DePaul travels to Providence on Saturday, March 7th at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center in Providence, Rhode Island. When these two teams met in the 2nd game of Big East Conference play, the game pushed the teams in opposite directions. The Friars had accumulated some funky results which put them near the bottom of Big East teams entering conference play. After convincingly defeating Texas and Georgetown, the Friars won the rock fight against DePaul on a last second free-throw.
Since that time, Providence has proven to be a resilient team defeating all the Big East teams at least once. The Friars are on a five game winning streak. It is incredible.
The DePaul Blue Demons, one of the worst Division One teams at shooting free-throws, shot 88.6% from the line to defeat Marquette. The Demons rode the hot free-throw shooting of 50% shooter Jaylen Butz and 57% shooter Darious Hall. Hall and Butz went a combined 15-17 or 88.2%. It was also incredible.
In a game that both teams needed, the St. Johns’s Red Storm prevailed in an ugly, forgettable victory.
Not all was bad at first. Charlie Moore hit a 3 pointer at the 16 minute mark. We like when Charlie finds his long-distance stroke. DePaul took at six point lead at 13-7 with 14:31 in the half. The players were playing loose and confident. Of course, it rapidly changed after that. A quick 3, a turnover leading to a layup, and it was a one point game. From that point on, the Demons were never up by more than 4 points. The teams exchanged the lead several times for the next few minutes until the Red Storm began to take control of the game taking a lead that they would never relinquish with 6:12 to go in the 1st half. DePaul went over 3 minutes without a point, during which the Jonnies went on a 10-0 run getting the lead to 6 points.
With 1:24 left in the half, Paul Reed finally got on the board to cut the St. John’s lead to 3. DePaul played strong defense to get the ball back with the chance to tie and 1:09 left in the half. Then badness occurred. Moore missed a layup, DePaul played excellent defense again, getting the ball with 32 left. After running the clock down to less then 10, Devin Gage missed a wild shot which lead to this awful sequence.
Not the way to finish the half. Gage with a wild shot while having both Reed and Cameron open for shots. Then Moore gets his ankles broken while doing the Matador defense. #DePaul#dpubbpic.twitter.com/nAsWhDV6xo
Let’s Start With a Little History Between These Coaches…
March 2, 2005 was a big night of truth for the DePaul Blue Demons. Firmly on the bubble, DePaul traveled to Birmingham to take on the University of Alabama-Birmingham Blazers. The winner of the game would have the upper hand going into the Conference USA tournament and, mostly likely, move up and off the NCAA tournament bubble.
The coaches that night were Dave Leitao, in his final year of his first term at DePaul, and St. John’s Mike Anderson, who was in his 3rd year at UAB after several years as Nolan Richardson’s top assistant at Arkansas. Anderson brought with him Richardson’s famed “40 Minutes of Hell” defense and fast paced, three point shooting and layup lined offense.
This Blue Demon team was one of the last good teams that DePaul has had. Lead by Drake Deiner, Sammy Mejia, and Quemont Greer, the Demons came into the game 18-7 with a 10-4 record in conference. A victory would seal a first round bye in the conference tournament and get them closer to being in the NCAA Tournament. UAB came into the game 8-6 with a need to win their last two games to get the important bye.
The game went back and forth. The Demons were up 2 at the half, and took their largest lead of 8 in the second half. Then the pace and the pressure took its toll on DePaul. UAB tied the game late sending it to overtime. In overtime, UAB hit a 3 pointer with 24 seconds left. DePaul set up Diener for a 3 pointer, which he missed. DePaul rebounded and set up another 3 point shot. Ultimately hitting a 2 pointer shot with a second left losing by a single point. DePaul lost their regular season finale to Louisville and UAB won theirs to secure the 4th seed and 1st round bye in the C-USA tournament.
8 days later, after DePaul won their first round game against Tulane, the Demons once again faced UAB in the quarterfinals. The winner would go to the NCAA tournament and the loser would go to the NIT.
Another back and forth game with DePaul going up by 10 with a little under 10 minutes left in the game. The frenetic UAB defense chipped away at the lead, and with 1:28 UAB hit a 3 pointer to gain their first lead of the game. Mejia scored a game tying free-throw. DePaul got a defensive stop and got the ball to Drake Diener with the hope that he would get fouled and be the iceman that he was. Under intense pressure, UAB forced Diener into a walk. UAB then made a 3 pointer leaving .7 seconds on the clock and DePaul lost. Two brutal losses, in which DePaul had the lead with less than 2 minutes to go in both game.
UAB lost to an excellent, Final Four Louisville team in the next round but was selected to the NCAA tournament the next day. The Blazers won their 1st round game, before being knocked out by the Arizona team that almost knocked Illinois out of the tournament at Allstate Arena.
Meanwhile, DePaul was selected to the NIT, where they beat Mizzou but lost to Texas A&M. Dave Leitao left for Virginia, and a year later, Mike Anderson left for Mizzou.
To say that the result of the DePaul/Providence game was disappointing would be a severe understatement. The headline of the game is that the DePaul Blue Demons lost on a last second free-throw by a 38% shooter on a foul that is generally ignored.
That’s a pretty tough call with 1.1 seconds left in a tie game. Weems went to help which lead to an offensive rebound chance which Reed couldn’t get his hands on and falls to Watson. #DePaul#pcbb#dpubbpic.twitter.com/Qt6dLK5PcP
The Hoyas’ star, Mac McClung, had his eye severely poked during a game versus American on December 28th and missed the Providence game. I picture McClung’s eye looking like Bob Costas’s eye during Winter Olympic coverage. The only difference is that McClung, with or without bad eye, could probably reverse dunk over tiny Costas.
Providence has been a trick-or-treat team this year, losing to such basketball luminaries as Long Beach State (303), Charlestown (120), Penn (108), and Evanston’s favorite Big 14 team, Northwestern (109), while beating Texas and Georgetown in their last two games. Before beating the Longhorns and Hoyas, the Friars’ biggest wins were against Stony Brook, Pepperdine, and Sacred Heart. On paper, they are the worst team in the Big East. However, DePaul will not be playing paper on Saturday.
After initially being down to the Friars, Eli Cain hit a 3 pointer to put DePaul up 13-12. From that point forward, the Blue Demons never looked back. The Demons went on a 25-7 run to go from 2 down to 16 up over a 8:09 stretch. The Friars got a couple of baskets to close it to 12 with 8 seconds to go in the half. Eli Cain then calmly sunk a buzzer-beating 3 pointer to close the half and put DePaul up 15 at the break.
DePaul plays the Providence Friars on Saturday, 2/10/2018 at 3:00 pm Central at the Dunkin Donuts Center in Providence, Rhode Island. It will be carried on UToo (Channel 230 on Comcast) and on the Score (Radio 670).
First, first thoughts, I went to the game, and it was an interesting crowd. Super loud Friars fans, and a bunch of semi-engaged Demon fans. 2nd thought, now that I have had a chance to watch the replay, FX1’s ‘All Access’ is hypnotic. You know how you watch a good fight on HBO, and the best part is the corner men conversations?