DePaul vs. California Game Preview

The Blue Demons travel to Oakland, CA to take on the Cal Golden Bears on Wednesday.

Key Information

DePaul Blue Demons at California Golden Bears – Wednesday, December 21st, 10:00 p.m. CST – Oakland Coliseum, Oakland, California

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DePaul meets California in the second game of the Pete Newell Classic at the Oakland Coliseum on December 21, 2005. Game time is at 8:00pm PST, 10:00pm in Chicago. Stanford and Princeton meet in the first game of the doubleheader.

The Last Meetings:

The last time that Cal and DePaul met was on March 16, 1999 in the 2nd round of the NIT Tournament, when Cal came back from a 17 point deficit to beat DePaul 58-57 at the Rosemont Horizon. The last time that DePaul played Cal in California was also a neutral site game, at the San Jose Arena on February 4, 1996, where DePaul lost 62-59 which would turn out to be the 10th loss in a row out of 13.

Current State of DePaul:

DePaul is coming off of perhaps its worst loss of all time from a point margin standpoint, losing 87-43 at Old Dominion. It was a game where the entire DePaul team was out of sync from the beginning, and once Old Dominion went out to a double digit lead early in the second half, things really began to go downhill the rest of the game for DePaul. The result was disappointing considering that DePaul had played extremely well in its previous three games, beating three very tough teams in succession – UAB at home and Dayton and Wake Forest on the road. Which team will show up against Cal? That is the big question. There's only about four days between the Old Dominion disaster and the game against Cal, so whatever adjustments DePaul needs to make must be done quickly versus another very formidable opponent.

The Cal Team:

Cal is coming off of its worst outing last week in losing 69-56 at Kansas, in its final game before final exams. Cal is currently at 6-2, with losses on the road at Eastern Michigan and at Kansas. Their opponent records (as of December 18) is a paltry 25-39, including beating 0-12 Northern Colorado and 2-6 Long Beach State. Cal's team is expected to be one of the upper echelon teams in the Pac-10 and is expected to be in the 18-20 win area when all is said and done.

Cal has a very talented basketball team. After having an injury-riddled team all of last year, the injury bug has hit them again this year as well. Almost everyone is now back though. The best player is one of the top 10 players in all of college basketball in 6-8 240 lb. power forward Leon Powe. He's a dynamic low post player, a rebounding fool and has extended his range to three point territory. He's a more complete player than Ike Diogu, last year's Pac 10 Player of the Year at this point. The team is also very big up front. 6-11 sophomore center DeVon Hardin has vastly improved this year. He is reminiscent of a very young Elden Campbell with his athleticism and raw talent. Reserve forward/center Rod Benson is a lanky 6'10" athlete who actually was the leading scorer and rebounder for the injury-riddled Cal team last year. Freshman 6'11 center Jordan Wilkes was a highly touted player out of the LA area last year and is the son of Los Angeles Laker great Jamaal Wilkes. He's been injured for the last four games, and his status is undetermined for the DePaul game.

Cal plays primarily with a three guard lineup. The team was hurt with the departure of forward Marquise Kately and as such does not have a true small forward, which could spell trouble for them down the road against more talented teams. However, there is plenty of firepower and talent in the backcourt. The guards are led by 6'2" senior Richard Midgely. He's the team's best outside shooter, driver and defensive player. His play reminds me a bit of a poor man's Kirk Hinrich. A very hard-nosed player who played much of last year with an injured shoulder, he tried to do too much last year with the loss of Leon Powe. He's much more in his role now with Powe back. He's lost some 20 pounds and looks more like a guard this year rather than a small forward. He still has had problems with the shoulder, missing a game earlier this year.

The other guard is junior 6'3" Ayinde Ubaka, who came in with Powe in the very heralded recruiting class from three years ago. He's improved his shot and confidence vastly this year. Both Midgely and Ubaka share the point guard duty, though both are interchangeable at either the point and the shooting guard positions. The other guard is Kansas transfer 6'4" sophomore Omar Wilkes, the older brother of Jordan Wilkes and also the son of UCLA great Jamaal Wilkes. He's a bit less involved in the offense, but as shown in the Kansas game, can be an effective scorer as well. 6'0" senior point guard Martin Smith was a starter for most of last year and is very quick. He's a true point that will get a lot of minutes. He's also the son of a former NBA player, guard Phil Smith from the Golden State Warriors. 6'5" freshman swingman Theo Robertson is very athletic and should see a bunch of playing time as well.

The success of the Cal team pretty much begins and ends with Leon Powe. The Pac-10 freshman player of the year, the last two years Powe has been beset with injuries. There was a tear of the anterior cruciate ligament that kept Powe out his entire sophomore year, and before the start of this season, he had a stress fracture on his foot that sidelined him for the first four games of this year. He has come back with a vengeance, averaging 22.8 points per game and 9.8 rebounds per game in his four games since he's been back. Stop him, and Cal is a much less effective team, as Kansas was able to do.

When Powe has the ball down in the low block or at the high post, the Cal players have had a tendency to not move and Powe has become somewhat of a black hole with the ball. I don't think DePaul should double team Powe, but they probably will run a second player at Powe once he puts the ball on the floor. Cal has some very good outside shooters in Midgely and Ubaka when left open. Powe was neutralized by 6'10" CJ Giles in the Kansas game. Giles' length and athletic ability gave Powe all kinds of fits. DePaul has no one however that tall and athletic that they can throw at Powe. Wilson Chandler has a difficult assignment guarding Powe, and hopefully he can do a good job of denying Powe the ball in the low block.

Sammy Mejia and Karron Clarke will also need to come up big in this game. Cal has no one that can match up with either player, so I look for DePaul to try to exploit this advantage.

In order for DePaul to win, they obviously need to shoot much better than the dismal 24.1% that they did on Saturday, plus they need to come out with a lot more intensity on defense. Although everyone played poorly, they got zero production out of the center and point guard spot, and this needs to improve dramatically on Wednesday.

Unfortunately sophomore center Wesley Green is not expected to play for DePaul.

Cal added 6'2" point guard Nikola Knezevic from Serbia & Montengro to it's roster on Monday. He is immediately eligible for the game against DePaul.

I look for the following defensive matchups – Brumfield on Hardin, Chandler/Heard on Powe, Mejia on Midgely, Clarke/Burns on Ubaka, and Currie on Ubaka. I expect to see Cliff Clinkscales and Smith match up whenever they are in the game.

Keys to victory:

- The major key is to contain Powe and dare Cal to let others try to beat you. This is easier said than done, but with an ineffective Powe Kansas cleaned up on Cal.

- run someone at Powe when he puts the ball on the floor

- use DePaul's size advantages at the 1-3 positions., specifically Mejia's length to bother Midgely

- play defense with purpose and intensity

- Mejia and Clarke need to take advantage of their size to get points

- Burns needs to get on a roll similar to the Wake Forest game

California Roster

No. Name Pos. Ht. Wt. Yr. Exp. Hometown/Last School

0 Rod Benson F/C 6-10 220 Sr 3V San Diego, CA/Torrey Pines HS

1 Ayinde Ubaka G 6-3 200 Jr 2V Oakland, CA/Oakland HS

2 Omar Wilkes G 6-4 185 So RS Los Angeles, CA/Univ. of Kansas

12 Steve Panawek * G 6-6 205 Jr 2V Moraga, CA/Miramonte HS

14 Eric Vierneisel F 6-7 205 So 1V Algonquin, IL/Jacobs HS

15 Richard Midgley G 6-3 195 Sr 3V Burgess Hill, England/Modesto Christian HS (CA)

20 Martin Smith G 6-0 175 Sr 3V Escondido, CA/The Bishop's School

24 Theo Robertson G 6-5 240 Fr HS Pittsburg, CA/De La Salle HS

31 Alex Pribble G 6-4 215 Jr 2V Fairfax, CA/Drake HS

32 Ivan Kovacevic * G 6-6 210 Fr HS Laguna Beach, CA/Laguna Beach HS

33 Jordan Wilkes C 6-11 225 Fr HS Los Angeles, CA/Loyola HS

35 DeVon Hardin C 6-11 235 So 1V Newark, CA/Memorial HS

44 Leon Powe F 6-8 240 So 1V Oakland, CA/Oakland Tech HS

-- Nikola Knezevic G 6-2 190 Fr Serbia & Montengro

Coaches

Head Coach: Ben Braun (10th year)

Associate Head Coach: Louis Reynaud

Assistant Coaches: Joe Pasternack, Dennis Gates

*denotes walk-on

Pronunciation Guide

DeVon Hardin: deh-VON

Ivan Kovacevic: ee-VON koh-VAH-seh-vich

Leon Powe: POE

Ayinde Ubaka: ah-YIN-day oo-BOCK-ah

Eric Vierneisel: VER-nuh-sul

Louis Reynaud: RAY-no

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