Northwestern Wins: A College Hoops Blog

An ode to Verne Lundquist’s calls and everything college basketball

Posts Tagged ‘DePaul Blue Demons’

Big East Preview: #12-#11

Posted by Zach on October 16, 2008

12. DePaul Blue Demons– Coach: Jerry Wainwright (4th season)

Backcourt: Sophomore Dar Tucker is already being pegged as a potential breakout candidate this season. The athletic guard/forward combo player scored nearly 14 PPG coming off the bench last year. Tucker needs to improve on his defensive game, but certainly shows explosiveness on the other end of the court with highlight reel dunks and a constant penchant for attacking the rim. The evolving of Tucker from showing flashes of brilliance to a steady team leader will be a huge question for the Blue Demons. Will Walker made strides to be the most improved DePaul player last season and must take over as full-time point guard for coach Wainwright. Jabari Currie is the teams designated three-point popper, finishing at 47.1% from long range last year. The emergence of Tucker and improved point guard play from Walker should open up great looks. Incoming freshman Jeremiah Kelly should also provide aid for Walker backing him up at point. Grade: B-

Frontcourt: Super sophomore Mac Koshwal is the main focus of the frontcourt. Koshwal is a future NBA prospect due to his rebounding abilities (finished fifth in the Big East as a freshman), size (6’10, 240) and advanced footwork in the paint, allowing himself more simple looks at the basket resulting in easy baskets. Koshwal could find himself averaging nearly a double-double this season. Joining Koshwal up front is the second member of the Chicago twin towers in 6’10 senior Matija Poscic. After a disappointing campaign last year in which Poscic weltered dealing with the pure physicality of the Big East, coach Wainwright hopes a season of adjustment will be followed up by a more steady, efficient approach from Poscic, along with an improvement over the 2.1 PPG he finished with in 07-08. 6’11 freshman Krys Faber could turn out to be more of a compliment to Koshwal by the end of the season. Two wing players will also add depth to the frontcourt, including the super-athletic freshman Devin Hill and long distance shooter Mario Stula. Grade: C+

Bottom Line:
DePaul has the potential to really take off this season. The rough-and-tumble Big East doesn’t help their cause, though. Ever since Wilson Chandler departed early, this team has been dismal on the offensive and defensive boards, along with lacking any ounce of consistency on defense. The rebounding starts with Koshwal and the defense starts with Tucker. These two sophomores are Big East-caliber talents, but they must complete their game for the Blue Demons to threaten for an NCAA berth.

Starting Lineup:

G- Dar Tucker (SO)
G- Will Walker (JR)
G- Jabari Currie (SR)
F- Mac Koshwal (SO)
C- Matija Poscic (SR)

Key Non-Conference Games: 12/3 @ California, 12/6 @ Northwestern, 12/13 @ UCLA, 12/22 @ Saint Louis
Key Conference Games: 1/17 vs. Cincinnati, 1/31 @ Rutgers, 2/3 vs. Marquette, 2/25 vs. Villanova
Most Valuable Player: Dar Tucker
Projected Postseason Tournament: NIT

11. Cincinnati Bearcats
– Coach: Mick Cronin (3rd season)

Backcourt: The breakout player in the entire conference last year may have been guard Deonta Vaughn. The sophomore put up outstanding totals: fourth in 3PT%, eighth in FT%, ninth in APG and finished with 17.3 PPG to boot (all conference ranks). Coach Mick Cronin is hoping Vaughn makes the leap from not only a superstar scorer but also floor captain for an offense with a few more pieces than a season ago. It’ll be nice having Williams when defenses key on Vaughn this season. Cronin also likes the addition of speedy freshman Cashmere Wright as a chance-of-pace off the bench, along with the ability to break down defenses and penetrate for easy buckets. Incoming freshman Dion Dixon is a three-point specialist and will help spread the floor for Cincy. Fellow guard/forward Rashard Bishop started 20 games as a freshman and proved to be a consistent glue guy on the court for Cronin. Grade: B

Frontcourt:
Mike Williams is finally healthy. The Texas transfer has been on the Cincinnati campus for three years now- he had to sit out a year after transferring in 06-07 then suffered a season-ending injury in practice in 07-08- and the former McDonalds All-American is finally prepared to contribute. His leadership, experience, scoring and rebounding should be invaluable for a still relatively young Bearcat squad, and Williams could be the second double-digit scorer alongside Vaughn this season. Not a bad one-two punch for Cronin to work with.  Freshman sensation Yancy Gates is a player to watch. He already possesses a strong post presence with surprising athleticism for a man of his stature. Anthony McClain is a 7-foot statue in the paint that can be a force in the Big East if he improves his assertiveness and aggressiveness on both ends of the floor. Western Carolina transfer Nick Aldridge should be the first off the bench and add another scoring option. Grade: B-

Bottom Line: Even with the disappointing first round CBI exit, the Bearcats came a long way last season, finishing with marquee Big East wins and turning around what looked like an unraveling program in November. This team finished just 2-14 in the conference after the departure of Andy Kennedy, and with the breakout of Vaughn along with key additions such as Mike Williams, Cronin has this team in the right direction. They may even find themselves firmly on the bubble if the Bearcats can score at a more steady basis and Gates adds that third weapon on offense. Also worth noting Cincy plays one non-conference road game the entire months of November and December.

Starting Lineup:

G- Deonta Vaughn (JR)
G- Rashad Bishop (JR)
F- Mike Williams (JR)
F- Yancy Gates (FR)
C- Anthony McClain (SO)

Key Non-Conference Games: 11/28 vs. Florida State, 12/6 vs. UAB, 12/13 vs. Xavier, 12/29 @ Memphis
Key Conference Games: 1/7 vs. Providence, 1/17 @ DePaul, 1/28 vs. Georgetown, 2/26 vs. West Virginia
Most Valuable Player: Deonta Vaughn
Projected Postseason Tournament: NIT

#10 Providence and #9 West Virginia for tomorrow.

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Summer Big East Report, Part II

Posted by Zach on July 25, 2008

Here’s Part II of the summer edition of the Big East Report:

Marquette
– The same core of Dominic James, Wesley Matthews and Jerel McNeal have starred together for three years now for Marquette, but have yet to reach a regional in the NCAA tournament, a goal new coach Buzz Williams believes is undoubtedly within range this upcoming season. McNeal emerged as the true stud of the group late last season in the Big East Tournament and in his compelling performance vs. Stanford in the second round of the NCAA. Joining McNeal is James, an erratic and still-developing point guard who shows flashes of brilliance but struggles with the jumper, and Wes Matthews, a powerful wing player who can slash and score but disappears all too often. Lazar Hayward is an under-the-radar candidate for all Big East honors this year, while David Cubillian and Maurice Acker help spread the floor with their three-point threats. Marquette will play in the Chicago Invitational and have non-conference games at Tennessee in Nashville and vs. Wisconsin, with multiple conference games against Georgetown, DePaul and Villanova.

Pittsburgh
Ranked #2 in my preseason Top 25, Jamie Dixon returns a squad with the ultimate goal of an NCAA title. The talent Pitt returns both inside and outside is sensational, starting with senior leader Levance Fields at the point guard position, a true outside shooting threat and constant floor presence. Joining Fields is the total package in Sam Young- scoring, rebounding, defense, passing. Also, don’t discount the work of DeJuan Blair in the post, who starred in more than one Big East game as a freshman with his low post scoring ability. The Panthers only lost Ronald Ramon to graduation and may get Mike Cook back for a sixth year depending on an NCAA decision. Pitt will play in the Legends Classic in New Jersey and while also playing at Florida State and still searching for an opponent at their second home, Madison Square Garden, in December. Pitt faces Connecticut in two exciting matchups, while also drawing West Virginia and DePaul twice.

Cincinnati
– The Bearcats and coach Mick Cronin boast one of the best players in the conference and in the nation: 6’1 guard Deonta Vaughn out of Indianapolis. Vaughn showed future stardom as a freshman by scoring at 14.3 per game, but bolted that total up to 17.3 PPG last season and finish with 30 points against the stellar Pitt defense. He could win Big East Player of the Year honors if Cincy can receive any contributions from their role players, specifically Adam Hrycaniuk from Poland and forward Rashard Bishop. Cincy was one of the most erratic teams in the nation last year, losing games vs. Bowling Green and Belmont, but also beating Louisville, Syracuse, Villanova and Pittsburgh, then losing six in a row to end the year. The Bearcats play in a Las Vegas tournament with Cal, UNLV and Florida State and play Memphis, Xavier and Florida State in non-conference. Cincy fortunately drew Georgetown, Providence and Saint John’s twice.

Connecticut
– Once Jim Calhoun recovers from a scary bout with skin cancer, the Huskies can take the floor touting one of the best teams in the nation collectively. Connecticut certainly has the athleticism to match any team in the nation, starting with 7’3 center Hasheem Thabeet, a future lottery pick who is clearly the best shot blocker in the nation, but needs his offensive game to develop leaps and bounds. If A.J. Price can recover fully from his ACL tear, Connecticut has one of the best guards in the conference. One of the most complete players is always efficient Jeff Adrien, a daily double-double candidate who shoots 50% from the floor. Jerome Dyson is an excellent compliment to Price in the backcourt. The Huskies did lose Curtis Kelly and Doug Wiggins to transfer and the status of Stanley Robinson is unknown, although he could return in the second semester. The Huskies will face Notre Dame, Seton Hall and Pittsburgh twice in conference while participating in the Paradise Jam and Gonzaga in Seattle during the non-conference slate.

Providence- The Friars hired Keno Davis away from Drake in a program-changing move after former coach Tim Welsh failed to get Providence over the hump. Jeff Xavier is back for Providence to boost the backcourt. The former Manhattan standout led the Friars in scoring last season at 12.4 PPG and will be joined by Weyinmi Efejuku, another double-digit per game scorer who teamed up with Xavier in a quality win vs. Connecticut in March of last season. Brian McKenzie is back as a junior and contributed with big performances early in the season before fading in Big East play. Lost is Dwain Williams to Oregon State, a stellar presence in the backcourt who shoots 90% from the line. With Providence returning seemingly everyone  from last season, look for Keno Davis to send Providence to the tournament as the Big East’s tenth team. Providence plays at Boston College and in the Anaheim Classic with Arizona State, Wake Forest and Baylor. The Friars will play Cincinnati, Rutgers and Villanova twice in a good draw.

Syracuse– Head coach Jim Boeheim will tell you he feels like the Syracuse basketball team has underachieved greatly the last few seasons, and to avoid any retirement pressure from critics and fans alike, the Cuse needs to excel this upcoming campaign and make the NCAA Tournament. Returning is speedy point guard Johnny Flynn, a true floor leader and dynamic scorer simultaneously who can distribute the basketball with outstanding precision and is a future NBA PG. Syracuse hopes to get contribution from Andy Rautins, a three-point specialist who tore his ACL early last season and is finally recovered. Eric Devendorf scored 17 PPG for the Orange last season in a widely underrated season, also improving his FG% from 41% to 47% along the way. Donte Greene departed too early for the NBA, so players like Scoop Jardine and Arinze Onuaku, along with budding star Paul Harris, will have to step up their games down low. Cuse plays in the CBE Classic with Kansas, Florida and Washington while also hosting Virginia and playing at Memphis. Georgetown, Villanova and Rutgers show up twice on the conference slate.

DePaul
– Superstar Draelon Burns is gone, so freshman standout Dar Tucker has to take the reigns and lead this DePaul squad if they want to make any sort of national splash. Tucker displayed his raw ability by dropping 22 on Louisville, 28 on Notre Dame and 23 on Pitt during conference season, so coach Jerry Wainwright may have a star on his hands. Tucker does need to develop more of a complete floor game, averaging just 1.0 APG in 07-08 and shooting 32% from long range. DePaul also returns big man Mac Koshwal as a double-double candidate straight from DePaul’s backyard in Chicago. They receive former Ohio State guard Eric Wallace as a transfer, as well. The Blue Demons play in the Las Vegas Invitational, at California and against UCLA in the Wooden Classic. Marquette, South Florida and Pittsburgh will be showing up twice on their conference schedule.

South Florida
– Stan Heath lost quite a few players this summer- Aaron Holmes, Solomon Bozeman, Orane Chin and Amu Saaka- but did manage to lure in Augustus Gilchrist from Maryland. The most devastating loss will be of big man Kentrell Gransberry, one of the best scorers (16 PPG) and rebounders (10.8 RPG)  in the conference last season. Dominique Jones was a godsend for USF last year as a 6’4 freshman, averaging 17.1 PPG while shooting 46% and putting up stellar performances all around: 30 in consecutive games in December, 31 vs. Seton Hall and 29 vs. Syracuse and Villanova. They’ll play in the San Juan Shootout with Wright State, Murray State and Oral Roberts, while also facing Virginia, UAB and Vanderbilt all on the road. The Bulls will play Louisville, West Virginia and DePaul twice.

I was going to do player and team rankings but have to gather more and more about each team before finishing a definitive list. Check back later for this.

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