Straight Hoops Express hits DePaul

Straight Hoops Express hits DePaul

Posted by Lindsey on Sat, 11/08/2008 - 02:28
Ah, nothing better than trying to drive into the city during Friday rush hour with some precipitation in the air. But, hey, when there's a chance to check out some college hoops, a 90-minute commute (and a $6 parking fee) seems like a small price to pay. After engaging in a four-hour scrimmage at Iowa on Saturday, DePaul opened the McGrath Arena doors and held its lone exhibition game Friday night in Lincoln Park. The Demons blew out to a 24-5 lead in the first 11 minutes against a good Division II Lewis University and went on to a 66-53 victory before half-filled stands (Doug Bruno's women served as the opening act and crushed Div. III Chicago by a 107-51 count). The big news from the exhibition wasn't really news at all: DePaul sophomore guard Dar Tucker is simply going to be a beast this year. The perpetually smiling Tucker scored 11 of his game-high 25 points in the first 5 minutes, 16 seconds -- and he made sure to let Lewis' Jason Genova (a preseason Div. II All-American) know how he was faring. When I jokingly accused Tucker after the game of yapping so much that he must have told Genova his life story, he offered a mature answer that surely pleased coach Jerry Wainwright. "I read the scouting report," Tucker said. "He's a potential player of the year over there in their league. I wanted to make a statement. I said I've gotta play defense, then. I'm trying to win games." Did I forget to mention that Tucker's defense was primarily responsible for Genova, a powerful lefty who also boasts a nice 3-point shot, hitting just 5 of 13 shots for 15 points? Wainwright, sitting to Tucker's left, proudly interjected that Dar had just run off five consecutive practices that were the best of Tucker's time at DePaul. Other quick observations: --Mac Koshwal tried to take several charges (and succeeded a few times), but he didn't look for his shot. He had 4 points (on 1-for-4 shooting) and a game-high 8 rebounds in 24 minutes. --Senior Matija Poscic started at center and looked much more explosive and fluid than last year, when he sucked it up and played with a back injury. I recall two nice post moves that accounted for most of his 6 points. --Senior Jabari Currie got the start at point guard as a sign of respect from Wainwright, though redshirt freshman Michael Bizoukas entered for Currie within a few minutes. After Bizoukas made a mistake, true freshman Jeremiah Kelly entered for him. Bizoukas took the ball to the hoop nicely and finished with 8 points, but no assists, in 18 minutes. Kelly, who Wainwright says has been lodged in a shooting slump, missed all 5 FGA and didn't hand out any assists in 20 minutes. --Freshman forward Devin Hill made his Div. I debut and tried to do too much -- as he carried the ball once and traveled another time while trying to take his man off the dribble. The long-armed dude snagged 6 boards in 10 minutes, though. --Mario Stula hit a sweet lefty jumper from the baseline, which might whet fans' appetites while he serves 7 more games of penance for having the audacity to come from Croatia and not quite meet the NCAA's standards for eligibility. So what's next for the Straight Hoops Express, you ask? Check out the Saturday Daily Herald for the official Northern Illinois preview. Loyola's coming up within a day or two as well. The Express then heads to Champaign on Sunday as Lewis heads there to take on Bruce Weber's Illini in their final tuneup before Friday's opener against Eastern Washington. From there, who knows? Northwestern football...NIU football...maybe even a Stillwater concert. It's all happening. LW
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