DePaul Blue Demons vs. Notre Dame Fighting Irish – Tuesday, February 20, 2007 – 6:00 p.m. CST – South Bend, Indiana
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Game Preview - DePaul looks to end Notre Dame's home court winning streak
DePaul is coming off a key 75-62 road win at South Florida. After a sluggish start and lack of scoring by both teams, DePaul ended up leading 29-26 at halftime. DePaul went on a nice run to put the game out of reach from the Bulls in the middle of the second half. Sammy Mejia led DePaul with 18 points followed by Draelon Burns with 16 points. Wilson Chandler had only seven points because of foul trouble. The big key to the win was hitting 14 of 16 free throws, which in the past have cost the Blue Demons at times. DePaul has now virtually clinched a spot in the Big East tournament which will take a load off of their backs. The Blue Demons now are looking at loftier goals in continuing on their good play to try to get an NCAA Tournament bid. DePaul now has a record of 16-11 and a 7-6 Big East record.
Notre Dame enters the contest with a 20-6 record and a 8-5 mark in Big East. Notre Dame went down to Cincinnati and defeated the Bearcats 76-64 on Sunday. The Fighting Irish were led in scoring by Colin Falls who had 23 points, who became the all-time Notre Dame career three point scorer. Notre Dame as a team made 13 three pointers but were outrebounded by two which has been a probem for the Irish in conference play. A pleasant surprise for the Fighting Irish was Ryan Ayers who went a perfect four for four from behind the arc to end up with 12 points. Because of Ayres play, Russell Carter got a chance to rest his injury some and did not play much.
This is the second meeting of the season as the Blue Demons squeaked out a 67-66 win at home over the Irish. Wilson Chandler made a key block at the very end of the game to secure the win for DePaul. Colin Falls had a great game for Notre Dame but ended up losing in his last visit to his hometown.
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 the game with an undefeated record at home this season and an overall 18 game homecourt winning streak. They beat Alabama when the Tide were ranked high in the polls and have of course won all of their Big East games at home. Notre Dame, in my opinion, has one of the best home court atmospheres. The Joyce Center has very cozy sightlines for shooters which is why the Irish always seem to have good shooting teams.
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 17 points a game. Colin Falls is their main three point threat and second leading scorer at 15 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 down low and has a lot of good post moves. Notre Dame as a team shoot around 47% from the floor and almost 39% 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 over`100 more assists then turnovers. This means that they play a little uptempo, but at the same time are careful when they fastbreak and run a good controlled half court offense. One player not mentioned is Kyle McAlarney who has to sit out the rest of the year due to suspension.
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 strengtht are. Coach Brey likes role players and each player has certain strengths but are not the type of players that can do multiple things on the court. Their go to player this season is Carter and the best way to defend him is get physical on his right side on the perimeter and make him get frustrated. He will go to the basket where charges a plenty will hopefully be waiting for him or he will force three pointers. He wants to go to the hoop but usually on his strong side, but lately he is chucking up a lot of three pointers maybe because of his recent hip injury. Just make him go to his left and get a hand in his face on the three point attempt. He is an improving shooter so it is important to not 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. DePaul guarded Falls well on the perimeter last game at Allstate Arena and Falls made DePaul pay a little on his good scoring game, but if we let him shoot a couple of more threes it might have been a different outcome. 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. Notre Dame will try to see what Kurz and Harangody can do in the post since our front line has been exposed this year. If we do a good job on them, then we will be in good shape.
On offense DePaul will get to see a lot of man-to-man defense from the Irish, but I think that won't last long because of our history this year. Notre Dame showed more zone last game at Allstate then I expected, but I feel they will go man-to-man on us at home getting strength from their crowd. The good thing is when Notre Dame goes to zone 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 try to 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.
Wilson Chandler will be DePaul's key to the game because we all know how fired up he will be playing close to home. We just hope he takes good shots and lets the game come to him. You know Draelon Burns feels bad about last year's game ending at ND and I feel he will have something to prove Tuesday. DePaul plays their best basketball when they are mad or have their backs up against the wall so hopefully that is the way they come out of the gate against the Irish. If we play smart and have a good start, we have a real good shot at breaking that home court winning streak that the Irish have.
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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