Set Your TiVo: 12.05.11Posted by Brian Otskey on December 5th, 2011
Brian Otskey is the RTC correspondent for the Big East Conference and a regular contributor. You can find him @botskey on Twitter. See bottom of the post for the Official RTC Star System.
This is a very light night of hoops but you may want to check out two games between bottom-tier Big East teams and a pair of Midwestern mid-majors.
St. John’s @ Detroit – 7:00 PM EST on ESPN2 (**)
- St. John’s has been in an early-season slide, having lost four of its last five games. The Red Storm play only seven men and the tired legs are already starting to catch up. St. John’s is one of the worst three-point shooting teams in the country at 26.2% and averages only 35 rebounds per game. This will likely be an up-tempo game because the Red Storm has athletes that like to run and Detroit loves to maximize the number of possessions in a game. One thing St. John’s does very well is to keep opponents off the foul line and it will have to do just that against a Titans team that shoots 78.4% from the charity stripe. Moe Harkless and God’s Gift Achiuwa played well at Kentucky last week and more progress against a severely depleted Detroit front court is something the Johnnies should count on tonight.
- As mentioned, Detroit’s roster has been decimated. Head coach Ray McCallum, Sr., has only eight scholarship players available after Eli Holman’s legal troubles, Nick Minnerath’s torn ACL and a host of other issues including academics and other personnel departures. Chase Simon and Ray McCallum, Jr.,have to lead the Titans and score points in transition against the turnover-prone Nurideen Lindsey (3.9 turnovers per game) and company. Unfortunately for Detroit, Simon and McCallum are just as prone to giveaways.
- This game will be a war of attrition with foul trouble and fatigue playing a major role. St. John’s is the better team but not by much. With Detroit playing at home against a Big East team while honoring former head coach Dick Vitale with a special ceremony, there will be some buzz in the arena. We have no idea who will win this one and the Vegas line agrees, calling this game a pick’em.
Milwaukee @ DePaul – 9:00 PM EST on SNY, Sports 32, ESPN3.com (**)
- The Blue Demons almost knocked off Mississippi in the Big East/SEC Challenge last week but faltered down the stretch after making a furious comeback. Cleveland Melvin and Brandon Young have each put this team on their backs but DePaul will need other people to step up and contribute against the strong Milwaukee defense. It’s more difficult to speed a game up than slow it down, but that’s what DePaul is going to have to do in order to keep the Panthers from setting up defensively in a half court setting. That falls on the point guard Young, a promising sophomore. He has to set the tone of this game from the start and make it as helter skelter as possible in order for DePaul to win. The Blue Demon defense is just not good enough in a deliberate game. Melvin is the best player on the floor for either team so look for Oliver Purnell to design lots of plays for him while hoping to rack up fouls on Milwaukee’s interior defenders.
- Rob Jeter’s Panthers are off to a 7-1 start with the only loss a very respectable 68-55 setback at Michigan State 12 days ago. Milwaukee has struggled offensively but its defense has been superb through eight games, holding opponents to an average of 55.4 PPG. Jeter’s team is ranked #9 nationally in eFG% defense and #4 against threes. Senior forward Tony Meier is back from a calf injury but guard Ja’Rob McCallum has been bothered by a wrist injury and is listed as day-to-day just as Milwaukee was getting back to full strength. The Panthers need all of their pieces in place offensively because that’s their biggest weakness. Shooting only 40.6% from the floor as a team, Milwaukee will have to score points against a DePaul team that loves to run. Perhaps a team that plays little defense like DePaul will be the cure for Milwaukee’s offensive ills.
- This game is a good contrast of styles between two fairly even teams. DePaul will look to push the ball at every opportunity while Milwaukee would prefer to play at a much slower pace and keep the game in the half court. With Kaylon Williams running the point and Meier back, the Panthers may be able to successfully exploit DePaul’s shaky defense. Their offense would get a big boost if McCallum is able to play and Meier gets back to doing what he does best, shooting threes (44.3% last season). Keep an eye on the matchup between Melvin and James Haarsma at the forward position, as that one should be fun to watch. You’d have to favor DePaul at home with Melvin and Young, but this is a game that, similar to the first, can go either way depending on which team establishes its preferred pace.
The Official RTC Star System
***** – quit your job and divorce your wife if that’s what it takes to watch this game live
**** – best watched live, but if you must, tivo and watch it tonight as soon as you get home
*** – set your tivo but make sure you watch it later
** – set your tivo but we’ll forgive you if it stays in the queue until 2014
* – don’t waste bandwidth (yours or the tivo’s) of any kind on this game