Non-conference recap: DePaul

Cleveland Melvin is averaging 18.5 points and 6.5 rebounds to start his sophomore season. AP Photo/Ed Reinke

DePaul, 9-3 record, .4918 RPI (171st)

The good: DePaul has already eclipsed its win total from last season. The Blue Demons went 6-6 during nonconference and 7-24 overall last season. … Cleveland Melvin and Brandon Young have built on their strong freshman campaigns. Young has become one of the country’s top combo guards, averaging 17.2 points and 4.8 assists. Melvin’s numbers are up from his Big East Rookie of the Year season. He’s averaging 18.5 points and 6.5 rebounds. … Freshmen Jamee Crockett and Charles McKinley have proven to be reliable players. Crockett has been inserted into the starting lineup lately, and McKinley has been a consistent guard off the bench all season. … Shane Larkin’s departure put DePaul in a tough situation at point guard before the season, but junior college transfer Worrel Clahar has been able to help fill the void. He’s been better than expected.

The bad: DePaul’s record is nice and all, but it hasn’t really played anyone. Its nonconference strength of schedule is ranked 323rd in the country. Only 22 teams in the country have played easier schedules. … Outside of Melvin and Young, the Blue Demons have struggled to score consistently. Jeremiah Kelly is third on the team in scoring and has had six double-digit scoring games this season. … DePaul still has trouble inside on both ends of the floor. Melvin and Krys Faber have combined for 13.1 rebounds, but the team only averages 34.5 rebounds, which is 215th in the country.

Team MVP: Melvin and Young have been equally as good. It’s because of them DePaul is off to its best start since the 1999-2000 season.

Overall: DePaul coach Oliver Purnell was smart to schedule a weak nonconference slate this season. He’s still working to change the culture at DePaul, and winning any way you can is part of that. It looks like Purnell is on track with his rebuilding process.

Moving forward: The Big East has been a challenge for DePaul with one winning conference season (9-7 in 2006-2007) in six years. They are a combined 2-52 in the Big East in the last three seasons. The goal this season has to be to win three or more conference games. Notre Dame, Providence, Rutgers, St. John’s, South Florida and Villanova are definitely beatable.

Conference season key: DePaul needs for players to consistently contribute around Melvin and Young. Big East teams are too good and too deep to be toppled by only two players.