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Report: DePaul AD says Oliver Purnell will be back next season

By Matt Norlander | College Basketball Writer

C (USATSI)
Oliver Purnell has not yet been able to make big improvements at DePaul. (USATSI)

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Another DePaul regular season ended with another thud Thursday night, a 79-46 home loss to a Butler team that had dropped seven straight entering the game.

The Blue Demons, whose high-water mark this season was an 8-5 record two days after Christmas, have closed out their slate with a 3-15 run. According to reports from last night's game at Allstate Arena, fans booed the performance, fed up with the poor play and basement-level expectations that have enveloped a once-proud program.

Oliver Purnell was brought to the school in 2010 to try and revive the program. But Purnell, who's never won an NCAA Tournament game as a head coach, has been unable to jump-start any momentum. Many fans want a new coach.

According to the Chicago Tribune, they won't be getting one. Blue Demons athletic director Jean Lenti Ponsetto told the newspaper that Purnell will return for a fifth season.

After the game, DePaul athletic director Jean Lenti Ponsetto told the Tribune that Purnell will return for the fifth season of a seven-year deal he signed in 2010.
"When he came here we talked about taking four or five years to get it turned and to get the caliber of student-athlete we want in the program," Lenti Ponsetto said. "It's definitely a rebuild, this process that we're in, and we're going to stay the course, recruit, just get better and execute."
...
Purnell has tried to convince weary fans that the future is bright with the young talent on hand, led by Garrett and Tommy Hamilton IV. Lenti Ponsetto backed her coach's outlook for this season and the future.
"We have some outstanding young talent in this program and we're excited about the talent coming in," Lenti Ponsetto said. "I'm proud of our seniors. They made such a great commitment, they stayed the course. This team has had a lot of adversity and a lot to overcome. … We've been a team all season long that has had no margin for error and there has been a lot of adversity the coaching staff has had to manage."

The Blue Demons' most notable -- and negative -- singular event from this season was the abrupt dismissal of Cleveland Melvin, a senior who is among the all-time leading scorers and rebounders in school history. Melvin is no longer enrolled in school and the reason for his leaving was never disclosed.

In Purnell's four seasons with DePaul, the team has averaged 10.3 wins and finished last in the conference every time. The school's last NCAA Tournament appearance was 2004 under Dave Leitao. The team will play as the No. 10 seed in next week's Big East tournament.

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