DePaul Blue Demons vs. Creighton Bluejays – Wednesday, November 30th, 7:30 p.m. - Allstate Arena, Rosemont, IL
Television - None
Radio – WCKG 105.9 FM Chicago
- KXSP – 590 AM Omaha
Internet Radio Links to Listen Live -
WeAreDePaul.com Chat Room Link
Official Creighton Site Link
Creighton Fan Site Link
DePaul's Missouri Valley Conference Tour rolls on! However, the Blue Demons and Coach Wainright hope that their second MVC opponent of the young season yields a different result than the first; after dropping their 2005-06 season opener to the Bradley Braves 75-60.
After rebounding from that loss with a well-balanced 59-49 over Northwestern; the Demons went on the road for the first time this season and lost a close game to the Northern Illinois Huskies. The Demons look to get back to winning (and .500 for the season) as they welcome the Blue Jays to the Allstate Arena on Wednesday night.
This is the first meeting for the Blue Demons and Blue Jays since the first round of the 1989-1990 post season NIT. The Demons advanced to the 2nd round of the NIT with a 89-72 over the Jays at Alumni Hall in that contest. The Demons lead the all time series between the schools 14-5.
Everyone remembers West Virginia's tremendous run in last year's NCAA tournament. However, do you remember that Creighton could just as easily have been Cinderella instead? In their first round NCAA game last year Creighton fell to West Virginia 63-61, as guard Nate Funk's last second three-point attempt fell just short at the buzzer.
Creighton, the defending MVC champion, comes in with victories in their first three games. Their most recent win, a 91-90 double overtime thriller over Dayton followed relatively easy victories over Arkansas Pine Bluff and George Mason. The Blue Jays were lead in that game with a career high 38 points from senior 1st Team All MVC guard Nate Funk. For the season, Funk is averaging 21.3 points per game; and for good measure is also second on the team in rebounding average with 5.7 per game.
Rebounding has been one area of concern for Creighton coach Dana Altman so far this season. After being out rebounded by Dayton 47-28 he stated, "We had some guys who didn't handle the physicality of the game very well." That seems to bode well for a Demon team which aggressively hit the boards against Northwestern, a fact not lost upon Wildcat sharp shooter Vedran Vukusic. ''But they were getting every rebound. It's hard coming back on the road.'' The Demons will again try to control the glass, and use their team length to their advantage.
While glad to be undefeated early in the season, and victorious over Dayton; Altman was cautiously optimistic about his team. "We have plenty to work on, but we found a way to win a game." Part of finding that way has fallen on the shoulder of freshman PG Josh Dotzler. While Dotzler has yet to start, he is averaging 30 minutes per game off the bench, and leads the Blue Jays in assists with a 4.7 per game average. "Josh definitely has a lot of poise for a freshman," Altman said. However, he continued stating that "he's still a freshman and he's going to make some mistakes at times." Sound familiar Demon fans? Coach Wainright has echoed very similar thoughts about his freshman PG, Jabari Currie, after the Northwestern victory; "He's very coachable, and I thought he was fearless.'' It should be an interesting match up of quickly maturing, and much needed freshman point guards.
Creighton is a deep and experienced squad with 10 players averaging 15 minutes or more per game; with six of those players being junior and seniors, and Dotzler being the only freshman to average double figure minutes. The Jays average about 20 three-point attempts per game, so perimeter defense will be a key for the Demons. Picked by many to contend for the MVC title and an NCAA tourney bid, the Blue Jays figure to be a tough test for Coach Wainright and the Blue Demons. After struggling with two experienced teams in Bradley and Northern Illinois, Creighton provides an even more daunting test in that area for the relatively inexperienced Demon squad.
As for the Demons, they seemed to have the season opening turnover problem under better control. After committing 23 turnovers against Bradley, the insertion of Curie as the starting PG seemed to act as a calming influence; and reduced that total to just 13 vs. Northwestern, and a mere eight vs. Northern Illinois. Sophomore guard Karron Clarke spoke about the Demons progress from Bradley to Northwestern. ''Our mentality changed in practice,'' Clarke said. ''We had to try to redeem ourselves after a loss." Clarke has not had to redeem himself in the eyes of Demon faithful so far this season. He has been by far the most consistent and energized member of the squad averaging 14.3 points, 7.7 rebounds and 2 assists per game through the first three contests of the season. One Blue Demon who has redeemed himself however is junior forward Marcus Heard. Heard has added 20 to 25 pounds of bulk to his 6'7" frame and is averaging 9.7 points per game for the Demons on the season. After spending his first two years at the end of Dave Leitao's bench, the impressive offensive and defensive contributions of Heard have been a pleasant surprise to all.
The key to this game for the Demons will hinge on two main factors:
1. The ability of the perimeter defense to defend the 3-point shot against the Blue Jays three-guard lineup. The guards must step out and prevent the Blue Jays from turning the game in to a three-point shooting contest. It will be interesting to see the balance of zone and man-to-man defense that Coach Wainright will employ as the game progresses.
2. Can the Demons big men step up and dominate? Will Marlon Brumfield, Wes Green, Zo Thompson, Marcus Heard and Wilson Chandler be able to establish a low post presence on offense and control the defensive glass? Through three games there is a trend developing with the Demons – when they out rebound their opponent, they are at their best. The Demons controlled the glass against Northwestern, and for the first half against Northern Illinois; but when the rebounding went south against the Huskies, so did the Demons chance for a victory as the Huskies went on to score 48 second half points and shoot almost 60% from the field during that time.
Rebounding, lack of turnovers and good defense are three main ingredients to a winning recipe. Hopefully on Wednesday night the Demons can create their own masterpiece!
Did You Know?
Chicago Cubs General Manager Jim Hendry was once a baseball coach at Creighton.
No. Name Yr. Pos. Ht. Wt. Exp. Hometown (HS / Last School)
1 Jeffrey Day Sr. C 6-9 235 1L Seattle, Wash. (Seattle Prep/Grossmont CC)
3 Nick Porter Jr. G 6-3 215 RS Las Vegas, Nev. (Desert Pines/Compton CC)
4 Dominic Bishop Jr. G 6-0 170 TR Buffalo, N.Y. (Bennett/Brown Mackie College)
5 Dustin Sitzmann Fr. G 6-0 175 RS LeMars, Iowa (Gehlen Catholic)
10 Nate Funk Sr. G 6-3 205 3L Sioux City, IA (Heelan)
11 Johnny Mathies Sr. G 6-0 170 2L Louisville, Ky. (Male/Dixie State JC)
12 Josh Dotzler Fr. G 6-1 190 HS Bellevue, Neb. (West)
20 Pierce Hibma So. G 6-5 205 1L Pella, Iowa (Pella)
21 Manourou Gakou Jr. C 6-8 282 TR Paris, France (Chalon/Cloud County CC)
24 Brice Nengsu So. G 6-5 195 TR Nkongsamba, Cameroon (Lycee Du Manengouba/Weatherford JC)
30 Jimmy Motz Sr. F 6-7 225 3L Lincoln, Neb. (Northeast)
34 Nick Bahe Jr. G 6-3 190 TR Lincoln, Neb. (Southeast/Univ. of Kansas)
44 Anthony Tolliver Jr. C 6-9 245 2L Springfield, Mo. (Kickapoo)
50 Dane Watts So. F 6-8 225 1L Warrensburg, Mo. (Warrensburg)
52 Steve Smith Fr. C 6-11 245 RS Sioux Falls, S.D. (Bishop O'Gorman)
Thomas Lane Fr. G 6-4 198 HS Edmond, Okla. (Casady)
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