Considering the dreadful season DePaul had last year, the Blue Demons have begun their 2010 season in a much better fashion at 5-1. Seeing that DePaul won 9 games all last season and none during Big East conference play, College Basketball experts took notice when DePaul went toe-to-toe with Tennessee in a 57-53 Paradise Jam semi-finals loss.
Unfortunately for DePaul, a left foot injury to junior big man Mac Koshwal (6'11", 255lbs, 15ppg, 13rpg) leaves him sidelined for a few weeks, leaving DePaul noticeably thin in the middle. This wasn't too much of an issue in their last game, a victory over Alabama State, but it should figure much more glaringly against AJ Ogilvy and Vanderbilt.
DePaul has won its last three games to move to 5-1 overall, and the most recent triumph came over Alabama State on Wednesday by a 58-50 final. The fact that no opponent has scored more than 57 points against the Blue Demons in a regulation game this season speaks to the strength of the club's defense. The lone loss came against Tennessee back on November 22nd by four points.
Interesting Note: Three days after defeating Missouri - "The Fastest 40 Minutes In Basketball" - Vanderbilt faces the second slowest-paced team (58.3 possessions/game [adjusted] - 346 of 347 teams) in DePaul. Where Missouri wants to push the tempo, wear down an opponent, and cause turnovers, DePaul makes up for it's deficiencies by slowing things down and eliminating opportunities to score. With such a slow pace, it's no wonder DePaul limits teams to 55 ppg, good enough for 6th overall.
Keep in mind that Mac Koshwal has starter-type numbers and is being grouped with the bench players in that analysis. So what does that graph tell us? Vandy is much more efficient with the ball offensively (when adjusted for the contrasting tempos) and is slightly more efficient defensively.
You don't really need to look at statistics to see that Vandy is a pretty heavy favorite in this game. Vegas lines opened with Vanderbilt as a 17 point home favorite.
- Offensive Movement - The slower paced Blue Demons will give the Dores an opportunity to really work the half-court offense. In the first few games, after the opposing team would stop the Vanderbilt primary and secondary breaks, the offense felt stagnant. Players away from the ball didn't seem to be helping out the ball-handler by getting into position for an uncontested pass. I'm sure a large part of this was due to Missouri's pressure defense. I think it's about time this team began to assert its will offensively.
- 3 Point Shooting - In the season opener against Lipscomb, Stallings mentioned that he thought 41% was a subpar evening. On paper, that's definitely the case. Jermaine Beal, Brad Tinsley, and John Jenkins are all outstanding outside shooters. However, in games the team is only hitting on 34% of their outside shots (37 of 109). I have to attribute this to the stagnancy in the offense. Move the ball effectively in the half-court sets and shots are bound to start falling with the success rate that Vandy fans have been expecting.
- Eliminate Turnovers - You cannot turn the ball over when you know that is the #1 action item on your opponents game plan. When Vanderbilt took care of the ball, Missouri had trouble stopping the offense and creating offensive opportunities on the other end. Halve the turnovers and Vandy wins that game by 20.
It sure will be nice to watch this team begin to play to their potential. It's just a matter of time until they begin to realize how good they can truly be. I see no reason why that can't happen against DePaul.
"For us to stay steady, stay composed and everybody keep our calm – it was important for us (Wednesday) night," senior guard Jermaine Beal said. "I guess you could say everybody on our team is more mature. Last year, a game like that our team probably would have folded or lost. Who knows?"
I'll update this post with any other game stories I find that are published tomorrow morning.
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"If you look at their scores, they're playing games in the 50s," Stallings said. "They're going to try to get you to be impatient and get you to play defense for a long period of time. And then hopefully when you get the ball on offense, you lose your patience and then you give it back to them quickly.
Another 2004 flash back: Matt Freiji is a Commodore and goes for back-to-back games with a double-double. Maybe it doesn't seem all that big a feat, but no other Vander bilt pla yer pos ted a double-double stat line in consecutive games until sophomore forward Jeffery Taylor did it Wednesday with 18 points and 11 boards. He went for 13 and 10 against Arizona.
As always, post your predictions below and make sure to head over to Stat-King to vote on who you think will be the best performing Commodore against the Blue Demons.