The DePaul Blue Demons got something they didn't EARN all of last season, a victory against an opponent that should be pretty good. Northern Iowa is supposed to be the favorite for the Missouri Valley Conference title after returning all five starters from a team that reached the NCAA Tournament in last season.
While the game wasn't available (well without paying $8 to FOX), the Twitter feeds (thanks @DePaulSID) were excellent and the box score (which has finally leaked out from St. Thomas) says a lot about this 60-52 victory.
Here are some quick thoughts from the box score in bullet point format.
- Jeremiah Kelly played an excellent game. He was 5-8 from the field, 3-4 from beyond the three-point line, 5-6 from the free throw line and scored a game-high 18 points. The official box score also says the 6'1" point guard grabbed 8 rebounds! (I blinked three times, it was still there.) The rebounds are a nice bonus, but the three-point shooting and some scoring are going to be vital from Kelly if the Blue Demons are going to be competitive all season.
- Mac Koshwal put together his second straight dominating performance. He had 19 rebounds, including 11 offensive rebounds, and scored 12 points. It would've been nice if he had gone to the free throw line, but add in the 4 assists and that's a great outing. ESPN Chicago's Scott Powers wrote a nice piece about Koshwal's first dominating performance against Columbia.
- The Blue Demons out-rebounded the Panthers 42-29 overall. DePaul turned the ball over just 7 times in the entire game. The Blue Demons also sealed the game by being solid from the free throw line and shooting 10-13 from the charity stripe.
- Did I mention this was a comeback? The Blue Demons trailed by 5 at halftime and 6 with nine minutes remaining in the game before closing on a 20-6 run.
Of course there were some not so good things.
- No matter what anyone says the Blue Demons don't need a ball-hogging small forward that will take too many shots and commit too many fouls. Unfortunately that's what Eric Wallace is doing right now. It's only his third "real" game action since sitting out a season, but 1-10 with 5 fouls in 17 minutes isn't a good line. The 7 rebounds are great, but the rest isn't cutting it. Wallace needs to limit his shots until he learns what a good one is or finds a more consistent stroke.
- Depth will always be an issue for DePaul. Koshwal, Kelly and Will Walker each played 36+ minutes. There are going to be some tired legs on the court against Tennessee in round two.
That's it. This is a very good win for the Blue Demons. The high-scoring Tennessee Volunteers are going to provide an incredible test in round two, but even this one win was certainly unexpected and a nice way for Jerry Wainwright to build some momentum heading into the season.
Note: There's another Chicago game tonight as Loyola (1-1) takes on Holy Cross (0-2) in Massachusetts. It should be an excellent test for the Ramblers. The game starts at 8 p.m. CT.