DePaul Blue Demons Preview

After going to the Allstate Arena frequently the last few years to watch DePaul basketball, I've been able to see the ups and downs of the current players, as well as their progression. The team stands at 9-9, but that doesn't tell you the whole story.

They're 4-2 in the Big East, showing that when they're shooting well, they win. They also win when they show a willingness to play defense. This team is more talented than you think, especially with the departures of Wilson Chandler and Sammy Mejia.

This year, they've given up 74.7 points per game, showing their lack of defensive intensity. They are ranked second to last in points allowed in the Big East. They've given up a generous 45.7% from the field, which is good for Marquette as they try to climb out of their recent shooting slump. The Demons have scored only 74.2, ranked 10th in the Big East. Their play is highly inconsistent, as they have put up over 90 points twice, but have struggled to reach 70 in other games.

Their marquee win was over Villanova, where they shot 48% from three and 52% overall. ‘Nova shot 41%, and had many open looks, but they just wouldn't fall. Overall, the team prefers to run, and when they're at their best, they hit a lot of transition threes. When they are at their worst, they have their point guard dribble just past half court and wait for something to happen.

A few DePaul fans feel that Cliff Clinkscales is bound to put a hole in the court before March. Marquette will be ok if they fall into trouble with fouls. DePaul has Burns who is an 83% shooter, but besides Green at 70%, nobody is over 70%. Look for this team to come back down to earth, starting with Saturday's game at the BC.

Projected Starters

PG – Cliff Clinkscales – Clinkscales, as a child, wowed audiences who watch Oprah when he appeared as a young boy. He was a fantastic dribbler, and today that's his main strength. The problem with Clinkscales is that his dribbling isn't always productive. He has a tendency to upset DePaul fans by dribbling 40 feet away from the basket, as the shot clock winds down. Clinkscales is the equivalent of a care taker quarterback in the NFL, as he doesn't turn the ball over. But, he doesn't score much, and his passes do not lead to many assists. On defense, Clinkscales won't kill you, and is a pretty good man defender considering his lack of size.

SG – Draelon Burns – Don't let the high points per game average fool you, Burns isn't that prolific of a scorer. Burns dropped 32 on NC A&T and TAMU CC, to inflate his average. He has the tendency to disappear in Big East games, as he scored 6 when his team needed him most against Georgetown at home. He also scored only 8 vs. Providence. Burns is a very streaky shooter and plays a lot like Louisville guard Jerry Smith.

In one game vs. TAMU CC, Burns shot 8-8 from three. But in the loss to Villanova, Burns shot 4-14. McNeal should be able to hold Burns to well under his average if he consistently gets a hand in his face. Burns on the defensive end shows the ability to read the passing lanes, which lead to his average of two steals per game. SF – Karron Clarke – The Five-year senior transfer from FSU hasn't shown the leadership necessary for the Blue Demons. Clarke, in Big East games, averages only 6.5 points per game. While he's been solid on the defensive end, Clarke needs to be more active offensively. The Blue Demons need him to step up and display that leadership that Coach Jerry Wainwright talked about in October.

PF – Mac Koshwal – The freshman standout is a star in the making. Not only does he start for DePaul, he was named a team captain. A 4 star recruit, Koshwal dominates the offensive glass. Against Roy Hibbert, Koshwal had 9 offensive rebounds. Koshwal is also the team's best field goal shooter, at around 56%. Koshwal can step out and hit the 18 footer, but does most of his work around the basket. Barro, Burke, Hayward and Fitzgerald will have a tough time keeping the freshman off the glass.

C – Wesley Green – At 6'9'' and 300 pounds, you would think that Green would be a force underneath, but that's not the case. Green shows flashes of being a solid rebounder and scorer, but Green lacks something. It could be that Wainwright doesn't have confidence in him, or it could be that Green just wants to get the ball 30 feet away from the hoop. Either way, MU fans should hope that he isn't motivated to rebound, or sits far away, because when he is motivated, he can dominate the glass.

Key Reserves

G/F- Dar Tucker – The freshman from Michigan is quite possibly the most talented player on this year's team. Tucker averages 13.5 PPG as well as 5 RPG in only 21 minutes. Combined with Koshwal, they have the eighth highest scoring output of any freshman duo. Tucker is a big spark off the bench, and they've needed this spark when Clarke and Burns get off to slow starts. Tom Izzo may be kicking himself for not recruiting Tucker hard enough.

G – Willie Walker – The sophomore from Bolingbrook, IL is DePaul's David Cubillan. Lots of energy off the bench, hits a lot of threes (47% from the arc). Half of his attempted shots are from three, and he is a very good pull up shooter. He may have trouble guarding bigger, quicker guards, so if possible Dominic James should try to take him off the dribble.


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