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:
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.