Seton Hall returns home for quick turnaround prior to facing DePaul on Saturday

Pat Lovell-USA TODAY Sports

2013-14 DePaul Blue Demons (10-10, 2-5; KenPom: 126; RPI: 90)

A disappointing non-conference schedule that featured heavy losses to tough opponents Wichita State, Arizona State, Texas, and Southern Miss produced unimpressive stats across the board for DePaul. The Blue Demons' best non-conference win came against either Oregon State (KenPom #100) at home or Northwestern (#144) away, and their performances left them ranked below 200th in eight of eleven major offensive statistical categories in KenPom (eFG%, TO%, 2pt%, FT%, block%, steal%, 3PA/FA, and A/FGM) and four out of ten major defensive categories (eFG%, OReb%, FTA/FGA, 2pt%).

The start of the Big East season has been tough on DePaul, despite some optimistic results. Most notably, head coach Oliver Purnell's team played Georgetown very close on New Year's Eve, and knocked off Butler and St. John's in consecutive games. Most recently, the Blue Demons lost by 10 at home to Xavier in a game that was pretty much over eleven minutes in.

Since the start of Big East play, DePaul's offensive output has increased slightly, but their field goal defense (eFG, 2pt, and 3pt) has dropped significantly, leaving them 10th, 10th, and 7th in the conference, respectively. As a result, the Blue Demon's defensive efficiency has also decreased, leaving them last in the league.

Interestingly enough, DePaul's tempo, defensive turnover percentage, and defensive steal percentage numbers have all stayed relatively the same during conference play. Compared to the country, DePaul is 110th, 77th, and 72nd, respectively. In the Big East, DePaul ranks 2nd, 1st, and 1st. Translation: DePaul doesn't play that fast and isn't particularly dangerous on defense, but when compared against the rest of the Big East, they do and are.

On offense, the Blue Demons collectively fail to share the ball enough, resulting in a .87 AST/TO ratio that ranks 281st in the country. Guards Brandon Young (14.1 ppg, 4 apg, 3.8 rpg) and Billy Garrett Jr. (11.9 ppg, 3.5 apg) contribute to ball distribution, but no other player on DePaul averages over 1.5 apg. Conversely, Garrett Jr. (24/80, 30%) and Young (13/57, 23%) have hurt DePaul by shooting a lot of 3-pointers at low percentages. Forward Cleveland Melvin is DePaul's most dangerous deep threat (33/70, 47%) while big man Tommy Hamilton IV (16/33, 48%) and backup guard Durrell McDonald (14/32, 43%) have been potent in smaller doses. 3-point shooting (34.7%, 149th) and offensive rebounding percentage (61st in country) have been DePaul's strengths in a mediocre attack.

Oliver Purnell goes about three players deep on his bench and has recently relied the most on Billy Garrett Jr., Brandon Young, and Charles McKinney (4.9 ppg) as starters in the "1" through "3" positions. Versatile leading scorer Cleveland Melvin (16.7 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 1.6 bpg) and 6-10 freshman center Tommy Hamilton IV (9 ppg, 5 rpg) man the two post positions. Despite starting the first 16 games this season, 6-10 Croatia native and Purdue transfer Sandi Marcius (5.1 ppg, 4.9 rpg) has came off the bench and played important minutes at center over the last four games. Durrell McDonald (4.7 ppg) and the indefinitely suspended Jamee Crockett (3.8 ppg) fill in at guard and on the wing, respectively.

Crockett missed four games in December due to a right knee sprain and an ankle sprain before returning to play 11 minutes total against Northwestern and Georgetown. Jamee was then suspended on January 7th prior to playing Creighton after not seeing the court against Marquette. Crockett, who is notorious among some Seton Hall fans for playing an unexpected hand in their embarrassing 86-58 loss at DePaul in 2010, has not played since his suspension. Crockett went off for 21 points, shot 5-7 from deep, and did this dirty, filthy thing to Seton Hall with the game well in hand. He also scored 16 points, well above his average, against Seton Hall last season.

...

DePaul is looking to end a poor two-game stretch after they won their first two Big East games in a row since the 2006-07 season. Seton Hall is coming off of a "disappointing" 77-76 loss at St. John's on Thursday night in which they turned the ball over 19 times.

This is the thirteenth installment of a series that dates back to 1942 and is led by Seton Hall, 9-3. Seton Hall has won six of their last seven against DePaul and has never lost at home (5-0). Kevin Willard is 3-1 against Oliver Purnell since both coaches took their respective positions prior to the 2010-11 season.

Both leading scorers from Seton Hall's 73-72 road win over DePaul last January (Aaron Cosby (24), Jamee Crockett (16)) look to be absent tomorrow, leaving Brandon Mobley, who scored 16 last year, and Brandon Young (15 pts) as the leading returning scorers

Series history:

Jan. 2, 2013, DePaul 72, SETON HALL 73, Rosemont, Ill.
Mar. 3,, 2012, DePaul 86, SETON HALL 58, Rosemont, Ill.
Jan. 10, 2012, SETON HALL 94, DePaul 73, Newark, N.J.
Jan. 12, 2011, SETON HALL 78, DePaul 67, Rosemont, Ill.
Feb. 14, 2010, SETON HALL 79, DePaul 71, Newark, N.J.
Feb. 10, 2009, SETON HALL 72, DePaul 49, Rosemont, Ill.
Feb. 23, 2008, SETON HALL 73, DePaul 71, Newark, N.J.
Feb. 25, 2006, DePaul 67, SETON HALL 64, Rosemont, Ill.
Dec. 27, 2003, SETON HALL 76, DePaul 62, East Rutherford, N.J.
Dec. 28, 2002, DePaul 52, SETON HALL 41, Rosemont, Ill.
Dec. 29, 1988, SETON HALL 83, DePaul 60, New Orleans, La.
Feb. 25, 1942, SETON HALL 36, DePaul 33, South Orange, N.J.

In preparation for DePaul, Seton Hall head coach Kevin Willard said the following post-St. John's:

"We have to come out at home with a little better attitude than we have at home. We've gotta come out a little more aggressive, we'll talk about our press tomorrow. Be a little bit more aggressive at home and get back to pounding the basketball inside a little bit."

Willard also stressed the importance of quickly improving upon making unforced errors.

"It comes down to 19 turnovers (against St. John's) it just really hurt us, stupid turnovers too. Too quick, in a rush. Just get the ball in bounds, guys being careless and lackadaisical with passes... that's something we've got to improve rather quickly on going into Saturday."

KenPom says: No. 102 Seton Hall - 76, No. 126 DePaul - 69 (73%)

Projected DePaul starters:

6-5 Fr., G - Billy Garrett Jr.

6-4 Sr., G - Brandon Young

6-3 Jr., G/F - Charles McKinney

6-8 Sr., F - Cleveland Melvin

6-10 Fr., C - Tommy Hamilton IV

When: Saturday, 6 p.m. local time

TV: CBS Sports Network

Radio: 970 AM

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