Jerry Wainwright must be wondering, "What if?" right now. If Koshwal hadn't gone down with a foot injury, then last night's game would've been an epic match-up between Koshwal and the Bulldogs inside presence Jarvis Varnado.
Missing pieces doom DePaul and Chicago State
Watching DePaul and Chicago State last night play Mississippi State and Nebraska respectively was like watching a duel at high noon when only one person had a pistol.
The Blue Demons and Cougars didn't have enough weapons to compete with their more talented opponents and it showed as DePaul suffered a 76-45 defeat and Chicago State followed it up with a 74-39 loss.
Fortunately for both teams, help is on the way. Mac Koshwal will return for DePaul and Jonathan Montgomery should be eligible for Chicago State in less than a week.
Alas, Koshwal was unavailable and the fans who tuned into ESPN2 to check out the "new" Blue Demons saw a team that looked as overmatched as the 2009 version. Without his buddy Koshwal on the court, Will Walker struggled all night under tight pressure and shot 5-21 from the field. He scored 12 points. Without Koshwal to pound in the middle and grab rebounds, the Blue Demons were outrebounded 46-32.
It's become obvious over the last few games that Devin Hill, for all the talk about his improved strength and shot this offseason, doesn't want to go into the paint. He stays outside and shoots feathery elbow jumpers. Further, Wainwright doesn't seem to trust any of his other paint players. Kene Obi stayed glued to the bench and Krys Faber played all of 11 minutes.
To compensate for missing Koshawl the Blue Demons packed the paint and forced the Bulldogs to beat them with threes. In the first half Mississippi State was up to the challenge. The game was 35-15 romp at halftime.
For Chicago State the absence of Montgomery is forcing another Montgomery, Carl, to try too hard. Against Nebraska on Thursday Carl Montgomery tried to be a one man team. While he had some fantastic moments, like a ferocious weak side block, he committed too many mistakes. He committed his third foul with 8 minutes remaining in the first half, and when he left the game was essentially over.
The Cougars need another scorer to step up and take the burden off of Montgomery. Damian Windham scored 11 points last night, but it took him 12 shots. Christian Wall struggled with his shot, but his drives into the paint seemed to be the best thing going for the Cougars most of the first half. He finished with three assists.
Chicago State had another dismal showing from the field on Thursday shooting 15-62 (24.2%) from the field. If Benjy Taylor is going to continue to refuse to run, the Cougars desperately need another option to help spread defenses out. Whether Jonathan Montgomery can be that guy remains to be seen, but the transfer from Northern Iowa certainly has the accolades to suggest he can.
Eventually it will be a fair fight. Conference play is coming and with Koshwal healthy and Jonathan Montgomery eligible to play, it will be a new day for DePaul and Chicago State.