3rd seeded DePaul Blue Demons vs. 6th seeded Hofstra Pride – Wednesday, March 14, 2006 – 7:30 p.m. CDT – McGrath Arena, Chicago, Illinois
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This is the time of year where teams like DePaul (18-13) and Hofstra (22-9) feel like they have a second life. After a frustrating regular season and a loss in their respective conference tournaments, these teams are rejuvenated and happy to still be playing postseason college basketball.
This is the 3rd straight NIT for the Hofsra Pride. Last year they defeat St. Joseph's and Nebraska to advance to the NIT quarterfinals. Tom Pecora's team was on the cusp of making the NCAA tournament last year. You may recall that the Pride defeated eventual Final Four participant George Mason twice last season, yet were snubbed by the NCAA selection committee.
Among common opponents, Hofstra has defeated St. John's 63-51 to capture the Holiday Festival title and lost at Syracuse 85-60.
The Pride are a guard-oriented team that likes to score from the perimeter. Hofstra has the nation's highest-scoring backcourt duo in 6-3 Loren Stokes (20.7 ppg) and 6-3 Antoine Agudio (20.3 ppg). Throw in senior Carlos Rivera (13.1 ppg) and you have a threesome capable of scoring 50 points on any given night.
With Hofstra being so guard-oriented, could the Blue Demons exploit some possible mismatches? "Mismatches are at both ends of the floor," said DePaul head coach Jerry Wainwright. "Our forwards are really big. Yet they are very mobile kids. I think those kinds of kids in games like this really become factors. You don't want to play to someone else's strengths either. We've got pretty good wings. Anytime we've got baskets on the wing, we've been pretty successful."
The Blue Demons will have to find an answer for the Pride's three prong attack and guard the perimeter in this matchup. "We're pretty good guard defenders," Wainwright said. "We have pretty good matchups on the perimeter because of Draelon (Burns) and Sammy (Mejia). They're older and they're pretty good defenders. The strength of our defense is on the perimeter. (Wilson) Chandler and (Marcus) Heard are guys that can really switch out on people. Where we have to do a better job is guarding at the point position and that is going to be a key to this game. We have to be able to guard the ball a little bit better than we have and I've used Draelon Burns to do that."
While the Blue Demons and Pride have never met on the basketball court, there is some familiarity between the two teams. Wainwright and Pecora know one another from the Colonial league, when Wainwright was coaching at UNC-Wilmington. "I know Tom, as a matter of fact, we talked after the St. John's game (in December)," said Jerry. Pecora also recruited DePaul senior Sammy Mejia while he was at Storm King prep school in New York. While Wainwright is familiar with the senior leadership of Stokes. "I know Stokes. I've seen him play in high school. His brother (Leonard) played at Cincinnati, so I know him."
Wainwright has said that he wants to give his freshman some playing time and hopes to overcome Hofstra by using his deep bench. "I think you better get into somebody and use your depth," said Jerry. "We have a lot of guys. Hopefully we can put the type of pressure on them where in the second half you start to wear on them a bit."
The Blue Demons will be fired up playing a postseason game on the Lincoln Park campus for the first time since 1990. "This building has a tendency to be hot," Wainwright remarked. "It's close quarters."
Since returning from the Big East tournament in New York last week, the Blue Demons have focused on preparing for final exams and basketball. "We've had two really good practices where we kind of refreshed everything we do," Wainwright said. "One day defensively and one day offensively. We need to be really kind of focused and get into a regimen. I think that will happen and I think we'll be fine."
The winner of Wednesday's game will advance to play the winner of the
Vermont at Kansas State game on Monday March 19th. The site of that game will be at the highest remaining seed.
No. Name Pos. Cl. Ht. Wt. Hometown High School /
1 Loren Stokes G Sr. 6-3 175 Buffalo, NY Turner-Carroll
3 Zygis Sestokas G/F So. 6-5 195 Vilnius, Lithuania Statesville
11 Sal Patricio G Fr. 6-2 180 Queens, NY Florida Prep
12 Ryan Johnson G/F Jr. 6-4 215 Massapequa, NY St.John the Baptist
13 Antoine Agudio G Jr. 6-3 185 Huntington Station, NY Walt Whitman
15 Arminas Urbutis F So. 6-9 230 Kaunas, Lithuania Montverde
20 Greg Johnson G So. 6-0 185 Harlem, NY Holderness
22 Charles Jenkins G Fr. 6-3 215 Queens, NY Springfield Gardens
25 Mantas Leonavicius F Fr. 6-7 220 Vilnius, Lithuania Statesville
31 Carlos Rivera G Sr. 6-2 200 San German, PR Miami Christian
32 Greg Washington F/C Fr. 6-10 200 Brentwood, NY Central Islip
45 Mike Davis-Sabb F So. 6-7 230 Bronx, NY All Hallows
54 Chris Gadley F So. 6-9 260 Amherst, NY Amherst
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