Saturday, December 12th, 2015, a few of my old college buddies, our kids and I made our way on campus to McGrath–Phillips Arena to watch DePaul, with new-old coach, Dave Leitao, take on Arkansas-Little Rock team with their first year, unknown coach.
We were in a hopeful mood after suffering through the lovely Oliver Purnell years. We were ready for a nice, relaxing evening of Blue Demon basketball against a crap, Sun Belt Conference team. Little did we know about who sitting on the Little Rock bench, Chris Beard.
As many of you know, Beard took a 13-18 team, added in a few transfers, changed the culture, took a team that was rated 288th in Defense, and converted them into a defensively dominate squad that finished 33rd in Defensive efficiency. The Trojans won the Sun Belt regular season and Conference Tournament, and then beat 5th seeded Purdue in double overtime before bowing out to Iowa State in the 2nd round of the NCAA tournament.
Back on Campus, my friends and I were treated to a massacre. DePaul managed 44 points in a 22 point loss, and we never forgot Little Rock’s coach’s name.
One of the Blue Demons that night, Tommy Hamilton IV did not forget Chris Beard’s name either. Hamilton transferred to Texas Tech as soon as Beard made the move the next season. After sitting out a transfer season, Hamilton had the pleasure of enjoying a trip to the Elite Eight in Beard’s second season in Lubbock.
On Wednesday, December 4th, Beard is back in Chicago to meet a completely different Blue Demon team.
DePaul plays the Texas Tech Red Raiders on Wednesday, December 4th at 7:30 PM in the South Loop of Chicago at Wintrust Arena. The game will be carried by FS1 (Channel 237 on Comcast.)
DePaul and Tech Have Tons in Common
Both teams were runner-up in prestigious end of the year tournaments. The Red Raiders played in some tournament called, I had to look this up, the NCAA Tournament, while the mighty Blue Demons place in the well known CBI Tournament.
Fun Facts About Texas Tech
The have a Tortilla Toss at their Home Football Games (why?)
Evidently, a sportscaster tried to insult them by saying the only thing in Lubbock was a tortilla factory and Texas Tech. Sick burn man.
Lubbock, Home of Buddy Holly
Little know fact, first song that I learned by ear was a Buddy Holly song. Thanks Buddy!
Original Name of the Team was The Matadors
Should have kept the original name.
Last Year’s National Runner Up is Not in the Best Form
After starting 5-0 after defeating the sister’s of poor: Eastern Illinois, Bethune Cookman, Houston Baptist, Tennessee State, and Long Island University (all rating between 243 and 300), the Red Raiders have had to deal with some adversity. Tech lost to Iowa by 11 on a neutral court, a team that DePaul knocked the Holy Hell out of in Iowa City by 15. TTU then lost to Big East brother, Creighton by 7 on a neutral court.
The Defense is Still Awesome, But….
Currently, kenpom.com, which I will reference ad nauseam this year, has Tech’s defense rated 16th overall. The rebound the hell out of the defense end rating 4th in the country. Their 2 point defense is 44th best, however, their 3 point defense is……bad? They are currently allowing their opponents to shoot 35.8% from the arch, which would be 259th in the nation. It takes a ton of commitment to both guard the 2 and get out to the 3 point line. Iowa shot 40% from the arch while Creighton shot 41%.
DePaul is currently shooting 38% on the year from 3 point land, behind Charlie Moore’s 43.6%, Jalen Coleman-Lands’s 38%, and Paul Reed’s 38.5%.
The Red Raiders also cause a ton of turnovers. 23% of all possessions end in a turnover. This is a bad thing for Demon fans, because one of DePaul’s weaknesses is offensive turnovers.
Who Can Hurt the Demons?
Shoots 43.3% from outside the arch. He is the leading scorer at 17.3 points per game.
Ramsey missed the loss to Creighton due to a hamstring injury. According to Phil Mayer of everythinglubbock.com, Chris Beard said, “We’re dealing with a hamstring injury.” “In my mind a really bad bruise. He’s literally day-to-day. When he’s cleared 100 percent to play in games he’ll play.”
It would be real nice in Ramsey needs another game of rest, because he scares the crap out of me.
A key player from last year’s team, Moretti is a 3 point specialist, shooting 45.9% this year. Do not leave him alone. Oh, he doesn’t miss free-throws either. He’s 100% on the year. Last year he was 92.4% from the stripe. Yikes.
Holyfield plays about half the minutes, but when he is in the game he spends most of his time next to the basket shooting 70% from inside the arch.
Tale of the Tape
According to kenpom.com, when it comes to Effective FG% defense, DePaul is 15th in the nation, while Tech is 123rd. Tech’s offensive Effective FG% is 74th, while DePaul’s is 42nd. Of course, when this is all adjusted (and includes some latency from last year’s teams, Tech’s Adjusted Offensive Efficiency is 46th, while DePaul’s is 64th, and Tech’s defense is 16th, while the Demons are 51st.
The obvious strengths of both teams. Tech’s defensive rebounding is 4th best in the nation, while DePaul’s defensive Block percentage is 4th best.
DePaul shoots better from 2 and 3 point range, while Tech shoots better from the line.
Kenpom rates Tech as 26th best team in the country and DePaul as 55th.
Sagarin’s Recent games Ratings has Tech at 85th and DePaul at 26th.
Sagarin’s overall rating (which includes latency from last year) has Tech at 50th and DePaul at 42nd.
What is Going to Happen Tomorrow?
If Ramsey is available, it will be a tight game down to the wire. If Ramsey is unavailable, DePaul will win convincingly, and the Blue Demons can keep their place on this sweet map.