Men's basketball starts season with 91-72 win
Published: Friday, November 11, 2011
Updated: Monday, August 27, 2012 16:08
Upon the men's basketball team taking the court at McGrath-Phillips Arena against UT-Pan American for their 2011-12 season opener on Friday night, it was an opportunity to wipe the slate clean. Finishing last season with a 7-24 overall record, the revamped Blue Demons looked to forget the past with win one in game one of their 2011-12 campaign.
Fortunately for the Demons they were able to get the job done, finishing off the Broncs 91-72. Cleveland Melvin, one of six DePaul players in double figure scoring, finished with 17 points. Moses Morgan scored 16 points on 4-7 shooting from downtown, while Krys Faber scored an impressive 13 points and collected a team-high seven rebounds.
"I was pleased to see us get off to a good start shooting the basketball," said DePaul coach Oliver Purnell. "We shot really well tonight. If we can shoot like that every night, I'll be happy with our offense."
The Blue Demons shot 51.4 percent on the night, to go along with a solid 44.4 percent from three-point range.
DePaul's scoring was balanced out by Brandon Young, with 12 points, Jeremiah Kelly with 11, and Charles McKinney with 10. Jamee Crockett was close behind with nine points, making all three of his perimeter shots.
"Offensively, I don't have a whole lot to complain about in terms of us making shots," said Purnell.
While the Blue Demons offense may have been humming along all game, they struggled with maintaining their defensive pressure. This led to a number of uncontested Broncs three-point attempts and other offensive opportunities, especially in the first period.
"Our defensive edge went in and out in the first half," said Purnell. "Not having that sense of urgency continued to plague us throughout the course of the game."
Perhaps a halftime speech by Purnell was enough to spark his team, as they opened the second half with improved defensive intensity and a sense of purpose. McKinney and Worrel Clahar both worked extremely hard in the backcourt, often trapping and doubling the ball-handler to force a turnover.
"Once we got into the second half we continued to guard and it paid dividends for us," said Purnell. "We got a couple quick turnovers, a couple big breaks, and kind of got control of the game again."
Seniors Kelly and Faber are both used to Division I play, thus are used to the ebb and flow of a basketball contest at this level and what they need to do in order to succeed. In this, their final season at DePaul, the starting shooting guard and center both wanted to start strong in the opener.
Faber, who often has a propensity to get himself into foul trouble, didn't pick up his first whistle until four minutes remaining in the game.
"I just reminded myself to move my feet and watch my hands," said Faber. "As long as I focused on my defensive fundamentals in mind, it's [foul trouble] really not an issue.
"We really just remembered that we can't hang our heads on every point that they score, we gotta bounce back," Faber continued. "If they give us some, we have to answer back three times as much. We'll both go on runs, but it's important for us to kill their momentum and not get hung up on how the game goes."
Kelly agreed, saying the Broncs' first few made shots took them out of their game somewhat. However, they stayed "fundamentally sound," and eventually tired out UTPA to the point that "they were missing shots they were making in the first half."
As for the rest of the season, the Blue Demons are confident with the team they have and are eager to get the season rolling. Morale is high, and should rise if the team can string together a few more wins to get their engine started.
"The chemistry we've been able to build, and the time we spent in France --- it definitely goes a long way," said Faber.
"This was a game we feel like we're supposed to win. We need quick turnaround, and we gotta move forward," said Kelly. "We expect to win this, so we need to move on to the next one. I think we have the pieces to win. We just need to put it all together and play hard."
With game one over and done with, the Blue Demons will try to preserve this winning feeling as they return to McGrath-Phillips Arena on Nov. 14 to take on Mississippi Valley State.