Saturday, December 31, 2011

DePaul Non-conference Review

Before the story a quick announcement; You may have noticed that post have been infrequent (irr…nonexistent) recently. There are a variety of reasons for that, but mostly because I am trying to decide the role of the blog.  I did a few posts with game preview and reviews, but there are already a lot of sites that cover that material well. As of now, I’m going to focus more on analysis pieces.  Also, continue to check the Twitter page, as I continuingly keep it up to date. Now to the story. 

Going into the season, a few key concerns DePaul fans had surrounded depth, due the injuries, and Cleveland Melvin’s new perimeter game. Under the El takes a look at how those two elements have played out early this season.


Under the El ran a story in October after injuries to Montray Clemons and Tony Freeland coupled with Macari Brooks being ruled ineligible, that depth was going to be an issue this season. To see if there was any correlation between the loses and the lack of bench production, Under the El looked at the percent of bench minutes and points along with the rotation.

In DePaul’s three loses, there was not a noticible dip in bench minutes or production.  Purnell also was not forced to use a smaller rotatation than he prefers. So depth has not been as big of an issue as many, including myself, thought it may be in the beginning of the season. Given the circumstances of injuries and an inexpereicned bench, the production has been better than expected. According to, the average NCAA team’s bench contributes 31.7% of minutes, so DePaul falls in line with the majority of the NCAA. 

Melvin’s 3 Point Shot

The other major worry of DePaul fans going into the season was that Cleveland Melvin’s new focus on three point shooting would hurt the team. Lets take a game by game look at Cleveland’s three point shooting this season.

At a glance it appears Melvin has struggled connecting on only 26.3% of his three point attempts. However, there is a noticeable difference in his game beginning in December as indicated with the red line. Statistically, there is no definitive explanation for the increased shooting percentage. Perhaps it was Purnell limiting his shot selection or just an adjustment period for his new offensive weapon. If at the beginning of the season I told you Melvin would be hitting at 37.5% of his shots and averaging 3.4 three-point attempts per game, I’d imagine you’d be pretty satisfied. I would too, and if Melvin keeps up his post December numbers, it will only help his and DePaul’s offense.

As DePaul enters Big East play fans will have to hope that the bench production and health remains and that Melvin maintains his post December shooting numbers. 

Friday, December 2, 2011

DePaul rallies late but loses to Ole Miss 70-68

5 Brief Breakdowns

Close Games – No one wants to hear it, but get use to close games. This team is still young, and has a lot of losing habits to overcome. Through the first six games it appears the team is more comfortable from behind than with a lead. Playing with a lead takes discipline and experience, two aspects our young Demons do not have. The players that are the future of this team, particularly Young and Melvin, have the ball in their hands at the end of game. This experience will be vital if not this year, then next.

Free Throws – DePaul fans want to point towards free throws as the reason they lost, and while it may be true, it is also the reason they almost won. Below is a breakdown of the FTA, FTM, and differential through 6 games:

Opp. FTA
Opp. FTM
+/- FTM
Texas Tech
Arizona St.
Ole Miss

The FTA differential typically hurts DePaul, but last night DePaul kept the game close because they were able to get to the line and Ole Miss struggled at the line. DePaul was able to get to the line, in particular, because of Brandon Young’s ridiculous hesitation move and change of speed that leads to buckets, assists, or fouls. DePaul is still a good free throw shooting team hitting at a rate 71.3% (100 in NCAA). On the contrary, opponents are shooting 61.9% (43 worst percentage in NCAA). Hard to find an exact reason why opponents have struggled shooting free throws against DePaul, but the most likely answer is the defensive pressure.

Screens – The interior defense has struggled all season, and DePaul will continue to struggle because it lacks the size and length to compete with many of the nation’s frontcourts. However, many of the times DePaul gave up easy baskets were because of communication issues on ball screens. On multiple occasions they did not call ball screen switches, and left their man with an open lane. Calling back screens is also important in transition defense, otherwise the result can be a man on the floor (ex. Charles McKinney last night). Offensively, except for Faber, we have are awful at setting screens. If Melvin is going to play the four, or even five at times, he has to screen better. He does not set his feet, but rather turns to receive the ball before the screen in complete.

Rebounding – If you listened to the Minnesota post game or the Oliver Purnell show on Wednesday night it was obvious that rebounding has been a point of emphasis in practice this past week. The team got the message, outrebounding 38-39 an Ole Miss team that had the most rebounds per game in the nation entering the contest. It was truly a team effort with 6 players with more than 3 rebounds including 6 team rebounds.

-3 Points and +3 Wins– The toughest part of DePaul’s nonconference schedule is over. According to KenPom, DePaul is favored to win their next 6 games leading to Big East play. The closest contest will likely be Wisconsin-Milwaukee (53%) on Monday and at Loyola-Chicago (55%) on Wednesday. If the predictions hold true, DePaul enters Big East play against Syracuse on New Year’s Day with a 10-2 record and a 6 game winning streak. While the loss last night will linger, DePaul fans should be happy if this result can hold true. It will mean that DePaul only lost 2 games by a combined total of 3 points, and won 3 more games all of last year with 18 games remaining. But as a reminder, expect some close games.