SOUTH LOOP- The DePaul Blue Demons (1-0, 0-0 Big East) began the 2018-2019 college basketball season on Wednesday night. They opened their second season at the two-year-old Wintrust Arena located around the corner from McCormick Place, and they do have some new faces on the team. One of those new faces is redshirt junior guard Jalen Coleman-Lands. The Indianapolis native transferred from Illinois last season but had to sit out in accordance with the NCAA’s rule on undergraduate transfers. But Wednesday he was finally eligible to play and took the court for Demons home opener against the Bethune-Cookman Wildcats (0-1, 0-0 MEAC).
In the 80-58 win over the Wildcats, Coleman-Lands scored eight points (he averaged nine at Illinois) on 2-of-6 shooting. He also had two rebounds, two assists, and a steal. He transferred from Champaign after the Fighting Illini removed John Groce as the head coach. And now the Indianapolis native is looking to help DePaul find it’s winning ways.
“I’m very, very happy and proud of our guys. Especially with it being the first game,” said DePaul head coach Dave Leitao in his post-game press conference.
Max Strus was the star for the Blue Demons on Wednesday as he led them with 25 points, made 8-of-15 field goals, and converted 5-of-12 three-point attempts. Sophomore forward Jaylen Butz controlled the paint with a double-double of 12 points and 10 rebounds, he also had a blocked shot to his credit.
“Tonight was kind of my night,” said Strus after the game.
While Coleman-Lands may have had a modest output, he played 36 minutes and was in the starting lineup. Coach Leitao does have Coleman-Lands in his long-term plans.
“Jalen is one of a lot of guys that’s still trying to find himself on the court,” Leitao said. “He played good, but I think he can play a lot better.”
The adjustment for Coleman-Lands at DePaul will be switching from the fundamental style of basketball played in the Big Ten, to the higher octane offenses that rule the Big East.
“He’s got to find his rhythm and his comfort level, that will happen,” said Leitao.
The hope is that Coleman-Lands along with Butz and a few others can take away some of the pressure from Strus and senior guard Eli Cain, especially on the offensive end. And coach Leitao believe that Coleman-Lands has the capability to do that.
“He stretches the floor as well as anybody on our team and he’ll stretch the floor as well as anybody in (the Big East). Overall, as we go week to week Jalen will get better and better,” Leitao adds.
Starting the season with a victory is a plus for any team. But especially for the Blue Demons as they hope to have their first winning season in a decade. They have the talent to do it, it’s just a matter of stringing wins together, especially in conference play. And DePaul has plenty of confidence heading into this season.
“We all have very high expectations for this team,” Strus says
Next up for the Blue Demons is a visit from another MEAC team in Morgan State on November 12th.