Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Blue Demons Fall to Golden Eagles

I attended the Depaul-Marquette game last night to cheer on my Blue Demons and hope to see them pick up a win over a ranked opponent.  Two years ago, I brought my roommate to a game for the first time and he witnessed an exciting finish as Mike Stovall picked up a loose ball and fired up a shot that went in with 0.7 seconds left on the clock to stun the Golden Eagles and the likes of current Bulls player Jimmy Butler and also Lazar Hayward (currently of the Oklahoma City Thunder).  This particular night I was hoping my girlfriend would bring the good luck as she would be attending her first ever Division I college basketball game.  But it was not meant to be, as Marquette ended up winning 89-76.

Things got off to a great start, much like they did against St. John's last week.  DePaul could not miss and had a 12-point lead late into the first half behind the play of Cleveland Melvin, who had 17 in the first half alone.  Freshman Jamie Crockett came out hot too, hitting some big threes and bringing a great energy in the first half.  The scary moment of the first half came when Moses Morgan flew over a Marquette player and landed on his head, giving him a concussion.  Morgan also fainted in practice Thursday and missed Saturday's game vs Cincy, so there has to be some real concern and caution taken with Morgan here.  As the Demons looked to close the half strong, the Golden Eagles employed the same strategy that worked for St. John's last week-full court pressure.  This pressure once again got to the Blue Demons, as they threw the ball away and had it stolen several times.  The Golden Eagles closed to 43-40 at half, but I still felt pretty good about the way DePaul was playing.

Let me begin my rant on Brandon Young.  DePaul's second-leading scorer at 15.0 ppg, Young completely disappeared.  Against St. John's last week, he had 13 points and 11 assists, but that masked his lack of hustle and indifference on the defensive end.  Last night was an utter joke of an effort by him.  He played 16 minutes and scored 2 points (1-5 FG).  You would think in a big home game against a Marquette team who travels well and brought at least half the crowd that Young could find some motivation to play his hardest.  Midway through the first half, he missed a jumper from the elbow, put his head down, and his guy ultimately killed him down the court for an easy layup.  I immediately said he should be pulled for that, and sure enough Purnell reached for a guy on the bench who wanted to hustle.  It was absolutely pathetic the way Young played last night.  It was the most lackluster effort I've seen from someone on the court in a live game in a long time.  They count on him for 15.0 ppg and great passing and ball handling, but he decided to take the night off last night.  If I were Cleveland Melvin, I would have called him out in the locker room.  Melvin needs to be the leader of the team and not let that kind of stuff slide.  And when I say call out, I don't mean just give him a light talking.   Let's talk about Krys Faber a little bit too.  This guy is a senior and seems to make the same dumb mistakes that he's always made.  When will he learn and mature as a basketball player?  There have been flashes of it this year more than in any year previous, but he still does dumb things and completely disappeared tonight as well.

Regarding the second half, the Golden Eagles just had too much balance and ran the Demons off the court.  The Demons fought hard and cut it to seven in the waning minutes, but could not get any closer than that.  I admired Clahar's effort.  That kid played hard and gave it his all, scoring 16 points.  Melvin and Crockett played well with 22 and 17 points respectively.  I really liked the way Donovan Kirk played.  He is long and defends well and also can do some things around the rim.  He could have a bright future here if he keeps working hard and giving max effort.  McKinney was all right with 10 points, but he cannot shoot from outside, as evidenced by one going off the side of the backboard.  He gave it his all tonight and I commend him for that.

The free throw line is something that seems to plague any Purnell team I've ever known of.  They went 10-of-16 from the line, and that's simply not good enough.  I don't know if there's a disconnect with the players between shooting them in practice and in games, but his teams never seem to make their free throws.  I think game fatigue is obviously a factor, but Purnell has to find a way to force his players to make free throws in practice when they are tired.    Marquette went 22-of-23 and the +12 difference at the line basically decided the outcome as both teams shot similar percentages from the floor.

I did not expect Purnell to rebuild this program in a year or two, but the light bulb has to go on for the Blue Demons eventually.  I see some very disconcerting things that need to be fixed, but there is also plenty to be encouraged about.

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