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posted: 1/30/2010 12:01 AM

Webster has DePaul's pedal to the metal

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  • Tracy Webster

    Tracy Webster


He might have shifted one chair over into the hot seat on DePaul's bench, but Tracy Webster's low-key persona and high-volume work ethic haven't budged an inch.

Since taking command of the Blue Demons three weeks ago after Jerry Wainwright's firing, Webster hasn't moved out of his assistant's office and hasn't stopped operating like an assistant.

"Now, I probably have to do a few more appearances for luncheons and all that, but I still try to watch as much film as I can," Webster said. "I still try to be around the guys, the players. There's nothing that's really changed a lot."

Except for the ways the Blue Demons attack the practice floor and their opponents.

When No. 4 Syracuse shows up at Allstate Arena today, it will be DePaul's sixth game during the Interim Webster Era. By all accounts there's a noticeable difference.

In addition to snapping the Demons' 24-game Big East regular-season losing streak with the home win over Marquette on Jan. 20, the coach who's still addressed as "T-Web" by his players has tapped into their desire to work at a higher rate.

"Some of the guys felt like they were getting out of shape during the season," said senior guard Will Walker, the team's leader. "The practices, they were decent, but they weren't really uptempo.

"I'd say we're playing harder, but I think it's from the way practice has been. When (Webster) came to be the coach, the intensity picked up a lot in practice."

Walker asserts the Demons prefer it that way.

"There's more action going on and more (full-court) type of playing. You tend to get a feeling of just going out there and playing."

We go at it much harder and it's much more physical. It's always better like that. The rebounding drills are much more physical."

West Virginia coach Bob Huggins, who knows his way around physical play, noticed DePaul's style shift even before the Mountaineers' win over the Demons on Tuesday.

"I think, you know, watching film, I think Tracy (Webster) is doing what he needs to do to give his guys a chance to win," Huggins said. "I thought they did a great job against Marquette. You hold Marquette to 50 points, you've played really well defensively - they do a good job of shortening the game."

Webster, who goes out of his way to respect Wainwright when asked about change (real or imagined) since he took control, doesn't think there has been a big difference.

"If they feel like we've been going up and down more because there's more possessions? I don't know," Webster said.

But Webster does admit more full-court play in practice leads to more teachable moments.

Will sophomore forward Devin Hill learn from firing up three long bricks in a 20-second span early in the second half of Tuesday's loss to West Virginia? Webster would bet on it.

"Now he's taken those shots - was he open?" Webster said. "Was Will open? If his man helps (defensively), can you kick it? Can you penetrate and kick?"

In addition to changing DePaul's practice tempo, Webster and his coaches (Tom Kleinschmidt has bumped up from director of basketball operations to third assistant) have adjusted the playing rotation.

Six-foot-10, 260-pound sophomore center Krys Faber averaged 7 minutes in DePaul's first 14 games. Since Webster took control, Faber has moved into the starting lineup and averaged 4.2 points and 5.8 rebounds in 24.4 minutes per game.

"I think all the guys need some extra time," said Webster, again deflecting a query about change. "We're just trying to play who we think is going to help us win a particular game."