DePaul Blue Demons vs. Rutgers Scarlet Knights – Saturday, January 13, 2007 – 3:00 p.m. CST – Louis Brown Athletic Center (RAC), Piscataway, NJ
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Life thus far for DePaul in the early stages of Big East play has been like the Willie Nelson classic song "On The Road Again". DePaul, unlike Willie who couldn't wait to get back on the road again, would likely prefer to stay home and regroup. But the Blue Demons are back on the road for the third time in four Big East games as they travel to Piscataway, New Jersey for a Saturday afternoon tilt with the Rutgers Scarlet Knights.
DePaul after 2 Big East road games, sandwiched a 59-49 loss at home to seventh ranked Pittsburgh on Wednesday before they embark back on the road. DePaul split their first two games on the road in conference play losing to St. John's 64-53 and winning at Villanova 73-65. They now stand at 10-7 overall and 1-2 in Big East play.
DePaul, although not as quite as successful as one would want, have made a living thus far on the road. After the Rutgers contest, DePaul will have played seven true road games along with three neutral site games in the Maui Classic to date. It's nothing new to the Demons, but they must find their consistency on the road as they only have two true road victories in Villanova and Rhode Island.
Rutgers is known for having a noisy comfy home advantage with what is known as the RAC (Rutgers Athletic Center). Although technically it is called the Louis Brown Athletic Center, the gym has been known to intimidate even the strongest of willed teams. According to Rutgers athletic site the RAC, has been dubbed, "louder than a 757 from nearby Newark."
On the court, however, the Rutgers is still struggling to identify themselves after losing last years Big East leading scorer and NBA first round pick, Quincy Douby. Douby was everything for Rutgers last year as they qualified for both the Big East and NIT tournaments behind his 25.4 ppg and leadership.
This year they have been up and down and have an 8-8 record to show for it. They lost on Wednesday night at home to Syracuse 68-58 to drop it's Big East record to 1-2 as well . Their lone win in conference was an impressive 54-42 road win at Cincinnati.
It's not just Douby they lost, as they are under new leadership as well. Last spring Fred Hill was promoted to head coach after spending last year as an assistant. Hill took the helm after a so-so showing for former coach Gary Waters.
Rutgers can be dangerous though as they did return many players from last years squad and have beat some decent ballclubs to date (Nebraska and Cincinnati). They are paced by two players averaging in double figures in points, 6-9 sophomore JR Inman (12.5 ppg to go along with 7.8 rpg) upfront and 6-5 senior guard/forward Marquis Webb (10.1 ppg) roaming the perimeter. Besides Inman and Webb, the Scarlet Knights return four guys who saw action in at least 15 games last year. One of which is a Chicago native in Ollie Bailey (3.8 ppg and 2.1 rpg).
Rutgers is a balanced squad with all five starters averaging at least eight points per game. 6-7 freshman guard/forward Jaron Griffin (9.6 ppg), 6-1 sophomore guard Anthony Farmer (9.1 ppg), and 6-8 senior forward Adrian Hill (8.1 ppg) round out the starting five to go with Inman and Webb.
However, one of Rutgers weaknesses is DePaul's strength, and that is depth. This is a luxury Hill does not have at his expense, as the top scorer off the bench is mainly Courtney Nelson with 3.9 ppg. Nelson, a 6-1 sophomore guard, coincidentally is a transfer out of Richmond who played under DePaul head coach Jerry Wainwright in the 2004-05 season. Nelson was recruited out of Bloomfield Tech in New Jersey by DePaul associate head coach Gary DeCesare. Courtney was the Scarlet Knight's leading scorer with 14 points in Wednesday's loss to Syracuse.
There is a contrast in tempo between the two teams. "The DePaul game coming up is going to be an interesting matchup in terms of styles," said RU coach Fred Hill, Jr. "They want to get up and down the floor. They're terrific in transition. We would like to play more of a halfcourt game and control tempo. So we're going to have to do a great job in transition defense and attack them on the offensive end and be able to put the ball inside and score."
Perhaps Rutgers biggest weakness is it's perimeter scoring as it has only connected on 30% of it's three point attempts (good for 14th in the conference). Look for DePaul to pack it in inside and try to fluster Inman and dare Rutgers to beat them from the perimeter.
The Blue Demons will be without the services of senior center Lorenzo Thompson who will be attending funeral services for his father who passed away late Monday night.
Since the first go of DePaul's triumvirate of New York area players (Sammy Mejia, Cliff Clinkscales, and Karron Clarke) resulted in a flop look for them to get back on track and please their traveling crews. Mejia (who shot 4-10 on Wednesday) has proved this season that after a bad performance he never lets it carry over to the next game. After he scored three points at UAB (on 1-8 shooting), he scored 23 points in a win versus Wake Forest (on 9-17 shooting) in the next contest. Then after his showing at St. John's (eight points on 3-14 shooting) he followed it up at Villanova with 23 points (8-14 shooting) for another DePaul victory.
DePaul is hoping to rebound with a solid performance. "It's a road game and those are very difficult," Blue Demons coach Jerry Wainwright told WSCR radio. "We have to bounce back. If we think positive and we certainly have a great memory bank. We just did something really positive on the road at Villanova. I'm looking for us to really play a good basketball game against a good team and get back at .500 in the league."
This is no time for inconsistency as DePaul must regroup and put behind their abysmal offensive display against Pittsburgh behind them and play to their strengths and come out hungry. After this game DePaul will go back home for two more home games, so winning this game becomes paramount in gaining back some much needed momentum and confidence.
No. Name Pos Cl. Ht. Wt. School/Hometown
1 MARQUIS WEBB G/F Sr. 6-5 205 Paterson Catholic/Paterson, NJ
2 ANTHONY FARMER G So. 6-1 190 St. Augustine's Prep/Millville, NJ
3 COURTNEY NELSON* G So. 6-1 180 Bloomfield Tech/U of Richmond/Newark, NJ
4 ADRIAN HILL F Sr. 6-8 245 McKinley/Canton, OH
5 HAMADY N'DIAYE C Fr. 6-11 235 Stoneridge Prep (CA)/Dakar, Senegal
10 JON MIMMO G Sr. 6-1 190 Holy Spirit/Absecon, NJ
13 OLLIE BAILEY F Jr. 6-7 230 Farragut/Chicago, IL
15 JR INMAN F So. 6-9 220 St. Joseph's Montvale/Pomona, NY
21 BYRON JOYNES C Sr. 6-9 265 Towson Catholic HS/Oak Hill Academy/Baltimore, MD
23 JASON CHERRY G Sr. 6-2 200 Atlantic City/Margate, NJ
32 JARON GRIFFIN G/F So. 6-7 210 Manchester Township/Manchester, NJ
33 SHAYLE KEATING G Sr. 6-0 185 Seton Hall Prep/Teaneck, NJ
42 FRANK RUSSELL F/C Sr. 6-11 220 Pine Forest/Hampton U./Fayetteville, NC
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