Good Morning V5ers! The Bulls are back in Tampa and getting ready for THE BATTLE FOR 15TH! tonight as they welcome in the DePaul Blue Demons for an epic showdown at the Sun Dome. The game is on ESPNU tonight, and for some reason the game tips off at 9:00 PM tonight. For those who are going, we suggest wearing pajamas and bringing your favorite blanket. If you can't watch it on TV, Jim Lighthall will be on 620 WDAE tonight.
DePaul is in a clear rebuilding phase under first year coach Oliver Purnell, but he does have a couple of pieces that should help over the next couple of years. Let's look at the probable starting lineup for the Blue Demons and see who we have to keep an eye on.
G: 6' Jr. Jeremiah Kelly (5.8 PTS/2.2 REB/3.0 AST/1.8 STL)
G: 6'3 Fr. Brandon Young (11.7 PTS/2.8 REB/3.8 AST/1.3 STL)
G: 6'5 Sr. Jimmy Drew (6.6 PTS/3.7 REB/1.9 AST)
PF: 6'8 Fr. Cleveland Melvin (14.3 PTS/4.7 REB/1.5 BLK)
C: 6'10 Jr. Krys Faber (7.8 PTS/5.6 REB)
Purnell doesn't have many options off the bench, but the first guy he goes to is 6'6 Soph. Tony Freeland (11.0 PTS/4.8 REB) to give a breather to either Faber or Melvin. Purnell has two guards that come off the bench. 6'2 Jr. Michael Bizoukas (1.2 PTS/1.4 REB/1.5 AST) comes in as a defensive replacement for both Young and Kelly, while 6'4 Sr. Mike Stovall (7.2 PTS/1.7 REB/1.5 AST) has seen his minutes drop after Drew replaced him in the starting lineup 5 games ago.
Obviously the key to the Bulls to winning tonight is stopping Big East Freshman of the Year candidate Melvin. He's started to take the next step in Big East play, averaging an absurd 21.0 PTS/7.1 REB in conference action. Defensively he reminds me of McHugh Mattis in that he will get a couple of weakside blocks when you least expect it. He is extremely active offensively, and he uses his ball handling skills and quickness to gain an advantage on opposing team's 4s. Ron Anderson Jr. and Augustus Gilchrist are going to have his hands full tonight with Cleveland.
Young had a great start to the season, but his scoring has dropped since conference play has begun. After making 50% of his shots in non conference play, teams have been putting their best defensive guard on him, and his shooting has dropped to 33% in Big East play.
Offensively, we need to be able to break the press that DePaul has used this season. To get a quick primer on the trap Purnell brought to him from Clemson, go here or watch the video below from ESPN.
If we can break the press tonight, it should lead to a lot of easy baskets for our post players. Faber and Freeland can get into foul trouble quickly, and given our posts ability to hit from the free throw line, it could mean 5-10 easy points which would be huge considering how we've played lately.
I wouldn't be surprised to see if Heath used a lot of zone tonight. DePaul is actually a worse 3-point shooting team than we are, and Jimmy Drew is the only person shooting over 35% from beyond the arc this season. (Krys Faber is perfect from three, but he's only attempted 1 this season.)
So what do we expect. All I ask is that we play with a little more enthusiasm and intensity than what we've played with over the last couple of games. If not, the DePaul press is going to eat us alive and we will get run right out of the gym. Just hope we can get Big East win #2 tonight.