With the Big East schedulers giving the Orange a full week to bask in a win over Georgetown, the team returns to action Saturday to wrap up the regular season against DePaul at the Carrier Dome. We’ve talked recently about the perceived values, disadvantages, and history of teams with a double-bye in the conference tournament. After last night’s loss to Seton Hall, St. John’s put the fate of the final double-bye spot of this season’s tournament in the hands of SU. With a win tomorrow, the Orange would get another extended layoff, this time until Thursday afternoon. With a loss, they would still get one day off.
As mentioned earlier this week, the Blue Demons’ leading scorer, Cleveland Melvin, will be out with a sprained thumb, which makes a hard job all the more improbable for Oliver Purnell’s charges. Melvin is one of two nice building blocks for Purnell, and the other is Brandon Young. The point guard has averaged 12.7 points per game, is a developing three-point shooter, and is coming off back-to-back 20-point games in Melvin’s absence (though be advised that those 20-point games came against Rutgers and South Florida). With the Orange struggles defending the perimeter, he could have a big game.
There’s not much to be concerned about after Young. Tony Freeland is a decent wing who drives a lot, but has trouble converting from the stripe with a 59.2% clip. He put up a 24-point performance against Georgetown way back when the Hoyas were losing out of the gate in conference play, but has only scored in double figures three times since. At 6’10, Krys Faber has the height to be a good rebounder, but only pulls down 5.4 boards per game, and the back line drops off significantly after him. It’s the perfect recipe for Rick Jackson to cruise on offense, provided his teammates feed him the ball.
Saturday will also provide a chance to see where CJ Fair, Dion Waiters and Baye Moussa Keita are in recovery from their various health issues. It’s an interesting scenario, because if the Orange builds a big lead as they should against DePaul, the starters should get some rest and test out the , but at the same time, the coaching staff would probably like to play it safe with its reserves and not risk re-aggravation, so the distribution of playing time will be something to keep an eye on. As long as the team isn’t rusty after a weeklong break and isn’t looking ahead to playing in New York City next week, expect a comfortable win.