DePaul Blue Demons vs. Connecticut Huskies – Wednesday, January 31, 2007 – 8:00 p.m. CST – Allstate Arena, Rosemont, Illinois
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Game Preview - Basketball Games NEVER End in a Tie
Basketball games NEVER end in a tie. That statement is probably of some solace to both Jim Calhoun and Jerry Wainwright as they head into Wednesday's inaugural Big East conference game between their two schools. With the Huskies coming in with their first four game losing streak since January 2001 (and losers of seven of their last nine), and the Demons on a three game losing streak of their own – someone will get a much-needed victory on Wednesday night. As the conference slate reaches the midpoint, the winner of this game could possibly be looking back at this game as the one that resurrected their season.
In a schedule discussed by many very often so far, the Huskies won their first eleven games of the season with very little fight from the opposition. However, as the critics have pointed out the schedule was not exactly filled with heavyweights; and there is that small matter of "where" the games were played. In Connecticut, all of them – not a single road game to be had before the Huskies traveled to Morgantown, West Virginia for their conference opener on December 30th. In fact, the Huskies have won exactly one road game so far this season (at St. Johns on the 13th) as they travel to the Allstate Arena to face the Demons.
While the Huskies have nine new players on their roster this season, Coach Calhoun will not accept their youth as a reason for their recent play. "We have no youth," Calhoun said. "We're 20 games into the basketball season… if you don't get back on defense after 20 games, either A) you're not being told to get back, B) you're not practicing very well or C) you've just lost your mind. Maybe all three happened at once. I don't know… that's not a freshman mistake at this point in time."
Second half collapses have been the downfall in their two most recent losses to Louisville and Providence, but the Huskies have shown flashes of the team they could be. Many of the problems that the UConn coaching staff and fans are concerned about can be corrected, but the team is becoming concerned with the time left to do so. "We keep saying we're going to turn things around and do things different, and it's not happening," guard AJ Price said. "So we all, collectively, need to close our mouths and perform on the court and play basketball. Until we buckle down for 40 minutes, we're going to have problems."
Calhoun has attempted to right his listing ship by getting back to basic fundamentals. Defending well, taking care of the basketball, rebounding better, etc. "Basic principles that are controlled, and attitude-related variables," Calhoun said.
Calhoun elaborated on the issue further by stating that "the only thing we're doing reasonably well is giving up 39 percent shooting… this team has to grow up and grow up quickly."
On the other side of the court, DePaul coach Jerry Wainwright is having some similar problems with his squad. Opposing teams have made a very concerted effort to remove Sammy Mejia from the offense, and have succeeded in the past few games. Without Mejia to shoulder part of the scoring, the Demon offense has bogged down and looked quite painful to most observers. If the Demons are to get back in the win column they must find a way to get Mejia involved offensively, and working in conjunction with Wilson Chandler again as they did during their five game winning streak just before conference play began. Defensively the Demons have been effective, but if the ball does not go through the hoop it is very difficult to win games – no matter how good you are on the defensive end.
Both teams have struggled to score against the zone this season, and flourished when able to get out and play in transition. The outcome of the game could very well be determined by which squad is able to get their offense in transition… or if one team can get a shooter or two hot early. Both teams will undoubtedly begin (or get into very quickly) a zone defense to start the game. If one team can get a shooter to pull the other out of the zone, it could lead to a breakout offensive game. However, if both teams struggle from behind the three-point line; it could be a race to 55 – first one there wins.
The marquee matchup to watch in this game will be the battle of sophomore wing men Wilson Chandler and Jeff Adrien. Both are averaging over 13 points per game, and are key cogs in the offensive machines of their respective squads. However, both will need good guard play in order to get the ball in positions on the court where they can be effective. Neither has demonstrated the ability to create their own shot on a regular basis at this point in their careers. However, the future upside and potential of both will no doubt have the NBA scouts in attendance.
The team that earns the victory on Wednesday will have some momentum to build upon entering the second half of the conference schedule; and the loser could very well be playing their way in to watching the Big East conference tournament from home come March.
NO. NAME YR. POSITION HT WT HOMETOWN/HIGH SCHOOL
1 Marcus Johnson So. F/G 6-6 195 Los Angeles, Calif./Westchester HS
2 Ben Eaves Fr. F/G 6-7 218 Lancashire, England/Worcester (Mass.) Academy
3 Doug Wiggins Fr. G 6-1 165 East Hartford, Conn./East Hartford HS
4 Jeff Adrien So. F 6-7 238 Brookline, Mass./Brewster (N.H.) Academy
10 Ben Spencer Jr. G 6-2 180 Mansfield, Conn./E.O. Smith HS
11 Jerome Dyson Fr. G 6-3 190 Rockville, Md./Proctor (N.H.) Academy
12 A.J. Price So. G 6-2 187 Amityville, N.Y./Amityville HS
14 Curtis Kelly Fr. F 6-9 217 Queens, N.Y./Rice HS
21 Stanley Robinson Fr. F 6-9 210 Birmingham, Ala./Huffman HS
24 Craig Austrie So. G 6-3 185 Stamford, Conn./Trinity Catholic HS
25 Rob Garrison So. G 6-2 185 Niagara Falls, N.Y./Niagara Falls HS
32 Jonathan Mandeldove Fr. C 6-11 230 Stone Mountain, Ga./Hargrave (Va.) Military Academy
33 Gavin Edwards Fr. F/C 6-9 230 Gilbert, Ariz./Mesquite HS
34 Hasheem Thabeet Fr. C 7-3 255 Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania/Cypress Christian School (Houston, Texas)
35 Marty Gagne Sr. G 6-0 185 Vernon, Conn./Rockville HS
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