to be celebrating on Thanksgiving if DePaul can win the Cancun Challenge.

Nov. 18, 2012

CHICAGO – Mention the word “Cancun” and visions of luxury resorts, sun-kissed beaches, the turquoise waters of the Caribbean Sea, excursions to the Yucatan jungle or the inspiring ruins of ancient Mayan civilization quickly come to mind.

But to the Blue Demons who are jetting down Sunday to this vacation paradise on the eastern tip of Mexico, their thoughts are filled with a different kind of recreation.

They would like nothing better than to return home on Thanksgiving Day having won the Cancun Challenge preseason tournament.

That would require a victory over 2012 NCAA tournament qualifier Wichita State on Tuesday and either Iowa or NCAA tournament team Western Kentucky in Wednesday's title game.

Coach Oliver Purnell and his team will spend four nights at the luxurious Moon Palace Golf and Spa Resort nestled between a 1,975-foot white sand beach and 123 acres of tropical foliage. There are seven swimming pools on the resort along with six tennis courts, two basketball courts, two fitness centers and activities such as beach volleyball, beach soccer, kayaking, bicycling and mini-golf.

There is a 27-hole Jack Nicklaus Signature golf course and nightly theme parties and shows. Performing artist Usher will be putting on a show at the end of December.

The only performance DePaul’s basketball team is thinking about will take place at the Moon Palace basketball arena.

“Everybody has the same mindset on this trip---we want to go out and win this tournament,” Jamee Crockett said. “This is my first visit to Cancun. For me, it’s focus on basketball and don’t drink the water.”

Backcourt mate Brandon Young is ready for a memorable visit.

“This is going to be a good experience for the team,” Young said. “We get to travel and play basketball. We’ll get to see new things and try new things. It will bring us together as a group.


 

 

“It’s always fun to try new things and go to different places. And that fun gets multiplied when you’re with a team full of good guys.

“We want to try and win this tournament as a team. We’re going to get after it and make things happen. This year, everyone is more focused.”

Blue Demon center Donnavan Kirk has some idea what this trip will entail.

“I’ve never been to Cancun, but I went to Cabo San Lucas in Mexico when I was a senior in high school,” Kirk said. “Cancun is more of a bigger city and a lot of people go there for vacation. We’ll see some pretty scenery with nice water views.

“It’s always cool to travel with a team. You get to eat in good restaurants and stay in nice hotels, and we’ll do more team-oriented stuff.”

Crockett believes the Blue Demons will be come in loose and confident.

“There’s a ton of laughs on this team because we’ve got some real characters like Brandon, Worrell Clahar and Montray Clemons,” Crockett said. “We won’t be able to use our cell phones, so this will be a chance to get to know each other even better.

“Last year on our Thanksgiving trip to Orlando, we didn’t win the tournament like we expected. We had a chance to go to Disney World. The best roller coaster we rode was Space Mountain. I got on that one three times. We also got to visit Universal Studios.

“There are going to be distractions in Cancun, but coach Purnell does a good job of not letting us get out of his sight. We’ll stay together as a team.”

And if the Blue Demons keep it together on the court, it could be a happy plane ride home on Thanksgiving.

“We are going to Cancun to win the two games, and we’ve got a good chance to win the whole thing if we stay focused,” Kirk said. “We’re much better than last year, and this is a good opportunity to go down there and accomplish something.”