DePaul Blue Demons at Pittsburgh Panthers – Thursday, January 12, 2006 - 8 p.m. CST – Petersen Events Center, Pittsburgh, PA
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Pittsburgh comes into the DePaul game undefeated at 12-0. They have played a relatively weak non-conference schedule so far this year, as evidenced by their 99th ranking in their Strength Of Schedule (SOS). However, they have stepped it up in their last 2 games, playing tough foes Wisconsin and Notre Dame and winning both. Coach Jamie Dixon is in his third season at Pitt, taking over for Ben Howland, who left to go to UCLA. He has compiled a very impressive 63-14 record in his three years at Pitt. The Pitt Panthers team is fundamentally very sound, playing excellent switching man-to-man defense and relying a lot on the penetration of their guards to come up with good shots. They're not as athletic up front as Cincinnati is though, so that may bode well for DePaul. They routinely average 12,500 in attendance at their three year old Petersen Events Center and the crowd is quite loud, as witnessed in the Notre Dame game. Pittsburgh will have eight days off between their last game and the DePaul game. The last two times that DePaul has played a team with more than eight days of rest, they've come away with upset victories (at Wake Forest and against California).
Pittsburgh is led by All-Big East 6-2 wide-shouldered guard Carl Krauser. He's entering his tenth season on the team. Actually that's not true, he's a redshirt senior, but it seems like he's been playing at Pitt forever and is older than half the players in the NBA. Carl is a fantastic point guard, a tremendous ball handler and penetrator, and excellent outside shooter. He has a patented floater in the lane that is hard to defend. He is easily one of the best pure college basketball point guards this year.
The other guard is sophomore guard 6-1 Ronald Ramon, who's more of a PG but with Krauser around is an effective off-guard. It'll be interesting to see if fellow Bronx and Dominican Republic-born guard Sammy Mejia will be facing off against each other. (Krauser is also from the Bronx). However, I look for Sammy to be shadowing Krauser for most of the night.
The center is 7-0 275 lb. big-bodied Aaron Gray. He's very skilled and this year has vastly improved, averaging a double-double through the 12 games so far. He played very little the first two years with Chris Taft, Chevron Troutman and Mark McCarroll around, but now he's come into his own as a junior. He's not only big and skilled, but has decent mobility, plays good fundamental defense and can hit the 15-footer. Look for Marlon Brumfield and Lorenzo Thompson to bang with him all night.
The starting power forward is 6-9 junior Levon Kendall from Vancouver, British Columbia. Like Gray, he didn't play all that much in his first two years but is making his mark this year as a starter. The other forward is athletic 6-6 Juco transfer senior John DeGroat.
The bench is deep, and Pittsburgh routinely goes 10 deep. 6-3 junior G/F Antonio Graves was a starter last year but is off the bench this year. Look for him to play a lot against DePaul's big guards. Pittsburgh has three tremendous freshmen who energize the bench, starting with exciting 5-10 PG Levance Fields. Included in the three is aptly-named 6-8 260 lb. forward Tyrell Biggs, and 6-6 F Sam Young. All three were Top 100 ranked players coming out of high school. The three combined for 33 points in a key win over Wisconsin back on December 31. 6-2 athletic sophomore PG Keith Benjamin also is in the ten man rotation.
Pittsburgh has a lot of depth, but four of their five guards are 6-2 and under. Look for DePaul and their big guards to try and post up and/or drive and pull up against the smaller Pittsburgh guards. The second key to the game will be to make sure to stay in front of Krauser at all times to prevent his dribble penetration. Pittsburgh is also not as athletic and deep up front as in years past, so look for DePaul to try and bang with Kendall and Gray and attempt to trade fouls with them.
No. Name Pos. Ht. Wt. Cl. Exp. Hometown/Previous School
0 John DeGroat F 6-6 220 SR 1L Newburgh, N.Y./Northeastern Colorado J.C./Monticello
1 Keith Benjamin G 6-2 190 SO 1L Mount Vernon, N.Y./Mount Vernon
2 Levance Fields G 5-10 190 FR HS Brooklyn, N.Y./Xaverian
4 Ronald Ramon G 6-1 180 SO 1L Bronx, N.Y./All Hallows
5 Tyrell Biggs F 6-8 260 FR HS Nanuet, N.Y./Don Bosco Prep (N.J.)
11 Carl Krauser G 6-2 200 SR* 3L Bronx, N.Y./Notre Dame Academy
14 Levon Kendall F 6-9 220 JR* 2L Vancouver, British Columbia/Kitsilano
15 Charles Small G 5-7 175 JR* 2L Detroit, Mich./Martin Luther King
21 Doyle Hudson F/C 6-8 230 JR TR Eleuthera, Bahamas/Roane State J.C./North Eleuthera
22 Antonio Graves G 6-3 190 JR 2L Mansfield, Ohio/Mansfield Senior
23 Sam Young F 6-6 210 FR HS Clinton, Md./Hargrave Military Academy/Friendly
24 Marcus Bowman G 6-3 190 JR* 2L Columbia, S.C./Richland Northeast
31 #Mike Cook G/F 6-4 230 JR TR Philadelphia, Pa./East Carolina/Friends Central
33 Aaron Gray C 7-0 270 JR 2L Emmaus, Pa./Emmaus
40 Maurice Polen F 6-5 245 SO HS Philadelphia, Pa./West Philadelphia
* denotes redshirt year; #Transfer who is eligible for the 2006-07 season
Head Coach: Jamie Dixon (TCU, 1987), Third Year, 51-14 overall;
Associate Head Coach: Barry Rohrssen (St. Francis, NY, 1983);
Assistant Coach: Joe Lombardi (Youngstown State, 1981);
Assistant Coach: Pat Sandle (San Francisco State, 1987);
Director of Basketball Operations: Orlando Antigua (Pittsburgh, 1995);
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