DePaul Hires Dave Leitao For The Second Time Around

DePaul Blue Demons men’s basketball has a new head coach, well sort of. Bobby Hurley, no thank you! Bryce Drew, I am sorry! For the head coaching position, the DePaul Blue Demons have hired Tulsa Hurricanes assistant coach Dave Leitao. It is a five-year deal, according to ESPN Chicago.

Just in case you are unfamiliar with DePaul men’s basketball, they currently play in the NCAA Big East Conference, where they have been cellar dwellers for basically their entire existence in the conference. They began this season with a 6-1 record and even was atop the Big East standings during the early stages of conference play.

Just when it appeared that then-head coach Oliver Purnell had things turned around, a slide had begun.

After going 6-1, the Blue Demons lost six straight. They then went on to win five out of seven games before dropping 11 of 12 contests. Coach Purnell and DePaul mutually agreed to part ways after the end of the Big East tournament.

After interviewing former Duke star and current Buffalo head coach Bobby Hurley and Valparaiso coach Bryce Drew, DePaul found its man. The one who seemingly got away, Dave Leitao.

DePaul fans are hoping that the second time around is a charm. New hire Dave Leitao is a re-hire for the university. He left DePaul in 2005 for perceived greener pastures for Virginia.

“This is a special day for my family and me. I underestimated what a special place DePaul University and the city of Chicago are when I left here in 2005. The dedication and support here to the growth of student success is second to none, not only for a basketball program but also for the entire student body.”

Leitao had some success with the Blue Demons during his first stint in 2002-05. He led DePaul to a NCAA Tournament appearance and two N.I.T. berths. In doing so, he had a 58-34 record. Leitao is the last coach to lead the storied team to the big dance.

On one hand, bringing back Dave Leitao was a smart move. He knows the city, although he did not have strong Chicago-based recruiting results. The fact that he has recruited the area before is a plus.

The time away from DePaul, his stints with Virginia, the NBA D-League, and recently as an assistant may have made Leitao a wiser coach this time.

Another factor working in Leitao’s favor is that he understands the demands of the university and the program. He is not new to athletic director Jean Lenti Ponsetto. The former/new coach knows what’s to be expected.

Ponsetto did not allow the sting from Leitao leaving DePaul prior to be held against him.

“We recognized that it is the nature of our business that dynamic coaches get recruited away,” Ponsetto said in a written statement (via CSN Chicago). She is hoping that the second time is a charm for the school’s most successful coach in the last 15 years.

There are some concerns here. Dave Leitao is not a sexy hire in the eyes of many who follow college hoops. He is respected in his field, but he is not the hire many had hoped for.

Fans have asked for young, dynamic names. Bobby Hurley was the biggest name among the candidates mentioned. He flew to Chicago for an interview but left without a job offer. Why that is, fans may never know. At this point, does it even matter?

DePaul Blue Demons men’s basketball mattered at one time. It still matters today in the eyes of DePaul faithful. They hired a solid head coach in Dave Leitao. Will he reclaim his place as one of the up-and-coming minds in college hoops? DePaul sure hopes so.