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Can D.J. Betterman, video game basketball coach, be the coach DePaul Basketball Needs?

Brandon Bowens

College Hoops 2K8 is a game that I should have apricated more when I was a kid. Yes, there was no warning signs about the impending O'Bannon Lawsuit that would end college sport video games as we know it. But now looking about on it over 15 years later, it's impressive on how much they packed into this game. From the layup lines pre-game, to the studio show with Greg Gumble, to the half adjustment page that made you feel like an actual coach. Add 2K share, a sweet soundtrack, the early 2000's unlockables that 2K was known for, and the knowledge that that they managed to put all of that and over 320 Division-I teams in the game that was still being released on the PS2, the game is a gem that you should be talking about.

Not to mention College Hoops 2K8 is a nice time capsule on college basketball. The game featured the likeness of Davidson sophomore Stephen Curry , Memphis's freshman Derrick Rose, UCLA's Kevin Love and Russell Westbrook, Arizona State's James Harden, and North Carolina's and college basketball god Tyler Hansbrough, Stanford's Lopez Twins: Brook and Robin, and Kansas's NCAA Champion Mario Chalmers.

But what does a video game from 2007 have to do with DePaul Basketball?

Well we are already in Year 2 of the Tony Stubblefield experience and it doesn't look great. After going 15-16 in his first year, he seems to have experience a sophomore slump going 9-20 in his second year. Now this isn't totally Stubbs fault, his best guard and forward graduated, his next best forward transferred out of DePaul, and 3rd best forward spent most of the season injured, thus making the team play small for the majority of the season. And while the team beat Villanova for the first time in 18 years, defeat a ranked Xavier for the second consecutive year, sold out the Wintrust Arena for the first time since DePaul moved to the venue...there aren't a positives about the 2022-2023 DePaul Men's Basketball season. I mean, take a look online. You will seen hundred of tweets thinking that the DePaul basketball program was the worst ever and no one is doing anything about it.

And...I get it. Think about this:

Depaul hasn't had a ton to celebrate in recent years. And the one thing they could celebrate was to a crowd of a little over a thousand.

It really shouldn't be the case. DePaul is in the in the state of Illinois, a hotbed for top prep talent. Illinois neighbors Indiana, another talent hotbed. The main campus of DePaul is located in the heart of Chicago, which has the Chicago Public League, arguably the public school basketball association in the whole United States. DePaul should be much better than what they are.

You know what DePaul needs: A good, no-nonsense coach. A man who emphasizes board crashing, defense, and a modern motion offense. A natural recruiter that knows what recruits want and get them to travel all over the world just to play for your program.

That's where College Hoops 2K8 comes in. Heavily inspired by SB Nation's Ricky O'Donnell Western Illinois Dynasty, I decided to do something I never did when I was a kid playing College Hoops 2K8: go through the whole 40-year Dynasty Mode.


The rules pretty much run like a standard College Hoops Dynasty series. We go through all 40 years with the goal of getting hired by DePaul ad winning National Championships. A few notable rules though:

  • Much like the Ricky O'Donnell Dynasty mode, I will not be usering any of the games. This includes conducting bonus drills, adjusting training, or participating in any ABL games, which offers recruiting bonuses for playing the game.

  • Game are set to 20 minutes and sim length is set to 20 minutes as well. Players can also declare for the draft early.

  • The biggest rule is if the DePaul job is open, I immediately have to take it and stay until the end of the simulation. Getting there will be somewhat of a challenge for two reasons:

  • Firstly, you have to work two years before you can get a new job. That means if I take a new job, and the DePaul job opens the next year, I cannot take it due to the minimum mandatory length of time that you have to be a job.

  • Secondly, getting a job with a power program is tough. While I don't have clear and definitive proof of this, I believe that the game considers the following when it comes to Power-5 jobs:

  1. Size of your school you are currently working at

  2. Conference Rank

  3. Regular Season Success

  4. Tournament Success (NIT helps, but NCAA helps more)

  5. Offering Teams success that season

  6. Coach Grade

So when you start at a small school, you can move up as long as you improve your conference rank, by being the best school in your conference, occasionally making post-season tournaments, improving as a coach each year and hope that the team offering you the job...was that bad the previous season to offer you a job. It's not impossible, but given the resources available with a small team, there is a reason why the common route is to jump to a mid-major before trying to jump to a power program. And that's what I'll do here. I'll take any job that leads me to DePaul as long as in the end, I end up at DePaul. However, there is one exception to the rule:

  • IF at any point the University of South Carolina job is available for me to take, I'm allowed to take that job, even if I am end up at DePaul. I got to represent my undergrad alma matter somehow.

With all that out of the way, let's begin.

YEAR ONE (2007-2008)

Well first off, I have you introduce you to the man, or rather, coach of the hour. Meet D.J Betterman:

Betterman played three years at a small community college in Texas before transferring to a D-III college in Illinois. After graduating in 2002, he immediately became an assistant coach at said D-III school. After four years, he is finally ready to become a the head coach at a D-1 program.

He gets his first opportunity with the University of Maryland Eastern Shore (or UMES, for short) Hawks. UMES is a public, historically black university in Princess Anne, Maryland. They are one of the founding members of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (or MEAC), who members are historical black colleges and universities across the Southeastern and Mid-Atlantic US.

In terms of Dynasty mode, they have the lowest overall rating at 58, and they only have nine players on their roster.

No wonder they have never made the NCAA tournament in their history...'till now. Because D.J. Betterman is here. And D.J Betterman is about to make thing better, man.

Like most Dynasty builds, I pour all six my starting points into charisma, because that’s the category that helps you land recruits. And after selecting my assistants and taking a look at the schedule, its time to begin Betterman's first season.

Early on, we target any three-star player with size: 6'11" center Adenilson Hernandez from Venezuela, 6'9" power forward Dominick Alujevic from Croatia, 6'8" center Marco Coles from Raleigh, NC (OVR #414, POS #31), and 6'10" center Tyler McDade from Virginia Beach, VA (OVR #436, POS #38). We also go after three star shooting guard Dominic Konare from Senegal, just to have some guard depth. Getting all three centers is definitely probably a pipe dream, but if I was to get all three center, Coles would move down to power forward. Size is incredibly underrated in the game; have a big boy or two down low and watch them grabs 30 rebounds and score 50 points all by themselves.

Plus I mean look at this team. This team is in desperate need of size:

This first year is more about recruiting the future of the team, so my expectations for this first year is pretty low. That being said, we earn some surprise wins against Iowa, Valparaiso, and Florida Gulf Coast to enter the December signing period at 3-6. Unfortunately, we lose out on McDade to William & Mary, and quickly target 6'10" center Craig Channing from Indianapolis, IN (OVR #407, POS #29) to keep my twin towers dream alive.

UMES enters conference play with an 4-11, 0-1 record and exits it with 11-25, 7-14 record, somehow making it to the semifinals of the MEAC Tournament before losing to Hampton 73-55.

UNC wins the National Championship, with Tyler Hansbrough (or Guy Nance in my verison of dynasty) wins Player of the Year. As for our team, we do have a Freshman All-Conference player 6'5" power forward Keon Brower, who also wins Conference Freshman of the year. As a result Betterman earns three achievement points, which I use to move his charisma up to an A+

Offseason recruiting was rather dismal. It starts by losing out of Channing and Coles to UNI and W&M respectively. We target other centers, but they show little interest in going to UMES. That said, the world players targeted at the beginning sign on to the team, and the two unused scholarships will just be added on to next year, meaning I have four to work with next year.


As a result, this is our roster going into Year 2:

Our best player is Dominick Alujevic, who comes in as a 68 overall Freshman with C+ Potential.

Close behind him is another Freshman, Dominic Konare, who enters with at 67 overall with D Potential.

Our best returning player is 6'2" senior shooting guard Shagari Pitta at 66 overall.

Rounding out our top five is the freshman center Adenilson Hernandez, who grew to 7'0", at 66 overall with C and the above mentioned Keon Brower at 59 overall.

After taking a look at our schedule, I got straight into revamping this team to make the new signees fit in without sacrificing team unity (Which is essentially like synergy in this game, the higher it is, the better the team plays).

Secondly, I move Brower over to Small Forward, which only drops his overall by one. I don't love Brower being at 6'5" and playing power forwards. My ideal power forward is around 6'8". I will take a chance on smaller power forwards if they are talented or grow an inch at some point, but with a 6'9" freshman power forward on the team already, it just makes more sense.

So here is where we stand rotation wise:

The Road to DePaul will Continue

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