DePauls Coach Considers Halton a difficult place!!

Blue Demons hope to pull rank on No. 23 Charlotte

February 16, 2005

BY TONI GINNETTI Staff Reporter Advertisement

Memphis coach John Calipari, whose Tigers are the only team to defeat DePaul in the last month, believes tonight’s game between the Blue Demons and No. 23 Charlotte is a matchup of Conference USA’s two most talented teams.

"And they’re playing that way now,’’ Calipari said.

The Associated Press poll acknowledged that this week for the 49ers, who moved into the rankings after a one-point victory over then-No. 21 Cincinnati and an overtime victory Saturday at Saint Louis.

DePaul, despite a 19-point victory Saturday over Cincinnati, has yet to crack the national rankings. That doesn’t matter, though, to coach Dave Leitao, whose greater concern is facing a talented Charlotte squad in the unfriendly confines of Halton Arena.

"I don’t know that [being ranked] would change the way we think or do things,’’ Leitao said. "All those things make the sport good and make for great conversation, great reading and listening, but it doesn’t affect the way one coaches. And our players have been playing well because we’ve been focused on the job at hand and not living outside that box.

"It doesn’t mean a lot for [tonight’s] game. We beat a ranked team [Saturday], but it doesn’t mean we’ve arrived. It’d be great to wear [a ranking] on your chest, but if you lose, it’s gone.’’

Charlotte coach Bobby Lutz is of the same mind when it comes to facing the Demons.

"They’re playing great basketball,’’ he said. "They’ve won eight of their last nine, and that one loss at Memphis was to another team playing extremely well. [DePaul] beat Cincinnati handily, and we were fortunate to beat Cincinnati by one.

"Quemont Greer is a guy we recruited and I loved coming out of high school. Sammy Mejia, Drake Diener, LeVar Seals – they’re guys who are leading them, and it should be a great game with two teams near the top of the league.’’

Charlotte boasts plenty of threats, led by conference player of the week Curtis Withers, a junior forward who had 39 points and 14 rebounds at Saint Louis. A week earlier, it was senior forward Eddie Basden earning player of the week honors as he became the league’s all-time steals leader. Senior guard Brendan Plavich leads the league in three-pointers made (82-for-203).

"We’re going to have to go into that building, which is a difficult place to play, and play a team that’s very balanced,’’ Leitao said. "It gives us matchup problems that will test not only our defense, but our maturity.’’

The teams enter the game as closely matched as any two in the conference. They are tied for second place, a half-game behind Louisville. Their overall records are almost identical. And they are back-to-back in the Ratings Percentage Index, with DePaul at No.30 and Charlotte at No. 31.

But the 49ers will have the psychological edge of a 5-0 home record in conference play, as DePaul did for its dominating performance against Cincinnati.

"It’s difficult for any team to go on the road and win,’’ Leitao said. "For the teams that do, it speaks to maturity and cohesiveness, and doing that on the defensive end is the key. We’ve shown over the last few games that confidence produces swagger. Now comes the greatest test, to do it in a very meaningful game in a difficult place against a very good team.’’

[SIZE=4]Now lets prove him right, fill up Halton and make a statement that teams should fear coming to Halton!!!Goooo Niners!!![/SIZE]