Winning their last six out of seven games our #10 ranked Louisville Cardinals (22-5, 10-4 Big East) will take to the road again on Wednesday night when they head to Chicago to face the DePaul Blue Demons (11-16, 2-12 Big East). They have only won 2 games in the last two months. Louisville leads the all-time series 37 to 21 and are 8-0 against DePaul in the Big East. The last time these teams played each other was back on February 18, 2012. The Cards won that game in overtime 90-82.
Since coach Oliver Purnell arrived on campus the Blue Demons depth is better, the talent is better and they have more experience. But talent, depth and improved experience are only the building blocks. Teams that thrive take them and construct something beyond just potential and promise. That’s something DePaul hasn’t been able to do, because of their defense and rebounding. They are currently ranked dead last in the Big East in field goal percentage defense allowing their opponents to shoot 50.1% on average, and dead last in 3 point field goal percentage defense allowing their opponents to shoot 41.5% on average. They are currently ranked 14th in the Big East in rebounding margin getting out rebounded by 5.9 per game. Even though they struggle on the defensive end of the floor they aren’t that bad on the offensive end and this team can score points. The are currently ranked 1st in the Big East in scoring offense averaging 71.6 points a game, 8th in field goal percentage averaging 42.2% per game, 11th in 3 point field goal percentage averaging 30.7% per game and 4th in free throw percentage averaging 72.6% per game. They also do a good job of sharing the ball and are ranked 7th in the Big East in assist averaging 13.8 per game. The Blue Demons take good care of the ball and they are ranked 5th in the Big East in turnover margin at +1.07. Purnell has accumulated the pieces necessary for progress and this team has the potential to be better, provided its players learn how to win games and can improve their rebounding and defense significantly.
The Blue Demons rank nationally 55th overall scoring 73.1 points per game, 129th overall with 35.7 rebounds per game, 102nd overall with 14 assist per game and 154th overall shooting 43.6% per game. They are currently in 13th place in the Big East and are 182 in the RPI. Kenpom has their adj efficiency on offense at 103.7 ranked 123rd and their adj efficiency on defense at 101.5 ranked 192. He has them ranked 146 overall.
In-conference offense: 3pt-30.7%, FG-42.2%, FT-72.6%
In-conference defense: Turnovers-14.4pg, Steals-7.4pg, Blocks-3.5pg
Coach Oliver Purnell: “Our defense has to be improved,” “Because of our up-tempo style, we can have games where the other team shoots well, and we can win. But we can’t do that all the time. We have to get our opponents’ shooting percentage down. A lot of that is rebounding. We’ve got to clean the glass.”
The Blue Demon Players:
Donnavan Kirk JR (7.0 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 0.5 apg) 6-9 F was ranked among the top 30 power forwards by both ESPN.com and Scout.com as a senior in high school. He transferred to DePaul from Miami in January 2011. He gives them size on the wing and has scoring ability. He ranks 5th in the Big East shooting 51.2%. He is shooting 39.3% from the 3 point line and 70.6% from the free-throw line.
Cleveland Melvin JR (16.3 ppg, 7.4 rpg, 0.8 apg) 6-8 F is the league’s top returning scorer and could be even more potent if he is more accurate from the 3-point line. He has connected on only 29.5% of his 3s. Despite that, Purnell wants him to keep firing from long range. He is ranked 10th in the Big East in scoring, and 9th in rebounding. He is shooting 47% from the field and 67.9% from the free-throw line.
Brandon Young JR (16.5 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 4.5 apg) 6-4 G a talented combo who can score off the dribble, distribute the rock and take care of it, too. Young’s biggest problem last year was his 28.1 percent success rate from behind the arc. But he has improved that this season to 31.3% and is one of the best guards in the Big East. He is ranked 5th in the Big East in scoring, 9th in assist, 8th in steals and 10th in assist/turnover ratio. He shoots 43.2% from the field and 75% from the free-throw line.
Worrel Clahar SR (7.2 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 3.4 apg) 5-11 G he is a very good athlete and is a pass first guard. He is ranked 13th in the Big East in assist, 2nd in assist/turnover ratio and 11th on free-throw percentage at 80%. He shoots 39.9% from the field and 27.3% from the 3 point line.
Charles McKinney SOPH (5.4 ppg, 2.4 rpg, 1.5 apg) 6-3 G is not going to put up big numbers on the offensive end of the floor but he is one of the best defenders for the blue demons. He has long, natural length with a big wingspan and a lot of quickness to go with it. He shoots 49.5% from the field, 41.7% from the 3 point line and 56.4% from the free-throw line.
Jamee Crockett SOPH (9.3 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 0.3 blkpg) 6-4 G/F who can score inside and out, he can distribute a bit, and his burly frame allows him to be a good rebounder. All of that allows Purnell to use Crockett at the three and two. He shoots 39.7% from the field, 26.3% from the 3 point line, and 66.7% from the free-throw line.
Durrell McDonald FR (3.4 ppg, 1.0 rpg, 0.7 apg) 6-1 G is a great athlete who can play either guard spot. He’s a 6-10 high jumper and has Purnell and his staff excited about his potential. He shoots 44.2% from the field, 43.5% from the 3 point line and 50% from the free-throw line.
Moses Morgan JR (6.3 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 1.1 apg) 6-6 F has a body capable of being more of a factor inside, even if he is a strong (30.4%) 3-point shooter. Purnell has had him help out at the four position this year, and that has lead to better rebounding. He is shooting 32.3% from the field, 30.4% from the 3 point line and 75% from the free-throw line.
Derrell Robertson Jr. SOPH (2.1 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 0.0 apg) 6-10 C is a defensive presence, and has blocked 14 shots this year. He shoots 55.8% from the field and 71.4% from the free-throw line.
The Blue Demons have turned into a train wreck in recent years, winning a total of seven Big East regular season games in the last five years combined. At 11-16 overall and 2-12 in the Big East this season, the Blue Demons are enduring another miserable year. But if they get their defense together I do think they are very capable at pulling off a upset. But don’t expect one on Wednesday night as the Cards inside presence will completely overwhelm this Blue Demon group. Gorgui and Chane should have their way and get plenty of rebounds and chances to score. I look for Wayne Blackshear to have a good homecoming and his athletic ability on the wing will be tough for Depaul to guard. Peyton and Russ will control this one from beginning to end.
As I mentioned above these guys have some of the tools to compete but their defense, rebounding and toughness is really lacking. In the physical Big East that just doesn’t work. This team shouldn’t be overlooked because of their record but at the same time it’s DePaul. Cards should cruise in this one and have the highest point total of the year.
The Beak Prediction:
Louisville 86 DePaul 58