Imrem: Leitao sequel makes no sense for DePaul

Updated 3/29/2015 9:03 PM
  • Dave Leitao will be the DePaul men's basketball coach -- again.

    Dave Leitao will be the DePaul men's basketball coach -- again. Daily Herald file photo

The world is full of things that make you wonder what's going on and what you missed.

Like, could Will Farrell and Kevin Hart really make an awful movie? Like, could Chicago really have a mayor nicknamed Chuy? Like, where is it written that otherwise intelligent people have to keep making dumb comments on social media?

Then there's DePaul rehiring Dave Leitao as men's basketball head coach.

Seriously, did the Blue Demons really have to pay a search firm to help them go back to the future? Do they really think that love is lovelier the second time around?

Maybe at Monday's news conference to reintroduce Leitao, somebody associated with DePaul will explain whether this is a sequel, a remake or an early April Fool's joke.

Either way it has a weird feel to it that doesn't appear to be pure genius.

Leitao was named Sunday to replace the failed Oliver Purnell, Among the mentioned candidates, Bobby Hurley and Bryce Drew were perceived to be the front-runners.

Each is a young, rising, energetic coach who just took a midmajor team to the NCAA Tournament.

Ironically, Hurley and Drew pretty much are what Leitao was when he arrived in Lincoln Park the first time in 2002.

The problem was that Leitao's upside exposed DePaul as a steppingstone more than a destination.

DePaul was respectable under Leitao -- one trip to the NCAA Tournament and two to the NIT -- and perhaps on the way to being much more.

Then Leitao bolted for Virginia after three seasons and DePaul still hasn't recovered.

The Demons went 12-15 the season after Leitao escaped, an indication that he hadn't recruited and left behind a roster full of NBA lottery picks.

If memory serves, Leitao didn't make a significant impact recruiting the Chicago area generally and the Public League specifically.

Virginia certainly was a move up for a social-climbing coach. But Leitao lasted only four seasons there and overall hasn't fared much better than the Blue Demons have since he left here.

So maybe DePaul and Leitao need each other now, though reconciling with a former mate can be at once awkward and comfortable.

It's difficult to tell what DePaul is trying to recapture and debatable whether Leitao can recapture it.

This isn't exactly Indiana Jones or James Bond coming back for another go-round after a decade of playing shuffleboard.

Leitao isn't the same coach that DePaul hired the first time. He's approaching 55 instead of 42 and is a grizzled retread instead of an emerging star.

DePaul is different too, of course. Thirteen years ago the Blue Demons were coming off, well, let's just say an interesting few years.

Pat Kennedy had success recruiting the Public League and made a pretty good run on the court for a while.

But Kennedy's regime always seemed sleazy, and in a way Leitao can be viewed as the coach who cleansed the program's reputation.

In that respect it's easy to see why DePaul would be interested in going back to Leitao: He wasn't a dynamic personality but did represent the university well.

Maybe that's all DePaul wants at this point in time, or maybe it thinks it can wish, hope and pray Leitao into making its basketball program what it wants to be.

That happening would be as weird as rehiring Dave Leitao to make the Blue Demons relevant around here again.

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