While you're sitting inside somewhere out of the dreadful weather that's currently blanketing the northeast faster than Bobby Gonzalez yanked Jamel Jackson after a mistake, here is a nice warm cup of scouting report to sip.
20010-11 record: 6-9
2009-10 record: 8-23 (1-17 Big East)
Key losses: Will Walker, Mac Koshwal
Key returnees: Cleveland Melvin (freshman), Brandon Young (freshman), Tony Freeland, Mike Stovall, Krys Faber, Jimmy Drew (transfer)
The DePaul Blue Demons came into the Big East in 2005, as they were pilfered from Conference USA along with Marquette, Louisville, Cincinnati and South Florida. Since then, while the others have had varying levels of success, DePaul has had none. Two seasons ago, they did not win a single game in Big East conference play, but upset Cincinnati in the first round of the Big East Tournament. Last year, they beat Marquette in a stunning upset at home.
This year, the Demons are much improved, although they still are at the bottom of the conference. New head coach Oliver Purnell has upped the tempo and intensity level, and it has benefited several players on the team, including freshmen Cleveland Melvin and Brandon Young as well as Tony Freeland, a forward who was quite frankly not that good a year ago.
Let's start with Young, who finally give the Demons a player to run the point (sorry, Michael Bizoukas does not count). This talented guard is second on the team at 12.5 PTS per game, adding almost 4 AST per game and a decent outside shot as well. Melvin, the one-time Seton Hall target, is an athletic forward who fits perfectly into Purnell's system. As a result, he is leading the Demons in scoring at 13 PTS, adding 4 REB and 1.5 BLK. He is bouncy, and is shooting a great percentage (my guess is that this is a result of lots of layups).
At 12 PTS and 4.5 REB, Tony Freeland is actually contributing. Last year, he could not shoot straight. This year? 50% shooting. He is also very athletic and bouncy, someone to pay attention to in the open floor without the ball. Krys Faber is the team's starting center, but averaging only 5.5 REB, while Southeast Missouri State transfer Jimmy Drew provides outside shooting.
The Blue Demons are dead last in the Big East in rebounding, and are allowing their opponents to outboard them by about 7 per game. Nevertheless, they have played hard for Purnell, and they lost by only two to West Virginia in their last game. They also gave Georgetown a fight, losing by only 11 on the road in DC. Because of their general lack of skill, they also have some head-scratching losses (Indiana State, Western Carolina).
This is a team that the Pirates should beat based on the fact that the Pirates have 4 players and maybe 5 that are all more talented than DePaul's most talented player (who I would argue is Young). This is the team that Herb Pope should go bonkers on in the post and on the boards. Ditto for Jeff Robinson. The duo outrebounded the biggest front line in the conference on Saturday, and they should allow the Pirates to have an edge in the rebounding department.
PIRATES WILL WIN IF:
- Herb Pope and Jeff Robinson own the boards. Worst rebounding team in the Big East + one of the best rebounders in the country (Pope) = field day in my book.
- They make shots. The Demons are bound to miss a lot against the stellar defense of the Pirates. This should keep DePaul's score low. If the Pirates can make a shot, they should win.
- They play good transition D. DePaul likes to get up and down with their athletes. Take away this aspect of their offense, and the Demons are in trouble.
DEPAUL WILL WIN IF:
- They get out in transition.
- The freshmen step up and contribute (Melvin and Young especially)
- They get hot from deep. The Blue Demons shoot a VERY poor percentage from deep. If they get hot, it might me the thing that keeps them in this game.