Posted On: 12/10/17 1:30 PM
Detroit Edison Public School Academy was filled with a capacity crowd for the highly anticipated early season matchup between University of Detroit and DEPSA. It was an electric atmosphere, as the band had the crowd rocking from 30 minutes prior to tip-off, all the way until the horn sounded at the end of overtime.
DEPSA established what they were going to do from the opening tip, apply pressure defense. The Pioneers utilized a zone press throughout the first quarter to speed UofD up and make their half court offense uncomfortable. The Cubs turned the ball over several times, resulting in several DEPSA transition baskets. Even when UofD was able to break the press, Deante ‘Spider’ Johnson simply made it impossible for the Cubs to finish at the rim. DEPSA held a 20-5 advantage late in the first quarter, in what appeared to be a blowout in the making. Daniel Friday would take matters into his own hand late in the first, putting his head down and getting to the rim before drawing fouls and converting at the line. He would finish with 10 points in the first quarter as DEPSA held a 22-11 lead heading into the second quarter. The second quarter saw the tide completely turn, as the Cubs applied a full court press leading to several easy dunks. In the halfcourt, UofD buried some timely threes and the DEPSA lead was trimmed to 35-29 at the half. The scale would finally tip in the Cubs favor during the third, as a huge quarter from Cub senior Zach Winston gave them a 1 point lead behind multiple triples and a few assists as the UofD 2-3 zone made it difficult for DEPSA to score. From there it was a war, with both teams exchanging leads in the 4th and overtime, but there was simply too much Daniel Friday for the Pioneers to handle. Friday would finish with 29 points and lead UofD to a thrilling comeback victory on the road.
MVP: Daniel Friday (University of Detroit)
Friday finished with 29 points and 11 rebounds while playing four different positions for the Cubs. To be candid, but for Daniel’s early output, UDJ would’ve likely been ran out of the gym. DEPSA held a 22-11 lead after the 1st quarter, with Friday chipping in 10 of the 11 points. The 6’5 wing handled the ball, showed some shot creating ability, attacked the glass and just did everything necessary to aid his team in a true workman like performance.
Best Offensive Performance: Zach Winston (University of Detroit)
Known as more of a catch and shoot prospect, the lefty had the full arsenal on display and finished with 25 points. Winston had several tough finishes at the rim in the first half, displaying great body control on an array of up and under and hanging layups. In the second half he spaced the floor with a couple of long range bombs and cut up the DEPSA 2-3 zone with precision passes for assists.
Best Defensive Performance: Deante ‘Spider’ Johnson (DEPSA)
The 6’8 Cleveland State commit made life extremely tough for the Cubs in the paint, blocking several shots and altering a ton more. He was absolutely dominant in the first half, as UDJ simply couldn’t get off a quality look at the rim with Johnson covering a ton of ground to rim protect on multiple occasions. Add in his above average lateral agility, and Deante was able to switch on the perimeter and stay with Cub guards and force them into difficult shots.
Best Underclassmen: Jim Morgan (University of Detroit)
Morgan was ready to compete in a high intensity game on the road in a hostile environment. While he came out a bit tentative during his first few possessions on offense, it was uphill from there. Jim did a superb job rebounding the ball, in particular on the offensive glass, where he was able to get a few putbacks. Defensively, he did a tremendous job rim protecting, blocking a few shots and making it tough for DEPSA to convert inside. Although he he’s a bit light at this point, the motor compensates, as Jim finished with 8 points, 4 rebounds and 2 blocks as a sophomore. The future looks bright for the agile 6’6 forward.
Best Intangibles: Timothy Steward (DEPSA)
Steward really stood out as a player that gives 100% on each and every play. Timothy was a primary reason that DEPSA was able to jump out to a 20-5 lead in the first half, as he came up with 2 steals, a few rebounds and several deflections within the first 10 minutes alone. Offensively, he ran the floor extremely well and converted in transition and found his teammates on hit-aheads for easy baskets.
Best Glue Guy: Evan Moore (University of Detroit)
Evan is a versatile player that helps it all click for the Cubs. A reliable shooter from midrange, Moore would bury a few elbow jumpers to help ease the pressure that Daniel Friday faced all night long. We loved his activity on the glass as well, as he battled and gave multiple jumps on numerous occasions. He defended 3 positions and came up with a steal and dropped 2 assists from the high post to cutting teammates. Evan finished with 8 points, 3 rebounds and 2 assists.
Best Under-The-Radar Player: Brian Taylor (DEPSA)
Taylor doesn’t get the recognition that he deserves just yet, but he’s oozing with potential and talent. At 6’6 with a good looking shot from the perimeter and plus athleticism, Brian has the look of a Division I wing. He knocked down a corner triple off the catch, had a few nice assists after driving baseline and drawing help defense and finished with authority at the rim. While the production isn’t quite where you’d like it, he’s playing on a loaded DEPSA team with several Division I prospects a year ahead of him. If Taylor can tighten up his handle just a bit, he has an extremely high ceiling.
Best Shooter: Dominyck Thomas (DEPSA)
Thomas displayed a really smooth looking stroke, connecting on three triples for the game on his way to 11 points. His shot is very clean, with no extra motion and a very quick release that is hard to contest even at 5’10. Dominyck really opens up driving lanes for teammates like PJ Mitchell and Gary Solomon, as defenders are hard pressed to leave the sharpshooter open. Thomas finished with 11 points and provided spacing for teammates in the paint.
Best Guy Off the Bench: Raynard Williams (DEPSA)
Williams came in a provided a huge lift for the Pioneers in the 2nd quarter when UofD was making a big push. Raynard finished a contested layup in transition that resulted in an ‘And 1’ when he buried the free throw. A few minutes later he would knock down a catch and shoot triple from the wing that gave DEPSA a little bit of cushion. Without Raynard, I think the Cubs could have very well taken a double digit lead before half time, but his timely scoring kept things close.
Best Storyline Moving Forward: Is UofD For Real?
There is no sugar-coating it, the Cubs lost a ton of talent this year via graduation with the losses of Ike Eke (Marquette) and Greg Eboigbodin (Illinois). Add in the recent transfer of heir apparent big man Jalen Thomas (multiple DI offers), and this had the feeling of a total rebuilding year for coach Pat Donnelly. On Wednesday evening, the UofD team came in shorthanded, as lockdown defender Eli Collins (MSU football commit) was on the bench with his hand in a cast……………….and the Cubs erased a 15 point deficit on the way to an epic comeback victory on the road versus the Class C favorite. While UofD may lack the talent that we’re accustomed to seeing, the winning culture and habits formed through intense practices and a disciplined setting prove that the sum is greater than the individual talent. Don’t be surprised if the Cubs make another run at the Catholic league title this year.