DePaul Blue Demons vs. Syracuse – Thursday, March 2, 2006 – 8:00 p.m. CST – Allstate Arena, Rosemont, Illinois
WSCR 670 AM - Chicago
WAQX-95.7 FM - Syracuse
WNSS 1260 AM - Syracuse.
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After the game, DePaul senior center Marlon Brumfield will be honored in a ceremony recognizing his contributions to the team over the last four seasons.
DePaul Coach Jerry Wainwright on the Syracuse Orange
"They have a pre-season player of the year in Gerry McNamara, a young man who's set all kinds of records and left his imprint forever on the Big East," Wainwright told WSCR radio. "But what I think people will see is they are really, really big and a powerful front line group that rebounds. Of course they play 2-3 zone. They really pack it in. They've got a lot of size on the wings and they're tough to score against. They're a formidable team and they've been playing up until their last game the best basketball that they played all year. They've got a great freshman in Eric Devendorf that played on the same AAU team that Wilson (Chandler) and Jabari (Currie) played on. Any time a Syracuse program comes in to Allstate, I think it leads to a lot of excitement."
DePaul and Syracuse meet Thursday night in an ESPN televised game. This will be the first time DePaul and Syracuse have met since the 2001-2002 season, Pat Kennedy's last at DePaul. Syracuse is led by Hall of Fame coach Jim Boeheim, who is entering his 30th season at Syracuse with a career record of 722-250, an almost 75% win percentage. DePaul is at 11-14, 4-10 in conference play with an outside shot at making the Big East tournament. Syracuse is only at 7-7 in conference play, but played one of their tougher non-conference schedules in recent memory and at 19-9 and with an RPI around 30, should be a shoo-in for the Big Dance barring a total end of season collapse.
DePaul comes off of a 67-64 victory at home against Seton Hall. It was perhaps the best game that DePaul has played in almost two months, save for a 10-0 Seton Hall run at the beginning of the second half. Wilson Chandler had a career high 26 points to go along with 11 rebounds. He was everywhere, running the court on the receiving end of numerous alley-oops, hitting tough jumpers, and blocking shots. Jabari Currie also had his best game in a long time, controlling the game as a point guard should and hitting shots. DePaul for once went away from their one-on-one game and made a number of nice passes for easy shots.
This has been a tale of two seasons for Syracuse. They got off to a hot start, going 12-2 in non-conference play and winning their first three conference games. Since then they have gone 4-7, including a stretch where they lost five out of seven and would have been six out of seven were it not for a miraculous three point buzzer beater in overtime against Rutgers by PF Terrence Roberts, a player who has taken only six three-pointers all year.
Syracuse comes off of a 68-53 loss at Georgetown. Though Syracuse kept it close for the first 30 minutes or so, the constant Georgetown offensive rebounding and crisp passing led to numerous second chances and easy buckets for Georgetown. Syracuse was beaten badly on the boards 33-24 and only put up nine free throws as opposed to 24 for Georgetown. Once again, Gerry McNamara had a poor shooting night, scoring only eight points and his teammates did not step up. Both starting forwards got into foul trouble early in the second half and that was the ball game.
Gerry, a 6-2 senior point guard, is undoubtedly the leader of the team and is a great clutch player, along with being one of the greatest free throw shooters in NCAA history, averaging 90%. He was the named the preseason Big East conference co-Player of the Year along with UConn's Rudy Gay, but it's questionable whether he's lived up to the lofty accolade. He has a great release on his shot, shooting from the top of his arc, that makes him play a bit taller than he actually is. He'll always be remembered for hitting the six three pointers in the first half in the NCAA title game against Kansas when he was a freshman. He's started every single game in his career at Syracuse. However, his shooting percentage has decreased every year since he's been at Syracuse (he's shooting a miserable 34.5% for the year, 31% from three point range) and as evidenced in the last dozen games or so, he's not able to single-handedly carry the load.
McNamara does take a lot of forced and bailout shots, and sometimes he takes shots from distances that not even J.J. Redick would think about. He's averaging two more shots more per game compared to the last two years and yet his scoring average has remained the same from last year and down a bit from his sophomore year. A key statistic - he averages over 17 points a game in games Syracuse has won, and around 12 points a game in which Syracuse loses. An interesting note - DePaul was leading for Gerry's services when he was being recruited over the summer by Pat Kennedy between his junior and senior years in high school. Gerry was a top 40 player in high school, and one of the all-time leading scorers in Pennsylvania basketball history in Scranton. However, he made a relatively early decision to opt for Syracuse over DePaul and Notre Dame. DePaul then settled for junior college point guard Will Watson. Ugh.
The other guard is 6-3 freshman Eric Devendorf. He has played solidly all year. A McDonald's All-American and a top 40 player in high school. He's got all the makings to be a stud for Syracuse over the next few years. He's a right handed shooter with sort of a knuckleball shot but he drives almost exclusively with his left hand. For a freshman coming into the best college basketball conference, he has done very well. He's a good shooter, he drives fearlessly into the lane often, and has tremendous athleticism. Think Travis Diener with a better build. He has solidly become the second or third scoring option on the team. He's averaging 12 points a game. Cynics might say though that on this team, he should be averaging at least 15 points a game. He does play out of control at times and his defense needs work. In high school, he would have been considered the front-runner to be Michigan's Mr. Basketball as a senior, but he opted to go to prep school instead. Mr. Basketball for 2005 in the state of Michigan was won by DePaul's Wilson Chandler.
In the front court, Syracuse starts three juniors, all part of perhaps Syracuse's best recruiting class ever. All three players, Demetris Nichols, Terrence Roberts, and Darryl Watkins, were top-40 players in high school. All three are long and possess great height, which works well in Syracuse's time-tested 2-3 zone defense. This minimizes gaps in the zone with their length, and forces teams to shoot three pointers much farther than the three point line at times. However, all three are not good free throw shooters.
Watkins, 6-11 and with a lot of muscle added over the off-season, is a solid defensive player, averaging three blocks a game. He has good hands, but for some reason he is still offensively challenged though. You can count on him to miss three to five bunnies per game.
Roberts, at 6-9 and 260, is a force down low. He's shooting over 55% from the field, but a good number of his shots come from dunks, and he doesn't get involved in the offense as much as he should. He runs the floor well, and as shown in the Rutgers game, can hit the outside shot if called upon. He's played inconsistently for most of the year though, but he has come up with big games, such as the 16 point 10 rebound performance against West Virginia back on February 20, a game that Syracuse had to have.
Demetris Nichols, at 6-8, is long, athletic as well as quick for a small forward at the college level and is a match-up problem for most teams. He's really stepped up this year, adding over 10 points to his scoring average from the year before. When he's on, he's as good a shooter as there is in the country, but lately he's been more off than he's been on, only averaging 7.8 points a game in his last six, after being in double-figures for every game except for one prior to that. He's been known to have a confidence problem, reluctant to shoot when he's missing, as has been the case a lot last year and now in his last three games.
The bench is fairly solid. Louie McCroskey, the fourth member of the great Syracuse junior recruiting class, is the sixth man. He was a starter for a good part of last year. He's got great size for a two guard at 6-5 and is athletic and physical. However, he's a poor perimeter shooter and an even worse free throw shooter. Look for Louie to play a lot in this game, since DePaul will go to their three big guard lineup often. Matt Gorman is a good shooting big man who comes in to provide more of an outside threat at the 4 position. Josh Wright is a very fast guard who provides a change of pace and someone who brings the ball up to relieve Gerry Mac. He'll probably be the starting point guard next year once Gerry leaves.
The keys for DePaul to win against Syracuse:
1) Stop Gerry Mac. As noted before, when he scores more than his average (16 points a game), Syracuse almost always wins. Make the others score.
2) Make the extra pass. DePaul does not have the shooters to consistently shoot over the top of the Syracuse 2-3 zone, and DePaul's driving guard play plays into the hands of the long Syracuse forwards. Penetrate and make interior passes - that's how Georgetown did it and DePaul will need to do that. One reason for optimism is that DePaul was able to do that on quite a few half-court sets against Seton Hall, something they haven't done much of all year.
3) Offensive rebounding. Despite Syracuse's height, one of the by-products of the 2-3 zone is that there is no specific block-out assignments. Georgetown took full advantage of this in Syracuse's last game. Pound the boards, use Chandler's athleticism to get some easy put-backs.
4) Fast break points. This is almost out of necessity. Honestly speaking, DePaul has been very poor in their half-court offense this year and since Syracuse is primarily a perimeter-oriented team, long rebounds will be there.
5) Make Syracuse make their foul shots. But foul the right guys though. Roberts shoots 43%, Watkins 50% and McCroskey is at 46%. This is where not having Wesley Green, assuming that he is out for the Syracuse game, hurts. DePaul could use the extra fouls from Wesley on the big guys.
2005 - 06 Mens Basketball Roster No. Name Pos Ht. Wt. Cl. Hometown/High School
1 Andy Rautins G 6-5 175 Fr. Jamesville, NY/Jamesville-DeWitt
2 Ryan Cahak F 6-7 215 Jr. Fayetteville, NY/Fayetteville-Manlius/St. Thomas More
3 Gerry McNamara G 6-2 182 Sr. Scranton, PA/Bishop Hannan
4 J.J. Bedle G 5-9 175 So. Keyport, NJ/Keyport
5 Jake Presutti G 6-3 190 So. Belmont, NY/Genesee Valley
11 Todd Burach G 6-5 196 Jr. Manalapan, NJ/Manalapan
13 Darryl Watkins C 6-11 258 Jr. Paterson, NJ/Paterson Catholic
21 Arinze Onuaku F 6-9 255 Fr. Lanham, MD/Episcopal
23 Eric Devendorf G 6-4 175 Fr. Bay City, MI/Central Hill/Oak Hill Academy (Va.)
24 Matt Gorman F 6-9 235 Sr. Watertown, NY/Watertown
30 Josh Wright G 6-2 175 So. Utica, NY/Proctor
33 Terrence Roberts F 6-9 228 Jr. Jersey City, NJ/St. Anthony
34 Demetris Nichols F 6-8 212 Jr. Boston, MA/St. Andrews
35 Ross DiLiegro F 6-8 213 Jr. Lexington, MA/Lexington
42 Louie McCroskey G 6-5 208 Jr. Bronx, NY/St. Raymond
Head Coach: Jim Boeheim
Associate Head Coach: Bernie Fine
Assistant Coach: Mike Hopkins
Assistant Coach: Rob Murphy
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