DePaul Blue Demons vs. Marquette Golden Eagles - Wednesday, January 20th, 8:00 p.m. Central – Allstate Arena, Rosemont, IL
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When you examine the Blue Demons' schedule for the month of January so far, it looks like the Holy Roman Empire of basketball schedules.
DePaul (7-10, 0-5) has faced Catholic powerhouses – Georgetown, Villanova, Providence, and St. John's. Now they finish this week off with Marquette and Notre Dame.
When you think of Marquette (11-6, 2-3) of course, you think of rivalry. Marquette is DePaul's longest continuous rivalry.
With the way the Blue Demons have been playing of late, it's hard to imagine this being a close fought rivalry game. At St. John's on Sunday, DePaul struggled to put the ball in the hoop. The Blue Demons could only muster 47 points and shot 32% from the field.
If anyone understands the history and intensity of the rivalry with Marquette it is DePaul interim coach Tracy Webster. Webster played point guard for the Wisconsin Badgers from 1991 to 1994. During his time in America's Dairyland, Webster faced Marquette every year in a rivalry game.
"People can talk all they want about this being just another game---no way," Webster told the DePaul website. "This is a rivalry game, for sure, and our guys will be ready for it."
One of the adjustments that Webster has made since taking over for the dismissed Jerry Wainwright has been to quicken the tempo and encourage his team to take shots early in the shot clock. The results of that change in strategy hasn't improved DePaul's standing any. Instead it seems to have played to the strengths of teams like Providence and St. John's who prefer to get out and run.
The Demons were outscored by 17 and 20 respectively against Providence and St. John's.
Marquette is no different. The Golden Eagles would also love to see a fast-paced game. The Golden Eagles ran out to a 93-63 drubbing of Providence on Sunday.
Where DePaul had hoped to be at an advantage over Marquette was in the middle. Unfortunately for the Blue Demons, big man Mac Koshwal is sidelined with a right ankle injury for at least one more week.
With Koshwal on the bench, the pressure to score then falls on the shoulders of senior guard Will Walker. Walker's photo may soon be on a milk carton. To say that he has struggled shooting would be an understatement. In his last two outings, Walker has shot 25.9% from the field.
Now sure Walker has faced some double-teams and defensive pressure without Koshwal in the lineup, but for the Demons to have a competitive chance, Walker is going to have to find ways to score. DePaul needs to run him off screens and find ways to get him open.
When the Demons last faced the Golden Eagles, Walker dropped in 30 points. If he can ever get back to that level, Walker will give Webster something to smile about.
Marquette is rebuilding in Buzz Williams second season at the helm after having lost the "three amigos", Dominic James, Jerel McNeal, and Wes Matthews to graduation.
"I don't know that you ever can replace three of the top 10 scorers in our league, all on one team," said Williams. "We miss them offensively. We miss their poise and their leadership. Obviously they had been through ever different scenario that you can dream up. You can't replace that. I think our new guys have done the best that they can even though their foundation is not as strong and not as wide as those three guys were."
The Golden Eagles have won two of their last three Big East games after starting out league play with very close losses to then-sixth ranked West Virginia and eighth ranked Villanova.
MU senior forward Lazar Hayward presents a matchup problem for DePaul. Hayward leads Marquette with 18.8 points and 7.4 rebounds per game. Juco transfer Jimmy Butler isn't far behind at 15.2 ppg and 6.5 rebounds per game.
"I think that those two guys are doing a great job," Williams said. "We rely on everybody, it's not just Lazar and Jimmy. We need all of the guys that play for us to be as close to perfect as they can on both ends of the floor. Lazar and Jimmy have both been great. We'll continue to need them in every game, because they are so important to what we are doing."
MU will be without seldom-used big man Youssoupha Mbao on Wednesday night. Mbao has been sidelined with a knee sprain.
The Last Time
On February 3, 2009 at Allstate Arena, the host Blue Demons succumbed to eighth ranked Marquette 76-61.
The Demons, who were playing without sophomore Dar Tucker, lost despite a 30 point career-high effort from junior guard Will Walker. Sophomore Mac Koshwal contributed with a near double-double of 10 points and nine rebounds.
MU was led by their trio of senior guards all of whom finished in double-figures. Jerel McNeal led the way for the Golden Eagles with 26 points, Wes Matthews contributed 20 and Dominic James finished with 15 points.
No. Name Ht./Wt. Pos. Year Hometown (High School)
1 Darius Johnson-Odom 6-2/200 G SO Raleigh, N.C. (Wakefield HS)
2 Maurice Acker 5-8/165 G SR Hazel Crest, Ill. (Hillcrest)
5 Junior Cadougan 6-1/205 G FR Toronto, Ontario (Christian Life Center Academy)
10 David Cubillan 6-0/175 G SR Maracaibo, Venezuela (St. Benedict's (N.J.))
12 Erik Williams 6-7/200 F FR Houston, Texas (Cypress Springs HS)
21 Joseph Fulce 6-7/205 F JR Plano, Texas (Plano)
23 Dwight Buycks 6-3/190 G JR Milwaukee, Wis. (Bay View HS)
32 Lazar Hayward 6-6/225 F SR Buffalo, N.Y. (Notre Dame Prep (Mass.))
33 Jimmy Butler 6-6/215 G/F JR Tomball, Texas (Tomball HS)
42 Chris Otule 6-10/250 C SO Richmond, Texas (Ft. Bend Bush)
45 Robert Frozena 6-1/190 G JR Sherwood, Wis. (St. Mary Central)
55 Youssoupha Mbao 7-2/215 C FR Dakar, Senegal (Stoneridge Prep)
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