DePaul Blue Demons vs. Connecticut Huskies - Tuesday, February 19th, 6:00 p.m. (Central) – Hartford, Connecticut
Television – ESPN-U
Radio – WIND AM 560 Chicago
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Interior defense has been the biggest problem ailing the DePaul Blue Demons (10-14, 5-7) this season. Facing the UConn Huskies (20-5, 9-3) sure isn't going to help cure what has been ailing DePaul. With a starting frontcourt of 7-3 Hasheem Thabeet, 6-7 Jeff Adrien, and 6-9 Stanley Robinson, UConn will make the Blue Demons look like dwarves.
In UConn's 74-73 overtime win at South Florida on Saturday afternoon, Thabeet blocked eight shots. That's not counting all of the altered shots that the Tanzanian Titan forces. Thabeet is a force to be reckoned with when he patrols the paint. "I don't know if there is a better defensive player, or someone who affects your offense, more than he does in the country," said DePaul coach Jerry Wainwright. "It's kind of a potpourri of pain. No matter which way you turn, you have to have an answer."
"Thabeet is kind of the cornerstone of their defense and has improved so much offensively," Wainwright remarked. "Coach Calhoun and his staff have done such a great job in bringing him along with his skill level. You can just see that in a simple thing like his free throw where he's becoming an exceptional free throw shooter. Then you throw Jeff Adrien into the mix, who has always been one of the toughest inside kids in our league."
While DePaul has one of the Big East's best freshmen in power forward Mac Koshwal, he's not equipped to take on the UConn front line by himself. "We're much better when he doesn't have to be the only guy," Wainwright said. "That's what we've struggled with all year, who is the other guy? When he is playing more of a power forward he has a much higher level of success."
Koshwal can't do it alone, but where will help come from this season? "The thing he has done night in and night out is he's rebounding. He's been terrific on the glass and he's battled. But, I think it takes away from the rest of his game. The Wes Green's and the Matija Poscic's of the world have to step up for us. I think you're asking way too much of Mac, if he has to do it himself."
The Huskies have more going for them than just their big men too. Junior guard Craig Austrie nailed the dramatic game winner in overtime on Saturday. UConn's scoring punch comes from their backcourt. Junior A.J. Price led the Huskies with 23 points on Saturday while sophomore guard Doug Wiggins contributed with a career high of 20 off the bench.
Price was named Big East Player of the Week after he averaged 24.5 points and 8.0 assists in two wins last week. A.J. has averaged 20.0 points in seven games against ranked opponents this season. Price is also one of the Big East's better defensive guards. In their game against Notre Dame last week, Price got into the face of Irish shooter Kyle McAlarney and forced him into a four of 14 shooting night.
UConn is the Big East hottest's team right now having won their last nine straight. If the Huskies have a weakness, it might be perimeter shooting. In the 45 minutes against USF, the Huskies only attempted six three pointers. If the Blue Demons were to come out firing hot from behind the arc, they might be able to stay in this game.
The Last Time
The Blue Demons defeated the Huskies 66-58 on January 31, 2007 at Rosemont's Allstate Arena. Junior guard Draelon Burns led all scorers with a season-high 26 points.
Sophomore forward Wilson Chandler contributed with 14 points and nine rebounds. Jerome Dyson led UConn with 16 points while Jeff Adrien chipped in with 10.
NO. NAME YR. POSITION HT WT HOMETOWN/HIGH SCHOOL
4 Jeff Adrien Jr. F 6-7 243 Brookline, Mass./Brewster (N.H.) Academy
24 Craig Austrie Jr. G 6-3 176 Stamford, Conn./Trinity Catholic HS
55 Kyle Bailey Fr. G 6-3 170 Lancaster, N.H./White Mountains Regional HS
2 Donnell Beverly Fr. G 6-4 190 Hawthorne, Calif/Leuzinger HS
40 Johnnie Bird Jr. G 6-0 165 Fort Bragg, N.C./Bridgeport (Conn.) Central HS
11 Jerome Dyson So. G 6-4 190 Rockville, Md./Proctor (N.H.) Academy
33 Gavin Edwards So. F 6-9 234 Gilbert, Ariz./Mesquite HS
35 Alex Hornat So. F 6-5 205 South Windsor, Conn./South Windsor HS
14 Curtis Kelly So. F 6-9 234 Bronx, N.Y./Rice HS
45 John Lindner Jr. F 6-5 265 Cheshire, Conn./Cheshire HS
32 Jonathan Mandeldove So. C 7-0 240 Stone Mountain, Ga./Hargrave (Va.) Military Academy
12 A.J. Price Jr. G 6-2 181 Amityville, N.Y./Amityville HS
21 Stanley Robinson So. F 6-9 200 Birmingham, Ala./Huffman HS
34 Hasheem Thabeet So. C 7-3 263 Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania/Cypress Christian School (Houston, Texas)
30 Jim Veronick Jr. F 6-8 200 Durham, Conn./Coginchaug HS
3 Doug Wiggins So. G 6-1 165 East Hartford, Conn./East Hartford HS
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