Coming from any former player, it would have been a real mouthful. But coming from an icon such as Mark Aguirre, it created a firestorm.
“If you’d have told me back when I was playing there that this would be the [current] state of DePaul basketball, it would’ve been unconscionable,” Aguirre, a two-time first-team All-American and the consensus 1979-80 national player of the year, said in my column in Monday’s Sun-Times. “I would’ve said, ‘You’re out of your mind.’ Just think about it. Would you ever have guessed this? No. It’s unimaginable.”
RELATED STORIES Your Turn poll: Which Cubs or Sox star will have the best 2018 on offense? Michigan State — Final Four-bound? Illinois, Northwestern aren’t about to argue
The Blue Demons, who were a major power in a bygone era, are deep into their 11th consecutive losing season. They have a new gym, the downtown Wintrust Arena, but an “old” coach — Dave Leitao, on his second tour at the school and struggling (to say the least) to get the program moving at all.
A very active segment of the DePaul fan base is laying the blame for the state of the program at the feet of longtime athletic director Jean Lenti Ponsetto. The “#FireJLP” hashtag was hard to miss on Twitter from a group of disgruntled fans that includes, according to the school, individuals with multiple accounts espousing the same dire message.
There were many slightly more measured, though not at all more supportive, reactions to the Aguirre story.
“Does DePaul have a will to change its pathetic basketball program?” wrote @johnbres2. “Does President [A. Gabriel] Esteban even care? Is it on his radar that there is a problem? There needs to be a housecleaning. DePaul needs to reassert its hoops identity. It would be great for the school and Chicago.”
“They operate like a high school,” wrote @mjbracco128. “Trustees and President need to decide this is important enough to clean house and bring in a major-college AD and coach.”
“Not sure what DePaul fans expected from Leitao, Part Deux,” wrote
@brodskyme. “The guy turned his own alma mater’s basketball program [Northeastern, before his DePaul stints] into a dumpster fire.”
Ponsetto, who traveled with the team for Wednesday night’s 31-point loss to Villanova, declined a request to be interviewed.
Meanwhile, @mike_carnahan spoke for many who were around to witness DePaul’s heyday:
“It would be easier to explain to kids today the greatness of the Mayan civilization than how nationally dominant and exciting DePaul b-ball was in the ’70s and ’80s.”
Maybe it’s just one of those Cubs-Sox things.
As in, the Cubs draw more fans. The Cubs get more ink. The Cubs — unlike the White Sox, it often seems — actually are known to the outside world.
Or maybe the very idea that a baseball player in Chicago is going to put up better offensive numbers this season than Kris Bryant is simply preposterous.
Can it really be that, though?
This week’s “Your Turn” poll asked which Cubs or White Sox star will have the best offensive performance in 2018: Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, Jose Abreu or Avisail Garcia?
The results are coming up in favor of the 2016 National League MVP in a huge way. Perhaps it should be no surprise.
“Come on. Really?” @MikeSox56 wrote. “Bryant by a mile.”
When even a guy with “Sox” in his handle feels that way, it begins to feel like a moot point. Yet Bryant’s slash line in 2017 — .295/.409/.537 — hardly blew away Abreu’s .304/.354/.552, Rizzo’s .273/.392/.507 or Garcia’s .330/.380/.506. We’re talking about four outstanding hitters who have been All-Stars and are in, or are approaching, their primes.
“Abreu — he’s about to take off!” wrote @TheSouthS1der.
Is it just my imagination, or is Abreu, four years into his big-league career, a 30-homer, 100-RBI machine with a batting average of .301? Bryant’s undoubtedly a better all-around player — great baserunner, walks more, offers some versatility on defense — but Abreu is capable of going off with a monster season. As is Rizzo. Not to mention Garcia.
IN OTHER NEWS …
A few more of your questions and observations:
It’s pretty sad when a Chicago sportswriter doesn’t know the legacy of George Mikan. —@ThomasClarkLaw
Why, because I called Aguirre the greatest DePaul player ever? Don’t make me run a “Your Turn” poll and prove it.
You say the White Sox will be better than expected this year? What matters is that the organization made significant strides in improving what was a dismal farm system. Patience is a virtue. —@thickyfingerz
“Virtue”? May I have the language of origin of that word? Can you use it in a sentence?
Look, pal, patience and I don’t get along.
Please stop mentioning Sox pitcher Carlos Rodon as any sort of factor this year or any other. He is Kevin White in a baseball uniform and will have arm soreness for eternity. He’ll never be ready for spring training or the start of a season. He’ll never be an ace or innings eater. —Bill, via email
Too upbeat for my blood, Bill. Here a reply from our Sox beat writer, Daryl Van Schouwen:
“Rodon is a huge talent and it’s time to prove he can be part of the rebuild. There are signs of maturation, and Rodon says he learned tough lessons about taking care of, and listening to, his body. I would expect to see him pitching again in June and, if he’s healthy and has his elite stuff, see no reason why he can’t be the top-of-the-rotation starter the Sox envisioned.”
Follow me on Twitter @slgreenberg.