Wednesday, November 23, 2011

DePaul vs Minnesota Chalk Talk

DePaul (2-0) vs Minnesota (4-0) in the Old Spice Classic

Minnesota Quick Facts:
  • Conference: Big Ten
  • Head coach: Tubby Smith (4th season at Minnesota)
  • Located: Minneapolis and Saint Paul, Minnesota, USA
  • Mascot: Golden Gophers 

Numbers Don’t Lie*:
  • Mbakwe is pretty good at getting to the free throw line. Ok, that is the understatement of the year. His current Free Throw Attempt to Field Goal Attempt rate (FTA/FGA) is a ridiculous 155.5. As a result, the team rate is 58.1, good for 16th in Division 1
  • Minnesota is not good or and doesn’t like shooting the three point shot. As a team, they are shooting 30.8% (224 in NCAA), and only 16.4% (327 in NCAA) of their points come via the three point shot. Conversely, DePaul is shooting 43.1% (29 in NCAA) and 38.6% (64 in NCAA) of their points come from behind the three point line.
  • DePaul is currently #1 in NCAA for percentage of shots blocked, only 1.3% of their FGA. This is likely the result of a small sample size and lackluster teams, but if it is a trend, it’ll be important against a large frontcourt.

3 Players to Watch:
  • #32, 6-8 F, Trevor Mbakwe Mbakwe is a beast in the frontcourt, and will likely regardless of DePaul’s efforts and game planning. It’ll be important to limit Mbakwe’s touches, and force their gaurds to win the game
  • #50, 6-11 F/C, Ralph Sampson IIISampson missed the last game with an ankle injury. He’ll likely not be 100%, but his size alone will be a problem
  • #1, 6-1 G, Andre Hollins/ #13, 6-2 G, Maverick Ahanmisi/ #00, 6-3 G, Julian Welch Minnesota is currently practicing PG by committee with Hollins (17.5 MPG), Ahanmisi (13.3 MPG), and Welch (16.8 MPG) splitting minutes at the lead guards position. It should be an advantage for DePaul if they can force their three guards to make plays. If not, the game could get ugly.

Keys to the Game
  • Hitting perimeter shots
  • Frontcourt players staying out of foul trouble
  • Creating turnovers against Minnesota’s guards 

*All stats courtesy of

Monday, November 14, 2011

DePaul vs Mississippi Valley State Chalk Talk

DePaul vs Mississippi Valley State University (MVSU)
Mississippi Valley State University Quick Facts:
  • Conference: Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC)
  • Head coach: Sean Woods (3rd year at MVSU)
  • Located in: Itta Bena, Mississippi
  • Mascot: Delta Devils
What to Expect:
  • Last season, MVSU finished 13-19 (12-6). They return 3 of their top 4 scorers from last year, Paul Crosby (12.1 pts, 7 rbs), Terrence Joyner (10.1 pts), and Falando Jones (8 pts).
  • MVSU is 0-1 on the year after losing to Notre Dame (ND) 80-67 on Saturday.
  • CBS predicted MVSU to finish third (out of 10) in the SWAC
  • ESPN recently ranked the SWAC as the worst conference of the 32 conferences in NCAA Division 1 basketball
  • Against Notre Dame, MVSU used 7 players more than 5 minutes. If Coach Woods only prefers to use 7 players for extended minutes, DePaul’s pressing style should allow them to pull away in the last 10 minutes.
3 Players to Watch:
  • #3, 6-3 Guard, Terrance Joyner – Joyner put the most impressive numbers for the Delta Devils against ND with 14 points, 9 rebounds, 5 assists, and 2 steals in 33 minutes. Joyner also put up 10 three point shots, hitting 3. The increased number of shots is uncharacteristic for Joyner as he only averaged 4.5 three-point attempts per game last year. Given his low shot percentage, I expect Purnell will sag defensively and challenge Joyner and the other guards to hit threes.
  • #32, 6-8 Center, Paul Crosby – First, MVSU spelled Crosby’s name wrong (Crosby, not Crosy) on their athletics website, so they need to get that corrected. Crosby struggled against ND’s frontline putting up 7 points, 4 rebounds, and 3 assists in 31 minutes. Crosby did average 3.1 turnovers per game last year, so DePaul would be smart to double team in the post and force him to dribble when pressing.
  • #25, 5-10 Guard, Kevin Burwell – MVSU lost 12.3 ppg with senior guard D'Angelo Jackson graduating and Burwell seems to be helping fill the role. He had 14 points and 4 assists against ND and provided the most steady outside shooting going 2-4 from long range.
Keys to the Game
  • Frontcourt scoring and defense
  • Establishing an early lead
  • Forcing turnovers

Saturday, November 12, 2011

DePaul Cruises Past Texas Pan-Am 91-72

The 2011-2012 basketball season kicked off with a win for the new look Blue Demons versus Texas Pan-American (UTPA). Anticipation was high for everyone surrounding the program with the optimism of a new season after the debacle that has surrounded DePaul in the previous three seasons. Friday night was the first regular season opportunity to see what an Oliver Purnell team could look like with a roster compromised mostly of players he recruited.

Most Outstanding Performer (MOP) Candidates:
Moses Morgan - After a disappointing performance in the Lewis exhibition game, Morgan looked like a completely different player. Last season it took Morgan 12 games to hit his first 3, this season it took less than 2 minutes.  Morgan continued his hot shooting going 4-7 from three-point range and finishing with 16 points, 4 assists, 4 rebounds in 22 minutes.

Krys Faber - Faber showed similar resilience as Morgan. In the exhibition game Faber picked up his first two fouls in 90 seconds, but Friday night he first foul occurred with 5 minutes left in the game. Faber’s foul trouble has been well advertised, but the most impressive part was that he was able to stay out of foul trouble while still playing solid defense. Faber continually had good position throughout the night defensively, played the back of the press without fouling, and finished strong around the rim. It is important that Faber utilize the tools he possesses, and against UTPA he took advantage of his size and ability to run the floor. 

Jamee Crockett – The first player to verbally commit to Purnell at DePaul played briefly in the exhibition game (4 minutes), but in extended minutes Crockett impressed. In 12 minutes, Crockett amassed 9 points (2-2 from 3) and 2 steals. As advertised, his energy played a key role defensively, but his shooting was the biggest surprise. If Crockett maintains consistent perimeter shooting combined with his ability to attack the rim, he'll compile an impressive stat line. 

Turnovers – Purnell noted after the game that he was satisfied with about 20-25 minutes of the team’s defense. When the defense looked good, they were forcing turnovers and converting them into scoring opportunities like this Alley-oop from Brandon Young to Cleveland Melvin. The Demons forced 21 turnovers and scored 38 points off those turnovers. Throughout the game DePaul was able to overwhelm UTPA with their athleticism on defense. Continue to watch Charles McKinney’s minutes increase for the value he provides on the defensive end.  When DePaul struggled it was because they were not getting back defensively and as a result, allowed some easy baskets. On the flip side, DePaul also committed 15 turnovers. The most discouraging being 7 turnovers by Young. Young’s demeanor seemed down the entire game, and it lead to him being benched to start the second half. Young’s 7 assists are encouraging, but they were negated by his 7 turnovers.

Three Point Shooting – The Lewis exhibition preluded that DePaul will have a new emphasis on three point shooting. Against UTPA, the Demons took 27 attempts and connected on 12 of them for 44.4% shooting. It’ll be tough for the Demons to maintain that rate, as they do not have roster of players known for their shooting prowess. Expect Purnell to continue to focus on their inside presence, particularly against smaller nonconference teams. It is encouraging though that they were able to be more consistent, because improved three point shooting could guide the team to a few additional wins than expected this season.

Jabari Parker – If you haven’t heard yet DePaul is not on Jabari Parker’s school list. At least that is what every recruiting website indicates. However, since October 10, Parker has visited the campus three times for a campus tour, an exhibition game, and the home opener. That does not include Blue Madness, where his father Sonny was present while Jabari participated in USA Basketball mini-camp. Compare that to every other school on Parker's "list" and DePaul leads 3-0 by all reported accounts. Last night’s visit was especially interesting because there has been rumors this week that Jabari would visit the University of Illinois campus along with teammate Kendrick Nunn. Demon fans can be excited in DePaul’s chances for Parker, but realize this will be a long recruitment. Regardless, it will be worth while because Parker is the type of player that can change a program immediately.

Up next for DePaul is Mississippi Valley State Delta Devils (0-1), 7:30 at McGrath-Phillips Arena.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

DePaul Defeats Lewis 70-63 in an Exhibition Game

The Good:
Cleveland Melvin – Melvin filled up the scorer’s sheet. He finished with 33 points (including 3 for 11 from three), 8 rebounds, and 1 block in 33 minutes. His perimeter shot was always near the rim, and as has been reported, looked improve. Still, he was the most effective when attacking the rim and around the hoop. When Melvin scores around the hoops it is effortless and quiet. I was concentrating so much on his perimeter game that before I knew it he already had 30 points.

Charles McKinney – This was the first opportunity to see McKinney play an extended time besides for a few minutes in a noncompetitive Blue Madness scrimmage and some France highlights. I walked away the most impressed by McKinney on the night. It didn’t show up in the stat line, 6 points (3-3), 4 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 block, and 3 turnovers in 21 minutes, but he will be an important piece this season. He uses his long arms, lateral quickness, and tenacity to dominate defensively. He also is a lot faster than I expected with good body control. After a slow start for the Demons, he had a putback dunk that got everyone’s attention.

Transition Offense – DePaul looked the best when attacking the rim. With an injection of athleticism this season, they have effective finishers around the rim. Against a division 2 team the athleticism stood out more (However, Lewis does have some nice athletes for D2, specifically Julian Lewis and Lonnie Lawrence). Regardless of the results on the court, DePaul will be an entertaining brand of basketball.

The Bad:
Cleveland Melvin – So how can you be both good and bad, well if you were at the game you know why. To say Melvin took too many three is an understatement. I watched the second half with Norman from East Coast Bias, and he made the comment that he wished he had missed more on some of his threes than he actually did. I have to agree, because maybe then it would encourage him to shoot less. Melvin was 11-14 from inside the arc, and that is where he should spend most of his time if DePaul is to see any resemblance of success this year. If Melvin is serious about extending to the three-point range, he’ll need to improve to around 35% and lower the number of attempts. Overall, DePaul was 9-34 (26.5%) from three point, and as a team they’ll need to improve.

Moses Morgan – I was hoping that Morgan would come out guns blazing from three and prove to be the third scorer this team needs. He did come out shooting threes, but struggled only shooting 1-5, and 2-13 overall for 5 points, 4 rebounds, and 3 assists. He’ll need to improve, because DePaul can’t afford for him to be off again during the nonconference schedule. To his credit, he was often defending Lewis’ 4s and did a great job of taking charges.

Defense – It was hard to judge the defense considering DePaul didn’t press much of the entire game. The half court defense was not good. Multiple players blew assignments and the help side defense was often late. As a result, players were often in a bad position to rebound, which led to the team getting out rebounded 45 to 40 including giving up 15 offensive rebounds.

The Rest:
Worrel Clahar was good on man-to-man defense, but needs to attack on the offense more often. The few open shots Clahar had didn’t fall. Brandon Young ran the offense well and his shot looks improved, but he needs to look to score more frequently. Kelly was solid and ended up the second leading scorer with 14 points. Krys Faber got his first 2 fouls in 90 seconds. He lacked touch against smaller defenders and saw limited minutes due to foul trouble. Jamee Crockett only played 4 minutes after being cleared to play earlier today. Derrell Roberston showed some signs that he could be a useful piece on the back of the press.

In the Gym:
As I walked to get my ticket, Jabari Parker approached the gym next to me. His father Sonny was also in the gym. Jabari sat next to his friend and DePaul commit Billy Garret Jr. Despite the lack of success DePaul has recently had, having Jabari around the program is a great sign. 2012 6’7 combo-forward, Deontae Hawkins is also on the Lincoln Park campus on his official visit.

Overall, there is a lot too be hopeful about (mostly Melvin's production and Parker's appearance), and a lot to be concerned. In reality, I didn’t see anything tonight, good or bad, that would sway my opinion on the team’s predicted success. I'll be more interested in their game next week vs Texas Pan-American when it really counts. 

Let me know if you have any questions about the play tonight, and if you were at the game be sure to share what you thought in the comments section below