DePaul -vs- Marquette Preview
DePaul at Marquette
January 25, 2006
The DePaul Blue Demons(8-9) are coming off one of their toughest defeats of the season at the hands of the Providence Friars by the score of 76-75. Sammy Mejia, in his first ever game coming off the bench, scored a career high 30 points to lead the Blue Demons. DePaul was without two key contributors in Wilson Chandler (suspension) and Wesley Green (injury). The Marquette Golden Eagles(14-5) are on a current two game winning streak and are coming off a Big East home victory against Notre Dame on Saturday by the score of 67-65. Senior forward Steve Novak led the Golden Eagles with 28 points, including the game winning basket with 1.1 seconds left. These two teams met only a week ago and Marquette came away with the victory by the score of 82-79 at the Allstate Arena.
The Blue Demons come into this game on a four game losing streak and need a win very badly to keep any hope alive of making it to a postseason tournament. For DePaul to break up this losing streak, junior guard Sammy Mejia has to continue to be the leader of this team. In six Big East games, Sammy has averaged 18 points a game and has had very impressive outings in the past two games(24 points against Marquette and 30 against Providence). Mejia, who has struggled all season with his free throw shooting, has to build on his 9-9 free throw shooting this past Saturday against Providence. Sophomore guard Draelon Burns has picked up his game a lot recently and continues to be a solid second scoring option for the Blue Demons. In addition to Burns averaging 16 points a game in Big East play, he has turned up the intensity on the defensive end also. Burns has had nine steals in the past two games and a career high five steals on Saturday, a very good sign for a team that does not force a lot of turnovers. Sophomore forward Wesley Green and freshman forward Wilson Chandler are expected to return for this crucial game. Green's foot is still a concern and he has been battling a chest cold, but he is one player who is determined to play through pain for the good of the team. Green should get plenty of minutes because of his ability to score in the low post. Wilson Chandler returns after a two game suspension due to a violation of team policy. Chandler is still the team's leading rebounder at 7.3 a game and will give DePaul another big scoring option. Sophomore forward Karron Clarke will benefit from Chandlers return because he will return back to his usual small forward position. Clarke continues to be a defensive force and is averaging nearly 6 rebounds a game. The point guard position is a little cloudy heading into this game as Jabari Currie has struggled a lot in recent games and his playing time has suffered(3 minutes against Providence). Backup point guard Cliff Clinkscales could be getting more playing time as the season goes on.
The Golden Eagles hope to build on last week's win against DePaul. Senior forward Steve Novak was a big factor in that game and continues to be a deadly shooter. Novak is averaging 16.9 points a game and is shooting an astounding 47% from three point range. Freshman guard Dominic James was the most impressive player on the court last week against DePaul as he went for a career high 29 points. James, on the season, is averaging 15.2 points and 5.7 assists a game. James has future star written all over him. James backcourt teammate, Jerel McNeal, is quietly having a very solid freshman season. McNeal, a Chicago native, is averaging 11 points and two steals per game. Senior guard Joe Chapman has stepped in nicely for injured guard Wesley Matthews and has averaged 9 points a game in his absence. Junior Jamil Lott is a solid contributor either off the bench or in a starting role because of his defense.
Marquette continues to be a team that relies on most of its points to come from beyond the arc. The Golden Eagles shoot a very impressive 40% from three point range. They will use a lot of screens to get shooters like Steve Novak and Dominic James open on the perimeter. One thing Marquette has to do better is hold onto the ball, they average 16 turnovers per game. The Blue Demons on offense like to run a lot of isolations, especially with Sammy Mejia, and a lot of pick and rolls. DePaul's offense does well when they can get the ball inside and get easy baskets.
Keys to a DePaul Victory
1. Better Defense this time around: The Blue Demons defense last time they played Marquette struggled very much because they could not defend the perimeter. The Golden Eagles shot 68% from beyond the arc due to how many open looks they got. DePaul has to make sure to switch on defense around the perimeter when there is a screen and get a hand in the face of the shooter every single time.
2. Contain Novak and James: Dominic James and Steve Novak destroyed anyone who was guarding them last week. For DePaul to win, they have to find a way to at least contain these two and force other players on Marquette to win them the game. Jabari Currie could not keep up with James in the first game, so a player like Sammy Mejia would be a much better option. Wilson Chandler, whether he starts or not, will likely be assigned to Novak whenever he is on the floor.
3. Establish a Presence Early: After last week's disastrous first half against Marquette, DePaul has to come out knowing what to expect in this game. They have to be much more aggressive on both sides of the ball and take the crowd out of the game early. DePaul has been outscored 540-496 in the first half this season, this is something that has to change for them to win this game and put together a winning streak the rest of the way.
First Matchup: 1917-1918(DePaul 21-17)
Last Matchup: 2005-2006(Marquette 82-79)
Three Fun Facts
1. The last time DePaul won at the Bradley Center was in the 1999-2000 season. The Blue Demons won that game 55-35.
2. DePaul is 4-6 with Wesley Green in the lineup and 4-3 without him.
3. This is Jerry Wainwright's first game at the Bradley Center as a head coach.