DePaul vs. Notre Dame Game Preview hears from Jerry Wainwright, Mike Brey, Sammy Mejia, & Draelon Burns as we preview Thursday's throwdown between the DePaul Blue Demons and the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame at Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Illinois…

Key Information

DePaul Blue Demons vs. Notre Dame Fighting Irish – Thursday, February 8, 2007 – 6:00 p.m. CST – Rosemont, Illinois

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Game Preview - DePaul looks to continue Notre Dame's recent road woes – By Chas Demster

Previous game:

DePaul is coming off a 75-69 road loss at Syracuse on Saturday. Draelon Burns tied his career high, which he set the game before, with 26 points. Wilson Chandler scored 11 points and grabbed 13 rebounds for a very solid game. Sammy Mejia chipped in with 12 points and seven rebounds. DePaul trailed 52-32 in the second half but went on a 33-16 run to cut it to a three point lead with just under two minutes remaining. Unfortunately that was close as it got as Syracuse finished off DePaul to win by six. DePaul is now 13-11 and 4-6 in the Big East.

Notre Dame enters Allstate Arena with a 18-5 record and a 6-4 mark in Big East. Notre Dame went down to the South Florida Sun Dome and were defeated by the Bulls 69-63 on Saturday. The Fighting Irish must have gotten too much sun in Tampa before the game because they shot well under 40% from the field and only 50% from the free throw line. Colin Falls led ND in scoring with 26 points and Russell Carter had 15 points but only shot 5-15 from the floor. Notre Dame was behind at halftime by five points.

Scouting the Fighting Irish:

Notre Dame, coached by Mike Brey, are known as a well-balanced offensive team but struggle sometimes on defense. Notre Dame comes into Allstate with a 3-5 road/neutral record on the season. They have beaten Maryland in Washington, DC and have gone into Syracuse and won there just a few days before DePaul lost at Syracuse. You know that Notre Dame can go on the road and win, but for some reason they play sloppy or don't get the job done on defense. Also, we will get our first look at former DePaul assistant coach Gene Cross.

The key players for the Irish are Russell Carter, Colin Falls, Rob Kurz and Luke Harangody. Russell Carter is their leading scorer and most athletic player. Carter is averaging 18 points a game. Colin Falls is their main three point threat and second leading scorer at 14 points a game. Rob Kurz is their main rebounder at around eight a game, plus he can score in the paint. Harangody, a freshman, has been starting lately and can be a dangerous threat if left alone. Notre Dame as a team shoots around 47% from the floor and almost 40% from three point range, but in conference play their three point percentage is a little lower at 35%.

The Irish have outrebounded their opponents this season, but in conference play they have been outrebounded by one a game. Notre Dame has been known as a team that takes care of the basketball under Coach Brey and it shows with them having around 100 more assists then turnovers. This means that they play a little uptempo but at the same time are careful when they will fastbreak and run a good controlled half court offensive. One player not mentioned is Kyle McAlarney who has to sit out the rest of the year due to suspension which will hurt the Irish against DePaul.

My gameplan for a DePaul win:

The best way to beat Notre Dame is to bother them with real tough defense. They are not known as a physical team and will shy away from it. On defense we need to understand what each of the Notre Dame players strengths are. Of course this will be gone through in practice this week but against a team like ND it is very important because Mike Brey likes role players. Role players have certain strengths, but are not players that can do multiple things on the court. Their main player is Carter and the best way to defend him is get physical on his right side on the perimeter and make him get frustrated and he will go to the basket where charges a plenty will hopefully be waiting for him. Yes, he wants to go to the hoop but usually on his strong side. Just make him go to his left and just get a hand in his face on the three point attempt. He is an improving shooter so it is important to now lay back and just stop penetration.

Colin Falls is the main three point guy on ND, which means we need to make him take a dribble and he becomes less of a threat. He is good enough to drive, but in his mind he is a three point guy. Just don't let him get started with a few unguarded three pointers. Kurz is a good post up guy and will get to the free throw line often. If we do a good job on him then we will be in good shape. Notre Dame will try to see what he can do since our front line has been exposed this year.

On offense DePaul will get to see a lot of man to man defense, but I think that won't last long because of our history. The good thing is that Notre Dame does not play a lot of zone and there will be a lot of offensive rebounds available. You will see a lot of the same things that DePaul has done most of the year on offense. They will get Kurz out of the lane and there will be a lot of one on one because the Fighting Irish will have trouble with our penetration. If we play smart and have a good start we will be one game closer to getting back to .500 in conference.

Q & A with Blue Demons coach Jerry Wainwright

Q: Does this Notre Dame team surprise you?

"Well I thought with Russell Carter coming back, he had the potential to be a great leader. He's one of the least recognized great players in the country. He's done it the right way. He's been a guy who didn't play much at the beginning of his career. I think he deferred his leadership to the guys last year like Quinn. I have tremendous respect for Falls. They can shoot it at every position. Their freshman center is a rugged and a very competitive young man. He has benefited from having shooters and having space to operate. They arguably may be the best offensive team in our league."

Q: How do the shooters affect the game plan?

"I think we match up pretty good. We're different, but I think from a size and speed factor we have the kinds of guys that can guard on the perimeter. For a Marcus Heard, or Wilson Chandler or a Karron Clarke to go outside and guard Rob Kurz, it's a lot easier for us than for some teams. I think the matchups are pretty solid. We have an experienced player like Colin Falls, and an experienced player like Sam Mejia. Not saying they'll guard each other, I don't know what will happen. The tough match up for us is Carter. We have three big bodied kids. They have to guard up. Even though he's a freshman, they have the edge at center. We have kind of a patchwork at center, and he's a physical kid inside. Although Lorenzo has played well this season, his minutes are limited."

Q & A with Sammy Mejia

Q: Obviously perimeter defense is a big key, they shoot a lot of threes. What are you looking to do?

"Try to be aggressive, make a statement, and be physical with them. Shooters don't like physical play, and we have a big physical team."

Q: When you see the name Notre Dame on the schedule what does it mean to you?

"It's going to be a crazy game with a bunch of fans. That's our rival team. We're excited about playing against them. Our coaches are excited about coaching against them. It's going to be a war and we're looking forward to facing them."

Q & A with Draelon Burns

Q: Do you remember the game last year?

"Definitely, we had a chance to win and go to the conference championship (tournament) and I missed the final shot, so that's been on my mind since last year."

Irish Coach Mike Brey on the status of Rob Kurz

"He's feeling better. He will start again. He has practiced some, but not all the way yet. He'll give us close to a full practice today. He's a lot better than he was Saturday. To say that he's 100 percent, I don't know if we can say that. He's playing and he's ready to go."

Mike Brey on preparing for the Blue Demons

"We're preparing like we're going to see a Kansas (game) effort over there. When I look at DePaul's talent in the scouting report and the nine or 10 guys, I think you can argue that no one has better players than them one through 10. DePaul is very talented. When that thing gets in gear, which we've seen against Kansas and on the road against Villanova, it's scary. That's how we'll prepare, because that's the effort that we'll get."

Notre Dame Roster

No. Name Ht./Wt. Pos. Yr. Hometown/High School

2 Tory Jackson 5-10/185 Guard FR Saginaw, MI/Buena Vista

11 Joe Harden 6-7/212 Guard FR Acampo, CA/St. Mary's

15 Colin Falls 6-5/200 Guard SR Park Ridge, Ill./Loyola Academy

20 Jonathan Peoples 6-3/214 Guard FR Bellwood, IL/St. Joseph

31 Rob Kurz 6-9/235 Forward JR Lower Gwynedd, PA/Penn Charter

33 Zach Hillesland 6-9/227 Forward SO Toledo, OH/St. John's Jesuit

35 Kieran Piller 6-2/198 Guard SR Endicott, NY/Union-Endicott

40 Luke Zeller 6-11/245 Forward/Center SO Washington, IN/Washington

41 Tim Andree 6-8/238 Forward FR Colts Neck, NJ/Christian Brothers Academy

42 Ryan Ayers 6-8/210 Guard/Forward SO Blue Bell, PA/Germantown Academy

43 Russell Carter 6-4/220 Guard SR Paulsboro, NJ/Paulsboro

44 Luke Harangody 6-8/250 Forward FR Schererville, IN/Andrean

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