How They Are Doing So Far:
DePaul is off to a 3-0 start and that is not bad for a team pegged to finish at the bottom of the Big East. However, beating Bethune-Cookman and Morgan State is nothing to write home about. But considering the Blue Demons barely beat Rockhurst in an exhibition game, any win is a good win. That also means that Coach Dave Leitao has quickly seen his team grow. They beat Bethune-Cookman 80-58 and followed it up with another easy 91-63 victory over Morgan State.
Last Time Out:
The Blue Demons got their biggest win on Thursday, November 15th against Penn State. The Nittany Lions are a mid-level Big Ten team so that was a bit of an upset. The Blue Demons did look bad at times in that contest, especially down the stretch, but they held on to take the game to overtime, where they outscored Penn State 4-2. It was an ugly win, but for DePaul, any win against a team like Penn State is a great building block towards the rest of the campaign. It was once again 6-6 senior Max Strus who led the way with 21 points, but he actually got some help from his teammates in the scoring department, mostly notably Devin Gage and reserve forward Femi Olujobi.
Who To Watch:
Strus is clearly the main man for DePaul. Through three games he is averaging 23.7 points and 8.0 rebounds. Strus averages over ten three-point attempts per game and connects on nearly 42 percent of those attempts, but he can also use his 6-6 frame to attack the basket and finish or at least get to the charity stripe. When Strus is knocking down his shots, which is more often than not, DePaul can generate enough offense to keep things close against any team in the nation.
Who Else To Watch:
To win games though, Strus needs help. If he is the only scoring threat, the opposition can very easily focus their effort on Strus and make somebody else beat them. That is what most teams will do, but the question is whether or not DePaul has anybody else who can beat anybody. Senior Eli Cain is the best option. He scored 21 points against Morgan State, yet all but disappeared in a five point effort against Penn State. That is when Gage helped pick up the slack. The backcourt trio of Strus, Cain and Gage can be potentially potent, but we have not seen all of them having a good shooting day at the same time.
This should be Notre Dame’s toughest test of the young season. The Irish have NCAA Tournament hopes and, with a loss to Radford on the resume already, they cannot afford to lose another game against an opponent they should beat. Notre Dame did need to spend some time sorting out their rotation and figuring out what they got with a lot of unproven players, but five games into the season should be enough time for Coach Mike Brey to sort out a bulk of those issues. The schedule is about to get a lot tougher and beating DePaul would be a great place to get a little momentum.